Saturday, January 07, 2006
Too Many Months Between May and December
"Stacy, can't you see,
You're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong
But I'm in love with Stacy's mom"
Fountains of Wayne
I can handle homosexual relationships. Two men in a loving, romantic relationship works for me. I'm not quite as comfortable with lesbian arrangements, but I think that has to do more with my own hangups than it being wrong, so to speak.
I can handle interacial relationships. I could care in the least the color of skin or origin of the couple's ancestors. If two people choose each other, they don't care about outward differences and neither do I.
People who have issue with inter-faith couples baffle me. Perhaps it's because religion doesn't define me so thoroughly that I could ever imagine it becoming an obstacle to true love. I understand wanting to share common beliefs, traditions, and the problems of raising a family if your faiths don't fit together easily. But what a shame it seems to me to let the possible love of your life walk out the door simply because you call God by different names. I think even God might think that was kind of sad.
Know what I have a problem accepting in relationship pairings? I am so resistant to May-December romances. I'm talking the ones when the woman is significantly older than the man.
I have to qualify that significantly, because it does matter to me, and it is also another silly part of my biases that makes no sense whatsoever. I am older than my husband. By five months. And a year in school, since his birthday is late in the year meaning his parents kept him home an extra year, so while I was learning fingerpainting and playing nice with others in kindergarten, he was chilling in front of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers for another year. It's fun to watch retrospective shows together because things that remind me of my freshman year in college remind my husband of senior year in high school. By a fluke of me changing my major after sophomore year, it took me five years to graduate college which put us even as far as our academic ages. We got to wear our caps and gowns on the same day, and I don't even think about our age differences at all.
But when the distance in ages between the man and woman passes a certain mark - say five years - I start to squirm. Even five years is drawing it wide.
The whole Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher deal just doesn't work for me. Fifteen years between the two is just too much for me to wrap my brain around. Or, even more telling, is the fact that I'm more likely to feel comfortable with a relationship between Kutcher (at 27) and Demi's oldest daughter, Rumer (at 17). Wait. No, I'm not okay with a late twenty-something man dating a high school girl. Ick, and just, no. My point is that in five years, when Rumer is in her twenties and legal, I'd have no qualms about the ten year age difference between them.
All I can think about with this couple is that when Ashton was born, Demi had been old enough to be his babysitter. When he was being potty trained, she was walking down the aisle at her high school graduation. And while Ashton was sitting for his driver's license, Demi was giving birth to her third child. She'd lived an entire lifetime before he was even old enough to shave.
I don't mean to pick on Ashton and Demi, particularly. The Naveen Andrews/Barbara Hershey think doesn't work for me, either. By my calculations, Hershey is 57 and Naveen is 36. This means while Naveen's mother was in the throws of labor, Hershey was enjoying her first legal cocktails at the local bar. Um.
Okay, here's where it gets really stupid, and I deserve a ton of credit for fessing up that I feel this way even though I know how utterly assinine it is. What comes next is a ton of double standard-ness and not a little bit of dissing of the male gender, but it's what I think.
Although I have a real hangup with May/December romances wherein the man is the younger, I don't have this problem with it when the female is five or ten years younger.
Before I go on, I do need to be clear. I think romances in which the man is significantly older than the woman are just plain gross. Anna Nicole Smith is a thousand kinds of ho and dumber than she looks if she thinks anyone in the universe believed her to be in love with J. Howard Marshall, a billionaire 63 years her senior. And, let's see, The Donald is 58. His new model-turned-bride is a worldly 34 (at least she's out of her twenties). I'm just not buying it's her undying love behind this match but rather the number of zeros and commas in The Donald's checkbook. Sorry Trump, but really. Marriages between older men and young, supple women just smack of midlife crises, trophy wife aspirations, and gold-digging tramps.
Before I get any hate commentary, I know there are plenty of May/December couples out there who are happily married, very much in love, and none of the above applies. To them I apologize and wish all happiness. But I'm dealing with stereotypes here, so please forgive me.
All of that aside, I never seem to have a problem buying the late-teens/early-twenty-something girl falling for the early-t0-mid-thirties hero when I'm reading a romance novel. Usually, I think, I'm able to buy the premise because the book is an historical during which time such marriages were the norm. In contemporaries I'm less likely to accept an exceptionally young heroine at all because there's something reeking of child molestation if she's too young. I need my heroines to be well into their twenties, at least old enough to drink legally, before I can stomach them engaged in adult relationships with men of any age, and even then I need the hero to fall in a fifteen years or less age span. Call me old fashioned.
So, why can't I handle the idea of an older woman, younger man pairing? I've been trying to figure this out. Go with me, here, while I work through it.
First of all - and again, warning about extreme un-PC-ness, here - I just can't imagine younger men finding older women attractive. I blame this on my cultural brainwashing that teaches that women must be young, firm, toned and smooth to be attractive. And even if you are Demi Moore, with a great body and loads of money to keep it that way via personal trainers, cooks who prepare healthy meals, and the availability of special doctors to help when the sagging gets rough, after birthing three kids and forty-plus years of gravity, things are bound to look a bit worn. On a man, worn is distinguished and sexy. On a woman, it's just old.
Too, there seems to be some kind of usery going on. That the woman is using the younger man, who probably has that young, firm body and scads of sexual energy, for...well, sex. He's a boytoy. A mindless hot bit of beefcake to fulfill all her deepest fantasies now that she's reached her own sexual maturity. While she might have been the sex object in her youth, it's her time to turn the tables.
Which, I know, doesn't say much about the young man's ability to be more than a bundle of hard muscles and testosterone. I suppose this is because men seem to gain so much as they age in the way of confidence that comparing a 22-year-old and a 43-year-old is like comparing a toddler with a teenager. A college frat boy brings to mind a completely different image than the same man ten years later, carrying a briefcase to the office every morning. Each year seems to count for so much, when you pluck the fruit from the tree when it's too soon, you can't help but wonder if it isn't simply because it's pretty rather than truly ripe.
On the flip side, I'm giving women a whole lot of credit for maturing faster than their years by implying that a twenty-something heroine is mature enough to be paired with a late-thirty-something hero. I'm asserting that the colloge sorority girl doesn't have nearly that same leap to young working woman her male counterpart does. That the younger female is the older male's mental and emotional equal, whereas the opposite is just not true.
Plus, there is that whole sowing of the wild oats thing. Young women seem to have less of a need to experience all the vast assortment before them then young men do. When a too-young guy settles with a much older gal, I just can't stop fearing that his eye might get to wandering. She's only going to get older. And there are so many sweet young things out there to tempt him. By committing himself, it's as if he skipped right over the motorcycle and two-seater sports car and right into the minivan.
But when a young woman commits to an older man, there's this sense that he'll be able to fulfill any of her needs. That they'll grow older together. That firm young male hardbodies won't have the ability to tempt her away from the appeal years of experience have earned her chosen guy. He's only getting better with age, so she's lucky she snatched him up when she had the chance. She went with the classic convertable right from the get-go.
I have no scientific research to back up my feelings. I know they make no sense and are really bigotted and unfair. I'm not proud of them.
All I know is that, at nearly forty, I can really appreciate the assets of a younger man. But I see this for what it is; a woman appreciating a finely made male form with no regards to what's on the inside. The older I get, the more I understand why men ogle women. I'll never really understand it, mind you, but I can finally get why it's sometimes all about the packaging. But I also know that in doing this, I feel slightly unclean, like some kind of dirty old woman who pinches young men's butts.
The idea of an older woman/younger man pairing is appealing in the amount of heat it would generate physically. It works for erotica and certainly has a lot of appeal on a purely sensual level. But as far as romance and true love and life long relationships, I just can't seem to get into such a match. I can buy the animal attraction, but I can't imagine it wouldn't fizzle out or morph into a mature relationship.
I'm really glad Stella got her groove back, but somehow I can't buy that she was able to keep on grooving with such a young guy.
I know. I'm insane.