Mid-twenties, for most men, can be a particularly delicate period.
He has recently discovered a knack for chugging gallons of sweet smelling, frosty brown ale and maintaining a distinctively gentlemanly composure while engaging in tasty conversations on women or politics. He has discovered, much to his displeasure that both the elevator and its occupants have begun to complain when he attempts to squeeze in his only slightly bloated self into the same. He is growing increasingly fretful of his inability to see his fairly underutilised man parts when he takes a leak, owing to a rather magnificent growth of his beer belly.
While he continues to indulge in cherished childhood pleasures like the occasional cricket match, he has discovered that his body has turned surprisingly uncooperative when he attempts to make that diving interception – which women absolutely swoon over. As such, even the smallest contortions of the limbs have their price. Take for instance, my absolutely delightful classmate who attempted to emulate the classy Rahul Dravid and dislocated his limb. He wasn’t exactly playing a cover drive – on the contrary, he was attempting to leave the ball in a manner that behoves gentlemanly cricketers of the 1980s. He spent the rest of the night with his arm raised above his head, as if he were perennially asking a question, much to his horror.
It’s not all gloomy though. Younger colleagues, especially women, are beginning to look up to his worldly wisdom and charm. The decades of unsuccessful attempts at courting the fairer sex have left him wiser and more tactful. Most of these escapades end quite successfully for him, having lured the visibly impressed female into his residence. However, it all begins to unfold rather dismally from hereon. By the time she has enticingly frolicked up the stairs and is waiting by the door, he is still floundering somewhere near the second floor – the years of smoke and cheap liquor have taken their toll on his dreadfully misshaped body. Out of self-respect and partly due to the absence of a lift, he is waging an unwinnable war against the merciless stairs.
By the time he has reached the door, he is mostly prostrate – a forlorn figure wrought out of shape after decades of physical abuse and a glaring irreverence for Father Time. He digs deep into his imagination, and with the last ounce of his energy, he props himself up on all fours, and follows his maiden into the garden of hope. Unfortunately, the elegant set up for the final act is followed by a cruel anti-climax. He is utterly spent, and before he knows it, he flops over her and rolls onto his back. His wonderful partner discovers, much to her chagrin, the source of the gentle whirring – the indifference of an irreverent man with his eyes closed and chin pointed upwards, without an iota of regard for her growing needs.
Luckily for him, he has long learnt to take such fiascos in his stride. Unfortunately, his wizened body takes longer to recover. The escapades of last night come with their price – he is, for most practical purposes, bedridden for the rest of the day. He has also developed a remarkably thick skin, which comes in especially handy when facing an overbearing boss and his well-directed expletives. “The secret to a long and happily married life”, he reassures himself, with an equally belligerent wife.
Of late, he has discovered a worrying trend. Children of insufferable colleagues and classmates, who are barely a few years younger than him, have begun addressing him as “uncle” in public. Women of his age are growing increasingly graceful – in the presence of more impressive candidates, he is disdainfully chucked aside. He has actively begun avoiding his long ally and friend, the mirror, lest he should catch that odd grey strand hanging aimlessly from his thinning scalp.
If he is lucky, once in his lifetime, he will come across that one woman (or a man), who fits into his desert of despair like a magical oasis of love. Her equanimity in the face of relentless relatives, [who magically reappear when there’s a public inquisition into his private life,] is exemplary – as she continues to ward off uncomfortable questions about premarital sex and other social evils. She seems to have grown increasingly open-minded about his lactose intolerance or his growing resemblance to a potter, only occasionally letting out a grunt of disapproval, when the toots are too malodorous or inopportune. She is quite kind hearted when it comes to his frequent misadventures in bed, shrugging off her disappointment with a smile that can light up a universe: “Tomorrow’s another day!”
He might just end up with a parachute that opens midway while he’s hurtling towards middle age – unceremoniously kicked out by Father Time.
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