The first thing you notice about South East Asia is the dirty old men. Men aged 50-plus (and I mean plus), fat, balding, bespectacled men in tent-sized Hawaiian shirts, men who would not look out of place playing lawn bowls at a Gold Coast retirement home or mowing around the jacaranda in Mount Waverley. Enjoying the Wednesday parma and pint at the local RSL club with their nasal-voiced, leather-skinned and blue-rinsed wives. You know the kind of men I mean. The kind who say ‘How’s your strength?’ when you walk past because they need your help lifting something. The kind who still say ‘Jap’ and ‘wog’. The kind who, when in mixed company of their own age, converse exclusively about their operations and the recent operations of others.
These salt-of-the-earth men strut the streets of Phnom Penh and Phuket with girls in their early twenties, girls whose professional genius disguises even the most subtle indications of disgust. What I find most odd about these gents is their complete lack of shame. I see an attractive young woman I’d be quite proud of picking up on the free sexual market, and there they are with a revolting old bloke in return for a small amount of cash. Blind Freddy and Retarded Dave can both see what’s going on. Where is the shame, for God’s sake? Why not just pick up the girl in an out-of-the-way club then sneak her back to your hotel room with embarrassed discretion? Why do you need to parade her down the main street, eat with her in the nice restaurants, drink with her in alfresco cafes? This is what room service is for.
Different people are revolted by dirty old men for different reasons. Young or cool men are angered by the fact that such beautiful women can so easily be got by unattractive losers merely by splashing some cash. Their revulsion is evenly split between the whores and the johns. Old western women are disgusted because those resources ought to be directed to them. In the case of divorcees, they cannot stand to see the man they dumped (or someone like him) having a good time. Older men who remain monogamously or celibately faithful to their elderly wives are disgusted because they secretly wish to do the same thing, and are disgusted at themselves for being unable to do so. Young women are repulsed because those old men ought to be pining hopelessly over them instead.
As for me, my disgust is most like that of the well-behaved old men, though I am not yet old nor well-behaved. I look at these soulless blimps and think, one day that will be me.
Even as a teenager, I looked at married couples and thought, imagine waking up to that. I was horrified at the idea of being stuck with the kind of unattractive, overweight and shrewish middle-aged ladies that most of my friends’ mums were. Of course, a teenage girl might well have looked at the old dads and thought the same thing, but I was not a teenage girl.
Even today, at an age when I should be over such childish concerns, they concern me more than ever. I know about wife-goggles but I’m afraid that I might be too cynical and deficient in sentiment to develop this helpful illusion.
Added to this, I am a selfish and arrogant person. I feel entitled to have sex with young, beautiful women throughout my life. When I can no longer attract them through my native charms, I will need to make use of whatever hard-won wildcards I may have saved. Assuming I live that long.
Critics will argue, what on earth will you talk about with such vacuous demimonde? The answer: as little as possible, hopefully. As with current girlfriends. Nay-sayers will further demand, won’t you be lonely with these loveless, purely physical and transactional relationships? My answer: no more than at present, which is not much. Some men need companionship. I need solitude, interspersed with beers with friends and the odd root. Sometimes a very odd root.
Finally, some may wonder how serious I am about this. After all, this is twenty-odd years in the future we’re talking about. I answer you thus: I’m already budgeting for it.
Any old blokes out there with reflections on this, either way? I respect experience over platitudes.
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