Monday, June 30, 2008

Explainable does not equal commendable

Btw, I didn't say I was grossed out by garden-variety May-Dec relationships, but by the newest wrinkle (so to speak): the grandfather/granddaughter pairing.

That said, I don't agree that just because something is commonplace, explainable and appeals to the participants, that it is fine, OK, or wholesome. Regarding the younger woman's motives for dating older men, there are two salient ones that I can see: a desire for Daddy because something is amiss in her paternal relationship, and above all else, an attraction to money and power. I have rarely seen young women go for poor, unsuccessful older men. While that might be "understandable," I think it's cynical. As for the maturity gap between men and women, it closes by the time most guys reach their mid to late twenties. But if a woman does feel that the guys her own age are immature, why not date a man five years older? There's plenty of room between your peers and your father's friends. The litmus test is, if your 25-year-old daughter were involved with a 45- or 50-old year-old man, would you feel OK with it or distressed?

As for men's motives, once again they're explainable, as in "you're as young as the skin that you touch." But are they commendable, especially when most of those men have discarded wife number-one for the younger version? While I understand their motivation, I find it pathetic and have infinitely more respect for men (like Paul) who can be with a woman of similar age.

Friday, June 27, 2008

May-December: Just a Fact of Life

I’m not so grossed out by those May-December relationships as I used to be. At least not most of them. Living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, every day I see gray haired stooped-over retiree dads in sweatsuits and running shoes pushing strollers as they escort their young wives to the subway stop. The wives, being a good deal younger and in much better shape, have no trouble keeping up the pace in four-inch heels. These moms kiss dad and baby goodbye and descend into the subway. I don’t know what happens from there. Are the dads then doing the grocery shopping and laundry and spending time at the sandbox? I’m inclined to think yes after a conversation with one such fellow who told me he was a total workaholic during his first marriage, saw his kids awake only on Sundays, ignored his wife, and never lifted a finger around the house. His second marriage is to a partner-track lawyer and triathlete. He’s now the parent who puts the kids on the school bus, books the pediatrician appointments, and places the Fresh Direct orders. He goes on every class field trip and has a hot dinner waiting when his wife arrives home. His kids and grandkids are the same ages and he supervises joint playdates with them all.
Wikipedia defines a May-December romance as one in which the age difference between two adults is wide enough to risk social approval. These relationships inevitably encounter judgments or criticism, but obviously since they are so commonplace, they must be appealing to the participants. Younger women are attracted to older men because the men are more stable, more likely to commit, and enendingly appreciative. Also, women are more emotionally mature than their same-age male counterparts. Not to mention the clincher for most of these younger women—the financial advantage. And as for the older men, they get to feel young and attractive again. As a man once told me, “You’re as young as the skin you touch.”
I do wish there were more Demi Moore-Ashton Kutcher stories to balance the picture, and maybe there will be sometime, but for now, sadly, a woman has to be a drop-dead-gorgeous movie star to attract a younger man while an older fellow only has to be breathing to attract a younger woman.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Ewww. I just read that in their new movie, Mary-Kate Olsen, 22, had an "enthusiastic make-out scene" with Ben Kingsley, 64.

Apropos of the smooching, Kingsley said, "She was completely in charge." That must have been some acting job on her part.

The age gap between the younger woman/older man just keeps widening. You used to hear people say, "He's old enough to be her father." But that phenomenon has occurred so often lately that we've become inured to it, and it seems normal. Now it's more like, "He's old enough to be her grandfather." Which clearly applies to the 42 years between co-stars Olsen and Kingsley.

And it would never fly to show a 64-year-old grandma making out with a 22-year-old guy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Intelligence is in the Ear of the Beholder

Jean-Paul Sartre, he's not.
So it appears it's Bye Bye Birdie for him!

The next poor dear he dates is at least lucky he didn't shape his life philosophy from the musical, Chicago: "Murder, Greed, Corruption, Violence, Exploitation, Adultery, Treachery, and All That Jazz."
Or, for that matter, Mary Poppins.

Au Pairs and Baggage Claims

Sue: And let's not forget the anecdote in our book about our friend who walked in on her husband canoodling with the Czech nanny. Which leads to the second moral of the story: The gorgeous au pair doesn't have to be Scandinavian. She could come from Eastern Europe.

Moving on to another topic, I had a recent date with a guy who railed incessantly about how all the women he's met since his divorce had baggage. He insisted that he had none, and asked me if I had any. I replied that I'm the sum total of my experiences, which left him perplexed and speechless, because he thinks and talks only in cliches.

On our third and final date, he who claimed to be free and clear proceeded to re-enact the demise of his marriage, reciting every nasty comment that passed between him and his ex-wife with all the anger he could muster.

Btw, here's how he talks:
"Maybe I was too busy with my job to pay attention to her. Guilty as charged."
"I told her that she could walk out, or she could join me in that tunnel with the green light at the end. If she doesn't want to enter the tunnel, I'm moving on with my life. Because the sun will come up tomorrow."

He actually gets his philosophy of life from "Annie."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Help Wanted: Only the Ugly and Fat Need Apply

There is a huge market for the ugly au pair. Fat is even better. Ask any mom whether she’d rather have a gorgeous, blonde, svelte young thing living in the house or if she’d prefer someone a bit dumpy but pleasant.
Years back, Barbara, my park bench friend, announced that she was going back to school and had hired a Swedish au pair to watch her three girls. We park bench moms were all impressed with her daring and her trust in her relationship.
Several weeks later Barbara brought the au pair, Birgitta, to the park with her kids. I don’t know how she did it, but she found possibly the only short, fat, greasy-haired, acne-faced au pair in all of Scandinavia. The kids loved Birgitta and Barbara, that smart cookie, was thrilled. Now there’s a preemptive move!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Egregious stories abound

Sue: Wow Linda, you never mentioned that one. What a doozy! It's up there with the guy from my community who seemed to have it all: an adorable two-year-old son, a wife who was pregnant with their second child, and . . . a beautiful Danish au pair. Seems he couldn't keep his hands off the lithe young thing during his wife's pregnancy. By the time the baby was born, the au pair-affair was in full flower and the marriage broke up shortly thereafter. The wife, with a 2-year-old and a newborn, was devastated and it took her years to recover. Happily she eventually met a lovely guy and remarried. Her ex married the au pair and had three kids with her. He seems happy too (dammit!), but will at least be saddled with three college tuitions in his golden years.

Moral of the story: If you're thinking of hiring an au pair, make sure she's extremely unattractive.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Surfin' USA

What’s more than a little unusual about Mr. Rosenthal is that most men are thrilled by the birth of their first child. They feel all cozy and loving and come home bearing flowers for their wives. There’s usually a lot of recognition that labor really is laborious. It’s weird that he took absolutely no time to appreciate his wife and newborn and bask in the family warmth.
It’s hard to say who is worse- him or the guy in my neighborhood who had an affair with the underage Swedish au pair and moved to Costa Rica with her to perfect his surfing. He preferred to hang ten rather than hang out with his pregnant wife and six year old twins. The au pair’s parents eventually demanded that she return home and we hear tell that five years later he’s broken-hearted and surfing solo. His wife remarried. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Sue: I know it's not my turn, but I need to vent. Today's NYT Home section features the gorgeous house and artisanal farm of successful wine merchant Neal Rosenthal. The article explains that moons ago, Mr. Rosenthal married his high-school sweetheart and worked as a corporate lawyer. Ten days after his sweetheart gave birth to their baby girl, he took his new legal secretary out to lunch at an Argentine-style restaurant.

"So romantic, wicker chairs, big fans," he recalls. "I went to lunch and I fell in love."

The writer comments that it must have been wrenching to fall in love so soon after the birth of his child. Oh no, he replies. "It was exciting."

End of marriage, onto the new.

It might have been nice had Rosenthal taken his wife -- you remember, the one who only ten days earlier suffered labor pains and was now housebound with their newborn? -- to a romantic lunch for two. But it's not "exciting" to be with a woman who is sleep-deprived and has leaky breasts and pregnancy pounds to lose. Lord knows that falling in love is a bigger rush than changing diapers.

The article details the heirloom tomatoes that he and his second wife organically raise, their egg-laying chickens and $23,000 refrigerator, but makes no mention of a subsequent child. At the risk of taking a leap, I submit that Mr. Rosenthal felt severely miffed when wife number-one's attention centered on his baby daughter instead of on the biggest baby of all: him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Taking the high road

Sue: Linda, there was something else going on with that guy, though we'll never know what (and do we really care?). One possibility is that he went on the date reluctantly, as a courtesy to the friend who arranged the fix-up. I had a blind date with a guy who did just that. The next day he emailed me to explain that he was seeing someone and it was getting serious (unbeknownst to the friend who had arranged the fix-up).

Which brings me to another post-divorce discovery: men don't like being fixed up. Guys tell me that they don't want to be held accountable to the matchmaker afterward ("So how did it go?" When are you going to call her again?"). They prefer to work anonymously and to check out pictures first; hence they flock to internet dating sites.

Speaking of which, I have been railing for months about the many guys online who specify that they must date women younger than themselves. I recently came across the profile of a 66-year-old guy who was looking for women between 50 and 60. I emailed him and asked why men don't like to date women their own age. He replied that he could explain that phenomenon for other men, but "obviously that's not the case with me." The jerk didn't even know what he'd written on his own profile.

Pray tell, I said. He explained that men don't want a woman who is an intellectual equal, or they need to feel younger by dating a younger woman. Just the setup I was hoping for. I then asked, "So which of those reasons applies to you?" Needless to say, he went ballistic, accusing me of man-anger and claiming that J-Date had "reset" that particular line in his profile. Riiiiiight. I'm proud to report that I chose the high road in that (one) instance by not prolonging the virtual spat that I had deliberately provoked with a hapless stranger. Bravo!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Worst Date Ever

Linda: I know it’s not even my turn to blog, but all these questions from reviewers like Dating are reminding me about some of the best-forgotten dates I’ve had personally or that my girlfriends shared. I think my worst was the 20 minute date. I was fixed up by a really nice couple whom I’ve known for years and the guy is their best friend. He’d been divorced for several years, and then had a live-in relationship which had recently ended. We talked on the phone several times and scheduled a date weeks in advance mostly because I was busy helping my daughter pack her parka and gear for Alaska.
On the the day of the date, I got a voice message which said, “ I guess you probably forgot that we had scheduled a date. That’s okay.”
I called him back and to let him know that I’d been at an all-day conference and that I was looking forward to the date. He told me to choose the place and time which I did.
I arrived on time and checked the restaurant. He wasn’t there. I had never seen him, but had a sense of what he’d look like from my friend Renee. I window-shopped and checked back again and again for 10 minutes. He finally arrived, introduced himself and we sat at the bar at the moderately priced Upper West Side fish place I had chosen assuming that if the drinks part went well, we’d have dinner. We talked –awkwardly- mostly about his son’s grades and sports teams-for about 10 minutes and then he disappeared into the bathroom. When he came back, we talked only slightly more easily--again about his son’s IQ and the like. Out of nowhere, he asked if I’d been to France. Yes. Speak French? Yes. Though neither of us had finished our glasses of wine, he downed his, and asked for the check. Then he looked at his watch and said he needed to go see some friends who were leaving for France the next day. Outside the restaurant he shook my hand with the very same handshake you get after a job interview when you know you didn’t get the job.
The only good part was that he totally cured me of dating for several months which gave me time to learn to enjoy my own company. I saw him years later at Renee’s for a shiva call and by then I had no idea who he was.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Poof- Disappearing Acts Abound

Linda: Sue, what has become of that nice guy who is capable of holding a leisurely conversation? I'm hoping he hasn't disappeared. There is definitely that potential problem with Internet dating. There are so many choices and profiles that the "kid in the candy store" effect can take over at any juncture. Rather than going with the flow of a nice budding relationship, both men and women often feel that odds are there's someone even better out there if they just keep reading enough profiles.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hand-holding lunatic

Sue: The nutcase who insisted on holding my hand on our first date after one drink, and who just had to kiss me goodnight after a second drink, never resurfaced. Poof! He neither called nor emailed, but he did look at my profile again. (Internet dating sites allow you to see who has "viewed you.") My take is that he couldn't muster the nerve to call because he is embarrassed by his freakish behavior, rather than distracted. In either case, he is some kind of head case and a psychologist to boot -- a fact that I should have mentioned earlier, as it probably explains everything!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pace is Important in Dating as Well as in Jogging

Sue, what became of the hand holder? It's interesting to me that a virtual stranger wants to hold your hand and kiss you and after all that, he gets distracted and just doesn't call again. I think the new guy sounds better anyway-- he's more interested in taking it easy and getting to know you. It's a much more appropriate pace for anyone over 20.