I had dinner the other night with my friend Jenny and a visiting co-worker of hers, Darren, a 49-year-old gay guy. He was warm, sophisticated and well-traveled, and he brought along his 23-year-old son.
Oh, wait, sorry, that wasn’t his son, that was his boyfriend. You can understand my confusion (as could the concierge at the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood, who said to Darren, “He looks just like you”). When there are more years between the ages of a couple than one of them has been alive, it’s rather easy for unsuspecting onlookers to mistake the younger one for either spawn or a rental.
As someone who came out in my mid-twenties (which was already five or ten years too late and which involved a lot of unnerving man-on-girl activity and a near-miss wedding), I did not spend a ton of time dating guys for whom being able to order a drink was an exotic novelty.
But I’ve noticed that men who don’t come out until they’re 40 or 50 have a tremendous appetite for youth. They want to date it, they want to dress like it, they want to talk like it. My friend Sallie once said, “Guys who come out late spent so much time being someone they weren’t, that by the time they allow themselves to be who they really are, they have to live out the years they missed.”
Wiser words were never spoken. This late entry into the gay game results in a lot of men in their 40’s wearing super skinny jeans and hoodies emblazoned with One Direction, and using words like “Chillax” and “Hater”. It also results in relationship drama that would make the characters on Gossip Girl cringe. A 40-year-old man who has just come out has the emotional maturity of a 14-year-old girl, without the hormonal insanity to blame it on.
On the plus side, if you’re a 50-year-old man who was once married, your 23-year-old boyfriend can be BFF’s with your children, since they’re often the same age. Darren’s boyfriend spends more time with his kids than Darren does, although the kids sometimes tire of the boyfriend’s enthusiasm for skateboarding and prank calling the Apple genius bar.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against dating younger – you need somebody to wheel you around when you’re old. And unless you have kids that you can guilt into it by showing them pictures of the third world orphanage you plucked them out of, or an estate that makes nurses uncommonly interested in your romantic side, it’s up to the spouse. My partner is 8 years younger than me and will gladly push my wheelchair (off a cliff, I suspect).
I just think that one should marry someone within cultural striking distance of one’s own age. Because, after all, if you can’t share memories like Wonder Woman and Hot Wheels, what on earth do you talk about after you’ve redecorated the house?