Sunday, September 2, 2012

Strange Bedfellows

Sitting around the little bistro table in our kitchen yesterday, the morning discussion over coffee and the newspaper careened from Clint Eastwood’s empty chair to the resurgent Orioles and then settled on two urgent topics in our household.

Medicare. Pearl Jam.

It’s like that in our house: the collision of ages often makes for interesting table talk.

Although the magic Medicare age is almost upon me, I’ve been avoiding it for months. All those brochures that come in the mail trying to sell me supplemental insurance? Most have gone into the recycling pile. So finally yesterday Michael opened the laptop to and read aloud to me from “What is Medicare?”

After our brief lesson in donut holes and Parts A & B, we turned to Pearl Jam. Michael was heading off yesterday afternoon to the two-day Made in America Music Festival up in Philly, where Pearl Jam headlines tonight.

He’s been a fan for a while. Me? Not so much. But on Friday night he asked me to watch last year’s “Pearl Jam Twenty” with him, which he bought in anticipation of the concert.  The movie  recounts the band’s beginning in 1991, follows its roar into the national consciousness and celebrates its 20 years together.  

I watched mostly as a favor to Michael, but I found myself totally smitten with these guys: their independence, their fierce loyalty to their work and yes, even *some of * the music.

It’s like that in our house: I learn more about stuff I never expected to care about because my younger husband keeps opening the world to me. When the movie was over I told him, Dang! I’d like to go to the concert too now!


  1. I hear you both! I started medicare in Aug. and last night we danced to Dire Straits in the garage. As we head to our 16th anniversary, our generational gap is getting smaller. He likes WWII movies, I think Pinterest is the cats meow, time is an illusion and age a state of mind.

  2. My partner and I are struggling with the fact that, at 21 and 46, we are at very different life stages, in which we express love and commitment in very different ways -- in short, he wonders how I could possibly be uncertain about marriage after a year together, and I wish he could trust that strong relationships follow naturally from the kind of emotional intimacy we share, and that this process takes more time than it might seem like it should.

    I've thought before that our relationship is like a half-baked cake: I catch him opening the oven door to check on it, and I yell, "Stop! You'll ruin the cake!" I'm enjoying the aroma coming from the oven and have full faith that we'll have excellent cake for dinner. He, meanwhile, is concerned that the oven has quietly broken, unnoticed, and that I've forgotten there's even a cake in there. He sees half-baked as a red flag that progress has stalled; I see it as the immutable nature of the baking process.

    Marrying before I'm ready is a nonstarter, and in moments of stress he interprets this as a lack of love and commitment on my part. How does a couple begin to bridge such a gap, which seems tied so irrevocably to age differences? Conventional wisdom suggests you break up and find more compatible bedfellows. But "conventional" is hardly one of the hallmarks of our relationship, and we think there may another way forward that we just haven't yet identified. Fellow mixed-age couples, what worked for you?

  3. My husband was 15 years older than me. We certainly had our differences. One of the big sticking points was kids. He already had three and didn't want anymore. Also, he was looking forward to retirement when I was still building my career. After he retired, he got tired of me saying "I have to work" when he wanted to do something together. And yes, he started getting Medicare while I was ages away from qualifying. BUT we had so much in common, despite the age difference. He didn't like my rock music and I didn't like his jazz, but there was a vast world of music in between that we both shared. We were both singers, both left-handed, had the same working-class background, and looked at life the same way. At restaurants, we would order the same thing without consulting. Fred looked young for his age. One would have guessed he was much younger than he actually was. We rarely paid any attention to the age difference. We were just Fred and Sue. Instead of counting the years, we focused on the love we had for each other, and it worked.