It happened the other day. A turn of the head. A beautiful woman walking by. Half a second’s eye contact. Thin polite smile. Then the thought: walking by. The weight of what it meant. For that’s what she will always be from now. Beauty that walks by.
I remember the first time I heard someone use the term sexual invisibility. She said that time had effectively de-sexed her. “I’m mother, aunty, confidant, drinking buddy, gym buddy, you name it – but never lover.”
Through this invisible yet ruthless wall of time I too have now clearly passed. They no longer stop. No longer seem to enjoy the attention I might give them. I am the bumbling imbecile they look right through – or at best tolerate for a few seconds. I am the pitiable, contemptable, menopausal idiot stupidly clinging to the last scraps of hope. The joke they laugh at the moment my back is turned.
All this despite the fact that I can see their beauty more clearly than ever – that I can love them more freely and boldly and truly. If in my handsome years I greedily took, now in my ugly time I have oceans to give. Yet now they sit inside me unwanted – dammed, penned in by age and its tell-tale perimeter fence of thinning hair.
Are porn, pity fucks and dating site shag hags all that’s left? The paleness of settling as opposed to the wildness of fire?
Either way, she walked away. Didn’t she? Blinked at you, took her next step and instantly forgot you. And none of the irony or poetry of the moment was communicated. She was the form of loveliness gliding by but I was just the sad arse man whose gaze lingered a little too long on the dream of beauty. I got caught. She escaped.
So now I surrender – and the sea of love that moves within me will save its mighty tides for fictions. For the swoon of songs. For the shimmer of cinema. For letters like this.
And the beautiful women – emerging and then instantly retreating into the torrents of an anonymous city – they will just walk past. Unknowing, uncaring. Until I no longer see them and words like these dry up.