Robbing the cradle is a spectator sport. At least it was for me last night. And it's so much better that way. I had dinner with three friends, two of whom I hadn't seen since arriving in New York City one week ago. Naturally, the conversation turned to the state of our love lives. One of us is getting married (which means I'll be back in NYC in November). Another is still happily married...with children. And a third is at the two-year mark of her romance with a 22-year-old West Point student.
Did I mention that she's 39?
I'm so glad I'm not the only person who's pushing 40 and dallying with guys nearly half their age. But now I know what it feels like for a girl. Being on the vintage end of a May-December romance is a whole different game when you're a woman. Especially with the deafening tick tock of that biological clock. Time is of the essence, and taking giant leaps of faith is a dangerous game. The 22 year old graduates from West Point next year, and then, he'll be a military man stationed in a yet-to-be-revealed U.S. or international city for five years.
The possibilities are endless. Not only is there the prospect of his being shipped off to some war zone. There's also the chance that he'll be sent to the middle of nowhere--Kansas, Oklahoma or, worse, Nebraska. Then again, he could end up abroad in some totally cool city. By the time his tour of duty is over, my friend will be in her mid-40s, so she'll have to make a big decision about whether she wants to link their uncertain futures before he graduates. Does she stick it out another year, allowing that tick tock to get louder and louder (not that her tick has even started to tock--she never really said), until his five-year plan becomes more clear? If she does, who's to say that this 22-year-old won't do what other people his age often do and change his mind...about her? I suppose that is a risk you run in relationships with people of any age. But with people under 25, the ending is less likely to be a happy one.
We talked about the movie Prime, which focuses on a 37-year-old woman (played by Uma Thurman) and her relationship with a 23-year-old artist (Bryan Greenberg). The crux of the story is the fact that his mom (Meryl Streep) is also her shrink (something that Meryl figures out early on but doesn't reveal to Uma until much later), but the real turning point comes when Uma begins to pay closer attention to the tick tock of that biological clock.
SPOILER ALERT! In the end, Uma's character ends the romance because she doesn't see the artist as daddy material. But who's to say that she would find daddy material in the next few years before the batteries in her biological clock run out? Who's to say that this guy wouldn't become daddy material before then? Who's to say that he isn't already daddy material? Who's to say when anyone is daddy material? Is being a parent a challenge for which you can truly be prepared or one that you simply rise to?
In a flash forward at the end of the film, Uma is presumably single and still childless. So maybe she would have been better off just sticking with the guy and letting life run its course. Last year when I watched the movie for the first time, I, too, was involved with a 22-year-old. Talking about it last night, for the umpteenth time in recent months, I became painfully aware of my age. (As I type, I'm reminded of a recent conversation I had with a 25-year-old guy I met last year in Uruguay who told me that he liked me for three reasons: I'm hot, I'm nice, and I'm older and more experienced. Um, thanks--I think.) If my friend were in her 20s, this would hardly be a dilemma. In fact, it would be the kind of adventure that would make her the envy of many women--and probably of me. But damn the tick tock of that biological clock!
For more on my friend's May-December romance, click here.