December 18, 2012 § 57 Comments
From yesterday’s Times:-
An old friend, whom I should have slept with twenty-five years ago, took me out to lunch. We fancied each other but somehow never got over the hump of seduction, which I like to suppose he regrets as much as I do, though had we done so, chances are we would no longer be such good friends, if friends at all. Over lunch, he told me that when he and his wife separated for a few months, women – married and single – threw themselves at him. He could have slept with at least six (but didn’t; he adores his wife and is not unfaithful). He was not boasting. He was stating a fact, and he was startled by it. He agreed he had kept his figure and is solvent and easy to talk to, but nothing had prepared him for the desperate way in which some of these lovely middle-aged women hit on him. I told him that this just confirmed my whole less-than-rosy outlook and, as one of these “desperate” women (who doesn’t throw myself at people, but perhaps should?), I found it depressing.
I have as honest conversations with this friend as I do with my women friends, and I am incredibly fond of him. He is supportive, generous and wise. We had a long conversation about intimacy. We stated the obvious: that sex by no means automatically equals intimacy. It can enhance intimacy for sure, but the two must never be confused.
I have come to believe that it is lack of intimacy which is at the very core of what is so grinding about planktonhood. Oh, there is humiliation and loneliness, and more, of course, all crucifying, but it is the void of intimacy which eats away at the spirit. Intimacy is so beguiling and warm and subtle that those in possession of it more often than not are blind to its charms. Maybe not at first, but they sure as hell become so. Take it entirely for granted. Perhaps only those who cannot lay claim to it appreciate just how sweet it is.
I have intimacy with my family and friends, of course; never to be under-estimated. But recently I have had a fleeting glimpse of intimacy – and I don’t mean sex though I don’t preclude it – with the Slightly Younger Twinkle. It is different from family/friends intimacy. Call it that secret, private, exclusive narrative with a particular person. This is at the heart of what most human beings find compelling, but so often too elusive. The fragility of this special intimacy is frightening. But having been starved of it for so long, it seems sweeter than it probably has any right to feel.