It starts slowly, like a teeny little drip at the back of your brain. You begin to notice these couples who don’t – quite – match. Couples who have been married for years and years, who are very much in love, and probably have a couple of kids, but something is off, and you can’t quite put your finger on it.
Then it hits you. They’re the same age. But they don’t look it.
The guy may be wearing bifocals, bald, graying, even sporting the beginnings of what will no doubt someday be a substantial paunch, but he still looks a solid ten years younger than the grandma he’s calling his wife. Even if the wife is as fit as an anorexic fiddle, even if her hair is as black as the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, there is a fantastic chance that she still looks older. And here’s the best news: THERE IS ALMOST NOTHING SHE CAN DO ABOUT IT.
Which is so awesome, you don’t even know. Even tonight, as I lay my aging head on my doily covered pillow, I will fall asleep obsessing over how guys my age are aging at a snail’s pace while I’m on the fast track to Cryptkeeperville.
But with brown eyes.
So here area few indisputable facts that I’ve figured out about this awful, awful phenomenon.
Men are Less Burdened by the Albatross of Fashion
And this particular albatross is the first thing that will drag a woman’s raggedy little head into a weary sea of obsolescence. The first thing! Absent the occasional frosted tips and the great Ceasar cut debacle of the mid-90s, most men tend to keep their looks simple. Yeah, there will be an ironic mustache or pierced nostril every now and then, but on the whole you can pluck a guy from the 1920s, plop him down on Main Street USA, and he’d blend in like the cat’s pajamas.
Men generally keep things easy and timeless. Women, on the other hand are the Madonnas of the genders, we change every year. But it’s a catch-22. If we don’t change with the times, we look dated. If we do change, we walk a fine line between looking like idiots because we try too hard, or looking like idiots because we’re dressing like it’s 2000-LATE. It’s a mighty big burden to bear, believe me. What usually happens is that a woman finds a look, gets good at achieving that look, and decides to stick with it, come what may.
But even if a woman figures out how to navigate the tempestuous seas of aging and fashion, she still can’t win, because…
Face Crags Look Distinguished on a Man
On women, not so much. Same thing with gray hair. No one knows why, it’s a mystery. Which is why otherwise beautiful ladies feel compelled to actually inject butt fat and bacteria poison into their cheeks and foreheads. And sometimes they get away with it.
But usually, they don’t.
Pictured: Someone who is only three years older than Madonna.
On the rare occasion that a middle-aged man actually messes with his face, it’s a huge deal, because it’s just about always a change for the worst. And on the rare occasion that a middle aged lady celebrity doesn’t mess with her face, it’s also a big deal, because someone that was once hot now looks ooooolllldddd.
Linda Hamilton: Older than Madonna, younger than Donatella.
Conundrum! So, let’s say that you’re one of those ladies who are blessed with lovely skin that doesn’t sag as you age. And you’ve got a good look that’s working for you. You’re still not in the clear, because…
Boobs are Treacherous
And they will ultimately betray even the finest of women. They start off awesome: perky and cute or X-rated and attention-grabbing. Either way, alert and amazing. And then at some point in a girl’s third decade, assuming her breasts are natural, something terrible begins to happen. The Devil starts calling those boobs home. And do you know where the Devil lives? In Hell. And do you know what that means for a girls’ knockers? They start traveling downward.
Curse you, Devil!
Men have no gravity driven equivalent. Maybe things happen to their man-parts, but we wouldn’t know, because that stuff stays under wraps. Ladies carry their age on their chests, front and center, for the whole world to see. If you breastfed, forget it. Or if you’re naturally buxom, ha. Good luck keeping those puppies afloat. Hope you enjoyed your 20 or so years of perfection, because it’s all downhill from here.
So in addition to all the other crap the ladies have to be mindful of, we also begin testing the boundaries of physics through better bra technology. Or silicon or other chest-cutting methods that no man in his right mind would ever have to consider.
But! Maybe a girl figures it out. She’s got great skin, a good look, and hooters designed by the angels themselves. It’s all going to plan, until…
The Competition Shows Up
We’re all aware of the cougar thing…goodness knows the media won’t let us forget. But how many real life women do you see hooking up with men who are ten years younger or more? I haven’t met any, although admittedly, I don’t get around much. I’m guessing that for every Demi Moore, there are at least a dozen Bruce Willises out there, sexing it up with women who are happily still in their twenties, not fretting about sagging skin or drooping boobs or dressing inappropriately for their age.
The unfortunate truth is that even a gorgeous woman in a strong marriage is going to have to watch out for the younger version of herself strutting around her man. Because for one, every guy has a type, and once you’re the middle-aged version of that type, it’s time to get on your guard. And for two, for some reason, it almost never works the other way around.
So what does all of this mean for men? It means your lives are awesome, and you better be grateful. And if you’re already in a relationship, give your lady a high-five for doing her best. She’s earned it.