Few things shock the eyes like the quintessential “in-love” couple. I’m talking about an aged, well-heeled gentleman with an extremely young woman on his arm. Extremely young. Their age difference runs into the 50s or more. Thankfully, we run across such a sight just now and then. He, teetering along, proud of his high-heeled possession. She, paying oh so much attention to him. Doting. It all seems, well, it seems fake. So out of place. And preposterous. It’s a sight for sore eyes. But when you run across a flock of these couples, it makes you shake your head. Such was my fate a few weeks back in a city that shall go unnamed.

I had the occasion to attend a fancy fundraiser where high rollers gather to rub elbows, see their names on plaques, monstrous TV screens, and expensive well-designed programs. They shake hands and mutually admire one another when the truth is—I was told—they loathe one another. Among this glut of wealthy folks, freaky couple after couple creaked by my table. I had a front row seat to one of humanity’s more bizarre spectacles—winter-spring romances.

What is it about people that when they’re at their best they are at their worst as well. Here we have a group of folks who have donated to a worthy cause. And yet it seems, well, more of an opportunity to say, “Look at us.” And look I did.

I really can’t decide what was worse. The men’s offensive hairstyles or the women’s skin-covered balloons, many of which seemed on the verge of bursting. There were comb-overs aplenty. And the toupees? Beyond belief. Folks, it’s a sad day when a man of wealth and distinction parades around with an upside-down Cactus Wren nest squashed on his head. And the parts in some toupees. Think of a row in a cornfield.

And the girls spending the old fellow’s money? It doesn’t go to their head. It goes to their chest. Sadly we live in an era when any woman can make herself look like Dolly Parton. Do they really think they fool everyone? Do the old dudes with bad hair think they’ve got people fooled too? Nothing is as blind as vanity, is it?

Applaud winter-spring couples all you want. Not me. When I see Old Man Winter plodding along with Miss Daffodil on his arm, I see storm clouds over the horizon. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what’s down the road. It does take, however, a songwriter to capture it oh so perfectly. In a great moment when the brain seizes an indisputable truth, inspiration to write “Lyin Eyes” walked right by the Eagles.

The moment came at a time when the Eagles were a struggling band in Los Angeles. Seeing beautiful women around Hollywood was commonplace. Even more commonplace were gorgeous young women married to crinkled, leathery, wealthy men. It became a sort of joke. Now and then, in moments of reflection, band members mulled over the notion of whether such women were truly happy.

One night, members of what would become one of the ’80s ultra-successful bands were drinking in a bar. A stunning young woman sauntered by. Two steps behind her a vastly older, obese, fellow waddled in. As the band laughed at this cultural caricature, one of the Eagles said, “Look at her. She can’t even hide those lying eyes!” Right away, they grabbed cocktail napkins to write lyrics for what proved to be an exceptional song.

“City girls just seem to find out early/How to open doors with just a smile

A rich old man/And she won’t have to worry/She’ll dress up all in lace and go in style/

Late at night a big old house gets lonely/I guess ev’ry form of refuge has its price/

And it breaks her heart to think her love is/Only given to a man with hands as cold as ice.”

Sounds easy. A rich geezer befriended by a babe with bucks in her pupils and off they head to Paradise. Won’t last. Dating younger women may make an old goat feel younger, but it doesn’t make him younger. I suppose it makes him feel good, and she feels secure. Still, it has a hollow ring to it, one I’m sure that creates troubles behind closed doors.

Old men and young women practice symbiosis. In plain talk, they use each other. When I see these extreme couples I think of one of nature’s classic symbiotic relationships: the hermit crab and sea anemone. Each needs what the other offers. For one it’s shelter. For the other it’s food. And so a beautiful anemone ends up with an old crab. At least that attraction lasts.

Not so the winter-spring duo. Sure, he’s got money, possessions, influence, and security. And, yes, she’s young and beautiful but watch what happens when the money runs out or a richer crab comes along. She’ll break the lease, leaving him with an empty shell.

Perhaps I am too cynical. I tend to be a skeptic. Possibly I ‘m a bit too judgmental. Of course she loves him. He’s tolerant of her youthful extravagance and he’s kind, and so much smarter than men her age. His millions never entered the picture. Well, but … wait … well … I never see beautiful young women with penniless old men.

Do you?

Still, we see these extreme couples from different ends of the century over and over despite the fact it’s a union programmed for disaster. Let’s peep in the window of one such couple, the Warbucks. It’s 9 o’clock in the evening. Daddy Warbucks, with pajamas Hugh Hefner would kill for, is asleep in his $3,000 cashmere recliner. A book, War and Remembrance, rests in his lap. He better study up on war all right because soon remembrance is all he’ll have. His little starlet, Wanda Warbucks, has her dancing shoes on. She’s dressed to the nines and heading out for some nightlife. She plants a kiss on his head and leaves a sticky note on his book … “Don’t forget the Metamucil.”

It’s the classic confrontation: his golf cart versus her Corvette. I make fun of this cultural phenomenon to entertain you, but it’s a serious matter. Health issues arise for the man, and for the extreme couples who make it, some young women find themselves in the unenviable position of putting diapers on young children—and their husbands.

It can turn out badly for the young woman. An older woman who had traveled a glittering road of riches to no avail had some advice for a young woman about to marry an old codger.

“Be careful. Some day you will be where I am, passed by men my age all the time. When I was young, I thought older men loved me for myself, not my youth,” she said. “Now that I’m older, I’m invisible to men my age. I look back and realize how important my youthfulness was to old men. I was more sought after as a young woman than as a mature woman. All this makes me doubt the truth of true love.”


The queen of hearts hooks up with the king of diamonds. In the end, the glitter fades and the kings end up jokers. But other old well-heeled men with money are willing to be had. Like shark teeth, as soon as one old guy dies, another one moves up to take his place.

They had better watch out for the real shark. The one wearing high heels … the one with lyin’ eyes.


Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of fourteen books, 550 columns, and more than 1,200 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, Reflections of South Carolina, Vol. II, and South Carolina Country Roads. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground.

He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks to groups across South Carolina and Georgia. He’s the editor of Shrimp, Collards & Grits, a Lowcountry lifestyle magazine.
Governor McMaster conferred the Order of the Palmetto upon him October 26, 2018 for his impact upon South Carolina through his books and writing because “his work is exceptional to the state.”

Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina.

Visit Tom's website at www.tompoland.net. Email him at [email protected].