It’s still daylight as we step outside the bar, the slanting rays of the fading evening sun casting their weak light over her face, illuminating the fine lines and wrinkles, highlighting the slight looseness of the skin. You wouldn’t exactly call her old, but there’s just an overall impression that the bloom of youth is swiftly wilting, it’s last petals soon to cascade to the unforgiving ground.
The flame of attraction that had been surging within me only moments previously within the darkened bar, where the shadows had gently caressed her features, softening and muting the signs of her advancing years, begins to flicker. Looking at her face, I am suddenly reminded of how my mother’s skin used to look to me when I was a child, and the flame is extinguished for ever. Making a hasty excuse, I call a halt to the proceedings, and make the short walk back to my apartment.
By the time I arrive and ascend the short flight of stone steps to my residence, the sun has almost completely set. The interior is dark, and taking a few halting steps inside, I fumble for the light switch. Weak, dank light issues forth from the energy saving bulb, barely illuminating the far reaches of the room, but slowly increases until I am bathed in a pale, fluorescent glow.
I catch sight of myself in the mirror. I see the same fine lines, the same wrinkles as I noted on my recently deposed date, flecks of grey shooting through my dark hair. The effects of age lie as thickly on me as they did on her. But the difference could not be more pronounced.
Where the creases and lines of her face combined to create an impression of being jaded, a harbinger of the end of youth, they add depth and character to mine, creating an impression of maturity and experience. The grey hairs running through my hair, rather than indicating a weakening or lessening of power, merely seek to add an air of distinguished masculinity.
I permit myself a self-satisfied smirk as I take in my strong countenance and my expensively tailored clothing. Like a fine wine, all my best years lie before me, whilst all around me those women of my generation who so proudly spurned even my very gaze but five years ago, are one by one laid low and humbled by the interminable passage of the years. Now it is my turn to decline their advances, casting them aside in favour of their younger, more nubile counterparts.
The thought occurs to me as I stride confidently from the room: “It’s great being a man.”