Come LOL and get all the food for thought in the first Marope Takeover, where my mother and aunt share their definition of “age gap” as well their complex feelings and concerns when it comes to age gap romance. Their initial thoughts? Hard pass. It’s a trope that needs nuanced handling to avoid putting readers in all kinds of quandaries, so it gets interesting quick! I don’t know if Mariana Zapata, Carian Cole & Akwaeke Emezi will change their minds…
Are you a fan of the trope? Have you read the books and already have strong feelings?
Show Notes / Episode Transcript
Kate Marope [00:00:01]
This is Kate Marope, and you’re listening to the Path to Print podcast.
This season, we’re switching it up on the podcast and talking about a trope/relationship dynamic. Tropes are, of course, the bread and butter, the marketing shorthand of romance and publishing, so I decided to take the even seasons of the podcast to break down tropes.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know one of my favorite things to do is to bring people over to the dark side. And, well, that’s what I call getting my family members into reading romance.
So, I thought it would be fun to bring you along for that ride as I introduce my infamous Cancer mother and aunt to various tropes in a bid for them to fall in love with them as much as I have. #MaropeTakeovers happen in two parts: initial thoughts, feelings, and vibes at the beginning of the season, and then my family members go ahead and read the 2-4 books I think represent the trope at its finest, and then we come back for debrief in part two.
So join us in the bookish tomfoolery and the family shenanigans sure to go down. Read along, leave us a voice Anchor message, or message on Anchor, with your thoughts and feelings about the trope or the season’s selected books. Hell, invite your family and friends to join in loving on love. You have until July 29 to get your submissions in.
Welcome to the Marope Takeover.
Read the rest of the transcript
Kate Marope [00:01:30]
Thanks, guys, for allowing me to drag you onto my podcast. <laughs> I know it’s Ntsetsa is very uncomfortable here. It’s alright, it’s okay, we can live. And thank you, Mmamane, you’re awesome, you’re my cool aunt.
Mmamane Marope [00:01:46]
You are most welcome, it’s a pleasure.
Kate Marope [00:01:49]
So, the feel for this quarter is age gap romance, which is a very popular romance trope. What would you guys consider an “age gap,” quote-unquote? Like how many years would you then say, okay, this is a, a significant age difference to call it an age gap?
Mama Marope [00:02:07]
I, I, I want to look at it maybe from, from, from my research perspective in that, am I in the same age bracket, when, when you group people, do you group then in the same age bracket? And to me, it’s, the age brackets go from five to ten. Five-plus to me is a gap. I have to now dissociate these people as one, being older or younger than the other.
Kate Marope [00:02:35]
Okay. And you, Mmamane?
Mmamane Marope [00:02:37]
Yeah, five. You don’t go onto the other hand. That’s my principle, okay? <laughs>
Kate Marope [00:02:41]
Mmamane Marope [00:02:42]
You hold something with one hand, and you use the other one to do whatever you can do. Once you’ve got both hands occupied, that’s it. You cannot do anything. Five years, okay? Even in a classroom, okay, it was very rare, okay, even culturally that you would find somebody who is more than five years older than you.
Like if you started primary school at six years, okay, you wouldn’t, it was very rare that you would find somebody who was more than eleven years older than you, alright? So to me, not based on anything whatsoever, just on my rules, my principles, something that I’m comfortable with, five years. And it ends there. Once it goes onto the other hand, forget it.
Kate Marope [00:03:27]
<laughs> Okay. I like this hand method. Okay. Okay, what would you say has been your first exposure to age gap romance?
Mmamane Marope [00:03:39]
Let me tell you that the other day, I was looking at Facebook, okay, like you read a newspaper then say oh, you can read news on Facebook. And I saw these people, these two people that I know, okay. One is this older man whom I held in high respect, uncle so-and-so, and then there is this girl who is younger than my niece, alright? When I see a picture of them getting married, I actually thought, he is married, marrying her mother. And I’m thinking, oh, are these old people now both widowed? And it doesn’t, it doesn’t cross my mind that it’s the other way around, okay? And then, and then I looked closely and I’m thinking no, I’m imagining things. Alright?
Kate Marope [00:04:28]
<laughs> I need psychiatric help.
Mmamane Marope [00:04:29]
But then, but then there would be these comments, as there are always comments on Facebook going congratulate, yeah, congratulations uncle so-and-so and little so-and-so.
Kate Marope [00:04:47]
<laughs> For those of you who are just listening, she’s literally tossing her hands in the air.
Mama Marope [00:04:56]
Like. Do I have anything to say there? Ah. I don’t know. What a puzzle, huh?
Mama Marope [00:05:04]
My first exposure was somebody I know that wound up marrying a man who was actually older than her parents. And this was partially an arranged situation because this man was seen as prosperous. “Seen as,” I must underline the “seen as.”
Mmamane Marope [00:05:31]
And he wasn’t?
Mama Marope [00:05:34]
Oh, god. And, and uh, so there was some, some twist of arranged—
Kate Marope [00:05:41]
It’s a bit of a convenience?
Mama Marope [00:05:43]
—situation, and the person also started getting quite intoxicated with things that this man could provide. Things that, you know, we couldn’t afford at our age, and it, it never just stopped being a talk of town anytime we met. “Have you heard?” That was my first exposure. Would I call this an age gap romance? I still would call it an age gap arrangement.
Kate Marope [00:06:19]
Mmamane Marope [00:06:20]
Mama Marope [00:06:21]
Yes. There was, something—
Kate Marope [00:06:23]
There was a marriage of convenience.
Mama Marope [00:06:25]
There was, there wasn’t even, I don’t think there was convenience. The convenience was discovered by her later. But there was, um, an arrangement that was seen to be suitable because there was a selfish agenda for, for this man not to marry another girl that was his age, who had even kids with her, because he was seen as an asset, again, that would have been leaving the family to go and benefit a stranger, so I would rather this be, happen to my, my so-and-so’s daughter. That was my, and I still haven’t recovered.
Kate Marope [00:07:11]
Mama Marope [00:07:11]
At this age, and this was decades ago, you know, I’m very old. I still haven’t recovered. Like, how did she just let this happen to herself? And then it trails into maybe she’s crazy and I wasn’t aware. <laughs> Because I just don’t think anybody could possibly get me into such a situation of an arranged—But that was my first exposure, that’s when I first knew that a possibility like that could—
Kate Marope [00:07:42]
A relationship like that?
Mama Marope [00:07:43]
–could, could, could precipitate.
Kate Marope [00:07:45]
Don’t you think that what somebody considers romantic behaviors, okay, could be very different? Maybe for somebody, part of being in a romantically fulfilling relationship is that they’re with a provider
Mmamane Marope [00:07:56]
Kate Marope [00:07:57]
Mmamane Marope [00:07:57]
If that which you wanted out of that particular person, you could have without that person, would you still—
Kate Marope [00:08:04]
Would you still have had, would you still be with that person?
Mmamane Marope [00:08:06]
Would you still be attracted?
Kate Marope [00:08:07]
If this person feels like that is the, the component of a romantic dynamic for them, is having somebody who will financially support or meet their needs, okay? But there are other things that attracts this person. They like how they look, they really like their swag, they really enjoy the same activities and hobbies.
Mama Marope [00:08:30]
Let me say that, let’s not confuse a concept with its examples, or with its expressions. Do I not believe that somebody, somebody providing for you can be an expression of romance? I’d say, I’d say that that person is caring. You know? That person is responsible.
But when I started being attracted to this person, was it because part of it, sorry, a good measure of it was that this person should provide certain luxuries or certain lifestyle for me? Then, I should, is this romance? And I should pose this to Romancelandia: do you, can you sit in one room and agree what you mean what romance is? And then, in the process say, well, there are multiple ways of expressing this, you know? And buying me gifts could, could—
Kate Marope [00:09:35]
It’s a love language.
Mama Marope [00:09:36]
–be one of those, you know? Spending time with me. Understanding me.
Kate Marope [00:09:42]
Mama Marope [00:09:43]
Love languages. Expression. Or the person is quiet, not very expressive, but they act it, you know, so. But we would still sit in a room and say, oh, how romantic, you see?
Kate Marope [00:9:59]
I think that you’ll find that, this is now when you get into characterization and work, because I think if you establish a character that, yes, if buying this person, seeing something, buying a gift for them or having the wallet to buy them gifts on a regular basis communicates care and therefore, they feel cared for, which means they feel loved, yes, it can be very romantic.
Is it for me, personally? No. Gift-buying is not one of my love languages, either for giving or receiving on a personal level. But when I read it in books and the heroine is there, and she really, really wanted something, maybe she knew she couldn’t afford it so she left it behind, but the hero can afford it and then he finds it, next, someday, you know, she finds a gift on her desk at work or something, and it’s that thing that she wanted but she couldn’t afford that the hero noticed but he then bought it for her, yes! Absolutely. I’d be like, aww, baby, you got what you wanted, that is very good for you, I love that for you. Not for me, for you.
Mama Marope [00:11:08]
But, but this is the point. The point is still, if that person—You know, let me give an extreme example where somebody loves someone deeply. They show it, they care, but they don’t have the means to buy gifts and what not, and that person says, ooh, sorry, I’m out. <laughs>
Kate Marope [00:11:30]
Mmamane Marope [00:11:33]
No romance without finance.
Mama Marope [00:11:35]
Yes! Look at this person who broke the very reason.
So the issue is, you can be in a relationship with, with people for a very wide range of reasons, one of which is romance. One of which is they, they have deep pockets. So if you have to go back to what is romantic, the thing is, if you met somebody in the street, in a workplace, and you felt like you love this person, you are fond of them, you like being with them, you like them for them, because of their nature, their good nature—<loud noise> Let me finish! But in addition, no, this person also can provide, can do this as an expression of loving you. There’s a big difference that somebody provides you as an expression of loving you from the transaction with that of, where you went and sought out somebody who has money.
Kate Marope [00:12:46]
Ntsetsa, wait. Okay. Let, let me give you a scenario here.
Mama Marope [00:12:52]
Kate Marope [00:12:52]
Okay? Because I think it really does matter how you meet the person.
For instance, if you are a person where money is important, for various reasons beyond just basic needs but maybe you have very expensive fuckin’ hobbies. You collect these miniature dolls that cost thousands of dollars or whatever. You have a, a habit, a hobby, whatever that involves a lot of money, okay? And you meet this other person under those circumstances.
For example, if you like going on cruises, which is not cheap, and you met this significant other on a cruise, you are interacting with them on the premise that you both have money enough to be on the cruise.
Mmamane Marope [00:13:36]
Okay, then that—
Kate Marope [00:13:37]
So if circumstances changed where you thought you’d have this life together where you guys go on cruises together but now this person doesn’t have the money to be on the cruises together, would you then still say that person entered into the relationship under false pretenses?
Mama Marope [00:13:53]
Well, they entered into a relationship with somebody that they shared something they like together, which is going out on cruises.
Kate Marope [00:14:00]
Which would be romantic.
Mmamane Marope [00:14:03]
No, it’s not. It’s not. You know, you can still have a relationship with this person who likes the same things as you do, who has the same amount of money as you do, and, and not be in a romantic relationship. But wanting somebody’s pocket, okay, is a different thing. Don’t call it romance, just say, I am going after this person because I want what’s in their pocket.
If you meet somebody on a cruise and you think, oh, it means they have money. Therefore, they are here because they can afford a cruise, only to find that they got a ticket off somebody who didn’t, who couldn’t use it, then when you discover that, the minute you discover that, if you dump them the minute you discover that this person is empty as a, you know, as poor as a church mouse, okay? Once you discover that and you dump them, there has never been love, there has never been attraction.
Mama Marope [00:15:00]
Mmamane Marope [00:15:01]
There’s never been romance there, okay? You now, it’s about that mutual attraction, okay? And it’s about looking for that thing that we call companionship, okay? In a relationship where if somebody says to you, what is it that you want out of this person, you say, well, I want to be with them for the rest of my life, I want us to grow old together, be on rocking chairs irrespective of whether we have or we don’t have.
Kate Marope [00:15:30]
Okay, but wait. Now you’ve got to my crux, to me, the moral quandary of this scenario laid out is, yes, if you got on the cruise and you enjoy going on cruises, you met somebody who also enjoys going on cruises, you have a lovely time, you think they are very attractive, you, you spend many nights on that cruise having fun together on other things other than you’re on the same boat and kinda trapped there but, you know, there are other things that you like. There are many reasons that you may connect with this person beyond other people who also were on the same cruise because, you know, you don’t fall in love with them, okay? You do fall in love with this particular person for other reasons, right? Yes.
And when you start to develop this relationship, you get off the boat, yes? You think, yes, this is somebody I want to spend my time with because x, y, and z reasons, and they love the cruises, too. And you start envisioning your future life with them, and you assume because you met on this cruise, and I don’t think it’s a crazy assumption, that yes, in the future, we will also continue to travel because this is something we both enjoy.
At what point does it become unreasonable that if that expectation you have for how your relationship dynamic would play out, yes? We will be the type of couple who go on cruises or family vacations because that’s how we met, this is something we both enjoy, this is something we want to offer our children if we have them, okay? If that dream gets altered by the situation somehow, would you really say that person didn’t love that other person?
Mmamane Marope [00:17:03]
Kate Marope [00:17:04]
In this circumstance would be one of those times that I think would be this divorce on amicable reasons, where it’s like, okay, the life I thought we could have had, not necessarily based on the money but based on what I envisioned my ideal life looking like and what you want that life to look like or what you can afford that life to look like, or you no longer want those things in your life anymore. Maybe you think, oh, you know what, I did all that cruising stuff when I was in my 30s, I’m now old enough. I don’t want to leave my house, I’ve done the travel thing, I’ve seen the world. It has no more surprises for me, that’s enough. And somebody changes your mind in the relationship? I’d just be like, listen, that’s not what you sold me on. The whole vision was we’ll be sailing in the sunset together forever, thank you.
Mmamane Marope [00:17:50]
Yeah, what sort of relationship is that where you are fixated on, on one specific thing and if it doesn’t happen, then you are out?
Kate Marope [00:17:59]
I don’t think it’s unreasonable!
Mama Marope [00:18:00]
No, it goes back to the point Mmamane was saying earlier, was making earlier, that if that thing is taken away—
Mmamane Marope [00:18:09]
Mama Marope [00:18:09]
—and you throw the person away, then the baby has gone with the bathwater.
Mmamane Marope [00:18:16]
Mama Marope [00:18:17]
Did you ever want the baby? No. You wanted the baby in the bathwater.
Kate Marope [00:18:23]
Wait, would this be a situation where you think they fell in love with the idea of the relationship?
Mmamane Marope [00:18:29]
They never fell in love.
Kate Marope [00:18:31]
Rather than the human being attached to it? Okay.
Mama Marope [00:18:333]
Exactly. I was going to say, do you love this person? Or you love the activities and things that you can do with this person and things that you thought you would be able to do with this person? So when these things are taken away, then you say, you say wrongly, you are not the woman I thought I loved. We are not saying, we are no longer doing what I love.
It means this person was never the woman or the man you loved. They did things you loved and because they came, they were an accompaniment to what you really love.
Kate Marope [00:19:10]
So you were married the vacation lifestyle? <laughs>
Mama Marope [00:19:10]
What you really loved was the vacation, the lifestyle, and the lifestyle got taken away and out goes the person. But really, I have this late habit of watching Nollywood movies for many reasons but one of the, the, they have tropes. One of the tropes is, is that um, that keeps recurring is they have kings, you know, in Nigerian movies there are lots of royalty, kings and queens and princesses and princes, and there are so many movies that I see now where the setup is that the prince, um—
Kate Marope [00:19:49]
So proud of you.
Mama Marope [00:19:49]
—goes, goes out to, out of the princehood, if I could call it that way, pretends to be a pauper in order to find somebody who loves them. And they go and live somewhere where they are not known, they are either, you know, like, uh, like, uh—
Kate Marope [00:20:11]
The bus driver?
Mama Marope [00:20:12]
Yeah, Frederick Leonard was one of the Nollywood superstars. He goes to be a bus driver, and you can see he’s really struggling and what not but he, he, he keeps this role and keeps looking for just women. And some want money, some want for him for a night, one-night stand, whatever, whatever, but ultimately, I think this is coming from legend. I don’t know, I don’t know Nigerian culture much. But that people tend to say they have fallen in love with someone when they mean is that, I have fallen in love with the—
Kate Marope [00:20:54]
With the life you can afford.
Mama Marope [00:20:54]
—with the life I live when I’m with you. And that life is not the person.
When these people fall in love, they actually fall in love with people who are not necessarily rich, not royalty, they just think, I love this person. And to me, this begins to answer your question more clearly. The latest one that I watched is this one called, I think she’s called Okolo, the lady actor. And she was the princess, she went out looking for a genuine love. So she pretended to be a commoner, was working in restaurants, doing struggle life, and they bounced into each other with Frederick Leonard, who is also a prince who has gone out to do all sorts of things to find a woman—
Kate Marope [00:21:49]
Who doesn’t love him for his title?
Mama Marope [00:21:50]
—who loves him!
Kate Marope [00:21:52]
Not his title.
Mama Marope [00:21:53]
Who loves him! Not the life they will live. So ultimately, of course, then the guy, Frederick, goes to this woman’s home with the parents to seek her hand in marriage and when they get there, they get, they think they are lost because they are looking for a poor person, a poor commoner, whatever. But they are actually at the home of this girl. He calls this girl and says, hey, we got lost and we stopped by the king to take a break, but I promise you I’m coming, I’m coming with my people. And this girl comes from behind him on the mobile phone because he called her, she says, you are right the place. What do you mean I’m at the right place? So they go on for a little bit. This girl says to him, turn around. And he thinks she means turn around the car and get back on the road, come look for me, but she meant literally, turn around.
Mmamane Marope [00:22:52]
And see that I’m behind you.
Mama Marope [00:22:54]
So when he turns around, she is—
Kate Marope [00:22:57]
In her princess garb.
Mama Marope [00:22:58]
In her princess garb, and he also. And I think, yeah, this to me answers your question. You go with somebody on a cruise, you like what they like, you happen to like, but do you like the person?
And that, those Nollywood tropes to me begin to answer the question because then, invariably, when they get home this time, if they didn’t catch the prince, there’s a little bit of a struggle with the parents and the relatives that, you know, how could you bring this person? You know your station. But the other person just insists. And this is, I’m going to find someone who loves ME, not someone who loves—
Mmamane Marope [00:23:41]
Who loves what I’ve got.
Mama Marope [00:23:42]
–the life they can live when they’re with me.
Kate Marope [00:23:45]
Or the power that they can have because they’re with me.
Mama Marope [00:23:46]
Yeah. When this person who loves you brings extra things, they are just even more enjoyable because they came from someone you love. That, to me, is the point, the original point that Mmamane was making. If you took those things away, would you still love the person? If the answer is no, then you were in love with those things. The person was incidental.
Mmamane Marope [00:24:16]
Then go back to the cruise.
Mama Marope [00:24:18]
Mmamane Marope [00:24:19]
And just live in ships.
Kate Marope [00:24:20]
And so does this mean you guys don’t believe that love can grow from a contract? ‘Cause that’s, marriage of convenience trope is basically, you are getting married for a benefit or for mutual benefits of a kind. Not necessarily financial but for some reason, it is mutually convenient for you to enter this relationship because both of you gain something from it. But inevitably, the trope then grows into, well, and then feelings happen and you realize that there’s so much more to this person—
Mmamane Marope [00:24:51]
Kate Marope [00:24:51]
—beyond that bartered, negotiated benefit that you knew you would be giving or sacrificing for at the beginning. Do you believe that people can’t shift from that initial trade relationship into a genuine love and attachment?
Mmamane Marope [00:25:09]
No, I don’t think so. You know what? People don’t change, circumstances do, and people acclimatize. When you are in a situation that you are stuck in, you either try to get out of it or try to make it better and bearable, okay? So staying in that, I don’t know what to call it—
Kate Marope [00:25:36]
Mmamane Marope [00:25:37]
That, that mess, okay?
Mmamane Marope [00:25:44]
Staying in that mess and just saying, well, I will mop this debt for, you know, use of kind words. I will mop this debt and make the situation better, okay?
Imagine, it’s like going to school, for instance, alright? And you know that you struggle, and you realize that school is not for me but, you know, if I don’t go through school, where am I going to end up? At least I should know how to read and write and be able to sign my name and read a danger sign and know when, you know, just understand when something is written down what it means and go and ask somebody, you know, you are aware when you reach a certain age.
That is what I call making a very difficult situation bearable because in the end, you know, there’ll be a benefit. It’s the same thing with this relationship where they’re just staying there, okay? And whatever you, supposing you hated the fact that this person smokes and you think, ah, well, yeah, I’ll open the windows after they smoke and that, you know, I’ll get used to it. So does that, do, does anything ever good come out of that? You cannot be sure.
Mama Marope [00:26:56]
And I think, I think the point Mmamane’s making is quite profound. People, if you say like, let’s, let’s talk about maybe arranged marriages, which, or there is this kingdom and that kingdom or this—
Kate Marope [00:27:14]
Mama Marope [00:27:15]
Royal blue blood that is not actually the same color of everybody’s blood, and they should find another royal blue blood. And they, they are put in that environment socially and most people will accept it because that’s the social norms they are raised with. And once you are there, you have to make do with what you have.
Mmamane Marope [00:27:38]
Yeah, to survive.
Mama Marope [00:27:39]
And if you collaboratively make do, it might actually grow into something quite palatable, quite comfortable. You may even say, you may even say, love each other. But the issue to me is, if you were not forced by this transaction, would this have been the person you would have been in love with?
If the answer is no, then you are just very good at adjusting. And when it works, people say, we found love after. Also, let’s, let’s agree that there are many ranges of emotions that are casually are labeled. You can become fond of a person, you can come to respect a person, you can come to appreciate the person, you can come to—
Mmamane Marope [00:28:35]
Mama Marope [00:28:36]
All sorts of things, all these things can be bundled up as love. Do I care? No, I don’t care, and I think I would pray that people who find themselves in such a circumstance, um, do develop, do develop to, to, to not survive it but to thrive in it.
Let’s not make or paint it in the same brush.
Kate Marope [00:29:01]
Let’s not romanticize it. <laughs>
Mama Marope [00:29:03]
Exactly. Exactly, you got it. Let’s not romanticize it. Exactly.
Mmamane Marope [00:29:05]
And saying that you hope those people thrive, you hope those people thrive in those relationships or find, I hope not.
<Kate and Mama Marope laugh>
Mmamane Marope [00:29:15]
You know why?
Kate Marope [00:29:16]
Mama Marope [00:29:16]
Why should they stay in misery?
Mmamane Marope [00:29:17]
I hope not. You know what I hope for them?
Mama Marope [00:29:20]
Mmamane Marope [00:29:21]
I hope for them that they go free.
Kate Marope [00:29:23]
Ah. You hope their circumstances change so that they’re no longer held hostage.
Mmamane Marope [00:29:28]
Yeah! I hope for them that they are set free because I see it as bondage, okay? I hope for them that they manage to get out of that bondage and have their life back. Because you give up a lot when you go through things like that sometimes.
Mama Marope [00:29:46]
You give up even what you don’t know what you gave up because you never were given a chance to know it.
Mmamane Marope [00:29:518]
Exactly! So I really hope that—And unfortunately, some of these things happen to these people at a very young age.
Kate Marope [00:29:59]
Wait, can I ask a question? In the case where, yes, maybe that relationship of convenience or bartering or whatever we want to call it, right? And they acclimatize, they reap whatever original benefits that they needed at the time, okay? But circumstances do change for the better, they do get their freedom from this bondage that you describe it as.
What if, then, they choose to go reenter into that relationship on a different footing at that point, if you take away the original “benefits” that they were getting, okay? Let’s say that that is no longer a factor anymore. Maybe before they got into the relationship because financial reasons, right? What if, for some reason, they win the lottery? They’re set for life, they invested well, okay? And they choose to go back to that same person who originally, they were in a financially benefiting relationship.
Mmamane Marope [00:30:55]
I have an answer for that. Human beings, every human being, even criminals, even murders, they have a very human and kind side to them, okay? Imagine having been in a relationship like that, okay, and then you get out of it. You walk free, you get your freedom back and everything, alright? If you had acclimatized to that relationship, okay, you start looking at that person in different light. Oh at least, that person didn’t abuse me as much as so-and-so did, okay?
So when they go back there, it’s not because they want to get back there, it’s because somehow, their brains are malfunctioning because, because they have never had the opportunity to live a normal life, okay? And sometimes it’s like, they don’t know any other, and they don’t know any other way. Sometimes it’s because, you know, they have lost a lot. They don’t know how to cope and manage on their own because they’ve never had that life where they fend for themselves. It’s many milestones in life that they have lost.
So that’s why people go back. That’s why people go back to abuse. Like, why did this person go back to abuse, right?
Mama Marope [00:32:14]
I, I really want to build on that because it’s also about morality and your, your value system. Okay, maybe when, when I went into this transaction, it was for money. But I hit a jackpot, I don’t need money anymore. But when I needed money, this person was there.
Mmamane Marope [00:32:38]
Was there, yes.
Mama Marope [00:32:39]
So I’m going to continue this. But because money was a factor, this may escalate their mutual enjoyment of money because the envelope, the resource envelope has now expanded.
So I think really, there are many emotions that have to be, if we are going to talk about romance, we must unpack these emotions and not bundle them together. Whether it’s just responsibility, gratitude, pity, you know, a sense of reciprocity, we shouldn’t, um, bundle all these together. Otherwise, then, we have a very wide range of emotions that can bring people together, and we all call them romance. Because we are talking here about age gap romance, whatever romance.
So if the romance is there, let it be the driving force of this relationship and then other things will grow. You start because you are romantically attracted and then you get rich together, you get, I don’t know, you, you, you discover the other person—
Kate Marope [00:33:57]
You have thriving career paths.
Mama Marope [00:33:59]
Career paths. You have relatives that are great or nasty, whatever the case may be. But I think if we are going to call something romance, maybe we should go back to the drawing board and say, what is not romance?
Mmamane Marope [00:34:17]
Mama Marope [00:34:18]
And then say, all these other things can gravitate and precipitate into a sexually, um, inclusive relationship. This relationship includes many things, including sexual interaction, but is it still romance? That, I think, we should have the concept quite clear.
And maybe we don’t even know what we mean by romance. Maybe it’s a murky imagination. If it’s murky, then let’s just say, hmm, we don’t know this thing, what we mean, but it can express itself in these manners. And once we start to say one of those manners is that I want to be in a comfortable house that I could not earn, I want to have money that I could not have had at this age, you know, I want to drive a certain car or my father wanted a strategic alliance, now we are trailing away from where we started.
Kate Marope [00:35:25]
I think one of the most important things I think you guys are bringing up is that there’s a difference between age, using age as a milestone marker versus a moral marker.
Mama Marope [00:35:36]
It goes beyond moral and ethical issues, it’s social expectations. It’s about the fiber that holds our society together, it’s about social norms and mores. It’s about saying, in this society, this behavior, this relational behavior, this interaction, this type of interaction, is, is acceptable in this particular society. So even before we go to morality and ethics and values, because societies define interactions based on many markers, one of which is age, and when an interaction of a particular nature is expected within a certain age range, and I think I’ve looked more at the issue as a social issue and what is at the very core of the social fabric that holds a society together in an orderly way, where we can say in this particular society, when you do this, you are an outlier so we start marking you as a deviant.
Kate Marope [00:36:54]
Okay. But here’s the thing, and I agree, I think part of, and this goes back to what Mmamane was saying earlier, particularly about, um, how she could never, you know, if your siblings brought their friends home. In romance, you will often find that age gap romances are paired with other “taboo” tropes like my sibling’s best friend, or my boyfriend’s father, or you know, it’s very much—
Mmamane Marope [00:37:28]
Or godfather or godmother.
Kate Marope [00:37:30]
Yes. <laughs> You reminded me of this, there’s this author who just comes with the craziest titles like I Slept with My Grandmother’s Girlfriend or something. It’s just like, what? What just happened there? Yes. So yes, I think age gap romances tend to be bundled with other tropes that are generally considered taboo in one way or another. So yes, there is this sort of, even with romance and even for people who do write age gap romances, there is a, a level of separation of this is now a little on the edge, this is now on the outskirts of normal, right?
Um, I just find it very interesting because when we look at socially, like in pop culture, most people are like exposed to age gap romances like through movie stars and the like. These people are not dating their, their siblings’ best friends, they’re dating somebody that they met at a work function, you know what I mean?
Mmamane Marope [00:38:31]
It doesn’t really make a difference, whether it’s somebody you know or how you have met that person, okay? Whether they are related, unrelated, friends or befriend somebody who was brought in. People meet, one way or the other, okay? And when you see that age gap, the first question that you ask yourself should be, where did these people meet, okay? At work?
Well, if it was at work, somebody should have been, if you’ve got somebody who’s 25 years older than you, they should have been your, your boss or somebody that you look up to. I mean, imagine 25 years age gap. It means that when this person was 25 years old, you were a baby, alright? Just think of that, okay? So if this age gap thing, if we take it to another level and say to this person, when you were 25 years old, would you have had the same relationship with this one when they were a newborn? Do you realize how bizarre it gets?
Because people don’t think about these things, and those are the sort of things that go through my mind when I see these things. Are you aware that this person is young enough to be your, your child? Or are you aware that this person is old enough to be your father or your grandfather or your mother? What is wrong here, okay? Would, if you had, you know, your mother’s friend coming over for tea, okay? And you were 5 years old, what would you look up at them as? You look up at them as your mother. And like we say, the age gap doesn’t change as people grow old, okay? You will still, you should still view them the same way that you did when you were 5 years old, aunt so-and-so, okay? So aunt so-and-so should not become, okay, girlfriend so-and-so or boyfriend so-and-so all of a sudden, now that we are talking about romance.
So these are the things that go through my mind and my brain when I see these things happening. Like, do these people ever stop and think?
Kate Marope [00:40:41]
Yes, people do do that. There’s this trend on TikTok that freaks me the fuck out and I wish I could unsee, but there’s actually this TikTok sound where it’s like, oh, my significant other says they wish they had met me back in high school, and then they show the photographs of that person in high school versus what they were and of course, this person was like probably 5 years old. You know, you know those class pictures where you are smiling like a buffoon because you’re a child, when you’re just like beaming at the camera versus some person who’s there wearing football shoulder pads and looking like, you know, somebody who’s significantly older.
One, there is that. I think that people are cognizant of the fact that that happens but again, there’s this sort of thing of, well, it’s okay because we met later in life.
Mmamane Marope [00:41:25]
No, it’s not okay.
Kate Marope [00:41:26]
So it wasn’t creepy because this person didn’t, you know, see me as that beaming 5-year-old going to picture day at school.
Mama Marope [00:41:31]
Mmamane Marope [00:41:31]
No, it’s not okay.
Kate Marope [00:41:32]
Mmamane Marope [00:41:33]
And it cannot be okay because even at that age, you are still beaming compared to them. Mind you, as you grow up and you are not the, the, the giggling, chuckling high school girl or primary school girl, the other person is also growing older, okay? They are now wrinkly.
Kate Marope [00:41:53]
Mmamane Marope [00:41:54]
Okay? So it, it just doesn’t stop, okay? <Laughs> There, there isn’t a time when one person grows and matures, and the other one doesn’t. This thing of, oh, let them grow up first, okay, and then they can get into that relationship and it will be okay because 18 is the consenting age for romance or the relationship or anything like that. Okay, when they turn 18, add age into the other party’s age, as well, okay? So they are adults, now they are geriatric, alright? Hello?
Kate Marope [00:42:28]
Mama Marope [00:42:30]
Okay, let me just add to this. Let me just revisit this point about pop culture, you know, that, it’s a, it’s a rare, it’s a rare occurrence and this is why these people get to be legends, notorious ones. You don’t find people talking over and over again about movies, movie stars, that are of the same age group that got married, or a president or these politicians who marry their grandchildren. You don’t find somebody talking about President so-and-so who married somebody who is more or less their age group.
Mmamane Marope [00:43:14]
Or who was their classmate.
Mama Marope [00:43:15]
Why are they talking about it a lot? Because they crossed—
Kate Marope [00:43:20]
The social line?
Mama Marope [00:43:21]
Yeah, you are doing a bell curve, right? They are right out there as the outlier, they are in the minority. So the devious part, however, is also important to factor in because the deviousness comes from the breaking of trust. If my mother sends me to grandpa’s house so-and-so, and grandpa then starts making overtures towards me, it’s not just about age now. It’s about breaking the trust.
When a friend of mine once told me she would never send her son, who was an early teen, to some cousin of hers’ house, because this cousin used a break of trust. Now when it’s a break of trust within family relations or neighbors’ relations, but people who consider themselves close, as Mmamane was saying, if my younger brother comes with his friend, the trust, social trust, is that she will treat this young boy as her younger brother. And when she crosses that line, because she broke the social trust entrusted in her, that’s where the devious part comes in.
But if there was never anybody to trust you, it’s like a teacher. You are, you are trusted with this child, then you have broken the trust. Or a medical doctor that you go into a private room, you close the door, and they break the trust. That’s where we can use the word devious. The others, where there wasn’t any responsibility accorded you, vis-à-vis this person, I think they are outliers. All the same, they’re outliers.
Kate Marope [00:45:21]
<laughs> You don’t necessarily have to trust somebody for them to be in a position of authority over you. Like you were saying, your teacher is in a position of authority over you, your doctor is in that. And again, going back to oftentimes seeing these age gap romances being combined, that, yes, maybe if it’s not your brother’s best friend combined with this age gap, you will find it in maybe a workplace romance where there is a certain level of authority versus social contract of acceptable behavior in a workplace.
Mmamane Marope [00:45:58]
May I come in right there?
Mama Marope [00:46:00]
Mmamane Marope [00:46:00]
It doesn’t matter where it is, whether it’s at home or at work. It’s the same thing. You are both humans, okay? So workplace romance, you know, my brother’s friend or my sister’s friend, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s still an age gap.
Mama Marope [00:46:18]
No, but the point, let me just add to the point that, uh, [Kate] was trying to make, is that if, if it, if it is authority, it’s still about trust. Mmamane was saying earlier, could we vote for a 5-year old to be a president? Well, no, why? Because you don’t trust that this person can run a country. Well, perhaps into the ground, but we don’t trust that they can run a country.
So the reason somebody puts you in a position at work is they trust you can do that work, and you can relate to others in that workplace in a particular way that brings around, around a secure work environment, a collegial work environment.
Mmamane Marope [00:47:08]
It’s also because people think that you have some degree of, or some sense of responsibility.
Mama Marope [00:47:15]
Exactly, and accountability.
Mmamane Marope [00:47:17]
And accountability at work.
Mama Marope [00:47:19]
Exactly. So it’s not just about a position of power.
Mmamane Marope [00:47:24]
Mama Marope [00:47:24]
When somebody is a minister or a priest or a president or a teacher, or, or, or, society has trusted them. We sometimes forget that these positions are a privilege. When you get promoted at work, society, your organization is, is saying to you, we trust you, that you can execute this mandate with the, the honor it deserves.
It is still breaking social trust even if it is authority, so it can be age without authority, but it can also be age with power and this is why it’s called abuse of power. Why do we use that expression, that somebody abused their power? Because society or your organization, some collective, entrusted that power on you with trust, that you will use that power constructively. And when you use it destructively, that’s why we start talking about abuse, you’ve now abused that power.
So it is still trust, it still a matter of breaking the trust, doubly this time because it’s in terms of ethical value, moral dynamics of age, and it is the power that the collective had entrusted you with, whether you are just a matriarch in a, in a family, a patriarch in the family, a president, a minister, a priest, whatever. That power that you have is a privilege, and you—
Mmamane Marope [00:49:10]
But it’s also a sign of lack of capability. You know, at work, for instance, you look at somebody, you give them certain responsibilities because you think they are capable. You get a promotion because people think that you’ll give that, when you get that position, you’ll give it the attention and seriousness that it deserves, okay? Only to find that this person is totally incapable because now, they start using that for their own devious or whatever benefits, rather than—
Kate Marope [00:49:45]
Mmamane Marope [00:49:46]
Yeah, rather than what it was meant to be, okay? Yeah. And it’s abuse because for somebody to be given such responsibility, okay, they must have been showing some characteristics that instill confidence in whomever the person who appoints them or the group of people who say, okay, we shall elevate you from this position to that position, okay?
So it is abuse, and then if you start showing that, oh, no, I cannot give this attention and seriousness that it deserves, what does that say about you, okay? That you’ve just been lying low and not showing your true colors.
Mama Marope [00:50:29]
You betrayed those people. It’s a betrayal of trust.
Mmamane Marope [00:50:32]
It’s a betrayal of trust.
Kate Marope [00:50:33]
I think it’s also betrayal of trust not in just the behavior but also, the feeling lied to all this time dynamic.
Mama Marope [00:50:39]
Exactly. You lie low like a lizard, just to show your colors. Anyway.
Kate Marope [00:50:43]
<laughs> Okay, so since the whole point of this entire takeover is for you guys to actually now go forth and read age gap romances, what do you expect this experience will be like?
Mama Marope [00:51:00]
Reading an age gap romance?
Kate Marope [00:51:02]
Yeah, what do you think you’ll come out of it with?
Mama Marope [00:51:05]
Well, let me say, I’ve already read some thanks to you. <laughs> What this experience will be like, wow, and um, you know, mentally taking notes of what not to do. And most importantly, what to look out for for my children. I swear to god, if one day you come home dragging a man my age, and you want me to call him my son?
You see, I start with my son-in-law, but the reason I call this person my son is because they have, there’s something like equality of marrying or going out with my daughter equates you to the interaction I would have with my child. And this is why this thing is called my son, my daughter-in-law. You don’t say, I introduce your husband and say to Mmamane, this is the dude who married [Kate].
Kate Marope [00:52:05]
<laughs> The dude.
Mama Marope [00:52:06]
Kate Marope [00:52:06]
Not the dude.
Mama Marope [00:52:07]
Or this is the man who married my daughter, unless I really hate him, I could say that. But the reason I refer to him as my son, so, what will I be looking for? I will just be really taking notes. For me, I’m alright, but I’ll be taking notes for you and your sister. <laughs> That’s what I will take out of these books.
And yes, there are other, there’s a lot more to read in an age gap romance. There’s the plot, the character, the plot twist. Jokes aside, by the way, I wasn’t joking. Don’t bring that home. But that aside, I, I still expect to learn a lot from good fiction writing and to enjoy the authorship, and the creativity that comes with it. But could I ever suspend the, the, my fundamental disposition towards bringing someone who ought to be your dad or your mom or your aunt or whatever into a romantic relationship? Hell no.
Kate Marope [00:53:22]
Mmamane, what about you?
Mama Marope [00:53:24]
Well, I think there’ll be a lot of analysis that I will be doing there.
Kate Marope [00:53:29]
Mmamane Marope [00:53:30]
Yeah. Are these people sane? How did this come about, okay? I think it’s gonna bring it all, I don’t know but I’ll go into it thinking, well, it’s something that has always puzzled me, something that I’ve never understood why and under what circumstances things like that happen. So I don’t know, I think I will have, I will find a lot of some underlying pathology, mental health issues, you know. Personality disorders and all sorts of, I don’t know, I’ll go into with a very open mind, okay?
Mama Marope [00:54:13]
With a stethoscope.
Kate Marope [00:54:14]
<laughs> Yeah, with a doctor’s perspective—
Mmamane Marope [00:54:15]
No, with a very open mind, because it’s something that I have seen happen, but I’ve never thought I should read about it or had any interest in it, but it’s always puzzled me and never amused me. Just kind of disgusted me because, you know, the few people that I have seen do that and, it’s, it’s, look. Let me just say, I’m going to keep an open mind but I’m going to try to get to the crux of the matter. How does this come about, okay? And have my own analysis. And knowing that is a pit that I will never fall into, will I come out of that thinking if I see somebody that I know, I’m close to, whom I can be, you know, brutally honest with, I can say to them, okay, this is what’s wrong with you because that’s what happened in that—
Because if you look at these things that we call fiction, there isn’t really such a thing as fiction. It’s always somebody’s thoughts. It’s always something, you know, there, yeah, you add a little bit more salt, more pepper, more sugar, more spice, to make it, you know, attractive. There’s always something that you enter this thing on. Nobody’s so mad that you pull rabbits out of her head and say yeah, I’m going to write about that. It’s always something that you have seen happen. You might twist it and flavor it and this and that, okay? But the bottom line is that it’s something that you have seen, experienced, heard of, thought of. It’s never out of the blue. So I’m going into reading those books with an open mind, but I will be doing a lot of character analyzing there, trying to understand how the hell that happens. How does it all start? How does it end?
Kate Marope [00:56:08]
So would you guys like to hear about the books that you’re going to be reading this quarter?
Mama Marope [00:56:12]
Mmamane Marope [00:56:13]
Kate Marope [00:56:14]
Okay, the first one, which I picked because it was my first age gap romance that I read, um, is Kulti by Mariana Zapata. The back cover copy reads:
“When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to. It didn’t take a week for twenty-seven-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon–why she’d ever had his posters on her wall, or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies. Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man that hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up at her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been. Nothing could have prepared her for the man she got to know. Or the murderous urges he brought out in her. This was going to be the longest season of her life.”
Mmamane Marope [00:57:13]
Mm. Murderous is—
Mama Marope [00:57:18]
Did you hear “mm.”
Mmamane Marope [00:57:21]
Kate Marope [00:57:24]
Okay, so what your expectations for this one?
Mama Marope [00:57:28]
Uh, a child who was disturbed from the beginning.
And is, uh, it’s a bad situation that kept getting worse.
Mmamane Marope [00:57:42]
Yeah, taking advantage of the vulnerable, you know? Yeah.
Kate Marope [00:57:47]
Okay. The second one is Don’t Kiss the Bride by Carian Cole, which I think is probably going to be the most stressful. Um, I think Mmamane might like it because there’s a heavy medical angle to the heroine’s character, so I think your investigative lens will have a lot of things to—
Mmamane Marope [00:58:07]
Take out the stethoscope. <laughs>
Kate Marope [00:58:08]
Yes. <laughs> To investigate.
Mmamane Marope [00:58:09]
Put the diagnosis.
Kate Marope [00:58:11]
<laughs> Um, but the back cover copy reads:
“I guess you could say I was a damsel in distress, and he was my knight in shining armor. But more accurately, I was a girl with a lot of bad luck, and he was a guy with a lot of muscles and tattoos. Jude ‘Lucky’ Lucketti wasn’t just a sexy, brooding construction worker. He was my own personal hero who seemed to be in all the right places at the right times.”
Mmamane Marope [00:58:36]
Stalking. Stalker. There we go.
Kate Marope [00:58:42]
“Like when my car broke down and I needed a ride home, and when I face planted on the sidewalk right in front of him and had to be taken to the emergency room. Those weren’t exactly my best moments, but they were his. We became friends, and it didn’t matter that he was sixteen years older than me. We had a lot in common—like our love of old rock music and vintage fast cars, and our aversion to relationships. When he approached me with a crazy idea to help me out, I could not say no. The arrangement was supposed to be temporary. A marriage on paper and nothing else. It should’ve been easy, but it wasn’t, because here I am, eighteen years-old, still in high school, and married to a man I was never supposed to fall in love with. We had just one rule—no kissing the bride. But we broke that rule, and it sealed our fate forever.”
Mmamane Marope [00:59:32]
Mama Marope [00:59:33]
Mmamane Marope [00:59:33]
What to do? <laughs> We shall read.
Kate Marope [00:59:40]
Okay, and the last one is a book I haven’t read but it’s been making quite the press and buzz rounds now, which is You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi. Uh, their back cover copy reads:
“Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again. It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer that she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island—”
There goes the cruise.
“—decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career. She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the overwhelming desire she feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits—his father.”
Mmamane Marope [01:00:56]
Mama Marope [01:00:57]
Kate Marope [01:00:58]
<laughs> Oh, no, no, no, no, no.
Mama Marope [01:01:01]
Kate Marope [01:01:02]
“This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?”
Mmamane Marope [01:01:24]
You know what? You know why it went wrong? The table settings.
Kate Marope [01:01:28]
Mmamane Marope [01:01:29]
No, the table settings.
Yeah. You know, adults on that, on that table, children on that table.
<Kate and Mama Marope laugh>
And here’s another thing to do, okay? Alright? Adults facing adults and children facing children, that’s it, okay? There’s only, there’s only, there’s only so far an old eye can see.
Yeah. You know, after a certain distance, it all becomes blurry.
Mama Marope [01:02:00]
Anyway, we are gonna read them genuinely and will read them—
Mmamane Marope [01:02:05]
Mama Marope [01:02:06]
And share our transformation after reading these three books.
Kate Marope [01:02:14]
And do you think that reading these books will change your opinions during this experience, Mmamane?
Mmamane Marope [01:02:21]
I, I, I don’t really think so. I don’t think so. You mean my opinion about, you know, age gap thing is okay? It should just be left alone and, you know. I don’t think so, honestly speaking.
Mama Marope [01:02:36]
I think for me, it’s much deeper because I don’t want to change.
Kate Marope [01:02:40]
<laughs> You’re actively resisting.
Mmamane Marope [01:02:41]
You don’t want to do what?
Mama Marope [01:02:43]
To change. But for me, it’s really, I think, I won’t belabor the point because you think about matters that you are seeking clarity on, or they are confusing or whatever. Thinking is because you are processing something and, you know, your brain is, and even your emotions, even your spirit, is processing something because you are looking for a resolution of this thing, whether it’s knowing more about it, understanding more about it, checking if it is good for you.
But thinking suggests a state of processing something for a particular reason or reasons. Now when you are clear, you know, this food is poisonous. You don’t think, you just don’t eat it. So for me, I’m really clear that this age gap romance is just something that shouldn’t be done, so why, why waste my thought? So what we can promise is we will genuinely read them and very deeply, analytically, not superficially, and then we will regroup and have a chat on it.
Kate Marope [01:04:00]
Mmamane Marope [01:04:01]
Mama Marope [01:04:02]
And thanks for hosting us.
Kate Marope [01:04:03]
<laughs> You’re very welcome.
Mmamane Marope [01:04:05]
Thank you for a very good afternoon.
It, it was worth it, honestly. I went into it thinking, hmm, what am I dragging myself into? <laughs> I got a lot out of it.
Kate Marope [01:04:22]
Food for thought, plenty of food for thought.
Mmamane Marope [01:04:24]
Kate Marope [01:04:26]
Alright, thanks, guys.
Mama Marope [01:04:28]
Thank you very much.
Mama Marope [01:04:29]
Kate Marope [01:04:30]
If you enjoyed this guest episode, make sure you subscribe to Path to Print on your podcast streamer of choice. Did you know you can watch all guest episodes on my YouTube channel? As always, you can find a transcript of this episode, complete with all links to all books and things mentioned, and throw your two cents in by visiting the link in the show notes.
If you’d like to be part of the Ribbon Marker community over on my website and join in on the conversation on this subject, be sure to stop by website at theribbonmarker.com. You can also join the convo on social media using the hashtags #MaropeTakeover and #PathtoPrintPod.
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Thank you so much for listening to Path to Print and be sure to check in next week for a new blogisode.
This podcast was transcribed by the amazing Evy Kingsley, who I can’t thank enough.