The comparison I was about to draw is that I believe my lust is like my digestion: it’s overly sensitive. My response to men who are conventionally attractive, the sort other women would respond to with weak knees and a come-hither smile, is to turn my head away.
My nervous system overreacts to the perfectly ordinary human situation of lust the same way it responds to the ordinary digestion of food: I experience the symptoms too strongly, almost painfully.
If I didn’t look away, I’m not sure I could be held responsible for my actions. (Evidence from twenty years ago suggests I could not.)
However, when I see an older man, the lust-provoking stimulus is less potent. An older man no longer fires off hormone-laden molecules with quite the same intensity. In the presence of a good-looking man north of sixty, my libido responds at the level a normal woman’s might with a younger man. The attraction I feel is strong, but it is also pleasant and manageable.
I am manageable, is what I’m trying to say.
This is no small thing.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.