The other day, while applying liquid eyeliner for the first time in a long time, I noticed something: wrinkles. I pressed my face against the glass of my tiny bathroom’s mirror and sure enough, there were lots of them. How had I not noticed?
I have a deep frown line but, more importantly, I have crow’s feet and laugh lines. Of course, I had to show someone right away.
“Don’t worry, you’re still young and beautiful,” my friend said, stroking his ever so slightly bald patch with one hand while rubbing the wee remainder of his Christmas belly with the other.
“Worried? I’m delighted,” I said.
“Sorry. Projecting again.” He poured some lemon zinger tea and sat down.
Much to the surprise of the gay boys in my life, my lines thrill me.
Whereas he was recently— and without consent— called “Daddy” one night at the PumpJack, I’m blessed with older lesbian friends who tell me that the sex gets hotter the more you know your own body. They tell me that the more relationship experience you have, the more you learn to roll with the punches and figure out how to navigate intimacy, sex and friendships.
My friend and I both revere maturity. He rarely gets it on with a guy his age and never goes younger. Yet the messages he gets about his body are different from what I’m told about mine. And he even goes to the gym.
“There’s something about a guy with experience,” he says. “They’re just hotter.”
It goes against everything the media presents as true (not just straight mainstream media but queer media, too)— that sex is for youth, that we are measured by our physical features, that hotness hinges on tight skin and ripped abs.
Every lesbian I know can tell you that that stuff doesn’t matter. It doesn’t come down to fashionable haircuts or the latest clothes. It’s something about the way a woman laughs, eats, thinks. It’s in the subtle strokes: self-knowledge and confidence.
I always thought that the idea of comparing a woman to a fine bottle wine was cheesy. I still think it is. But I also know that letting go of inhibitions takes time.
Coming into one’s full self and being able to truly give and to genuinely receive— these are not the gifts of youth but the rewards of maturity.
One of the best compliments I ever received was from a grandmother of five. “Don’t get me wrong,” she said. “I mean, you’re okay now but, man, when you pass 40, you’re going to be super hot!”