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.

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