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Alec Baldwin has a girlfriend.

Hardly a headline, except for the fact that yoga instructor Hilaria Thomas is 26 years younger.

Baldwin is a heartthrob for the 50-something and 40-something generation of women. To be sure, there was that awful voicemail message to his daughter. But equally awful was the disclosure of the message by his former wife. Bad divorce. Not completely his fault.

And if you can put that aside, there are few actors his age who are as smart and as sexy and as charismatic as Alec Baldwin. And even fewer who are single.

So what's he doing with a 27-year-old yoga instructor? Nothing against yoga instructors; I adore mine. She's 40 and is a talented actress and writer. Her boyfriend, a director, is 48. Great.

It's the age thing. I try to imagine what people would say if I turned up with a guy who was 26 years younger than me. None of it is polite. None of it would be flattering to me. Gigolo is the word that jumps to mind.

Cougars? Come on. Katie Couric has been dating a younger man -- but not 26 years younger. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore aren't 26 years apart.

"He's a young 80," one of my friends said to me, describing an "eligible" man. I passed. But the truth is, I'd have much more to say to a young 80 than to an old 27. And no one would think it strange. Eighty-year-old men date (and marry) women who are significantly younger than me, and people just say congratulations.

I had dinner not long ago with a friend who is eager (OK, maybe desperate) to find a (rich) guy. She got more and more depressed as each age-appropriate man walked in with someone who was literally half his age. "Nurse and purse," I said to her, trying to cheer her up. She didn't laugh. And she's a beauty, by the way, who had -- until now -- gone from one desirable guy to the next.

And then she turned 50. And even though she is still tall and blond and beautiful, she's now competing with 30-year-olds in a city (Los Angeles) and culture (Hollywood) that prizes youth more than intelligence and beauty more than wit.

The only thing worse than guys dating women half their age is women resorting to extreme measures -- and I mean extreme -- to try to look half of theirs. I'm not talking Botox. I'm not talking about getting rid of the bags. I'm talking multiple surgeries -- lift the face, flatten the stomach, redo the breasts, even redo more personal parts. I kid you not, there is a doctor here in Los Angeles whose only specialty is rejuvenating vaginas. Yikes.

Viagra gave older men the chance for sexual satisfaction that, in many cases, age had taken away. Hallelujah. You're never too old to have sex. But with whom?

So there go Alec and Hilaria. All the best. People get to pick for themselves. The fact that she was in high school when the planes struck on 9/1 1 is clearly no impediment, at least not yet. If he weren't rich and famous, it's hard to believe they'd be together. If she weren't beautiful and young, it's even harder.

Maybe the reason women get more interesting as they get older is because they don't spend as much time with men half their age. And I think most of the ones I know wouldn't even want to. What would we talk about, we say to each other -- as if talk is the most important thing. If you ask me, it is. But clearly it's not for everybody.