Memorial Day weekend. I'm heading up to Santa Barbara from L.A. in my old Honda CRV with 3 friends. One is a former lover, one is Wolfie my 72-year-old acquaintance with an obsession for his 25-year-old girlfriend in South America and the last one is an easygoing woman artist/painter, I'll call Lilith. I'm stuck in the backseat squirming around in my claustrophobic corner as we head up Pacific Coast Highway for the "scenic" route. Traffic's not too bad but I'm in a lousy place because I'm not sure why I felt compelled to take this trip at this time with these three people and all I can think of is it has something to do with my first Huffington Post which was about Wolfie and his obsession for a younger woman.
After the initial small talk which consists mostly of Wolfie dominating the conversation and his too loud voice, I am hoping things will quiet down and I can relax into the trip. But this never happens. Wolfie's testosterone fueled ego bellows on and on until I am ready to stick hot needles in my eyes and jump out the side door. This is not a good place for me to reside. Shit is going to happen.
I ask Wolfie a loaded but seemingly innocuous question about menopause. He turns around and says, "Why should I think about such things?" A red flag flashes in front of my eyes which results in my wanting to jump in the bullring and attack. I see my ex's eyes stabbing me in the rear view mirror, silently admonishing me to shut up. So I am now on the brink of alienating two people fifteen minutes into a weekend trip. If I'm smart, I'll hunker down in the back seat, close my eyes and pretend I don't hear anything and can't speak. I'll channel Helen Keller. But I'm not smart, mainly because Wolfie won't shut up. Not for a single goddamn second. I wonder if he dominates the young missy in this manner as well.
I interject when Wolfie takes a gulp of air. "Menopause is what happens to women when they hit their late 40's, early 50's. And it's not fun. For them or the men in their lives. I just wondered if you'd thought about it and your future with -"
Wolfie cuts me off.
"That's not my concern. I won't have to deal with that."
"But why?" I ask, feigning innocence. (I was always a provocateur. Aka a ballbuster in less literate circles)
No answer. This momentary silence I am hoping will shut him up for maybe five minutes so I can lapse into a stupor and reconnect to my inner Buddha. I want to knock off this shit stirring, I really do. I'm basically not an evil person.
But then Lilith pipes in. "Yes, Wolfie. How will you deal with her getting older? I wonder this myself."
At this point, my ex who I'll call Mr. Always the Same Name, sends me another nasty look which is loaded with 20 years of pent up frustration and looks like he is about to leap into the back seat and strangle me. I, of course, make the tactical error of grinning which I'll hear about later as a passive agressive act out that showed complete and utter disrespect. True and not true. I do want to know why Wolfie can't discuss menopausal issues.
Wolfie changes the subject, just like that. He starts talking about the tidal surf, the cliffs and his East Indian friends up in Santa Barbara. This, of course, completely convinces me that Wolfie's denial of death and aging is as huge as the great Pacific Ocean. The monumental fear behind his unwillingness to talk shuts me up, humbles me, in fact. I think about what my wise friend V. said to me at her kitchen table a few weeks back. She reminded me that playwright John Patrick Shanley dealt with men's fear of death in Moonstruck when he has Olympia Dukakis' character explain to a guy in a restaurant why her husband of 50 years had a young mistress. "They don't want to die. They're terrified of death."
The rest of the trip is less painful as I let this realization sink in. I understand now that I too am afraid of dying. But my fear keeps me away from younger lovers whereas Wolfie's drives him towards them. Really what's the difference after all? Love is love and we're all going to die. This opens up a door in my psyche and I accept the fact that the heart wants what the heart wants, regardless of my dislike of Woody Allen making this claim when he went after Soon-Yi. It still wants what it wants. I do, you do, we all do. Why should Wolfie be excluded from this simple fact?
So to Wolfie and all you guys out there hungering for a younger woman? Hey if you got the money to make a young gal happy, go for it. And to all the older women wanting a younger guy, hey if you got the money to make a young guy happy, go for it. Maybe you'll end up really falling in love. It happens.