Since the dawn of tabloid time, we’ve read and sometimes witnessed celebrity May/December relationships. Dyan Cannon and Cary Grant paved the Age-Difference Highway so others like Alec Baldwin, Calvin Klein and Mary Kate Olsen could navigate freely with their partners in spite of decades of age differentiation.
Lately, a lot of press has been given to actor Stephen Fry and his engagement to Elliott Spencer. We have no idea where they are registered or who is catering the reception. What we do know is that there’s a 30-year age difference. What we also know is that some perceive Fry as a creepy old man and Spencer as a gold digging opportunist. The Age Difference Highway may give these couples a passage, however it’s one that’s paved in questioning, doubt and speculation by others.
I admit, I would be guilty of holding the same perception about couples with an extreme age difference, if it weren’t for the 76th Trombone.
When I met Albert for coffee, my first reaction was that he looked a bit older than he did in his pictures from Match.com. Out of the gate, he told me that he was 76 years old. Of course, I quickly did the math- a 27-year age difference. I smiled, took a sip of my Venti, and said, “Not a problem, Albert.” This of course was a true statement for coffee… perhaps not so much for a potential boyfriend.
As we conversed, I learned a lot about this man. With 76 years under his belt, he had a lot to say. A retired Naval officer, he has lived all over the world, giving him a very interesting perspective on a variety of topics. Albert had a great laugh and a sparkle in his eyes. What made Albert most charming was that he was really interested in what I had to say. He listened, was very quick with a comeback (which is an attribute that always holds my attention) and he had the gift of remembering things I said and bringing them up later.
As far as first dates go, I had a splendid time with Albert. As I drove home, I thought about his laugh. If you closed your eyes and just listened, his laugh didn’t come with an age. It was a sound that could come from any trombone, be is the 45th or the 55th. If you remove the number 76 and judge Albert for Albert, there was no question that he scored high on the first date rating scale.
I then thought about the age difference- 27 years. Granted, our age gap was barely less than that of Stephen Fry and Elliott Spencer, but it was more than anyone I’ve ever dated. Is that something I could handle? I thought about other couples driving on the Age-Difference Highway, like Stephen Sondheim and Jeff Goldblum. Their cars seem to be fully operational, and their journeys appear to be happy ones. Perhaps I too should not be so wrapped on the model year and just place my focus on the ride.
By the time I reached home, I had received a text from him asking for a second date. Two hours later, I received an email from Albert saying that he could really see us in a relationship. The next day, I received another email inviting me to meet his friends over dinner and to spend the night at his place.
The 76th Trombone was playing a song I’ve heard before… same as the 48th and the 53rd Trombones… he wanted an instant relationship.
Albert was definitely rushing things, which was a really big turn-off and typically a deal breaker for me. It was at that point I realized that it wasn’t just the laugh that was ageless. The need for an instant relationship also knows no age. Albert at 76 or 46 or even 86 most likely wasn’t the guy for me. I did enjoy a second date with him, and I’m happy to say that I definitely gained a new friend.
The 76th Trombone opened my eyes to my own judgment about couples with significant age difference.
If you question the validity of a relationship just because of an age difference, you might be alone in questioning. The participants in the relationship aren’t questioning- they’re too busy living.
There are certain aspects of our daily that need to be judged by dates, like dairy products. If milk is past it’s prime, it’s easy to discard. People aren’t dairy, and judging them by an implied shelf life may just cost you a great experience. It may even cost you the opportunity of a great love. In the end, I just didn’t have enough things in common with Albert to make a go of it as boyfriends. But if we did, I can guarantee I would have veered onto the Age Difference Highway with the abandon of a warm summer’s drive.
In The Music Man, Marian the Librarian most likely never thought she would end up with someone like Professor Hill. She opened her eyes and her heart to someone way outside of her dating box. Be it age, background, or demographic, if you close your eyes and just listen to the laugh, the sound may lead to birds singing and bells ringing. You just have to take the blinders off, get rid of the “what will others think” and be open to what YOU think and feel!
If you do, you might just find love all around.