Ages apart? Cool

Special to The Times

My three favorite weddings of 2004 (so far):

First, Nicolas Cage, 40, marries ex-sushi waitress Alice Kim, 20. A few months later, Kevin Costner, 49, weds fiancee Christine Baumgartner, 30. At which point Billy Joel raises the stakes by marrying girlfriend Katie Lee. He's a whopping 55. She's (hang on to your garters) a mere 23.

Notice a trend?

Honestly, I'm 43 and can't remember my last conversation with a gal in her 20s that didn't involve ordering appetizers at the Olive Garden. I don't even want to think about what the new Mrs. Joel was doing when Billy was only 43. Long division, I'm guessing.

The nagging question: Why should celebrities have all the fun? What if you're over 40, yearning for a young bride and you're not an Oscar/Grammy nominee? In that case, consider reading my informative new tome -- hitting shelves just in time for the holidays: "Marrying Women Way Too Young for You for Dummies: The Older Guy's Guide to Embarrassment, Bankruptcy and Your Next Divorce." Here's a sneak peek:

Preface: "The pursuit of cute"

Congratulations on buying this book! You've made an important decision that's bound to affect every part of your life -- including your savings account, IRA, 401(k) and money you've hidden away in the Netherlands -- well, whatever's left over after you pay the lawyers. What a journey you're about to take. And wait until your ex-wives and children find out. I'm envious.

Chapter 1: 'Got money?'

I can only assume you're not famous. Otherwise, your agent/personal assistant/drummer would be handling this for you. First step: Gather together your accumulated wealth (ideally, this will include Lakers season tickets -- preferably on the floor -- near Jack). Figure out how much you're willing to lose -- er ... invest. Go ahead. Take a risk. Keep telling yourself "She's worth it," even though you and your therapist both know it's a train wreck.

Chapter 2: 'Meet & greet'

This part isn't pretty. You need to actually meet your new flame. But where does she hang out? Some trendsetting club, perhaps? Ha! Hope you like really loud music from bands whose bass player will begin earning his trucking license in three to five years. Unfortunately, your future twentysomething gal pal doesn't know Van Halen from Van Morrison.

Worse, you'll hate those punk bands she loves. But there is good news. Most of their songs are less than 90 seconds long. The bad news? They have about 5,000 of them. Are you ready to rock?

Chapter 3: 'Who's your daddy?'

Nice going, you old geezer! You did it. You have a new, young girlfriend. Life is good, until you realize you have nothing in common except really low self-esteem. But hey, at least it's a start. You're both on a quest. She's searching for the father who disappeared/never loved her/died way too young. You're searching for someone who looks great in jeans and a crop top. Perfect!

Chapter 4: 'I don't know, what do YOU want to do?"

Uh-oh. She's darn cute all right, but face it, you guys have precious little in common. For example, she wants to go out every night, while you want to go out every night except Sunday through Friday. And Saturday's a tossup, at best. She likes to drink and dance. You like to sleep, wake up briefly, turn over, grunt and go back to sleep. She wants you to meet her friends. As a rule, you don't like people.

Epilogue: "Alone again, naturally."

Fun while it lasted, but who are you kidding? She's better off finding someone her own age. Same for you, Grandpa. Mature, sophisticated women are all the rage. The name Oprah ring a bell? Paging Susan Sarandon.

Get with it -- 50's the new 20.

Howard Leff can be reached at

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