Did all Baby Boomer husbands marry women 5 to 10 to 15 years younger than themselves?
Am I looking at a lot of trophy wives down here?
Or am I looking at evidence that at least the male half of that generation has let itself go to pot with a vengenance?
Men, I've been making a careful study of this at the beach. The idea that we age better than women is a myth, an old husband's tale. Baby Boomer men, on the whole, are looking like their great-great-grandfathers did, paunchy, jowly, stolid and dull, resembling Grover Cleveland far more than they do Dennis Quaid. And their Gen X kid brothers aren't any oil paintings either.
It's no wonder that perfectly sensible suburban moms have taken to ogling jailbait, Mrs Robinsoning it behind their shades at the pool.
Whereas, perfectly sensible suburban dads don't have to fight off the temptation to leer at tall children because they can enjoy leering at their mothers. Not that I do. Leer at the mothers, I mean. I'm too busy when I'm on the beach keeping an eye on my kids and watching out for interesting flora and fauna, like the flocks of piping plovers clumsily skedadling across the water this evening. If it's possible to waddle in flight, these plovers were waddling on the wing.
The temptation to dirty old manhood isn't that great for me anyway. It's not that I'm not a lech and a creep and an otherwise normal straight American male. It's that young women who have their driver's licenses but aren't yet old enough to drink legally don't tend to go to the beach when I do, early in the morning and late in the afternoon. They're there at midday. They have to leave the beach before 5 to get to their waitressing jobs and they're still asleep before noon, tuckered out from their waitressing jobs and the illegal drinking they do after work.
It's true, every young woman on the Cape between the ages of 16 and 22 has a job waiting tables, which means that in every restaurant you go to you are waited on by tan, fit, perky, and lovely young women determined to please and flatter. And that makes me wonder. The world is full of tan, fit, perky, and lovely young women, and yet Rick Santorum insists that the main threat to his marriage is gays getting married? Don't the people who vote for him find anything wrong with that, not there's anything wrong with that?
Meanwhile, back on the beach.
I always take my binoculars with me when I go. That's how I know those were piping plovers waddling by. I swear I always only point them out to see at birds and passing boats. But if I was to look inland, I could focus on towel after towel on which lies or sits a real life version of Teri Hatcher.
But what do the real life Teri Hatchers have to train their binoculars on? They have to hope that all the young men between the ages of 16 and 22 don't have jobs as waiters and can go to the beach anytime of day. Otherwise, what do they have to look at? A generation of real life Jim Belushis?
Back in January, Matt Feeney, writing in Slate, wondered how come every TV sitcom featured a fat slob of a husband married to a svelte and beautiful wife. Why, Feeney asked, were we expected to believe that the the likes of a Jim Belushi could end up with the likes of a Courtney Thorne-Smith?
Because, Matt, from what I've observed on the beach, that's the way it is in real life.
I'm telling you, few Boomer and Gen X men have reason to complain when their wives watch Desperate Housewives.
Guys, how did we let this happen to us?