LC Van Savage
It's Our Turn Now!
Anybody reading this who’s around my age can probably remember when we were shocked to learn a man had married a woman a lot older than he. When I was a kid and that happened, it was just the dadblamedest most juicy piece of gossip absolutely ever and I swear I’ve never used “dadblamedest” ever before in my entire life. But it was. We could not stop talking about it. It was appalling, unthinkable, and nearly as disgraceful as, gasp, a couple getting a divorce. But, a man marrying an older woman? And worse, a much older woman? The world as we knew it was crumbling about us and we were loving every thin thread of the salacious, delicious scandal.
When I was in Junior High a young rookie bachelor social studies teacher boarded with the widowed mother of a school chum of mine. Mr. J. was way, way younger than Mrs. H. but in time they found they could not bear living three floors apart, so Mr. J. moved downstairs into Mrs. H’s good parlour and other rooms and they actually married! Right in that very same good parlour. It was really difficult after that in social studies to concentrate on Mr. J.’s droning about the United Nations when we (thought we) knew what was really going on in that elderly Mrs. H’s home. Oh it was just plain delicious.
Tonight I watched that wonderful old melodramatic and grandiloquent “Wuthering Heights” with the gloriously hammy Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier. Now that was filmmaking! But it reminded me that Merle had shocked everyone (OK not everyone) because she went and found herself a fella named Robert Wolders, and of all things, married him! She was sixty-three, the blushing groom thirty-eight. Barely out of diapers. Amazing! But let's face it; Merle was a serious looker and probably didn’t have age spots, wattles, a mustache or missing teeth. Well, maybe she did, but who noticed? Or cared? No one I know. Robert didn’t. Merle was marbled beauty in “Wuthering Heights” and in real life too, tiny, flawless, Dresden porcelain. Her Heathcliff was dark and brooding with dark, brooding sexy eyes covered by dark, brooding and sexy lowered eyelids. Olivier. Yummy.
I don’t know anything about Mr. Wolders. But he was Merle's spouse #4 and the longest lasting, considering she upped and died 5 years later, leaving Wolders a sobbing widower although likely one with really great memories.
Remember Martha Raye? She was no Merle Oberon by the wildest stretch, but she did have one gorgeous set of legs. Huge mouth, loud voice, wildly energetic performer, singer, dancer, actress, and she entertained everyone on stage, radio, TV and film and most importantly the soldiers and sailors of WW II. No slouch when it came to men, Martha at age seventy-six snagged one Mark Harris, a mere lad of forty-three. Hey, the guy may have had ulterior, aka financial motives but our Martha cared little for public opinion and she disenjoyed being alone. Turns out Mark wasn’t doing anything special, so a couple of weeks after they met, they eloped and a couple of years after that, Martha went to that great Proscenium Arch in the sky having not given a hoot before, during and probably after. You go girl!
And then we have good old reliable Cher. Nothing much surprises anyone about that lady, most of all me. She’s funny and irreverent and probably was the one who owned the chalk when her friends proposed writing dirty words on the sidewalk. A seeker of the new, unsual and outrageous, it won’t come as a huge surprise that one of her multiple swains, a guy named Robert Camilletti was born when Cher was 23 years old. Even though they'd talked about it between Cher’s three band-aid gigs, they never married. He’d been grounded by his parents for staying out past curfew and couldn’t hitch a ride to the Church of the Perpetual Elvis in Vegas on time. OK, I joke.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I mean in relationships like that, are things sort of, like kind of, I mean normal? Yeah, you’re right. What’s normal? Who am I to ask or to judge or even to wonder? But I do and I am curious and oh come on, you are too. But hey ladies, men have been courting and marrying women their grandchildren could be having playdates with for centuries, and all it's elicited from society is a wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Now it’s our turn to do the winking and nudging. Are you a little longer in the tooth than you’d like to be? And spousally unencumbered at the moment? Take a good long look at that juicy young pool man, accountant, recent college grad, grounds keeper, stable boy or carpenter. Or even social studies teacher. He just may be looking back!
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