Sunday, February 10, 2008

Age Before Beauty

Age before beauty. My grandma used to say that to me all the time, right before she'd pick the best piece of whatever it was we were having. When you're old, she'd say, you can go first, too. This always seemed immensely unfair to me as a child because hey. Whatever it was, I wanted it.

However, now that I'm in my mid-thirties, I'm beginning to understand that Grandma was right: some good things come with age, and I have the right to want them. I've paid my dues.

So this weekend, I'm out at the bar with friends. They're all teachers who work with me, and one of them is rather young. She brings along a little friend, and he and I end up talking.

At some point in the evening, I begin to realize that this little boy is talking to me like I'm a romantic possibility for him, and what's more, he has no idea how old I am. Just how old does he think I am?

"About my age," he replies.

And how old is that?


At this I have to laugh. Yeah, no. Guess again.

"Well, you're not thirty-five," he says, with a lot more superiority than he should, considering that he was totally wrong. I'm thirty-four.

The evening wears on, and he makes a few more comments that prove just how young he is, and I feel the need to taunt him. He's talking about tutoring former students, and I'm thinking he's young enough to be one of my former students. So I say, yes. I bet you like to tutor.

He takes a long look at me and says, "I can see now that you're older."

I'm surprised. Why is that?

"Because you're mean."

And of course I was. If there's one thing I've earned, it's being mean to men. They like it. And even if they don't like it, it amuses me. This one liked it.

So I'm at the gym last night relaying this story to my trainer, explaining how I've decided to tell everyone that I'm twenty-five from now on, and he says, "But he's not that far off. I mean, you're only a couple of years older than me."

I look at him. How old does he think I am?

"Thirty, tops," he says.

I laugh. Okay, I say. If that's what you want to believe, then I'm thirty.

"And anyway, what's wrong with a twenty-five year old?" he asks. I can tell he's a little miffed.


"Age shouldn't matter," he insists. "You could meet someone younger and he could have a lot to say for himself. He could have experience. He could be well-traveled."

Yes, I supposed so, but I have experience, too. And I've been around a block or two thousand. I'm too jaded. No, I say. I'm not interested in educating any more boys.

"My ex was 39," he says.

And look how well that turned out.

"That wasn't because of her age. That's because she was crazy."

I didn't say that she'd have to be crazy to try that much of an age difference. I just shot him a sideways look.

Then he accused me of having hangups about age. (If that's my biggest hangup, I'll live with it.)

He then puts forth this theory that the older you are, the less age differences matter. Twenty-five and fifteen don't go together, but thirty-five and twenty-five do.

And hey. I'll give him that it's more acceptable, but I'm here to tell you something: he'd have to be one hell of a twenty-five-year-old for me to respect him. I want a man who's secure enough in himself to be able to tell me no, and I think that a younger man is less likely to do it. Because in all honesty, I can be a bit of a steamroller. If I want something, I usually find ways of getting it. And I hate being the one who decides everything. It's annoying. Call me with a plan. Don't call me and ask what I want to do. Yes, there's the sick, sad little secret: the master wants to be mastered.

And then, there's the games. The young ones are still all about the games. Me? Not so much. If you like me, call me. If you don't like me, don't call me. If you only sort of like me, don't call me. I don't want you to waste my time. But let's not jump through hoops. And let's not do evil things just to prove you can.

Are men my age immune to that? I don't know, probably not. Maybe I'm full of shit, and I should let the next kid who asks take me out. I just ... I want a grown-up. Is that so wrong? Maybe it's a sense of fairness, of meeting on an equal playing-field.

Don't get me wrong. I can see that there are good things about a long-term relationship with a younger man. Men tend to die first. If you find someone younger, perhaps you will. Then there's the sex. I don't want to stop after just once, and neither does he. Oh, and less boredom. He's less likely to spend the night in front of the tv.

So what do you think? Women, would you date someone young? Significantly younger -- say, more than five years? What do you prefer? Men, have you dated an older woman? Younger? Was there a difference? Same-sex couples, are the rules different if you're gay?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Numa Numa

Okay, I admit it: sometimes the stupid crap on the internet really cracks me up. Not too long ago, my friend Dawn introduced me to the Numa Numa guy.

Click on the picture to watch the video.  He's fantastic.

Apparently, he's sparked a cult following. Witness this: a whole class singing and dancing to Numa Numa.

(What really cracks me up about this video is the guy in the back row trying to ignore them and get some work done.  He reminds me of the roommate in the Chinese Backstreet Boys video.)

I, of course, couldn't leave this alone, and so did a little research online and found out that the real name for this song is "Dragostea Din Tei" and it's by a Rumanian band called O-Zone. Figures, right? A song this joyful/angry could only have come out of the Eastern Bloc, and only America could turn it into a cult hit.

So of course I found a video of the band performing it onstage, and it's almost better than the Numa Numa kid.

It's a Rumanian boy band! Who knew? (Actually, I could go for the guy in the black shirt. He looks all ... troubled and angry and happy. He's a little skinny and speaks Rumanian, but I'm sure we could get over our differences, yes?) 

My real fascination with this video, however, is the Rumanian backup dancers.  I mean, the song is very pop-influenced, but the dancers?  They're dancing like gypsies!  Gypsy pop-stars.  Any moment, I expect one of them to pop into the crowd, lift a wallet or two, and then go back to dancing.

My fascination didn't end there.  (Don't you dare laugh at me.  You're reading about my fascination, so you can't laugh.)  So of course I went looking for a translation of the lyrics and found this, from

"Dragostea din tei" is written in Romanian, and the title is difficult to translate due to the lack of context for the phrase. There are several proposed translations of the title, such as Love out of the linden trees... Linden trees have strong lyrical associations in Romanian poetry, tied to the work of the poet Mihai Eminescu. Therefore the expression may be interpreted as romantic, "linden-type" love. A strong link may be to Eminescu's actual linden tree from Iasi, Copou park. 

Another very likely translation takes into account the neighborhood "Tei" in Bucharest, the capital of Romania (in Romanian, "Cartierul Tei"). Since it's a place very popular with college students (several dorms in the area) and youngsters in general, the connection is there ("Love in Tei" as in "Love among young people"). In spring especially, many young pairs can be seen in the parks and streets in Tei, and "love is in the air" — even though it might be love that lasts just for a little while; the song alludes to this.

The third translation comes directly from a native Moldovan. He claims that the title uses a wordplay and simply means "Love at first sight", "dragostea dintâi", in Romanian (i.e. "Love from the linden trees", roughly analogous to "Love from the clear blue sky" in English, with the added associations that linden trees have in the Romanian language). This translation obviously rises above the literal meanings of the words and draws on something more poetic and specific to the language and culture. Given that O-Zone is from Moldova, where Romanian is spoken, it seems quite plausible that this interpretation is accurate. Furthermore, it provides something more universally meaningful, as the idea of love at first sight is understood more globally than the idea of love having to do with linden trees.

Don't you just love that there's somebody in this world who cares enough about a Rumanian pop song to have done this level of research?  Of course, I found that research, so that makes me very nearly as bad.  HOWever, I did not DO the research.  I just googled it.

Well, I did a little research.  Shut up.  I had to, because now I needed to learn more about this poet, this Mihai Eminescu character.  I read some of his poetry, and then I found it:  the linden tree poem. 

by Mihai Eminescu

Come now to the forest's spring
Running wrinkling over the stones,
To where lush and grassy furrows
Hide away in curving boughs.

Then you can run to my open arms,
Be held once more in my embrace,
I'll gently lift that veil of yours
To gaze again upon your face.

And then you can sit upon my knee,
We'll be all alone, alone there,
While the lime tree thrilled with rapture
Showers blossoms on your hair.

Your white brow with those golden curls
Will slowly draw near to be kissed,
Yielding as prey to my greedy mouth
Those sweet, red, cherry lips . . .

We'll dream only happy dreams
Echoed by wind's song in the trees,
The murmur of the lonely spring,
The caressing touch of the gentle breeze.

And drowsy with this harmony
Of a forest bowed deep as in prayer,
Lime-tree petals that hang above us
Will fall sifting higher and higher.

Figures.  It's another damn man in love with a virgin, she of the white veil and white flowers and blah blah blah.  Honestly.  Purity is so overrated.  Of course, this guy is fixated on her "lush and grassy furrows" and her "sweet cherry lips" which makes me think that her virgin state isn't going to last long.

Not to mix my fruit metaphors or anything.

But.  Trust an Eastern European to find an image like the linden tree, which is also known (and I'm not sure why) as a lime tree in Rumania.  Are they the same thing?  I don't know anything about trees really.  All I really know is that they're green.  Until, of course, they turn brown.  Like the virgin.  Sorry,  got off topic.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  If you think about it, a lime is the perfect metaphor for love -- slightly sour, slightly sweet.  Tangy.  Adds a kick to everything.  Yes.  Limes.  I get it.

So then, of course, after all that research, I did the only reasonable thing that a girl like me can do:  I put the song on my iPod.