After a nice Christmas eve dinner with heaps of ham, cornbread, chicken, rice and scotch with the company of some friends and a kind Colombian family I woke up in my empty apartment on Christmas morning. As Christmas is a family holiday its not the easiest day to just ring up a friend to hang out. Eating by yourself on Christmas morning isn’t the most awesome time I’ve ever had in my life. Although a heaping plate of bacon and eggs drenched in smoldering Panamanian hot sauce always puts a smile on my face, something about it just doesn’t feel right. When your eating alone you tend to observe a lot more than when your in the company of others. What’s going on at the surrounding tables, the abilities of your waiters and the decorations of the restaurant become more apparent than usual. On this unbearably humid and hot morning I watched as families drank and ate together happily. As I wondered to myself what my own family was doing at that time, who was opening a present or if they had eaten yet, a gorgeous specimen of a woman walked by my table. Wishing she was some sort of Christmas gift from god to me, she cruised on by and sat down with an old, fat man in his mid to late sixties. Now this girl couldn’t be far from 20 years old, but I could tell by their greeting that she was this man’s girlfriend. After a brief interaction in horrible spanglish the old man got out an Ipad and played an obnoxiously loud racecar game on it throughout the remainder of their meal. Literally giggling with joy over his game, it was hard to look away from such a strange little scenario.
Having lived in Thailand for some time and now Panama I am well aware of the phenomenon of older men from the US and Canada coming to poorer countries with a bit of money and having many beautiful, young girlfriends very easily. Watching this gorgeous woman’s bored face sitting with her old boyfriend who would rather play Ipad than speak to her made me feel bad for this girl, but is that what I should be feeling? On the one hand it is gross and morally wrong for an elderly man to have a girlfriend barely older than a teenager. On the other hand this man is probably supporting this girl and her entire family financially so if the girl is willing and wants to then who am I to cast judgement upon the situation. Some could see this man as a sicko and others could see his as a legend with multiple hot girlfriends 40 years younger. One of the first questions older men from the States and Canada that I meet down here ask me is how many girlfriends I have. Just yesterday while watching a football game in a casino an older man struck up a conversation with me and before even telling me his name he told me he was 63 years old and had 5 girlfriends my age in Costa Rica and Panama. Now even if all 5 of those girls are down with the situation, I just can’t help but judge this old mans character. In Thailand I hated watching young girls walking down the beach holding hands with men old enough to be their grandfather, but as prostitution is the worlds oldest profession it is clearly something that will never change.
This question is often an easier one to ignore and look the other way than address, but what do you think?
Written by Alex Vere-Nicoll