The Younger Man

When I was 31, I had a date with a 24-year old. Now, I knew better, I really did. But I met him at a mutual friends’ house. I trusted my friend. And I knew he had a sense of humor. That is crucial. And he did make a point of getting my number from our friend. And I thought that was sweet. It had been a while since I had been on a REAL date. So I said ‘yes’. Even my mother knew better. “Too bad…” she said when I told her his age, “…well, maybe just go out once, and have fun.” She had learned to be realistic when it came to my love life.

He was a half an hour late in picking me up. Being an obnoxiously prompt person, I usually don’t let that sit well, but I wasn’t investing any expectations into this one anyway. If it weren’t for my barking dog, I never would have opened the door and saw his lost soul wandering right down the middle of the street looking for my house. He had left the directions to my house in his apartment. Hmmm. Not a good sign.  

We took off in his car, a boxy, rusting white sedan borrowed from a gay cruise line pianist who was a family friend. He then asked ME where we should go. “You mean you don’t have a plan for tonight?!” I couldn’t hide my shock. He gave me a brutally honest answer. He purposely didn’t plan anything big for the first date because if we didn’t like each other, then we won’t waste the money and energy on a nice but uncomfortable dinner. Let’s just get to know each other and go from there. I initially bristled at that logic, but was distracted by his handsome face, so I accepted that it made perfect sense.   

I suggested my favorite brew pub, where the IPA should not really be legal. After the second pint, my young date and I had already discussed our dating history and many of our family secrets. By the fourth pint, we had examined the qualities of a good mate, the pitfalls of casual relationships and their damage to the psyche, the benefits of and hope for a monogamous relationship and our future life goals.

Who WAS this 24-year old? No guy this age wants monogamy. He’s too nice. My god, he isn’t going to stand a chance out there in the dating world with THIS attitude. He’s going to get eaten alive. And then it dawned on me. He doesn’t have to go back out there.

“You know that I am 31, right? I mean, I’m the older woman…” Nervous laughter…

He looked me straight in the eyes. “I don’t care. I don’t see that when I look at you. When I look at you, all I see is a beautiful woman.”

Ding, ding, ding! Yes, young man, that is the correct answer! That automatically qualifies you for the next bonus round…..

It was Feb. 12, 2000, eight years ago today, when I went out on that date…  

…that young buck has a few more wrinkles now around his stormy eyes. They crinkle when he scoops and snuggles our son or the dog that beckoned him to my house that night. He still gets easily lost. It is a rare occasion for us to drink four pints in one sitting and actually remain sitting. But he has grown. In eight years, he has moved across the country, became a father, gone to war, got a degree, renovated a humble home, and started a solid career. He has made many sacrifices for my happiness. He wipes my tears, makes me laugh, pisses me off, picks me up, annoys me, hears me out, ignores me, turns me on, supports me, humors me, thanks me, and always tells me he loves me. His honesty and integrity continue to impress and teach me. His love and faith in me make me grow.

He is truly my prince.

And when he looks at me, straight in the eyes, I know he still sees his beautiful woman.

So although we had a wonderful second date on Valentine’s Day, today marks the real anniversary of the day and the date with the young buck that has changed my life forever.

I love you with all my heart Jeff. Thank you for asking me out.