Diary of a Marriage: Do These Jeans Make Me Look Young?

When everyone around us is jumping headfirst into adulthood, why do J. and I still feel like kids?

George Doyle

After a long day of Christmas shopping a few weeks ago, my husband and I were eating dinner at our favorite local pizza joint. We were tired and feeling quite battered from braving the frenzied shopping crowds. So we sat there, eating slices of pizza even after we were full, reviewing our purchases and checking off our mental to-do lists. The private room next to our little wooden booth was filled with a crowd of people, all attending what appeared to be a family birthday party; we could hear the overpowering din that comes with rowdy kids who have had too much soda and birthday cake. Occasionally a child or two would jet out into the restaurant, running for more napkins or to alert a waitress of a spill. J. and I looked at each other, exchanging a silent look that said, “Thank God we don’t have to deal with that.” While the adults in that room had kids to chase after, we got to happily plow ourselves into a self-induced food coma.

Toward the end of our dinner, in the little cut-out window between our booth and the party room, I saw a man stand on a chair to take pictures of the group. He looked like a dad—plaid shirt, crinkles at his eyes when he smiled, and he was desperately trying to corral the unruly group into a shot. I vaguely recognized the man, but couldn’t place him. As we stood to leave, the man called over to us. He’d gone to grade school with J., and was a year ahead of him. They played soccer together as kids.  As is typical in small hometowns, I knew him, too; we’d gone to the movies together once in high school, I think. We all shook hands and made small talk, politely inquiring about families and jobs and life. His wife was nearby, holding one of their two children. His plaid button-down shirt was tucked in to a pair of sensible jeans. He looked less like the kid I knew in high school and more like, well, a dad of two adorable girls.

As J. and I walked threaded through the parking lot to our car, he nudged me.

“Babes, do I …” he paused, and then continued earnestly. “Do I dress too young for my age?”

It was a question my mother has asked me on several occasions, but I never thought I’d hear it from J. We’re talking about the guy who insists on wearing a navy blue sweatshirt with black warm-up pants. He is not one to adhere to fashion rules. We stopped in the parking lot and I gave his outfit a quick once-over. Jeans—well-worn, slightly baggy, faded at the knees. Hooded college sweatshirt layered atop a plain gray t-shirt. White Stan Smith sneakers. Slight stubble.

I cocked my head. “I don’t think so. I mean, I guess younger kids would wear the same thing, but …” We got in the car, and it was quiet for a few minutes. But it was a pensive silence.

“But, like really, do I look ridiculous?” he said. I was flabbergasted. Since when did J. worry about things like this? He continued. “I mean, he looked older, right? Like, he looked like a dad. Should I start tucking my shirts in more? Maybe I should get —I don’t know—loafers?” Oh my God, I thought. Did my husband really just ask me if he needs to start wearing the standard Old Man uniform—pleat-front khakis, button-down shirt tucked in, tasseled loafers?

He brought the age thing up again this weekend, noting how interesting it was that while we were slugging back beers at a surprise birthday party for one of our friends, another of our friends was having a baby. Quite literally: At 10:44 p.m. Saturday night, our friend texted to let us know that his wife had given birth to a seven-pound, four-ounce baby girl.

At 10:44 p.m. Saturday night, J. and I were rapping our way through a rousing karaoke edition of a Snoop Dogg song.

When it comes to our circle of friends, we’re all at various points in our lives—which is funny, as we all got married within a few years of one another. I think it’s what makes life interesting, though. This Friday, I’m hosting a holiday party for my high-school girlfriends. One girl will most likely have to leave before it gets too late: She has an infant at home. Another won’t be able to drink: She’s due with her first baby in a few months. And then there’s seven-pound, four-ounce baby Emma, the newest addition to our group, who will be making a quick cameo. And then they’ll all leave, and our kitchen will be a mess, and there will be crumbs in the couch and maybe a few droplets of wine spilled on the carpet. So J. and I will turn on a Snoop Dogg song, pour ourselves a glass of wine, make ourselves a plate of leftovers, and laugh hysterically as we practice our rap skills late into the night.

Do you and your groom ever feel like you’re at a difference place in your life or relationship than your other friends? Are you alright with that or does it make you feel pressure?


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