Dialogue between a youth and the same old man




John Moore


It was a hot summer day in the marshes. Hares were leaping in the distance. On both sides of the river pheasants and skylarks flew up out of the long grass when disturbed by the occasional walker. One of these was an old man who here encountered another in the form of his younger self. The two questioned each other about what they desired, what was anticipated and what had been achieved. The questions were nearly all about sex. The older asked the younger what he wanted to know. The younger man told him and was given answers.


Youth There are things I wanted to ask you.


Age And there is also a lot I want to ask you about what you want to ask me and which I hope I can answer.


Youth I want you to tell me what you have achieved. I want to know what I might look forward to, what that old man who is myself can be proud of.


Age There is much about your way of feeling that I find hard to remember.


Youth I keep having these dreams about large lavishly furnished buildings, not seemingly owned by anyone and filled with all sorts of indefinite people walking about on their own. There are lots of pretty girls, but they are all unavailable to me because I am too scared to talk to them.


I want to have a good sex life like the men I most admire in history, that is to say one that is exceptional and intense.


Age How do you imagine it?


Youth There is a passage I recall from J P Donleavyís novel The Ginger Man about his happiness at going to sleep with his hand on his girlís naked arse.


Age Well there is nothing unusual about that. It is something we all get to do.


Youth That is something to look forward to. But there is much more that I want.


Age Conjugal life is an ordinary thing and there is enough of it to remember.


Youth How many women have I penetrated?


Age With your cock, you mean?


Youth Yes.


Age Not that many. But that shouldnít matter. Penetration is not all. I mean it was not all. That is something to remember.


Youth Are you then talking about the love of one?


Age No. That may be necessary, but it is not the main thing to console. It too is background.


Youth But I need to know what will happen. Will I live much alone?


Age Scarcely at all. You donít have long to wait. Very rarely will you live alone. But there are other things you will want to remember.


Youth What are the good things to remember?


Age Sometimes to be released from desire is the secret.


Youth I know the pain of urgent desire.


Walking along a dark alley

I watched a young girl walk in front

I thought, why not grab her and kiss her,

and feel up her dress for her ----.


Age Yes, I remember that poem.


Youth What then have you found are the things you are most happy to remember? If itís not about love. Is it the memories that still give you erections?


Age No it is more religious than that.


Youth What do you mean?


Age. I mean those memories that exalt my spirit. The nakedness of woman is the glory of God.


Youth Thatís Blake but itís not quite right.


Age Yes, but for my answer to you, it is an improvement.


Youth Say something about orgies. I want to hear about them.


Age There was the Roman orgy, or what we should call the dinner party. The slaves who served the food were available for the sexual requirements of the diners. I find that disgusting.


Youth Why?


Age I suppose I despise dinner parties. Iíve never been to an orgy. I have had friends who did.


Youth What about ordinary parties? Will I get much out of them?

Age Bad feeling bird gets by river.


Youth Eh?


Age Itís a crossword clue. Thinking back it occurs to me now that I did miss out on a couple of rather wonderful opportunities.


Youth I can learn from your mistake.


Age Of course you canít, you are just me. When we have finished our talk I am going to take you to a pub and buy you a pint of Lethe beer to drink. You will remember nothing.


Youth Tell me now. What about parties then?


Age Succeeding at parties is an art that was never mastered. But what would be the good if it had been?


Youth What about the clue you gave me?


Age Bad feeling bird gets by river. The answer is regret.


Youth Are you filled with that?


Age Iím not filled with it. There are different kinds of regret. What are the memories you want?


Youth I want to hear whatever you would like to give me. What seems good for you. That is what I shall remember.


Age There is bitter regret and there is sweet regret. I have memories in both categories. You donít need me to dwell on the more uncomfortable ones.


Youth There are some I think I want. Tell me what was worth remembering.


Age I remember how you walk far out to sea, when the mist is up and the tide is low.


Youth That is where I encounter my anima, the ideal imaginary girl who is part of myself. Did I ever meet her in real life?


Age Iíll tell you a story or two:-


Once Emily told me about her experience at a rock festival. Among the fun things that happened, she said, with some excitement, was how they were all waiting to have a shower in the morning, men and women all naked together, as I understood her. Some man asks them all if they have read the Naked Ape. This was an excuse for telling them all to huddle close together, to conserve water, which they did, touching.


Youth Did I go to festivals like that?


Age No.


Youth Did anything happen with Emily?


Age A couple of years later she took a massage course. She gives me shiatsu. Her boyfriend is in the next room I put on some thin pyjamas. I have just taken some cocaine without telling her. She is very aware of my erection.


Youth Has that anything to do with my anima?


Age No


Youth Well what has?


Age I can tell you of one of those you shall love.


Youth Will that be happy?


Age It shall never be consummated, but it will not be unrequited. In bed I felt her naked breast. She told me to stop and I did. Another woman who knew us both told me I ought to have raped her.


Youth Whatís the moral of that?


Age Itís something I donít mind thinking about. I like memories with still a bit of mystery left in them.


Youth So that is how I am going to feel?


Age Yesterday I travelled on a train. The day was really hot. It was the evening rush hour. Two trains were cancelled. When mine eventually came every carriage was jam packed. People were running long the platform trying to find a space but couldnít. I said there must be room in here and forced my way in standing in the corner.

Ant the next station a girl got on and stood in front of me. I held the back of my hand in place so her buttocks would press against it as the train jolted. And it worked splendidly. I cold feel right across the crack of her arse. It felt as if she was not wearing knickers at all.


Youth Thatís what I call dirty old man tactics.


Age You may consider me that. I was the same when I was young, though.


Youth How young?


Age Early thirties.


Youth Tell me.


Age I shall tell you the story of the unknown woman at a gig.


We are at a music evening in a pub. A blues band is playing. The pub is crowded. I am there with Dave and few of his friends. A lot of people are dancing near to us. We have our pint glasses in our hands. A girl is wiggling her arse close to me. I place my right hand down so that if she moves back she will touch it. She does so. It happens more and more. Till my hand is held firmly in place as she rubs her arse all over it. Iím chatting with my friends and point downwards to show them. I think they are impressed. It goes on for some time till her boyfriend comes up and puts his arms around her,


Youth Is that normal?


Age I donít really know. Iíll tell you something else. Only the other day I explained about crowded trains to Karen who is a researcher into sexual behaviour. She was very interested, and quite non-judgemental. ďHave you had that happen to you?Ē I asked her. ďAll the timeĒ she said.


Twenty five I consider to be the best age for a woman. Twenty three is also very good though. There are some of that age in whose company I really delight. They are rare, of course.


Youth You mentioned consolation.


Age Did I?


Youth What do you like to remember, to think about?


Age Itís not necessarily what you would think. I think even today about the young women I meet. Just their company can give me great pleasure. Especially those rare ones who are interested in what I have to say.


Youth What about the women I shall have sex with? Shall they be pleased with what I shall do with them?


Age It is the morning after I have given her a series of wild orgasms. She gets dressed. ďDonít feel too pleased with yourself. It is only a trick,Ē she says.


Youth That is just the end of a story.


Age You will have to wait for the rest.


Youth How long?


Age About a third of a century for that one.


Youth But will I find love?


Age You will, but I donít want to dwell on that. Hereís another story.


My friend Dave brought a girl along with him to the pub. He confessed he had so far been impotent with her. I donít really see why, she is nice enough looking and very friendly. When she is to leave I embrace her and kiss her. I put my tongue in her mouth. But then they change their minds and both decide to come back to my place. I make some tea and roll a joint. She starts to fall asleep on my mattress. So I give her a smack on the arse to wake her up. She sits up but soon starts to fall asleep again. Then I give her a really hard whack. She gets up and slaps me sharply on the arm, but wakes up to talk. Later in the evening as she seems likely to drop off again I ask:- ďwould you like me to give you another smack?Ē

ďIf you like,Ē she says.


Youth And the moral of that one?


Age Take it as a talking point. I wish I had let her see me naked.


Youth But you said I would never live alone?


Age I said scarcely. There will be one or two windows.


Youth I want all women, or at least a great number of them


Age But thatís not possible or even desirable.


People have systems. As you grow older you see these things differently. You remember Tinkerbelle? She lives if you believe in fairies, otherwise she dies?


Youth Of course.


Age Desirable women are like that. The present order of things is not perfect, it is not even satisfactory. Unless it is appreciated for what it is, there can be no authentic art, certainly no progress, only crude domination, but once it is understood there will be a cultural efflorescence.


Youth Love?


Age Some ideals suit some. Then there can seem to be a great task in getting everyone else to match up to it.


Once a woman picked me up while I was hitchhiking and drove me to Paris. I have by far the best conversation I have ever had in French. I talk to her of drugs, poetry, freedom and philosophy, among other subjects. She tells me she desires to have all experience. She had stories about herself which made her sound very interesting. She said I could sleep in her apartment and impressed on me how important it was that her husband did not find me. She asks me to quote some Baudelaire or Rimbaud, but I canít think of anything suitable.


She leaves me in the front room. I take my clothes off to go to bed. She knocks on the door. ďAttendez up peu,Ē I say, and put a cushion in front of my genitals. She comes in and looks at me. I remove the cushion and she looks for a few moments at my naked body, smiling.


In the morning it gets weird. She wakes me up in a sort of panic. Her husband has passed out and I have to help her lift him up onto the bed. I do this. I believe that he must really be awake and that he wants me to lift him. I ask if she should call the doctor. I conclude they are a very kinky couple and am happy to get out of the house.


Youth And why did you tell me that one?


Age. Itís strange, it still puzzles me. Maybe she was mad. Many women are mad, in my experience.


Youth Did you have enough experience?


Age No.

Other stories puzzle me, still trouble me. Not that one though.

One thing I always enjoy is when I can persuade a woman to take her knickers off and expose her cunt in public.


I liked to take one to a nudist beach. For the first few times she feels uncomfortable taking her own clothes off. I get her to walk naked along the beach with me. This she says she doesnít like, she does it for me but feels it as an uncomfortable constraint. Then one day we are walking along naked together and I refer to this reluctance. ďI donít mind,Ē she says. That was an arousing moment.


Youth Am I to be a nudist? Iím not sure I feel comfortable about that.


Age All of this conversation you will forget until you reach my age and meet yourself. As I have told you, you will drink the ale of Lethe. You will feel differently abut a lot of things as you get older.


Youth Any more regret?


Age Loads of it. Kelly the girl in the pub. The pub is crowded. A group of yuppies come in, and before sitting down, all slap their filofaxes down on the table, one after the other. That dates the occasion quite precisely. After a few minutes they all leave except one man and women. Blonde she is, sitting next to me. They are having an argument. I donít listen to what they are saying but I am impressed by her beauty. Suddenly she turns to me and asks, ďDo you think Iím a bad girl?Ē ďI think youíre really beautiful,Ē I say ďIíd like to kiss youĒ so I do, and she lets me. The evening wears on and I get drunker, and there is lots of conversation. I keep kissing her. At the end of the evening her boyfriend indicates that she might want to go home with me. But I have nowhere to take her.


Youth What about perversions or should I call them deviations?


Age Thereís lots of that. Itís not all aesthetic though. Some of it inspired desire.


Youth Tell of something.


Age Another story from the window. The piddling tale. After downing a few pints of beer Dave comes back with Julie. He goes to the toilet to have a piss. We both want to go. Julie is right behind him. ďSo Iíve got an audience,Ē he says. He finishes. It is Julieís turn. She expects me to leave the bathroom. ďYou can have an audienceĒ I say. She smiles, sits on the toilet, pulls her knickers down and pisses as I look on. She finishes. I have my own piss and then turn to see she is right beside me watching my penis. I am pleasantly surprised and pat her bum.


Youth Is there any regret there?


Age None at all.


Youth. The needs of men and women are not the same. Donít you think monogamy is a disagreeable restriction? This is the tragedy of man.


Age It doesnít have to be like that. We can devise imaginative solutions as some cultures have.


Youth How can we get what we want? Should men be superior to women? Is that the society we would really like to have?


Age There is no need for that.


Youth What should be our ideal?


Age All ideals end badly. We mustnít give way to what women want. That is where Ibsen has got us. Itís the Scandinavian ideal, what is now supposed to be healthy.


Youth How should we live?


Age You are thinking of rules. All rules if successful lead to disaster. If anyone wins the result will be just another form of hell. Any rules end up as moral rules. Everything good comes from defying them.


Youth What is your vision?


Age I have a vision of an oppressive society of the future hell of human relations, a general misery brought about by modern ideas. Ideals that no one can fit.


Youth I mean something more positive.


Age Iíve been telling you some stories.


Youth Have you any more to tell me?


Age That will do for now.


Youth I canít say youíve really answered my concerns. Youíve hardly told me anything I wanted to know. Iím as much in the dark as ever.

Age How can you speak of the dark on a day like this? Never mind, you wonít remember any of it. Come, and Iíll buy you that pint. This pub in winter is famed as one of the eeriest places in this part of the world. Today it doesnít seem like that, I know.

Anyway I feel a lot better. You can take comfort from that.


JSM 2014