Beneath the sheets, and under the desk, of delecto domestico
FIFTYSOMETHING:I WAS UNDER the desk looking for my glasses when I found a magazine article about Cindy Gallop. (I’d like to be called Gallop, there is something entirely jaunty and self-assured about the name Gallop.)
Anyway, Cindy Gallop, to cut a long article short, is a hugely successful New York-based advertising executive and web entrepreneur who dates younger men. Cindy is 50. She has a blonde bob, a selection of leather trousers and a subterranean- looking “black-themed” apartment (good luck finding your glasses under her desk), and she is the woman behind the website MakeLoveNotPorn.
The aim of the website is to provide a realistic view of human sexuality, and apparently she set it up as a direct response to her encounters with younger men, who, in her experience, have copied their sexual technique from hardcore pornography.
So, anyway, I was sitting under the desk peering at the magazine – couldn’t find the glasses, still can’t – trying to imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning in a cavernous New York apartment and slip into a jacuzzi bath to ponder one’s response to the sexual proclivities of younger men, rather than engage in the kind of mornings I usually have, which generally involve swimming in a sea of vaguely malodorous Tupperware to find lids for the lunch boxes. And it got me thinking – excuse the existential leap – that I don’t actually believe in cougars.
I don’t mean the cats, obviously. The cats are pretty incontrovertible; they’re out there, roaming the savannah, eating small monkeys and the occasional rhino calf. No, I’m talking about the kind of cougars popularised by Cougar Town, an achingly dull television series that had all the allure of a leopardskin thong in the bottom of the wash box.
Cougars, as epitomised by Courteney Cox, the star of the show (a grating actress who, like a persistent pimple on the inside of the nasal passage, never quite goes away), are women, usually in their 40s and 50s, who expend vast amounts of energy in pursuit of sexual relationships with young men.
Cougars, as defined by popular media, are also financially independent, heavily Botoxed, size zero and, in a Sex and the City-esque kind of way, bolstered by nipple-pierced girlfriends with throaty laughs who enjoy washing their dirty designer linen over boozy, calorifically controlled lunches.
Now, I’m not suggesting that women of my vintage don’t sleep with younger men. I’m not for a moment suggesting that women of my vintage, albeit with healthier bank balances than mine, don’t fall off hotel chairs and roll around carpets at lunchtime, hooting with laughter about how the Earth moved while their implants remained motionless. I just doubt the cougar stereotype.
Take Gallop, who is an admirably successful and confident woman. Sleeping with guys in their 20s and painting her walls black is her shtick, which is terrific, but I would defy anyone to categorise her merely by the colour of her sheets and who she chooses to share her bed with.
I must be moving in the wrong circles, but I just don’t know women who turn themselves inside out on the waxing tables of this glum republic merely to excite the interest of younger men. I do, however, know women who are in relationships with younger men, and – bar the risk of breaking a puffy ankle by tripping over the wiring of their boyfriend’s Xbox – these tend to be as pedestrian and messy as anyone else’s.
So, I’m still under the desk with Cindy, and now she is explaining how her website works. Basically, she encourages couples to upload videos of themselves having sex. She wants to keep the action authentic; she is looking for the honest, the comical, the real. She was moved to speak out, she says, because of the lack of open, healthy dialogue about sex and because she felt that many young men have little sex education outside of pornography.
Cindy is lovely, and she makes a valid argument for tea-cosy tenderness and flawed flagrante – but I’m sorry, Cindy, I’m going to turn down your invitation to help create a counterbalance to a world dominated by performance sex.
You see, I only crawled under here to find my spectacles and, faced with a global challenge to correct the erroneous perceptions of a bunch of youths, whom, I’m pretty sure, would be dismayingly indifferent anyway to delecto domestico . . . well, all things considered, I’d rather gargle with the cat lit.