Bryan Jones' Diary - the ramblings of a menopausal man
Is there a male menopause? As a man in his mid-50s, I have recently become aware of getting older. Increasing age has had a curious effect on my psyche. I am noticing, on an almost daily basis, that I am thinking, feeling and behaving in ways that are starkly different from my youth and earlier adulthood. I will share these experiences on this blog and hope others will join me in describing their own age-related quirks and oddities. I can't be the only one at this "funny age", can I??
Women are complicated. Sometimes they're unfathomable. Despite a
relationship spanning over 34 years, I cannot yet claim to understand the mind
of Mrs Jones. But I have learnt a few things along the way – how else would I
have survived? – and I’d like to share
them for the benefit of other men out there who might be even more perplexed
than I am about the female psyche.
With regards to her body shape and appearance, a lady will
never ask a question of her man unless she has already identified the response
she wants to hear. Consequently, such questions strike pulsating terror into
the bowels of any male. We know there is a ‘correct’ answer that, if delivered
promptly and with sincerity, could later be rewarded with an assortment of
sexual favours. But get it wrong and punishment awaits, ranging from icy
silences to physical assaults.
So gentleman, here is my guide to how to (and how not to) respond
to six common questions from our partners. If you’re masochistic enough to
offer response 1, brace yourself for punishment of a type that would have seemed gruesome in the dark ages. Offer a response 2 and expect to
spend at least the next 24 hours in social isolation during which she will emit only
one-syllable replies to your attempts to initiate conversation. But get it
right with a response 3 and you could be creasing the sheets while entwined in
the limbs of a passionate woman (that is, your partner).
Question: Which of
these two dresses should I wear at the restaurant tonight? (asked while trying them on)
RESPONSE 1: ‘Won’t your jeans and sweatshirt suffice?
RESPONSE 2: ‘They both look OK’
RESPONSE 3: ‘You look great in both; they each show off your
figure, but I think the red one just edges it’
Question: Do you
think my bingo wings are disappearing? (while
tugging the flabby bits on her upper arms)
RESPONSE 1: ‘No, but all women your age have bingo wings.
And now I come to think of it, even the pretty lass next door has them, and she’s
a lot younger than you’
RESPONSE 2: ‘They’re getting there’
RESPONSE 3: ‘I can’t say I’ve ever noticed them; your arms
always look slender and elegant to me’
Question: My boobs
are getting really floppy; don’t you find them a big turn off?
RESPONSE 1: ‘Yes. They’re like two blubber-filled hammocks
in a gale’
RESPONSE 2: ‘No, I like them floppy’
RESPONSE 3: ‘I love your boobs; what man wouldn’t? Soft and
natural and so much better than those plastic ones that some models flash
across the newspapers’
Question: Does my
butt look big in these jeans?
RESPONSE 1: ‘Of course it does; I didn’t nickname you “bacon
arse” for nothing!’
RESPONSE 2: ‘No, not really’
RESPONSE 3: ‘No way! It looks firm and pert. In fact it’s
taking all my willpower not to caress it’
that bracelet look gorgeous? (while
gazing into a jeweller’s shop window)
RESPONSE 1: ‘Give me strength! At that price we should be living in it, never mind wearing it’
RESPONSE 2: ‘Yes it’s nice’
RESPONSE 3: ‘It would look fantastic on you. If only we
could muster the funds to buy it’ (buy it
later that day and surprise her)
Question: Do you
think I’m losing weight? (while
standing in front of a full-length mirror)
RESPONSE 1: ‘No, I can’t say I’ve noticed’
RESPONSE 2: ‘I hope not; I like you with a bit of excess
RESPONSE 3: ‘Without a doubt; you’re shape reminds me of our
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of farconville at
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… …
I sit alone in the corner of a room, mindful of the passing
seconds. Three months from now I will be 57; a year of existence for each of
the Heinz varieties. Well past my half century, 8 years from ‘pensioner’ status,
41 years beyond the age of legal consent for sexual shenanigans.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… …
I’ve always had an aversion to time. Relentless, taunting
clocks spewing out their unsettling messages each time you glance into their
faces: another hour of humiliation to endure in the school woodwork class at
the mercy of a sadistic teacher; 45 minutes beyond the scheduled meeting time
at the bus-stop confirms she’s stood me up; only 10 minutes remaining in the
History exam and I’ve yet to start the final question; 11 hours into my wife’s
torturous labour and no sign of my son’s head.
Tick-tock, tick-tock… …
Yesterday I learnt of the sudden death of a longstanding friend.
He was my age – seven months younger, actually. Fifty-two-years ago we sat,
side-by-side, in the infant class on our first day at school, flushed pink with
a combination of excitement and fear. Yet now he's gone, and each tick and tock proclaims I, too,
am one second closer to nothingness, as Time inexorably inhales my juices,
drying me up, edging me closer to that arid shell on the mortuary slab.
AND THAT IS WHY … …
I will book the flight to visit my only brother in the
Bahamas, rather than just talking about it
Tick-tock, tick-tock… …
I will start to write that block-buster novel I’ve been pondering
on for over a decade
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… …
I will invite my wonderful son over for a couple of bottles
of Abbott’s ale while we listen to, and discuss, our favourite music. And take
my beautiful daughter to a Mexican restaurant to catch up on her university
experiences while imbibing chicken fajitas and a cool drop of Corona Extra
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… …
And tonight I’ll surprise Mrs Jones by preparing a meal of
fillet steak, swilled down with a Spanish Rioja. We’ll talk, and reminisce,
about our 34 joyful years together. After which I’ll lift my lady off her feet
– a (little) bit like the iconic scene from An Officer and a Gentleman – carry
her to bed, and pound her into multiple-orgasmic ecstasy. (Okay, just one
orgasm, if I’m on form – and my lumbago doesn’t flare up while I’m in full
piston-like flow – but it will be high quality).
Because, after all, we need to grasp each fucking tick and
each fucking tock as if it’s our last.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of
thinking. At 56 years of age I believe it is time to review my life,
stock, make amends. I don’t believe there is a God or an afterlife, but who can
be certain of such things. So I’d like to play safe and acknowledge all my major
wrongdoings from over half a century of prowling the planet earth. After I’ve
drawn my final breath, if I find myself at the ultimate junction, I want to
ensure I’m ushered in the direction of the arrow labelled ‘fine wine, ale and
warm female flesh’ rather than the one indicating ‘fire, brimstone and a
perpetual knee to the bollocks’.
So brace yourself, here goes; my
Dad, I’m sorry I lied to you when
I was 9 and you asked me about my 14-year-old brother’s liking for tobacco.
Adopting my most sincere facial expression – chin jutting, eyes fixed on yours
– I swore that I’d never seen Tony puff on a single cigarette. Father, I
sinned. Your older child was smoking like a damp log on a campfire. Forgive me.
I know it’s no excuse but I had been bribed by my big brother; he’d allowed me
a couple of drags if I remained silent.
Mum, I’m sorry I lied to you when
I was 7. I was responsible for those giant spiders that infested our house. My
behaviour at the time would today have led to a hefty prescription of Ritalin. Forgive
me, for it was I who engaged in frenzied fly-murdering sprees (aiming for a
minimum cull of three bulbous blue-bottles a day) and stored their pulped carcasses
under a loose window tile; word most have spread through the spider community
that a ready-made feast was being served daily, motivating all the dominant eight-legged
creatures within a 2-mile radius to descend on our living room. And didn’t they
fatten up quickly; our window ledge soon resembled a scene from Arachnophobia.
And mum, it was not the cat’s
fault that your wardrobe smelt of piss in 1977 – it’s amazing where a semi-slumbering
young man will urinate after ingesting 12 pints of finest ale.
Mrs Fenwick, I wish to retract my
comment to you when you returned home to break up your son’s house party 39
years ago. With the maturity of middle-age, I can now understand why you might
have felt annoyed to discover muddy foot-prints on the Artexed ceiling of your
recently-decorated dining room, semi-naked teenagers in your bed, not to
mention the pools of vomit on the bathroom floor. You were never a ‘stuck up,
snotty cow’ so please forgive me for my foul-mouthed ignorance; again, the
demon drink may have distorted my mind. (Although come to think of it, you did
often carry an unfortunate facial expression, as if someone was wafting a turd
under your nose).
Jean, the cougar, please accept
my sincerest apologies for my failure to rise to the occasion, particularly
after that delicious three-course meal you prepared for me. I was good-to-go,
until I caught sight of your lady bits which, after churning out three children
–one of whom, at 20 years old, was my age – seemed discoloured and misshapen,
like a poorly-assembled tent flapping in the wind, and not at all like those of
my female peers. Please forgive me.
Jane, the lovely young lady from
Durham, you were totally right to deny me access to your inner treasures on our
first date. I was 20 years old, full of anger and resentment, and treated you
shoddily. And I’m sure you were far from being a ‘frigid slab of whale
blubber’; please forgive me.
I think that should just about
cover it. Oh wait. To the old lady I met last week in the frozen-fish aisle of
the local Tesco store: it was I, not you, who was responsible for emitting the
rotting-cabbage smell; it just slipped out when I bent over the refrigerators
in search of battered cod. I should never have accused you. Sorry.
Well, I feel lighter already.
Wine, ale and warm female flesh, here I come!
Photo courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Courtesy of Raktim Chatterjee at
'Wow, he's a big lad,' I said to Mrs Jones as we sat together on the settee watching our twice-weekly dollop of Judge Judy. 'Look at that gut; when was the last time he saw his knees, not to mention his bits and pieces!'
The victim of my verbal assault
was a young man in his early 20s, standing before the solemn queen of
arbitration in an attempt to sue his ex-girlfriend for the cost of an
engagement ring. Clad in a grey suit and black tie, he clearly had made an
effort to dress appropriately for Court. Articulate and respectful, he outlined
the rationale for his claim. Thinking back, his demeanour suggested a pleasant,
intelligent human being. But at the time I ignored those qualities, my
attention focused only on the straining lower buttons of his white cotton shirt
as they struggled to contain a wodge of overhanging flab demanding its
I used to be a nice man. Size didn’t
matter – except, of course, when creasing the sheets in the midst of lust – it
was only behaviour and personality that counted when evaluating another human
being. But that all changed in 2013 when a self-imposed exercise programme
resulted in me shedding my beer-belly and 30 pounds.
Since my conversion from a chubby
slob to thoroughbred athlete (don’t puncture my delusional bubble – it’s hard
enough to maintain a positive self-image at 56), I’ve developed an obsession
with people’s shapes and, like reformed smokers, I am now the harshest critic
of those who are yet to change their ways. When meeting males for the first
time, I zoom in on their contours and mass. Does he carry more than one chin?
Are there any man-boobs lurking under his outer garments? Is that a poorly
inflated rubber ring clinging to his waste or a swathe of whale blubber?
I know my reactions are
distasteful, ignorant and sometimes repulsive. My rational self often
immediately challenges my prejudicial thoughts:
‘Don’t be a fatist; you’re no
better than a racist, sexist or any other “ist”’
‘If you must form opinions of
others, look further than their physical appearance’
‘Never judge a book by its cover’
‘Some people are born to be
bigger than others; it’s in their genes’
‘There are unfortunate folk with
medical conditions that render weight loss difficult, even impossible’.
I’m familiar with all these
retorts and believe them to be morally and factually sound. But there is an
emotional, almost instinctive part of me that is impossible to restrain. Feel
free to unfriend me now; I’ll understand.
Nor is my discriminatory gaze
exclusive to males. When I’m introduced to a woman one of my first thoughts is,
‘How firm is her butt?’ A close second is, ‘What proportion of her breasts are
pure mammary rather than excess poundage?’ And so my internal conflict is
triggered again, my emotive prejudice challenged by my rational and moral
I often feel compelled to explain
my turmoil to Mrs Jones. When she catches me staring at women’s arses and boobs
I’m at pains to point out that I’m not yearning for soft, silky, tender, warm,
succulent female flesh … …[* breath quickens*] … … but struggling to resolve my
internal conflict. She is not yet convinced!
I recently stumbled upon an
article in Medical News Today titled ‘What
is the average penis size?’ My curiosity pricked – it’s my scientific mind,
you know – I read on. Apparently, the average length of the male member is
about 3.4 inches (8.5 cms) when flaccid, and 5.5 inches (14 cms) when fully
Seconds later, I’m rummaging in
Mrs Jones’ sowing tin for the tape measure, hands trembling with anticipation.
After a fruitless search among the needles and threads, I shifted the pursuit
to my toolbox – the puns just keep on coming; whoops, there’s another one –
until I located the spring-loaded tape, and retired to the bathroom to
determine how I measured up.
I’m sure most men will be
familiar with the process of penis measurement, but I doubt whether many have
carried out the procedure deploying a steel-bladed, automatic-locking device
with push-button retraction; you’ll be familiar with the contraption, the one
that closes like a mouse trap when you press the ‘recoil’ knob. Suffice it to
say that, at the age of 56, I almost earned entry into the Guinness Book of
Records for the oldest man to perform a do-it-yourself circumcision.
Smug with the realisation that I
was comfortably within the average range (albeit after a fair bit of burrowing
into the testicular region), I returned, reassured, to read the remainder of
the article. One study had reported that women’s satisfaction with the sexual
act depended more on penis girth than length. My eyes scoured the text for the
relevant data: the average circumference of the trouser-snake is 3.7 inches
(9.5 cms) at slumber and 4.7 inches (12 cms) when reporting for duty; cue round
two of jousting with the steel tape measure.
After the discovery that my
member was again firmly within the average range, not even the loss of 50 units
of O-negative could erase my self-satisfied grin.
Apparently, there are cultural
differences in average penis size. It seems that Indian men were dealt an
inferior stack when the todger cards were distributed, their average length
falling a crucial half-inch short of their American counterparts. So it’s New
Delhi rather than New York as a destination for me this summer; brace
yourselves Keshika, Sita and Shefali, big Bryan – or comfortably-in-the-average-range
Bryan - is on his way.
'Whatever you do, never, ever, stick your finger in here' said
my 11-year-old brother.
Tony, my elder sibling, was
standing in our living room with the table lamp in his hand. He was pointing at
the opening where the light bulb would go. I was aware that the lamp had been without
a bulb (and shade) for some time; each morning, prior to leaving for work, my
dad would plug his electric shaver into this socket.
‘Why not?’ I asked.
‘Just don’t do it’, said Tony. ‘If
you do you’ll get electrocuted.’
When Tony left, and I was alone
playing on the carpet with my Lego, I struggled to maintain concentration on
building my plastic-brick tower. My gaze repeatedly drifted to the lamp socket.
It looked harmless enough; brown plastic casing circling two small holes. And
what did ‘electrocuted’ mean? To my 7-year-old mind, anything with the word ‘cute’
in it couldn’t be that bad; my grandmother called me it all the time.
As the morning progressed, my
bottom (and plastic tower) shuffled ever nearer to the lamp until I was in
touching distance of that two-holed curiosity. Tentatively, as if extending a
hand towards a sleeping Rottweiler, my fingers brushed the plastic casing,
before snatching them back. Nothing happened. Tony must have been trying to
scare me again; one of his favourite pastimes.
I approached the socket a second
time, my index finger outstretched. It hovered at the entry, before plunging into
My recollection of what happened
next is vague and fragmented. I recall a searing vibration shooting along the
length of my arm, as if I was clinging to a giant locust. Moments later I was
lying on my back, in the middle of our living room, surrounded by Lego bricks,
with a whiff of singed flesh in my nostrils.
To this day I remain uncertain as
to my big brother’s motive in issuing his warning about that light socket. He
knew I was a curious boy who always sought explanations and who was inclined to
experiment to find answers. Almost half a century on, when I reminded him of
the incident, he claimed no memory of it, adding that, if he said such a thing,
it would have been fuelled by a desire to keep his little brother safe. I
continue to doubt; after all, a few months earlier he had almost expired after I
locked him in a suitcase. Nevertheless, we remain the closest of brothers,
perhaps fused in friendship by having both – miraculously - survived our
The queen of the blogging world, Terrye Toombs, posed seven of her most devilish questions and I was one of the victims. If anyone is interested to hear about knickerbockers flying over Castorbridge Wood in the remake of a Thomas Hardy classic - and much, much more - drop in via the following link: