Why, asks Wickersham, do we "infantilize older people when it comes to love and sex"? Perhaps, she muses, "we're scared of the idea of frail bodies and strong passions. We want to tame old age, make it diminutive and cozy." Perhaps it's the only way we can deal with--or deliberately not deal with--the prospect of our own later years.
Partly she meant that she had not expected to be hit hard by love at this point in her life--to feel so giddy, so raw, so turned on, so uncertain. She'd believed in the myth that love among older people is wise, mature, asexual--that all the wild oats of youth eventually get boiled down into some bland porridge called "companionship." My mother and her friend certainly valued companionship. They played bridge and Scrabble together, listened to music, talked about their lives and their families. But my mother also got an aide to take her to the mall in her wheelchair, so that she could buy a negligee.