Cathy Hamilton: Age best left in gray area
January 21, 2010
Studies have shown that after a certain number of years, longtime lovers start to look alike.
I've got a couple of married friends who prove the theory true, especially when they wear matching Hawaiian shirts and Bermudas — but I don't think it holds much water in my case.
My husband and I don't appear similar at all, except in a typical Midwestern WASP-y way. Actually, we resembled each other more in college, 35 years ago when we met.
Back then, we both looked — well — young, for starters. (Ever notice how all 20-year-olds start to look alike when you reach a certain age?) Our hair was the same length, our stomachs were flat, and we both dressed in uniforms of flannel shirts, blue jeans and desert boots.
Now, except for our thickening waistlines, sagging jowls and droopier eyelids (to which my betrothed might say, "Speak for yourself, Myrtle the Turtle"), we look nothing alike.
The hard, ugly truth of the matter is — and, yes, I am making this concession in print and on the World Wide Web where it will live forever — I look older than my husband. Much older.
("Bitter, party of one, your table's ready.")
My equal half is a man who always won the "least changed" award at his high school reunions. At the 20-year, his prize was a pair of leopard bikini briefs. (Those who know him know how funny this truly is.)
Once, while visiting our daughter at school in Boston, the three of us went to an Argentinian restaurant. There, an inebriated man at the table next to us struck up a conversation with me. After a while, he pointed to my spouse and daughter and said, "Those your kids?"
Granted, it was dark, the man was bombed and I suspected his pork was peppered with peyote, but that stung.
It pains me to admit this, especially after slathering all of those expensive anti-aging potions onto my face for years. Heck, the man doesn't even wear sunscreen — only on vacation and after I threaten to hide the beer opener.
Here I am, scouring women's magazines in search of the latest fashions that will make me "lose 10 pounds and 10 years in 10 minutes," and he puts on any old thing from a wardrobe he's had for decades, throws on a ball cap and looks like a man of 40.
(It's a proven fact that a guy can lose 20 years just by ditching the coat, tie and hair pomade for a sweatshirt and baseball cap. Not that my husband wears that many coats and ties, but you get the point.)
To be completely candid, the main reason my spouse looks like a boy scout compared to me has nothing to do with his skin or his style.
It's the hair. Mine is gray. His is as strawberry brown as the day I met him.
("Bitter, party of one. We're ready to seat you now.")
Don't get me wrong. I am a steadfast proponent of letting your natural silver shine. I gave up hair color four years ago and never looked back. At an annual cost of more than $600 (highlights, lowlights and root jobs), it wasn't hard to do. I can't tell you what a joy it is not to spend 2 1/2 hours in the beauty salon every three months with pieces of tin foil glued to my head and pints of toxic chemicals seeping into my skull.
It just would be nice if my husband had some snow on his rooftop, too.
This isn't something that bugs me all the time.
My insecurity flares only when someone takes our picture together. The contrast is particularly obvious in photographs. There's something about a camera flash that illuminates and accentuates my gray even more. There we are at Christmas: Mrs. Claus and her taller but much younger red-haired elf.
My only consolation is my dear one's beard which, oddly enough, is salted with an increasing number of gray hairs these days. If he ever shaves it, I've threatened to leave him for an older man.
That's why I think this "couples looking alike" thing is all conjecture.
That said, my hubby had a colonoscopy this week, two months after my own delightful procedure. When we compared our souvenir color photos, our colons looked almost identical.
Maybe there's something to the theory, after all.