I was trying to code a few lines of a program that mathematically analyzes brain cells. I was stuck but my tutor, my mentor and guru of all things mathematical and cranial, was away at a conference until Wednesday. I’d been trying to get my mind around a concept called “strange attractors”, that was at the heart of the whole brain cell analyzing algorithm. What is a strange attractor, you ask? For that matter, what’s a not strange attractor? Well, I don’t freakin’ know.
Some people say strange attractors are important in fractal math and not only biology but also issues of gravity and dark matter and the formation of the universe. But I was thinking it was what my writing was going through. Every time I tried to start the last bit, I would circle around but never find the right code.
It was bad. On the third day, at the first tiny splashes rebounding from the keyboard, I thought, buck up little monkey, you can do it. When I noticed the laptop shaking through every sob, though, I thought it better to stare out the window and wait for Wednesday.
But then, with the help of the shirtless men outside my window, what strange attraction is and is not started coming clear. Not that I gawked. I don’t. And I’m not shallow. I’m vastly deep and very sensitive. The guys just happened to be out there. And then this man, doing 40 with style, came jogging by. I could not help but think boys versus men. I disinterestedly gazed through the tanned, 22-year-old, concrete-pouring, funky-haired, bad-boy, broadly grinning construction guys, but was drawn, snap, hard by the passing frame of the not so tanned, way more than 22-year-old, jogging, two-thirds-graying-one-third-missing haired, some-bad-boy’s-dad, probably-grumpy man. As I remembered my twenties there was something familiar yet changed about the scenario, but I was good with it. This was an attraction, and it was not strange. I had that going for me.
Renewed by this brief encounter with my hormones, I went back to the laptop and typed. The program would not compile, so I peered down at my code: IF age = = mine THEN man = hunk ELSE WHILE (age < mine), man = NOT(man).
I further pondered strange attractions in the deeper matters of the heart and ovaries. I realized it’s always been the way I felt today. When I was in grade 6, grade 6 boys were cool; when I was in high school, boys in grade 6 were immature geeks. Age has a normal attractor that brings the grade 6 girls and boys together, and keeps the grade 12 girls away from the grade 6 boys. And it is always centred on your own age. So I coded that great insight in, but the program still didn’t work.
I thought, well, maybe it is conditional. That is, most people, ovaried and not, I’ve ever talked to about this attraction thing agree, but I do know one ovary-less person who has it different. He was normal for the first while. When he was in grade 12, girls in grade 9 were too immature for him. When he was 21, girls who were 16 were silly kids. Yet as he got older, space and time changed in ways Einstein never confessed. He reached 30, and girls of an age he was previously too old for became not too young, became suitable sex Objects. How? Unconfirmed. My theory is he has a strange attractor. I tried to put that in the code, but again was out of luck. Perhaps when I get my program working I will ask him for some brain cells to analyze, at which point I will get back to you. But for now, all I can say is that something stopped then reversed time in him but not the rest of the population, and it is something I have yet to figure out.
I thought for a while that it may be gender related, that maybe his testosterone stopped working. But I didn’t even try coding that because I have a female friend who was also normal in her youth yet now thinks males of an age that fell out of her favourable zone in her mid twenties are again just right for her.
She has no sons; and my male friend has no children at all. So, I tossed around the idea that having kids prevents the brain from deteriorating its normal attractor/growing a strange attractor.
I also came up against the Hollywood phenomenon. Hollywood harbours the same rift in the time space continuum, this strange attractor, and may be the primary cause of it. This may reflect that a physiologically different lot who didn’t make it through their mid-life crises peoples the place, although this is not confirmed.
Hollywood is also responsible for strange repulsion. I experience that; I have been out to see only 2 movies in the last decade. Hollywood would probably attract me to a theatre if they did get real, though. A lot of my friends, male and female, experience the same phenomenon. They intend to go in, but find themselves pulling up and circling every time they try to enter the door of a movie theatre. Why? The previews we’ve seen are all so goofed up, especially about male/female matters, that the movies they are flogging are strangely repellent. You know, old guy has adventures that include winning love and sexual favours of kid younger than his real life biological daughter, the end. This is passable unless you have a personality or at least a brain and wonder where it would go from there: Step mom and stepdaughter are now college mates? What happens at grad time? Or try this one: two divorced dads or moms bring each other’s daughters or sons out for a romantic dinner party of four. Gag me. And curiously, it is never Oedipus getting his way; it’s always Olderguy. What should we do? Buy it? Shut up and go anyway? Take Gravol?
I have a sensitive stomach. I could never handle it in life any better than I am willing to endure it in pretend. When I was 20, the 38-year-old grandpas who bugged me with their googly eyes and touchy touch games made me want to gag. Of course, I was always polite, ridiculously, toadily polite, but inside it was vomit, hork, gag, go away you thick-skinned, huge-pored, hairy, balding ogre man. My daddy from your graduating class will beat you up if you don’t stop looking at me like that, you strange attractor.
Fortunately, now I’m 38, am myself thicker-skinned, huger-pored, yes, hairier, and gladly, not balding, AND I don’t have a strange attractor. I dig the thick-skinned, huge-pored, hairy, balding, 38-year-old grandpas. Look at those words. That is what I like. There you go. Eat that Hollywood.
Of course, I don’t utter those adjectives when I ponder males my age and their attractiveness. I have never approached my husband with the line “wow, honey, your pores are SOOO big, do me.” It’s more that younger males look unripened in comparison. And it’s not all physical. There is this part about the likelihood that males my age are as experienced as I am. For instance, whereas Constructionguy is younger than my microwave, Olderguy can give a detailed dissertation on the rise of microwaves through the 80s and top it off with a discussion of his varicose veins. These are important to me.
So, let me recap my point here. Like I said, I’m not shallow. I don’t gawk. I don’t go to movies. All because I am eternally attracted to men my age. That is, I have no strange attractors, but I do have a microwave. In the end, the most important point of all this is that I’ve just spend way too much time writing an article about strange attraction and I still can’t get the freakin’ program to work.
Audrey is a distance ed maven and part-time writer living in the United
Kingdom. She is finishing her last year of an honours Master of Health
Science degree, in preparation for a distance ed PhD in how to get a
distance ed PhD. A mother of four, she sporadically sleeps, is in love with
fractal math, and has found peace where neuroscience and Java programming