When we first met and calculated our age difference, we laughed. I knew it had nothing to do with our sense of humor. It was nervous laughter. Our age difference is 16 years. A typical May-December relationship.
I didn't need to apply a freakonomics equation to help me understand what it really meant. When I was in grad school she was in kindergarten and when you think about it (with or without an equation) that's a tad bit freaky.
I imagined going back in time to the age of twenty three - Mr. December. I would have been the one walking along Lake Shore Drive with my creative writing books and an incredibly pretentious attitude. May would have been the one holding the two handle sippy cup and eating SpaghettiOs with her hands.
Although the idea that I was a "cradle robber" or a "manther" was never spoken, there was no denying that our connection has always been attached to a certain stigma. May-December relationships are typically frowned upon.
It's assumed that Mr. December has issues related to intimacy and control and is somehow broken because he can't relate to women his own age. It's assumed that May has father issues to work out relating to authority.
May-December relationships invoke an image of Mr. Magoo driving around in his mid-life crisis mobile with a beautifully-cleavaged girl half his age beside him while a lovely ear-flapping Vizsla slobbers up the back seat.
To me it's never been a big deal. I've always felt some people grow up "without a generation." I'm one of those people. And so, I've never really had any hang ups with age - mine or anyone else's.
Since my teens, my friends have been closer to my parents age than to my own. Besides, most of my friendships and romantic relationships simply happen, sort of like the weather happens. It's not like I created a relationship business plan to meet May and went out seeking romance based on her demographic.
No one blinks when your best friend is an eighty year old in the nursing home, but start dating someone a quarter your age and the talons suddenly appear.
I mean, Clint Eastwood is 25 years older than his wife. Now that he's 81 and his wife is 56, I doubt anyone breaks out the calculator anymore. Harrison Ford is 22 years older than his wife and even Jerry Seinfeld is separated by 18 years with his wife.
There are plenty of May-December relationships with massive age gaps that work. But now that I'm in the process of crossing a new bridge in my relationship I'm beginning to think I've just been fooling myself.
Which is part of the challenge of decoding the May-December equation.
You see, after May and I fell in love, the mathematics of our age difference went into hiding and stayed hidden except when we found ourselves passing over the typical relationship speed bumps. Did she not do the dishes because of our age difference or because she forgot? Did I forget to call her because of our age difference or because I forgot?
A few weeks ago I proposed. She said no. Now, our age difference is the only suspect.
To make matters worse I proposed at the circus. (Which means I may never be able to look at a clown the same way again). After I asked, she looked at me like I had just told her that her dog had been shot. (I may never be able to listen to the sound of crickets the same way again). It was snowing after the circus. (I may never think of snow cones the same way again).
In one full swoop I go from wanting to spend the rest of my life with a person to ending our four year relationship. It's like skipping the table of contents and going right to the appendix.
As far as I can tell, here are my options:
1) Like Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart coordinating the big pointy stick fight scene, I can "wait... wait... wait." Maybe another month, another week, another year? At which time, I can go in for another proposal. Until then, I can pretend I never asked. I mean, if I sweep my "plane crash proposal" under the carpet we could go back to the way things were. I was happy and if I can overlook the fact that I'll always feel like I'm waiting for my tax refund, it could actually work.
Luckily, I don't have to worry about what to do with the ring - Was it a 15 or 30 day return policy? Should I sell it on e-bay or pawn it? Is it ethical to save it for somebody else?
You see, the very next day, I lost my grandmother's wedding ring - somewhere between Manhattan and Queens. With the last remaining symbol of my proposal missing in action, there is no proof (in this world at least) of the aforementioned proposal except for this blog entry.
Until then, if you see smoke signals rising up from the vicinity of my heart, rest assured it's just a bunch of smoke babble like the sound a toddler makes when he drinks apple juice out of a two handle sippy cup.