Boyfriend Material

Snippets of conversation overheard between two twenty-something women crossing the street. About a guy she misses, fun and great to go out with, but not “boyfriend material”. What is boyfriend material? Not polyester, but natural fabric.

The next day I read in the Globe & Mail the daily personal essay submitted by readers. This one is catches me by surprise: it’s moving, and expresses the poignancy of watching the world but no longer being able to participate in the messy entanglements of emotion. The invisibility of old people from the awareness of others. The writer accepts all of this and revels in the ability to be unencumbered by lust for a specific individual: ” Oh, but it’s all a great lust in my heart – a great out-flowing to otherness. A kind of detached and limitless affection. It’s one of the joys and privileges of age.”

They’re writing songs of love, but not for me. Listen to the Chet Baker cover. It’s the most wistful.

The way we feel when we’re young is beautifully portrayed in Mia Hansen-Love’s (is there a more perfect name for a director of a movie about young love?) “Goodbye First Love”. Camille is a teenager in love, passionate and obstinate. When her boyfriend decides to take a long trip to South America without her, she drifts into depression and has a breakdown. Years pass, she becomes an architect and has a relationship with her professor (this is a European film…). All seems well, until she sees her old boyfriend again. The intensity of her feelings returns, but now her emerging maturity allows her to accept that she can move on.

“The Company of Strangers” (1990) brings me back to the Globe & Mail essay. Eight elderly women are stranded in a deserted farmhouse in Quebec, when their tour bus breaks down. They talk about theirs lives, passions remembered, hardships endured. They are the invisible old women. Their wit is under-appreciated and their insight undervalued.

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