Would you be grossed out if you caught, say, Emma Watson making goo-goo eyes at, for example, Harry Dean Stanton?
The concept of young ingénues dating older gentlemen is nothing new. Many a gal has turned a blind eye to sagging flesh and wrinkly bits in order to vouchsafe her financial security. We can all handle it as long as there is an ulterior motive. When there isn’t, we tend to get twitchy.
When pert young Peggy enthusiastically shagged aging Duck Philips on a recent episode of Mad Men, the Internet cosmos uttered a collective “ewww!” There she was, with a wrinkly dude old enough to be her father ripping at her bodice, looking like she was totally into it. No motive. No game plan. Just lust. Naughty Peggy!
But so what if a gal really digs old geezers? What if she finds them hot? What if geriatrica is her erotica? What if her idea of a turn-on is the sound of dentures clinking into a glass? What if the hiss of an oxygen cylinder being turned on turns her on? Feeling a little queasy? Just you wait.
How would you feel about Madonna’s dalliance with boy toy Jesus if she let herself go and slid into a girdle-busting Shelley Winters–ian middle age?
I am currently reading a hilarious book that daringly dives head-first into the creepy mire of gerontophilia. The Old Man and Me was written in 1963 by Elaine Dundy, the first Mrs. Kenneth Tynan. When I say “currently reading,” I do not want to give the impression that this is a lengthy tome. The truth is that I, a pathetically slow reader of long standing, am in dire need of an Evelyn Wood speed-reading seminar. The fact that I have to keep rereading chunks of it because it is so shocking and strange does not help matters. I slowed down horribly during the chapter in which the attractive young protagonista flings herself at the spongy object of her affection. Yes, she actually sleeps with “foxy old grandpa,” willingly, lustfully: “Not once,” she writes, “ was I able to resist him in the flesh.” (Her lover is not, you will be relieved to hear, ACTUALLY her grandpa.)
What is it about this scenario—young hottie lusting after catastrophically out-of-shape senior citizen—that makes our gorges rise? It’s probably just a looksist thing. Cougars are acceptable because, by eating 80 calories a day and subjecting themselves to masochistic exercise routines, these glamorous postmenopausal predators maintain a deceptively youthful appearance. There is no such thing as a fat, jowly cougar. How would you feel about Madonna’s dalliance with boy toy Jesus if she let herself go and slid into a girdle-busting Shelley Winters–ian middle age? Answer me that!
This column is, I realize, stuffed to the gills with unanswerable questions. Do not sweat it: Gerontophilia of any kind may soon become a thing of the past. As anti-aging creams and surgical procedures improve in effectiveness, all the senior-citizen lovers will be left high and dry. Once all the signifiers of age have been eradicated, how on earth will they get their rocks off? Don’t try to answer that question.
Another future conundrum: Regular folk with normal sexual appetites will, courtesy of the anti-aging trend, soon find themselves unwittingly dating people who are centuries older than they appear. Only after the lover in question drops dead—and has been sliced in half and had his/her rings counted—will the bereft partner find out he/she was dating Methuselah. Pass the Geritol … and the Spanx!