Erotic Interlude #60: Age Differences
By Hapax Legomenon

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One Saturday morning I picked up Lisa at the car repair shop to drive her home. I was still half-asleep, but Lisa was talkative and full of energy. In the car she mentioned random things: her boss's stupid rules, a mushroom soup she planned to cook later and and a new phone which all of her friends were raving about. Then, out of the blue, she mentioned my story The Revolting Breast .

"I'm glad the people in this story actually have ages. It's maddening to read fiction where nobody's age is identified. "

"That's no different from real life," I said. "After college it's rare to know for sure how old people are."

"But you need a mental picture," Lisa said. "The author doesn't need to mention every external characteristic of a person, but at minimum the reader should know the sort of things obvious to any casual onlooker. If a person is 90 years old or obese or wears an eye-patch, the reader should always know that."

"A timeline was vital for this story," I said, "So I had to specify dates and years. But erotic stories work better if they don't mention ages at all."


"Readers want stories about young people," I said. "If a character's age makes her seem less nubile or sensuous, it's less arousing to read. It's better to leave these things to the imagination."

"I'm all in favor of the imagination," Lisa said. "But any world populated by 18 and 19 year olds seem artificial (and even a little whiney). When you ignore age, you ignore complexity of motives. The past holds secrets, and part of erotica is uncovering these secrets."

"Oh really!?" I replied. "Maybe that's true in real life, but in erotic fiction the past burdens a story. It may be interesting to know that a character had a personal trauma as a child, but stories needs to go forward, not backwards. Constructing backstories may be a useful exercise, but the revealing of a secret rarely increases a story's erotic potential. Anyway, most of these so-called revelations just waste time. Did you ever watch the TV show Lost? It tosses in so many flashbacks that nothing gets resolved. It's all a fiendish plot to keep people watching ads."

"I hated Lost," Lisa said. "And flashbacks quickly grow tiresome. But when you make every character the same age, you limit the variety of characters and situations."

"That's not necessarily a bad thing," I said. "Men and women seem to be wired differently about appearance and age. As a man I will always be more attracted to young women. It's a biological fact. I doubt that I would ever find an amazing 40 year old to be as sexy as an average 20 year old."

"Don't confuse sexual attractiveness with youthfulness," Lisa said. "Older people have other ways to be attractive; they can even be more wild and adventurous in the bedroom."

"But if I watched two porn movies – one starring an 18 year old girl, the other a 40 year old woman – I would generally prefer the one with the 18 year old. Of course, a porn video is inherently a visual and superficial medium."

"Have you watched many porn movies starring 40 year old females?" Lisa asked.


"Have you ever made love to a 40 year old woman?"


"Then how do you know it wouldn't be a turn on?"

"I don't. It's just a matter of biology."

"Men and women must have different arousal buttons," Lisa said. "I find older men to be just as attractive as younger ones. I would even date a 40 year old man if he were the right person. For me (and maybe all women), sexual attractiveness depends on a man's personality and his sense of himself."

"Maybe at 40 you will feel differently," I replied.

"I think women are more flexible and open-minded about sex and love. We are better able to appreciate the total person than what's on the surface."

I paused. Lisa had the tendency to extol a woman's viewpoint for its own sake. Does each gender cling to whatever stereotype is most flattering?

I knew Lisa to be 24 years (I think). She was gorgeous. Ten years from now her body would be less gorgeous even though her seductive powers would still be considerable. By 44 she would probably still have the energies and enthusiasm of a younger woman (even though her physical appearance would probably seem unremarkable). At 54 she would probably have no sex appeal at all (even though her erotic history would remain a subject of immense fascination to me). At 64, her sexuality would be nothing more than a cosmic joke. Who knows how repulsive women would find my physical appearance to be at that same age? And maybe when I reached my sixties, the older version of Lisa would still seem gorgeous to me.

"A person's entire erotic self," I speculated, "is determined by experiences accumulated during those young adult years. By 30 a person has already developed erotic habits and triggers which cannot be unlearned. After that, a person's main preoccupation is how to reawaken those same youthful vigors."

"That is what makes a person's erotic history so important." Lisa said.

"Or unimportant." I said. "I'm interested in a person's erotic life before he or she has time to cultivate habits or expectations."

"You are simply rationalizing your attraction to young and impressionable girls. This kind of passion isn't substantial or healthy. The thought of having a fling is nice, but people eventually prefer something which they can pursue with total passion."

"How can you be sure?" I asked. "And what is total passion anyway? If people were content with more modest feelings, they'd be less susceptible to disappointment. When is a person most susceptible to passion?"

"The same point in time," Lisa said, "when romantic opportunities are meager and the human heart struggles with solitude."

"And when is that?"

Written June 2010

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By the age of 30 a person has already developed erotic habits and triggers which cannot be unlearned. After that age, a person's main preoccupation is how to reawaken those same youthful vigors.
Arthur Hughes, April Love 1856
Lord Arthur Hughes(1832-1915)
April Love (1855-6)
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