Sharon Stone is likely to regret ditching her toyboy
Uncomplicated younger men are a delight to date, says a woman who speaks from experience.
Following a series of rollercoaster relationships, I tried to convince myself that an older, well-established partner would be appropriate at this stage in my life. So I made an effort to step out with paunchy men in striped shirts. That is how, one day, I found myself a passenger-seat prisoner in a huge Mercedes driven by a middle-aged man – and gazing at the cool boy in the cheap heap alongside us at the traffic lights.
That was back in the summer and, by the end of it, I decided to stop acting my age (42), or rather the age of my older boyfriends. Like an increasing number of older women, I started dating much younger man, only to discover that I am not alone in my “Mrs Robinson” moment. Many of my friends are also “doing a Sharon”, as we’ve been fond of saying, at least until this week, when it was announced that the 50-year-old Basic Instinct star has split up with the 24-year-old she’s been seeing since June.
How did I get here? Well, two experiences with “age-appropriate” beaux finally taught me that I’d had it with the older man. One faced the chop when he informed the valet outside a posh hotel that we were waiting for “our children”. Hang on, I thought, they’re not my children and they never will be. Then, a few weeks later, another one had a fit about some get-up I had on, announcing that “if you were my girlfriend you wouldn’t be allowed to dress like that”. The statement proved two things: a) that he did not consider me his girlfriend; and b) that neither did I want to be.
A few days later I arrived, a little disconsolate, at my computer-training lesson. It was taken by a beautiful boy called Josh. He plays guitar in a band, he told me. As I used to work in the music industry, he asked for my number so he could let me know about forthcoming gigs. He started to text me every day: “Wot u doin, can we hang?” (”Hanging out” being the new semantic precursor to “making out” – and if you don’t know about that, then you are even older than me.) One night, he sent a text at 2.30am: “When will I see you? Can we hang now?” To which I replied: “Sssssh. I am 87 years old, my back hurts and I’m in bed. Go to sleep.”
At our next training session, he invited me to a gig later that evening. Afterwards, surrounded by long-limbed, perfect-skinned 18-year-old girls, he talked only to me. The next day, he called to ask what was “going on”. I replied that I had a bottle of wine open, and suggested he came by. Arriving at the house, he noticed a birthday card I’d made for a friend. Nonchalantly he remarked, “It’s my birthday today” (it had just turned midnight). “No way? Well, Happy Birthday,” I said. Then I asked the question, knotted in my stomach: “So, you would be… ahem… how old then, right now, as of today, in human years, that is?” He went slightly pink and said: “Twenty three”.
He is 23. I am 42. He was, and has remained, too polite and/or scared to return the question. He said I was the best birthday present he has ever had. (Better than the train set he got a few years back? Or the Action Man Commando?). He has good manners and loves the way I dress. He notices when my nails are done and says: “Great colour!” He is a gentleman in the body of a young god. His hair is much longer than mine.
But amid the hilarity that ensued from acquaintances about our age gap, a surprising number of my close friends have revealed successful experiences of flipping the traditional order. One is an actress, eight years older than her 22-year-old partner. To begin with, she resisted, even travelling to the other side of the world, leaving him instructions not to call, write, text or email. That lasted 24 hours and, six weeks later, she returned to accept the inevitable. Now she writes to me: “Old grumps are boring and stained with pasts that they drag with them everywhere. It feels so good to be with someone who just tells the truth and is open about his feelings, with whom I can be a woman, or a girl. Luke never complains, never moans.”
Another friend, a divorced artist over 50, initially resisted the advances of a man 25 years her junior. Clara insists “men anywhere close to my age are looking for someone as young as they can possibly attract – especially if they are divorced. They don’t want anyone who reminds them of their ex. The only options seem to be nursemaid or babysitter, and I am preferring the babysitter role for now.” Her suitor pursued her for two years before she gave in. The one time she took him to a formal event (a wedding), “it was scandalous. The groom completely lost it at the reception, and practically screamed at me, asking what was I doing with that ‘person’. It was a very bizarre reaction – I think he was actually jealous.”
But the person I am monitoring most intently is the one closest to me in statistical circumstance. Andrea, a professional keyboard player, is 43, 18 years older than her partner, Ethan. They have now been together for six years. At first, Andrea says, they were both convinced it could go nowhere, so they “kept it light” and both saw – or pretended to see – other people. But the fact that they had musical chemistry – he is a guitarist – gave them reason to keep seeing each other. The other men in her band picked up on what was happening and urged her to see him. “Go on and do the kid a favour,” they said. So she did, thinking it would be a one-off bit of fun, only to have Ethan indignantly proclaim that he was not an “easy gigolo” and would not be used in such a way.
The seriousness of his response backs up Andrea’s observation that she and I are part of a past era, “Generation X”, when being a teenager meant something. Boys such as Ethan and Josh live in a harsher economic age in which everything is highly focused. They rehearse like dedicated track sportsmen for their respective bands whereas, back in our day, it was all losers on drugs saying: “Hey man, let’s start a band! Can anyone play? Does it matter?”
The fact that Andrea and I work in the arts means we have side-stepped the wear-and-tear of growing up, getting married, having children – we can both pass for early thirties. On the sensitive subject of children, though, Andrea tells me she was careful not to make Ethan think he was a rent-a-stud for her last shot at getting pregnant. They have discussed it, and “if it happens, it happens”; if not, they may adopt. She sometimes has a weepy moment when she laments the fact that she will “never be the fairy princess bride and have eight babies”, but what she has is “a playmate with an invigorating appetite for life”.
She finds no cultural generation gap between herself and Ethan. Thanks to satellite TV and the availability of music on download, he knows Dad’s Army and every band she’s ever followed. They never argue because of their “distinct specialist areas” – if it happened pre-1990 she is “unequivocally right”; if it was after, he wins the point. On the downside, she has lost a few of her more conventional friends who believe she is setting herself up for a fall.
After six months together they tried to split up, but could manage only a week apart. Even then, she said there was no acrimony, no blame, just a bittersweet sense that their shared short-term happiness had been precious. I asked when she became relaxed about a long-term commitment. She explained that when they had been together for two-and-a-half years, her mother died in a fire. The way Ethan dealt with the trauma convinced her that he planned to stay.
It is, maintains Andrea, the “natural thing, ape-wise”. “In the gorilla pack,” she tells me, “if the older, ‘alpha females’ are still fit, they take their pick of the young bucks.”
The popular equation for a socially acceptable age gap (most people assume the man will be older) is “half your age plus seven”, which Josh and I miss by five years. Still, I refuse to consider myself the chilly “December” to his darling “May”. However long it lasts, I shall be forever glad of our encounter – and can only feel sad for Sharon Stone that hers has come to an end.
Source: Telegraph By Meredith O’Donnell