Even as a young man he [Florentino Ariza] would interrupt his reading of poetry in the park to observe elderly couples who helped each other across the street, and they were lessons in life that had aided him in detecting the laws of his own aging. At Dr Juvenal Urbino’s time of life, that night at the film, men blossomed in a kind of autumnal youth, they seemed more dignified with their first gray hairs, they became witty and seductive, above all in the eyes of young women, while their withered wives had to clutch at their arms so as not to trip over their own shadows. A few years later, however, the husbands fell without warning down the precipice of a humiliating aging in body and soul, and then it was their wives who recovered and had to lead them by the arm as if they were blind men on charity, whispering in their ear, in order not to wound their masculine pride, that they should be careful, that there were three steps, not two, that there was a puddle in the middle of the street, that the shape lying across the sidewalk was a dead beggar, and with great difficulty helped them to cross the street as if were the only ford across the last of life’s rivers. Florentino Ariza had seen himself reflected so often in that mirror that he was never as afraid of death as he was of reaching that humiliating age when he would have to be led on a woman’s arm. On that day, and only on that day, he knew he would have to renounce his hope of Fermina Diaz.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in The Time of Cholera
Have had this out from the library for several months and it’s time it went home now. Found a few turned corners at parts I wanted to read again. This is one.