Andy is part introvert and part extrovert. At work he is a total extrovert and can talk to anyone at any time. And talk, and talk, and talk. At home, he is an introvert. He is rarely chatty and generally does not start chatty-type conversations with me or the girls. For example, I like to have philosophical conversations about life. I might ask Andy if he thinks we will go to heaven when we die. Andy would ask a question more like this, "What are your plans tonight? Can you watch the kids because I need to go change out a lock at one of the apartments." Our responses to one another's question prompts are equally different. Andy, in response to the heaven question would say, "I don't know." I, in response to the being home question would say, "I don't understand why you have to change out that lock. Did you not just change out a lock last week? How much is it going to cost? Can't you pay someone to do it for you? This is a big problem. I'm not happy about you going to do this. It's really disappointing. We should sit down and talk about what this really means. What's really going on with you? Is this about changing out a lock or making a change in your life?"
Introverts really drive me nuts. They use their lack of response as a secret weapon. Andy knows better than to walk into my Venus Fly Trap, where he will then be frantically caught, fighting for his life, fighting for a way to escape his slow and painful death. He is a quick learner as this happens to him on occasion, when he lets his guard down and accidentally opens his mouth in response to one of my killer questions.
One question area that Andy is wise to avoid is attraction to any other human being on Earth besides me. I have told Andy, several times, that my song to him is Rhianna's Only Girl:
"Want you to make me feel
Like I'm the only girl in the world
Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love
Like I'm the only one who knows your heart
Only girl in the world.
This song makes perfect sense to me. I thought that's what marriage was- that all sexual attraction to anyone else blows away like dust in the wind. Right? So, Andy. Poor, poor Andy. Several years back, he told me about a woman he met at a conference. He confided that he felt as though she was hitting on him, I think because she wasn't yawning when he was talking on and on about non-profit management. I, sadly for him, didn't seem that enthused as he was. I didn't want details or ask anything about her. Maybe that because he was telling me after getting home from work while I was nursing a kid and making dinner. Then, he said something that made me listen, which was this, "You know. She's younger than you." I thought that was an odd statement. Being in my early 30's at the time, it made a lot of sense to me because, statistically speaking, there are a lot of women younger than me. I didn't get his point until later when it dawned on me. Oh yeah, dudes like younger chicks. That's a thing, I guess.
In a not too deep way of thinking, I've considered the phenomena of men being attracted to younger women as generally gross. On a deeper level, I find it mysogenistic. Studies have been done on this. A quick search of the all-knowing internet validates it. Match.com actually has an article where men give their reasons for being attracted to younger women, which include allowing them to let out their inner goofball, having less baggage, it's easier to impress them, and less expectations for settling down. A psychology wiki cites this age disparity in couples harkening back to ancient times, linking to power.
For whatever reasons, deeply psychological or superficial, we are a youth-centric culture. I, too, think that there's something beautiful about youth. I'm not talking about sexual relationships, I just mean in general. Think about a baby. A brand new little being with bright eyes and soft skin and sweet giggles. That's just beautiful. My girls are so beautiful. I love to study them while they play and when I look at them, really stop and look at them, they take my breath away because they are so lovely. They represent all that is good and sweet and pure. Like the weird dudes on match.com, I might reply in a similar fashion when asked what I like about having kids. They allow me to let out my inner goofball, they don't have a lot of baggage, (at least they don't bitch about work) they are totally impressed by me (like how I can touch my nose with my tongue), and they don't think farther into the future than what's for dinner and that's quite refreshing.
So, on a relationship level, whether it's right or wrong, deeply rooted in history and continually reinforced by society, wrapped in a a power play, youth is attractive.
That conversation between me and Andy came and went until the other day when my Venus Fly Trap was hungry for a snack and and I asked him if he was as attracted to me as he was when we first started dating. The introvert was put on the spot and I could see him, trying to reply with nonchalance yet caution. "Well," he said, "I, um. I'm so much, uh, um, older than I used to be. I don't look as good." Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy. I couldn't let that go. It just wouldn't be fair for me to have accepted that as an answer. I feigned deep hurt and sadness, acting appalled at his reply. But, in reality, I get it. I'm not young anymore and youth is hot.
But, here's the deal. When I was young, when I was a representation of all that is fun and exciting, when I had my future before me, no baggage and still had a lot of collagen keeping me soft and wrinkle-free, I would look in the mirror and see someone ugly. I worried that my eyes were too small, my hair was too thin, my knees were knobby, my breasts were tiny, my lips were too thin, my nose too big and my freckles too prominent. To me, youth wasn't hot. It was awkward.
Now, as I look toward the big 4-0, and after having two children, I look in the mirror and see something very different. My eyes are pretty. They tell a story and the wrinkles around them show how much I smile. My knees help me run. They help me move and chase after the kids. My hair has gray flecks that show my wisdom. My breasts fed my kids. My nose is big but it's how I breathe, and breathing is critical and my freckles are old friends. When I see them show up, it reminds me of all that is fun and delightful about summer. I look in the mirror and, for the first time in my whole life, I really like who I see. Yeah, I think, I'd do me.
We can all continue to think that 20 somethings are hotties. There's no denying the appeal of youth. However, like Kathy Bates in one of my most favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes, next time Andy references a younger woman (which he never, ever will because he knows better) I will say, "Oh yeah? Well, I'm older and I have more insurance!