There is no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to come out with it. I think I’m turning into Hugh Hefner.
None of the signs were there. I didn’t particularly like bunnies, (human or animal) I didn’t have a mansion, I didn’t even own a dressing gown. There was an episode of MTV Cribs back when people actually watched MTV, that featured the Playboy mansion and I’ll confess, I did covet a grotto of my own. Not for sex parties you understand, just to hide away in. I’m good at hiding, Hef is not, but there is one thing I’ve discovered recently that’s got me worried.
It came up in conversation with a friend this week, that all my celebrity crushes happen to be younger than me. I’m not sure when this happened exactly, but I’m guessing it’s akin to old people saying the policemen are getting younger (and also shorter, I’ve noticed.) Or maybe it’s because my old deteriorating eyes could no longer distinguish their features without my glasses. This then led to a whole other trail of thought involving bunnies and the possibility of humans contracting myxomatosis, but I digress. Whatever the reason, I was mortified. It was only once I had finished mentally withering to dust and stopped my internal voice from screaming that I was a weird old sex pervert, that it occurred to me to question what I really had in common with the randy old goat.
Maybe it was a midlife crisis, I pondered, clutching my crumbling face in horror. The rapidity with which wrinkles started taking over my face the second I turned 35 was almost impressive. I had never achieved anything so quickly in my life. My back started hurting in sympathy with my broken face, almost giving out while I was queuing for a recent gig, and I started making plans to go to Glastonbury before I was too decrepit to sleep in a tent without needing an ambulance to help me up the following morning. On the whole though, I didn’t give it much thought and rather enjoyed telling people I was getting wiser, if only to hear them try to muffle their laughter. Or maybe it was something I was doing subconsciously. Does anyone actually realise they’re having a midlife crisis while they’re in the midst of it? I doubt it.
I’m usually the first to sneer at middle aged men, particularly where I work, who have an obvious young trophy wife hanging off their arms. These women tell me they love their partner and it’s just a stroke of luck that the objects of their affection happen to be very rich and powerful. Then there are the Thai bride types as my friends and I like to call them, (both male and female) their sad faces staring out from the cover of Take A Break magazine, having been swindled out of their life savings by Paolo from Ibiza, 30 years their junior, who’d vanished in a cloud of hair gel and pot just days after acquiring a ‘loan’ from Janet (58, Kidderminster.)
I almost unwittingly became the bunny (so to speak) once. When I was studying for uni, I used to go to the library a lot for the peace and quiet. A kindly old man started talking to me one day and he would seek me out every time he was there. Never having had much of a relationship with my grandparents, I grew to enjoy our chats. He was lonely, had been through a bitter divorce some years ago, and didn’t see much of his family. I felt deeply sorry for him, until one day he (jokingly) asked if I had an aunt I could set him up with. I laughed along and explained that staying single was not an option many Indian women chose to take and they were all married quite young. He countered that with “How about you then?” It took me a few seconds to realise he wasn’t trying to set me up with one of his sons, but HIMSELF. Bearing in mind I was in my early twenties at the time and this man was in his late sixties at the very least, I felt a little crushed and skeeved out. I skedaddled faster than you could say ‘Rod Stewart’ and had to avoid the library for the next few months.
I don’t mean to make fun of them. I understand how terribly lonely people get and this world is built for couples. If I wasn’t such a stickler for being contrary, I’d probably be doing the same, but luckily I like my own company and could easily live out the rest of my days as a hermit. Happily, I saw that man again, walking down the street holding hands with a young looking woman a year or so later. I was thrilled and not just because I could safely use the library again. It’s easy to be judgemental, but no couple would stay together if they weren’t both getting something out of it. Whether it be love, money, companionship or security, who am I to say that’s wrong? I don’t have to understand it, it’s none of my business. For all I know, they could think my idealistic views about love are unrealistic and a fantasy. That’s fine too.
But back to my worrying celebrity crushes, my excuse is that they all look older than their years. There’s Brandon Flowers who is 2 and bit years younger than me, but back when I became a fully fledged Killers fanatic, he was sporting his Sam’s Town cowboy beardy phase and looked considerably older. Then there’s my more recent crush on Jay McGuiness of Strictly Come Dancing fame who I knew nothing about in his Wanted days. He’s a sexy dancer and that was the appeal for me. He also looks older than his years, but I did cringe myself inside out when I found out he was only 25 and start to question if I was turning into one of those creepy men all women have come across, who habitually check out young women. You know the type, they use words like “panties” and “good/clever girl” and complain how it’s ‘PC gone mad’ that they can no longer smack a secretary’s arse.
As I punched my way out of my fossilised cocoon the next morning, I realised I probably wasn’t that bad. Young looking men don’t hold any appeal for me. I always feel like their mum and every time I see One Direction on my TV, I immediately turn into my High School headmistress Mrs Day (severe bun, cat bum mouth) and want them to get a haircut and extol to them the virtues of having a quiet night in with their mams.
When it comes to boyfriends, I’ve always dated men close to my age apart from one who was a lot older. So maybe I’m not the head of a porn mag empire living with women half his age in a swanky pad after all, I have no money for a start and orange women with identical football-like chest and bum cleavage scare me. You’re also unlikely to see my gormless bovine face staring out woefully from the front page of Take A Break. Not yet anyway. And that grotto hidden behind the bushes in my back garden? Well that’s just the jacuzzi where I soothe my aching bones.