Dear Jaclyn and Heidi,
I don’t know whether to feel embarrassed, angry, humiliated … or just burst into laughter! My husband Norman is suddenly taking an unexpected interest in overseas backpackers a third his age! It all started when a group of Italian girls asked for his help changing a flat tyre in the Flinders. I think he now sees himself as some sort of Aussie knight in shining armour. He’s always trying to chat to young travellers and giggles like a schoolboy as he tries to say a few words in Italian/French/ Spanish etc. Last night we camped near some French girls in a Wicked van and he suddenly emerged from our van wearing his ‘posh’ shorts. He never changes clothes during the day. He was trying to impress them! Cringe!
I wouldn’t read too much into this, Sue. It doesn’t sound to me like Norman is about to disappear into the sunset with some dusky Spanish beauty! Rather, it seems like he is simply enjoying the rejuvenating effects of life on the road. Taking the Big Lap is about having new experiences, and helping out fellow travellers when you can. I’m sure these backpackers are sending postcards home saying how wonderfully helpful Australians are. You should be proud of Norman. Maybe you should try saying ‘Bonjour’ yourself. While it’s always great to meet fellow like-minded grey nomads on the road, it’s also interesting to share the occasional campfire chat with people who have a different perspective on life. Vive la différence!
Jeepers, Sue. It looks like you spotted this severe sounding case of ‘deluded-older-man-about-to-make-a-fool-of-himself-syndrome’ just in the nick of time. The fact that Norman ‘unexpectedly’ slipped into his ‘posh shorts’ is the classic give-away. I’m guessing he thinks this ‘transformation’ is going to make him irresistible to the opposite sex! What’s Brad Pitt got that he hasn’t got, right? Whatever you do, don’t laugh! If Norman has recently retired, he might just be going through a little ‘where-do-I-fit-in-the-world’ crisis. Be sympathetic, Sue. But it might be wise to dig out those naughty négligés just to be on the safe side! Who knows, maybe Norman’s newfound lust for life could work to both of your advantages!