I spent many hours last week on all fours. No, I was not experimenting with position 172 of the Kama Sutra. I was battling a flood in my sitting room, a gift from the recent rains in Pretoria.
So there I am, scooping and wringing for a week, feeling just like Dinah Washington sings: ”Blue, cold and in misery.” Life sucks, oh so much. Then I get an e-mail from my friend in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
She writes: ”The roses are blooming in the garden, my German shepherd sleeps under the window and my young lover is back in my arms.”
Sounds like bliss. They were together in 2000, split, and hitched up again this year. My friend is 53 and he is 33. How does tiny Mutare react to them? ”Let the prudes stew in their consternation that we are still crazy after all these years,” she replies.
Though, there are downfalls to having a younger lover. With him you feel ageless. When alone, you look in the mirror and see those flabby parts. Ouch.
So far, the solution I’ve found is never to look at myself in the mirror while wearing my reading glasses. Then all I see is a vague, small, nice woman. Like a digitally manipulated photo, poor eyesight airbrushes a lot of imperfections.
With my glasses on, I get a jolt. Is that really me? When did all these wrinkles appear? Can cellulite be an optical illusion? My friend in Mutare, bless her, replies: ”Do I worry about flab! He, on the other hand, wraps his lovely, strong hands around my ”butter lump” and assures me — with seeming honesty, which I try my best to believe — that the lump I so despise is the sweetest part of my gorgeous bod.”
Our mothers did not have these worries. They couldn’t prepare us for this brave new life: ageing and having a sex life with someone who is not your husband. Someone young enough that he can’t sleep with his teeth in another room.
A brave new life indeed. Like the first time one notices grey hair in that very private part. What should one do? Dye them or flaunt them? Turn off the light when he goes down under or forsake oral sex forever?
Or should we order Night Flowers, the female pubic wigs popular in Japan? Seriously. Made in China of recycled human hair, the $250 wig is taped over, yes, there. Customers are schoolgirls and brides embarrassed about their relative lack of pubic hair.
One place I do not want to grow old in is Brazil. Brazilians have the cult of the perfect body. Worse, they have perfect bodies through the seasons. What the surf doesn’t sculpt, the plastic surgeon does. The rest of Latin America is gentler to the body imperfect. A big bum, a bit of padding here and there is appreciated. Africa is also kind. The quest for the body perfect afflicts a tiny minority and they are all at Virgin Active.
In South Africa, where half of urban women are overweight or obese, just by keeping a normal weight you are fitter than half of the women who are half your age (if the maths lost you, just trust me).
But who cares when you are scooping water at 2am, listening to Dinah melt the night away. My only consolation is that all this squatting must be good for the thighs.
Dinah was singing Fat Daddy and she got me thinking about some Fat Daddies I know. One is a friend from Senegal. My stomach is flatter than his and he is 12 years younger. I hinted that the origin of his backache might be the extra 4kg he lugs around his lower back. I suggested he do 50 push-ups a day as a New Year’s resolution. He did them right there, and that was it, for the next 364 days.
For Valentine’s Day I burnt him a CD with 12 identical tracks by Dinah: ”Fat Daddy, bring him home to me. You are fat and 40 and over the hill. But you are my meat and I love you still.” He smiled sweetly. I gave up. It is true that all men look regal in a grand boubou. They must just stay in it.
If a man hinted half of that to me, I’d start doing perhaps not 50, but 10 daily ab crunches. Men are far more comfortable with their shapes and age than women. Just look around. Deputy President Jacob Zuma looks like he just shoplifted a watermelon under his T-shirt, but he marries ever-younger beauties. King Goodwill of the graying beard marries and impregnates a school girl.
The royal love handles get more prominent every year but King Mswati prances around his kingdom in a loincloth, strutting His Royal Flabbiness without inhibitions.
This is a young man who has no real job, except screwing his 13 wives and the nation, since the royal family consumes at least 10% of Swaziland’s tiny gross domestic product. He could easily do 50 push-ups a day with his warriors and a personal trainer.
But no. Not men. They don’t worry about pubic hair, armpit hair or butter lumps. Those worries are reserved for women. With our mother’s milk we imbibed the patriarchal fallacy that age is much more than a number and that our bodies should be ageless to be sexy.