A Field Guide to "Cool Older Men"

Be careful with that Anthony Bourdain crush.

By Julie Klausner

I met a girl at a party recently who told me about her Anthony Bourdain fantasy.

"He takes me to his loft and shows me all the tchotchkes he bought around the world. And then we're in bed and he's on top of me, and he's wearing this medallion that he got in Thailand or whatever, and it keeps hitting me in the forehead, over and over, with every thrust. Then, the next morning, he's brewing espresso and I say I'm going to leave, but he's like 'No, don't leave.' And I put on a kimono that he got in Kobe, and he serves me a breakfast of ricotta and honey in bed."

We laughed triumphantly at her well-crafted ode to TV's most virile chef (sorry, Guy Fieri), and then our laughs petered out in a sigh of recognition.

Most girls have had crushes on Bourdain types: the older guy who likes rock music, the "don't stand so close to me"-style English professor, the boss who puts his feet up on his desk and conspiratorially tells you he thought that meeting was bullshit.

They seem to be more ubiquitous than when Clinton got in trouble for fooling around with an intern not much older than his daughter. Remember — we were supposed to buy that he was the first "cool" president since Kennedy, because he wore Ray-Bans on Arsenio Hall and played the sax? Now that we have an actual cool guy who's president, and David Letterman is the one schtupping interns, the parade of pop-culture middle-age swagger seems a little posed and crusty.

My first crush — like, hugely sexual crush — was on character actor John Larroquette.

But it certainly took long enough for the cool old guy thing to get old. My first crush — like, hugely sexual crush — was on character actor John Larroquette, who was silver-haired and smarmy even in his thirties. I write in my book about attending a sleepover at Melissa Ackerman's house when I was twelve, and getting, um, erotically distracted from the evening's social agenda once Melissa turned on a syndicated Night Court episode in which Larroquette's Dan Fielding saves Markie Post's Christine Sullivan from choking, and in return, she has to let him fuck her.

That was twenty years ago. Today, my attitude towards John Larroquette is decidedly less lustful. I hadn't even thought about him until recently, when I found his Twitter feed, which I now follow. Unlike most '80s sitcom television actors', Larroquette's online presence has its own appeal. It's not so much about, "Look how funny it is that I remember this washed-up person who's saying crazy stupid stuff now!" (Scott Baio) — it's that John Larroquette's Twitter is one-stop shopping for musings of that specific, Bourdainian sexy-old-guy type.

Online, Larroquette regularly weighs in on Bob Dylan, attractive women, chess, Picasso, strawberry-rhubarb pie, giving money to homeless people, and jazz. Most of his tweets link to MP3s of songs he describes briefly and poetically ("Neil Young: like warm wood"), but he also posts quotes ("Fascism is Capitalism plus murder — Upton Sinclair"), tells 140-character showbiz anecdotes ("John Lennon was murdered while we were filming Stripes..."), and, most memorably, displays a fascination with sex. "What am I doing? Hmm, thinking of small feet, long hair..." reads one decidedly libidinous Larroquette tweet.

John Laroquette is just one tweeting example of the kind of baby-boomer sexuality that used to appeal to me when I was a teenage babysitter getting a ride home from my charge's dad, wondering what it would be like if he kissed me at the red traffic lights. But now, the peacocking of men who may or may not need Viagra to make love to their second wives no longer seems novel. It's just another predictable qualifier of middle age from a generation of men who grew up with rock 'n roll.

Commentarium (66 Comments)

Feb 09 10 - 1:19pm
dj

Christ! You described me perfectly on the second page and I

Feb 09 10 - 1:51pm
h

Hilarious--I'm in the Bourdain guys' age range (though young enough to resent their "you were too young for Woodstock" attitude) and I would rather do volunteer work in a nursing home than go out with any of them. I understand the alternative isn't great either, but at least you can influence the young guys.

Feb 09 10 - 2:13am
PO

Jeez, such passive-aggressive horseshit. Go fuck Larroquette already, I'm sure you'll both enjoy it more than the rest of us had to read about it.

Dec 07 11 - 1:47am
EN

Ha! My thoughts exactly! It's just sex, try not to over think it Darlin'!

Feb 09 10 - 4:31am
MS

You are wise beyond your uears, Ms. Klausner. Those of us who qualify as "men of a certain age" need all the help (i.e. praise, even if faint, understanding and affection) we can get . . .

Feb 09 10 - 6:45am
SPC

Cool older men, cool older women. What's the difference? Quality people, who have led interesting lives and who have their shit together, will always be attractive. And some people will always find them more attractive than younger, smoother, prettier, more shallow, more screwed up younger people.

Feb 09 10 - 8:39am
SS

I LOVED this piece and can definitely relate.

Feb 09 10 - 9:48am
CG

Uhh Yeah Dude is a podcast put on by Jonathan Larroquette Jr. And Seth Romatelli. It's funny and should be listened to.

Feb 09 10 - 11:33am
cc

ooh sneaky. i do love the men with their shit put together. besides, very little interesting culture was made in my lifetime, i need a field guide.

Feb 09 10 - 11:45am
AK

Also, they like to wear shoes without socks. Yuck.

Feb 09 10 - 11:50am
YAWN

You want a "grown up daddy" to take care of you, and we want a woman who will shut up and make me a sandwich.

Feb 09 10 - 11:58am
RKG

omg, this is so hilarious. i can totally relate - have had some major fantasies about bourdain's chef friend Eric Ripert from the show Avec Eric.

Feb 09 10 - 12:19pm
LAP

The joke to me is the intimation that younger women--let's call them girls--have their shit together any better than "guys," as you call them. The point is that everyone needs to mature--guys like video games as young men; girls are walking insecurities. It goes both ways. And let's face it--men and women have issues until the day they die. This kind of stereotypical schlock is insulting at times.

Feb 09 10 - 12:44pm
So?

I fail to see how enjoying certain movies or video games makes one immature. Oh, wait, men are supposed to live a joyless life of drudgery to support their wives. Meanwhile women get to have their girls'-nights-out and, while we're tossing around stereotypes, fashion and shoes and "me time".

Feb 10 10 - 1:20am
FJAT

Brilliant.

Feb 10 10 - 1:20am
JA

I just recently spent hours playing video games with my college bandmates. I can also discuss literature and cook a nice filet mignon with just the right sides. So, what category does that put me in? Is there a convenient label for "man happily married to a woman with no daddy issues?"

Feb 09 10 - 3:17pm
MA

One of my first crushes, age 11 or so, was SNL-era Dennis Miller. I've still got it in for the "cool older men" (Bourdain included), and though the second page of this article is rife with generalizations, I can't say that I haven't at times witnessed these particular traits in this particular subset of men.

Feb 09 10 - 3:27pm
SXX

So she derides guys liking Star Wars, yet she babbles on about Miss Piggy, the Muppets and Annie. And whines about young men not being manly enough and old men being too desperate. Not to mention she obsessively posts about dogs on her blog and claims to have a living room filled with animal embroidery. Sounds like she's a prototypical "sophisticated" gal from 9th grade who is really just a little princess.

Feb 09 10 - 3:40pm
jt

i really liked it, except for the bike comment at the end. so someone is immature if they ride a bike "in traffic"?

welp, bikes are legally supposed to be ridden in the road. i'd love an older guy who stayed in shape by sexily riding his bike around town.

Feb 09 10 - 3:55pm
Dee

Why are videogames the standard "OH MY GOD THIS PERSON CAN'T BE RESPONSIBLE". My partner is a wonderful man who cooks, says things like "I just never want to forget about the little things to let you know I love you", holds down a career in a very intense field and then comes home and wants to play videogames. Videogames do not equal immaturity. Also Star Wars is made for anyone of any age, really. Why is there an age limit on ANYTHING? Jesus.

Feb 09 10 - 4:54pm
CF

Funny, my Bourdain fantasy always ended with him doing me over a sack of dry goods in a restaurant basement storage area, near the walk-in. I guess I'm just a dirty girl like that.

Apr 25 11 - 1:08pm
Nan

Win.

Feb 09 10 - 5:00pm
TS

If you visit Minneapolis this spring maybe you could make a fantasy come true. Mr Bourdain will be at the State Theatre and I know there is a meet and greet for it! http://www.hennepintheatretrust.org/events/anthony-bourdain

Feb 09 10 - 5:14pm
tmp

"If you visit Minneapolis this spring maybe you could make a fantasy come true. Mr Bourdain will be at the State Theatre and I know there is a meet and greet for it!"

Is that you, Anthony?

Feb 09 10 - 5:48pm
SS

I have liked older men since I was 15, 16 years old. My dad's friends at our synagogue loved me because I treated them like people, not like old guys. I still love an older man - maybe not was-there-for-the-civil-rights-marches older, because I'm 24 and dating a 67 year old is just weird. Besides, older men/women are perfect for any spanking fantasy you might have. :)

Feb 09 10 - 6:45pm
FG

Nobody would accuse me as "cool", but it I do find myself letting slip the "before you were born" clause when trying (unsuccessfully) to describe the Replacements or Joy Division to my grad students. You forgot to add that we hate texting, and we fall asleep immediately after sex. But boy do we love our lamb chops.

Feb 09 10 - 7:45pm
PO

I love texting. Do not eat lamp chops. Like to pillow talk after sex. Then do it again. And I also feel like a lot of these commenters have realllllly missed the point of this piece. This is not a treatise on how cool older men are. It's a thinly-veiled diatribe against them. Fuck you too, Julie.

Jun 19 12 - 12:22am
Beazley

It isn't veiled at all.

Feb 09 10 - 9:09pm
LZB

Funny, my Bourdain fantasy involves him making me a steak. Mmmmm.

Feb 09 10 - 10:21pm
JM

Never was into older men, never got the girls who were. Thought my best friend was a perv for having a crush on Harrison Ford (Return of the Jedi--we were 14). My favourite part of the article was realizing the "older men" in question weren't my demographic. Yet.

Feb 09 10 - 11:20pm
CLA

This is as brilliant as it is breezy.

Feb 10 10 - 12:00am
JN

These are the types of men my friends are into - but the wrinkles and greys are turn-offs. My husband's fun and cultured (despite being a kickass gaming ninja), but the bonus over these guys is that he's half their age, so he's still smoking hot. At my age, I can't imagine being attracted to someone who looks like our dads until I'm actually that age, but each to their own.

Feb 10 10 - 12:46am
js

i'm 43 and the thought of banging a woman over 33 is disturbing and gross. as we get older, men can still pull action with hot young girls. it never really has to end for us. but women as they age resent this. thus you can get articles like this.

Feb 10 10 - 11:32am
ss

Ew, the thumb ring has gotta go!

Feb 10 10 - 3:23pm
CS

I think what you saying is that you wish men of your generation would grow up. I'm in my early thirties and it amazes me that the majority of the guys up till forty or so are stuck in a teenage wasteland.

Feb 10 10 - 5:38pm
EF

Klausner is probably the most talented writer and comedian to be saddled with terminal self-righteousness. Usually writers who are that good at observing whats stupid and wrong with everyone/everything else have some degree of self-deprication.

Feb 10 10 - 8:34pm
MW

"i'm 43 and the thought of banging a woman over 33 is disturbing and gross."

Really, JS? Ew. I'm a 23 year-old woman and the thought of you is disturbing and gross.

Feb 10 10 - 9:07pm
MT

I would totally abandon husband and children for Bourdain. (Well, the fantasy is ripe anyway.)

Feb 11 10 - 4:08am
sa

So, Julie, you're what, 34? 35? I tell you what: I'm marking my calendar right now for February 10, 2030, so that I can check back in with you and see how your 55-year-old ass is doing. I'll bet you'll be regaling whoever will listen about the time you saw Lady Gaga walking along at the corner of Broadway and who-gives-a-shit. I'm 44-years-old, and thus consider myself kind of a "tweener". Most of the things you lament about in your article really don't bother me, but it's the arrogance of youth that does. The only thing young people have going for them is that they're still young - strictly an accident of chronology. It's not like you invented being young. Everyone older than you has done it before, so don't act so damn arrogant. Go fuck an older guy, or girl, whatever, and realize that you'll be with us soon enough. And when you're here, and you want to talk all about how much you loved seeing Snow Patrol from the second row at Madison Square Garden, we'll just nod, pour you some more rye, and say, "Yes, I know exactly what you're talking about."

Feb 11 10 - 5:10pm
TFT

I suggest seeing the movie "Last Tango in Paris."

Feb 11 10 - 6:14pm
LF

Love this article, LOVE Bourdain. Yumm.

Feb 11 10 - 8:08pm
hf

Anthony Bourdain and John Hamm...so...fucking...hottt. And they know it. Bastards.

Feb 11 10 - 11:32pm
FD

Agreed on so many levels.

Feb 11 10 - 11:51pm
jr

It's kinda heartening to know that younger women are increasingly onto to the tricks (read:bullsh*t) of men who are of 'un d'age certain.' Sure, these fellas have their good points- I'm an afficianado as well- but their only selling point that worked on women of *my* age is that we didn't see their rubbish coming. Y'all do, and can steel yourselves accordingly. Do unto them as they will to you- use 'em for fun, but keep your expectations low; after all, it's just their c**ks that found you initially fascinating. Their capabilities of seeing you as human beings (as opposed to just insertion points) is likely minimal...however bright you really are. I'd like to think that your perception will pay off. Just the same, I'd still hit Bourdain like the fist of an angry Goddess. Enjoy, ladies!!

Feb 12 10 - 1:20pm
SS

Agreed on many, many levels. Absolutely.

Feb 12 10 - 10:52pm
mm

I don't like ageism.

Feb 14 10 - 5:24am
KPS

I have to tell you that us oldsters (at least all my single buddies) don't consider being horny, wanting to eat well and liking music very original, "cool", young at heart or anything like that. We are, by and large, just older versions of ourselves in our twenties with better impulse control. All the faux romanticizing that you speak of (in what reads as a fairly shallow and false observation) is being done by the younger woman who may become infatuated with us. Every generation has it's own idiosyncrasies, but one that has existed for nearly all time is younger ladies falling for older man. THAT is unoriginal.

Feb 24 10 - 2:54am
KG

Wow, lots of overly-sensitive commenters here. Julie had mostly GOOD things to say about such men, and we should all know "field guides" are, by definition, reliant on certain stereotypes. Or perhaps a better word is patterns.

Feb 27 10 - 12:29pm
uch

somebody, one of us, help us with a response to this horseshit.

Mar 02 10 - 11:07pm
Kate

You're clearly on to something to have inspired such klassy comments. ;-) I think this was right on.

Mar 18 10 - 3:04pm
Me

Tired of your blather. Please stop stalking men and pretending you're still in your 20s.

Mar 18 10 - 4:11pm
Me

Tired of your blather. Please stop stalking men and pretending you're still in your 20s.

Mar 18 10 - 4:17pm
xx

Jon Hamm is 39. That is, only a few years older than you. Middle age isn't so bad, really. Accept it. Join us. Grow up.

Apr 27 10 - 6:46am
noh

I see a lot of me in there..

May 01 10 - 11:23pm
Name

This is embarrassing. Really, really embarrassing.., but I stumbled upon this page when I googled "I want to fuck John Larroquette."

Jun 30 10 - 6:08pm
watts

Maybe he's just not that into you.

Oct 01 10 - 9:48pm
keymaker

Your writing is simple great, Especially for beginners!

Feb 04 11 - 10:31pm
Download Nora

piece of the information in your long text interested for me ( as blog writer ) and for my blog guests.

Feb 18 11 - 7:42am
maura

Each month, we get hundreds of questions from our readers

Feb 19 11 - 11:32am
crack

Why are you don't write about politic?

Mar 28 11 - 12:04am
Doc Savage

Well written yet very shallow observations regarding 1 stereotypical male archetype. That being said, the writer needs to have her pipes cleaned, of course if she got lucky she might lose her ability to write anything interesting.

Apr 24 11 - 8:47pm
chicating

I hate to admit it, but the first time I read this I totally blushed.
This is not the only type I like, but it's definitely one of my big ones, of which Bourdain is the latest example.

Jun 15 11 - 9:46pm
Sanctimonius Maximus

Tripe such as this says next to nothing about any actual real men, though it does illustrate what a complete and thoroughly enveloping womb for clueless women popular media now is. It's no wonder a supposedly grown female adult only knows how to strike a pose, and is only able to think in familiar cliches and stereotypes.

Jun 28 11 - 7:01am
samad

hi are ok waht are you doing nowe

Oct 14 11 - 9:52pm
Letitia

Shoot, so that's that one sppueoss.

Aug 15 12 - 8:48pm
slurms mackenzie

you deride "guys" now but wait for the terrifying reality in 30 years when our definition of "cool older men" involves a nostalgic love of punk rock and a skateboard (or HOVERboard!)