When it comes to romance, large age gaps are becoming more and more prevalent. But this one may shock even the most jaded of news consumers. An age gap is one thing - but an age gap of 53 years is something else.
But it's a reality for couple Almeda and Gary Hardwick. The pair married after a whirlwind, two week romance in 2016, and are by all appearances very happy together. The thing that makes the story even weirder? The two met at Almeda's son's funeral.
The pair came to the attention of the internet after a profile in the New York Times, detailing their romance and marriage. They even have an active YouTube channel documenting their daily lives! And, as you may expect, Twitter has ... some thoughts on the pairing.
When you think "age gap" there's a certain image which immediately springs to mind.
via: ShutterstockIn popular culture, the stereotype is always and older man paired romantically with a younger woman.
This trope is so common it's almost a parody.
via: Getty ImagesOne famous instance of this is the Jackass: Bad Grandpa sketch.
Romantic age gaps have been the subject of plenty of movies.1993's The Crush told the story of a relationship between a 14-year-old played by Alicia Silverstone and a much older man, played by Cary Elwes.
And who could forget American Beauty?In this 1999 classic, Kevin Spacey develops a dangerous infatuation with his daughter's best friend, played by Mena Suvari.
E! comedy series Burning Love flipped the trope, for comic effect.In the hilarious The Bachelor parody, one contestant, Virginia (played by Helen Slayton-Hughes) is far older than her prospective partner, Mark Orlando (played by Ken Marino).
It seems as a culture we're oddly fascinated by age gaps.
Estate agent Marsh & Parsons are removing this ad from the Tube after complaints it's sexist. https://t.co/T0JMvJaNUo— Heart London News (@Heart London News)1490628065.0
So it's no surprise that this story has been making waves.
72-year-old grandma marries teen she met at her son's funeral https://t.co/EfX5hujz0H https://t.co/UuDAEfuHq5— New York Post (@New York Post)1547582878.0
Almeda and Gary Hardwick are not your average couple.
The pair met in 2016, when Almeda was 71 and Gary was just 17.
Almeda has described their romance as a "whirlwind."She's said, “We are always complimenting and kissing. We’re enjoying our relationship. When you meet that perfect one, that’s when you know you don’t want to lose that feeling."
The pair married just two weeks later.
The pair had been introduced by Lisa.
The pair fell fast.Gary's Aunt Lisa invited the pair to a group meal at Chuck-E Cheese, where Almeda recalls "We were both too nervous to eat and at one point he fell over his chair."
Both had come out of serious relationships.Almeda had been married to 43 years to her first husband, Donald. Donald died of complications related to diabetes in 2013. In spite of this, she thinks of Gary as her soulmate, saying "“I was married for 43 years and there wasn’t a lot of kissy, huggy stuff going on … no romance."
Gary, too, was getting over a previous relationship.Prior to Almeda, Gary had been in a relationship with a 77-year-old woman. “We were always fighting," he has described. “I fell into depression and was looking for a way out."
Gary even has tattoos of his new flame.
The two are capitalising on their newfound internet fame.YouTube channel, where they have over 70,000 subscribers and dozens of videos, including pranks, challenges and vlogs.
Recently, Almeda has started a new series on the channel.The show, entitled Girl Talk, premiered on January 13th. In the first episode, which currently has over 14,000 views, Almeda talks about her past relationships and how she and Gary met.
The couple even sell merch.Here's the link, in case you ... want to buy something?
The couple do seem very happy together.
The pair's unlikely love story has captured the media's attention.
We're talking to Gary and Almeda Hardwick who have been married for two years and have a 53 year age gap - 'We have… https://t.co/HlbaK1qgbx— Loose Women (@Loose Women)1524830548.0
Some news outlets had a different perspective.
72-Year-Old Smokeshow Marries Lucky Teen She Met At Her Son's Funeral https://t.co/GwFBjXgPA7 https://t.co/t1vF3YiM0P— Barstool Sports (@Barstool Sports)1547585294.0
Twitter responses to their TV appearance were surprisingly positive.
@loosewomen Love is love ❤️— SpaceyChunk (@SpaceyChunk)1524830643.0
Gary and Almeda replied to some of the positive responses.From their official joint Twitter account, the pair thanked the positive commenters for being kind and non-judgemental.
Although, this being Twitter, not everyone was so positive.
@nypost If it were to be a 72 year old grandpa who married a female teen, a lot of pressure groups would rise against it.— King (@King)1547583405.0
Others has a more ... visceral reaction.
@nypost https://t.co/7PamH7KYn8— Andrea (@Andrea)1547583076.0
Of course, some users couldn't resist pointing this out.
@barstoolsports We found one. The rare male gold digger https://t.co/s1Xa3MQxZU— Jake Macomber (@Jake Macomber)1547585384.0