Watching the Oscars on Sunday with my cousin and his family, his children made several interesting yet humourous comments about couples with significant differences in age.
"Is that her grandpa?" asked one as Michael Douglas stood arm in arm with the striking Catherine Zeta-Jones on the red carpet.
"Why did Hugh Jackman bring his mom to the awards show? Couldn't he find a date?" asked the other honestly and sincerely.
As I stifled my laughter, it made me think about the many obstacles couples in this particular situation face.
During a fairly promiscuous phase of my life, when I was attempting to avoid dealing with a particularly painful breakup, I met and came to know (in the biblical sense) several fascinating women who differed in age by as much as 30 years. One of the best things about being in your 30s is your dating spectrum can swing significantly in either direction.
What struck me as most interesting was the 20-year-old was self-conscious and shy when it came to her body and abilities, when she had absolutely no reason to be, while the woman far my senior (a gentlemen never asks), marked by childhood and time according to the traditional standards of beauty, was completely comfortable in her own skin. That in itself was an attractive quality.
While all of these relationships had a best-before date about as long as the yogurt in my fridge, that isn't what any of us were looking for. It all comes down to compatibility and stage of life, rather than the numbers on your driver's licence. I have married friends who were born in the same year and have nothing in common.
Back in that non-descript, vaguely familiar time in history known as 'the good old days,' Homo Sapiens experienced high child mortality rates and low literacy, enjoyed diets rich with red meat and employed poor hygiene. Heterosexual couples would engage in the ancient ritual of monogamous wedlock, bear as many offspring as possible, and die.
Over the last century however, medical advances have meant people, particularly in the western world, are living longer than ever before. Consequently they also stay in school longer, marry later and wait longer to have children. Compound that with the ubiquity of urban centres and ever-rising divorce rates and you've got yourself a heck of a lot more single people on the market than ever before. Bottom line -- we have options.
One of the coolest, most colourful characters I've ever met was my great uncle who didn't get married until he was in his 50s, to a girl nearly half his age. Now a widow in her 50s, she has a great deal of living to do as she raises their beautiful daughter alone.
Would she have traded even one minute of her time with him to share her life with another man who was closer to her own age? Not on your life.