English 中文网 漫画网 爱新闻iNews 翻译论坛
当前位置: Language Tips > Zhang Xin

May to December couples?

[ 2011-03-15 13:50]     字号 [] [] []  
免费订阅30天China Daily双语新闻手机报:移动用户编辑短信CD至106580009009

May to December couples?Reader question:

Please explain this sentence – The numbers of older women and younger men are staying together for longer periods of time, with a rise in marriage between May to December couples – and “May to December” in particular?

My comments:

It means more older women are dating younger men and their relationships are lasting, often resulting in marriage.

Here, May represents the younger men, December the elderly women.

How come?

May is the month between spring and early summer (in the northern hemisphere at any rate). This time of year, temperatures rise and things begin to, well, hot up. Flowers bloom. Animals stir, too as the mating season begins for many species.

December, on the other hand represents the end of the year, dead winter. Now, temperatures drop to freezing and many animals resort to hibernating. In other words, not a whole log of goings-on anywhere in the natural world.

Hence, a May to December relationship represents the unconventional match between a young man and an older woman, or (more often yet) vice versa – younger woman vs. older man.

Much older man, as a matter of fact. If the age difference is 5 years, that’s not a May to December matchup, more likely a May to June relationship and kind of normal. A 26-year-old boy/girl with an 82-year-old lady/gentleman, on the other hand, is more likely the case – and likely raising an eyebrow or two.

This, in a way, is a reflection of the economy, or economics. With wages growing slower than the GDP and housing prices rising more and more out of the reach of young people, older guys/gals become more of an attractive draw. Older people, you see, usually have accumulated a certain amount of wealth – and that obviously more than makes up for their sagging skins or flagging libido. Today’s young people love, er, what’s the word, to cash in.

Anyways, May to December as a phrase must have gained currency from a one-time popular BBC sitcom of the same title. First showing in April 1989, the comedy centers round the romance between a 53-year-old solicitor and a 26-year-old Physical Education teacher.

Count 53 years November if you will but that’s it about May to December relationships, love, or romance – there must be a significant age gap to make it work.

And if it works, I say more power to both partners.

Alright, here are web examples of real May to December affairs:

1. One of the ways that we get exposed to relationships such as these is that we see celebrities going through them. There have been many famous May-December romances over the course of history. Just a few of these famous couples (whether or not they are together now) include:

• Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. She’s fifteen years older than he is which many say qualifies as a May-December relationship.

• Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart. He has more than twenty years on her.

• Christopher Knight and Adrienne Curry. She's a full quarter century younger than he is.

• Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. He’s got a quarter century on her as well, exactly so since they share a birthday.

• Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. There’s a dozen years in between these two.

• Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. There’s more than fifteen years separating these two.

- The May-December Romance, Hubpages.com, March 7, 2008.

2. Problems such as, say, falling in love with Soon-Yi Previn, his partner, Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, and the sister to his three children – two adopted and one biological. It happened almost two decades ago, the hugest scandal at the time, with Farrow alleging abuse against another daughter, and although Allen and Soon-Yi have married, and have adopted two girls of their own, it still echoes down the years. Soon-Yi, 35 years Allen's junior, has no contact with Mia; Allen has no contact with his older three children. And You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger features that familiar Woody Allen trope: the May to December romance.

In previous interviews Allen has resisted any autobiographical interpretation to this, calling it a useful plot mechanism. Which it is. And here, as previously, in Whatever Works, Husbands and Wives and Manhattan, the relationship is both mined for comic effect – Hopkins counting down the minutes until his Viagra will work – and obviously doomed. Whereas Allen has previously spoken about his “luck” in finding Soon-Yi, and the tranquillity of their domestic life together.

In Wild Man Blues, the documentary Barbara Kopple made about Allen's love of jazz, in which she followed him and his band on tour, there are a few brief but telling insights into his and Soon-Yi’s relationship. She’s not afraid to call a spade a spade, is she, I say? “The crowd outside the concert was hilarious,” she says at one point. “It was like for a rock concert, and yet you’re an older guy.” And, “you looked like a crazy person out there”. And, “you must remember most people aren’t coming because they like your music, they're coming because you are in the movies”.

Soon-Yi, like Helena in the film, insists upon honesty. There’s really no escape from reality when she's around. The difference is that, unlike Alfie, Allen seems to embrace it.

“Yes, yes, she’s never taken me seriously really. And to this day – you know I just left her now – she sees me as a complainer, a hypochondriac, a kind of idiot savant. She thinks that I’m very good at what I do and absolutely terrible at everything else. And she's probably not far off. You know, it’s that kind of relationship. She’s not someone who sycophantically supports. You know, people thought when I first married her that, because of this big age difference, I’d married someone who’d idolise me. But that wasn’t the case at all. She hadn’t seen 90% of my movies, and to this day she hasn’t seen 60% of them. She’s just not that interested in them. And she’s a stern critic of my work. She unashamedly hates my clarinet playing. Can’t bear it. Can’t bear my practising. Never comes to a concert. Thinks it’s torture.

“In fact, if you were to see me around what you would call, but isn’t really, my entourage, that is my wife, my sister, people close to me, loved ones, you’d think, ‘The poor guy. They don’t like his movies, they're critical of this, they’re critical of that.’ That’s not really so true. They love me and are supportive in a meaningful way but they are very critical of what they would euphemistically call an eccentric. Although they think it's worse than an eccentric, it really is much more like an idiot savant.”

- Woody Allen: ‘My wife hasn’t seen most of my films... and she thinks my clarinet playing is torture’, Guardian.co.uk, March 13, 2011.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



Best of all worlds

The usual suspects?

In a different league?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)