When I said I met men everywhere, I meant it. As I mentioned before, my commute to and from work, or anywhere for that matter, is long. I don’t know if it was that I was looking at the world with newly single girl on the prowl eyes, but all of a sudden, my daily treks was filled with cute guys. Tall ones. Short ones. Scruffy ones. Preppy ones. I could go off on a Dr. Seuss tangent forever. I’d look up from my book (Shutter Island, at the time) find a eyes on me. Eyes that were attached to men I would ordinarily deem out of reach. I had died and gone to transit heaven. Though I smiled, winked, and flirted with these strapping straphangers, I exchanged numbers with only one.
Jared and I met on the subway. I was en route to my date with Marcus and Jared was coming from church. I noticed him as soon as I stepped into the subway car and played the game of Lookaway. When he would catch me looking, I would look away. He clearly didn’t know the rules because he never looked away. Completely out of character, when the seat next to him opened, I sauntered over and took it. No sweaty hands. No racing heartbeat. I was calm and *gasp* confident!
“You smell really good! What is that? Something fruity, right?”
“Yeah, it’s coconut perfumed oil.” Nice opening line.
From there we went on to talk about everything from people who wear too much fragrance to being band geeks. Our conversation felt so natural and mature, that I didn’t wonder how old he was until after we exchanged numbers.
“So, how old are you?”
“Wait, 20… 20-what?”
Actually he was 19 and would be 20 in the coming weeks. I had been duped. I looked at his goatee and sideburns. 1989? Really? I felt like a dirty old man. He was a couple of months older than my little sister. He could have been her boyfriend. I could have held him as a newborn and remembered it, the same way I remember when I got the call that my sister had finally arrived. Oh well, I already had his number saved, but had no intention of calling him. As pleasant as our conversation and his face was, I couldn’t move past the fact that he was too young to remember New Kids on the Block. We shook hands when we arrived at my stop and he called after me, “I’ll give you a call later, OK?” Yeah, aiight. Wouldn’t you know, the very next day he called. And the next day and the day after that. Our first date was spent at Barnes & Noble, swapping stories over coffee and books. I felt sorry that I initially crossed him off because of his age. He was funny, smart, ambitious, and finally 20. My girlfriends called me a cougar. My guy friends applauded me and called me a pimp.
I continued to see him for about a month before I broke things off. Jared was what I wanted at the time, but not long-term. I wasn’t looking to build anything with him, I was more than satisfied with our bookstore and Upright Citizen’s Brigade dates. But as he mentioned more and more what he was looking for in a girlfriend, I realized that we were in different places in our lives and it had nothing to do with age. I got home and checked off Date a Younger Man from my bucket list. And I had a darn good time doing so.