I’ve noticed that the only people who say that ‘age is just a number’ are old people who are sensitive about their age. Sure, there’s all that theoretical ‘time is a construct’ crap (which, coincidentally, is only used by people who are always late), but if we’re talking about age as a biological process that none of us can escape, getting older just means you’re inching closer to heaven/hell/purgatory/the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly arms.
However, to avoid depressing you in the first paragraph of this post, I’m going to talk about something that transcends age. It’s something that all of us crave; something that, sadly, some of us may never find in our lifelong quest for it. Some people might even come across it more than once in a lifetime - and they’re the really lucky ones. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the world’s best gin.
Just kidding. I think you all know what I’m talking about (please don’t make me say it).
As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen couples of all sorts who have found this special ‘thing’. Without wanting to insult any of you, I’ve seen mismatched pairs that have consisted of a 6’5”, 300lb groom and a 5’0”, 90lb bride - and, yes, they probably have a hell of a time making that ‘thing’. I’ve seen a bride who votes Tory marry another bride who supports Labour. I’ve seen an angelic-looking librarian put a heavily tattooed MMA fighter in a headlock during their first dance. Up until recently, I thought I had seen it all. But I was gleefully mistaken.
I was hired for a wedding recently by a very happy couple who had just got engaged. All was going well; I talked on the phone with the bride-to-be, we set a date for the pre-shoot, she mentioned that her fiancé was quite a bit younger than her. I thought nothing of it - just another shoot - until the day rolled around and I met face to face with the bride and her teenage (albeit legal) fiancé, with an age gap of over 20 years.
Suddenly I had flashbacks to my childhood days when I dreamt that I would wed Princess Leia. She would, of course, have worn a gold bikini. I would’ve worn a suit with my favourite security blanket in tow. Unfortunately, in my case, the boyhood dream never materialised. For this lucky couple, the dream came true.
Anyway, we did the shoot and it went well. I would have loved the bride to show up to the shoot dressed as a cougar catching its prey. I even bought some fake blood for the moment of capture. But, just like my boyhood dreams, it wasn’t meant to be.
Fast-forward to the intimate wedding day and the novelty of the age gap had worn off. I was expecting a similar level of emotion that I see at most of my other weddings - maybe a small tear here, a catch of the breath during the vows there - but I was once again proved wrong as the groom began breaking down and blubbering as soon as he saw the bride walk down the aisle. It was like he had just been told that someone had assassinated the Teletubbies and he was no longer able to watch them with his morning cereal. In all my years, I had never seen such a display of emotion.
Suddenly, my entire career flashed before my eyes as I recounted the many young couples that I had seen; perky twenty-somethings marrying other perky twenty-somethings. They were so proud of the fact that they knew how to take the perfect wedding selfie and post it on five different social media accounts simultaneously, and that everything on their bodies was still pointing upwards. They professed their love for each other through heart emojis and boomerangs for the entire world to see - yet, when it came to the big day, they were as flaccid as a handshake during a coronavirus outbreak. Zero enthusiasm. In a lot of cases, not a single tear fell - unless it looked good for the camera.
It got me thinking: is age just a number after all? And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m getting soft in my old age. Think of it as a wake up call. Show your emotions; tell the person you found that ‘thing’ with that, actually, they’re not so bad and you wouldn’t mind being married to them for the rest of eternity. Cry over them like your favourite Teletubby has been assassinated. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is waiting to be impressed.