I DON’T know… maybe I’m wrong.
My wife says I’m wrong all the time, so that probably proves it.
I have been hanging on to the idea that love is possible when you’re old. More precisely, I have been desperately clinging to the notion that when you’re old love is possible – with the same person you started with!
But I look around me and I’m not so sure. How many elderly couples do you see walking through Townsville Mall holding hands?
I saw one last week. I wanted to grab them and ask whether they’d had a super-glue accident, or whether one of them was blind!
There’s an old song: when love grows older it fades away like the morning dew.
I have to say that by my observation it’s spot on. Either that, or it morphs into something that probably still has its own particular value, but less obviously so – like a rose when it turns into compost.
Love has all kind of qualities. The poets have been on about it for years… if you listen to them it’s unquestioning, blind, constant, loyal and unassailable, which just goes to show that poets are not bright.
(That’s what I think, too, so draw your own conclusion).
But in my experience love is patient, and old people aren’t.
Love is tolerant and old people want everyone to shut up and go away. Now.
When you’re 30, and your life partner of six months burns the house down, you will respond with tender concern and understanding: it’s all right darling… they’re only things…. we’ll rebuild it… just so long as you’re safe….
But when you’re 65 and your life partner of 35 years drops a dirty knife in your washing-up water it’s hard not to want to strangle them.
Maybe we should switch partners after 30 years, like they do in those old-time dances. It would be an interesting experiment. If my wife got the bloke next door would she want to bludgeon him with a bread board straight away, or would it take 30 years before she lost patience with him?
As I say – the omens are not good.
I look around my friends and I see the tell-tale signs of marital warfare. Expressions like “Dear Heart” with the capitals, and muttered through clenched teeth; the stiffening of the back because the water’s gone cold in the washing up bowl and looks like the contents of a grease trap.
These things never used to matter. Now they are perfectly reasonable motivations for divorce. Or possibly murder.
It’s very sad. We all fall in love sooner or later. And I suspect even the most cynical among us cling to the idea that love can be — should be — constant and eternal.
Or do we leap in thinking it will be as fickle as the weather and — if you’re very, very lucky — keep you going for about 30 years, but not without plenty of tinkering and spare parts and occasional major overhaul?
A bit like an HG Holden, really.
But when your HG Holden wheezes to its final resting place you won’t feel like a failure.
I am talking like an old person. I think maybe I belong to the last generation that was hooked on love. The new ones seem to change partners so often they look upon anything over five years as a lifetime commitment.
So maybe the mere fact of successfully navigating 30 years is enough. But just because a board of directors runs a successful business for 30 years, it doesn’t mean they still have to like each other!
However, I guess they should try. So…I shall continue to hold my wife’s hand when we walk down the street.
With any luck she’ll have the dog’s leash, with the dog on the end of it, in the other one.
So she won’t be able to hit me with that one, either.