Old Men, Younger Women

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

I happened to stumble upon the movie adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel The Human Stain last night, starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, and a host of other very talented actors and actresses. Roth and Hopkins are both favorites of mine (particularly Hopkins), so of course I watched. In addition to the strong performances, it was beautifully filmed and had a compelling plot well-told.

It also featured the always popular May/December romance so common in films, with Mr. Hopkins’ character finding himself involved with a woman at least 30 years younger than himself. She appears to mistakenly believe it is all about the sex, and no doubt, to a large extent it is. But as I age, I am beginning to wonder if women are missing something about guys which might make guys a little more palatable to them, and that is that it is NOT always about the sex.

My own character, Richard Wilson, in An Ordinary Man, explains it this way to a younger colleague he has gotten very close to who is about to get married:

“Nothing else promotes communication quite so well [as sex], and nothing is more important to a marriage than good communication.”
“Oh, so it’s not just about the sex itself?”
“No, although that certainly doesn’t hurt anything. It’s the intimacy, the private time, the closeness, the sharing. The absence of barriers, of resentments. The openness. The camaraderie. Plus, you’re not going to solve issues with someone you resent.”

Sometimes it’s about the sex in that he wants to see and touch, squeeze and hold, but not necessarily do, her, if only because that requires you to be naked and alone together, where the true bonding can be maintained. For so many men, the moment you take your shirt off, you become someone distinct from anyone else in the world. When Coleman Silk and Faunia Farley are in bed together after the act itself, he is less alone than ever and that might well be what he wants most.