First of all, I want to salute this date for bravely asking out someone on Twitter. Though I was cautioned that wanting to go on a date with me after reading this blog is a red flag, it warmed my heart that some rando decided to just freaking go for it. Frankly, I’m tired of the work of convincing someone else to take a chance on me. So much so, that I was even happy that this was his first message:
This blog is a place to talk about the stupid, nonsensical sputtering of the human heart, which makes me reluctant to drag the putrid steaming pile of shit that is our president into it, but his presence and the seemingly constant stream of bad news associated with it have gummed up the works of my machine. I went to my date from a protest, feeling enervated and robotic, discombobulated by the contrast of the quiet empty bar just twenty minutes or so from the marching crowd. What am I doing. Everything is so bad and ridiculous. My only excuse for continuing this project is that I want a place where I can feel some control and escape, and that may not be enough of an excuse.
But I will also say that a date, like any face-to-face meeting between two humans, is a moment to get the fuck away from the Internet, and maybe it’s something we should all break to do more often. Also, the bar had prosecco on tap and poured generously.
I ran in needing desperately to pee and told the bartender to have a glass waiting for me when I came out of the bathroom—but he halted my progress to ask if I wanted to get a manicure at their little manicurist pop up in the corner.
“No,” I said, glancing towards the toilets, “I’m going on a date.”
When I came out again, I found the bartender and the three bar patrons debating whether or not my date was in this bar. Would I inhale my prosecco and run out the door to a second location?
I laughed and took my glass to a quiet seat under a row of defunct hair dryers. A man walked in and also rushed to the bathrooms. This was my date.
When I was a younger person, I almost exclusively dated people ten plus years older than me. In college, I had a boyfriend my own age, but we broke up because I was fascinated by man in his thirties who was in a long term relationship. He still responded to my interest. I am now as old as he was then, and I occasionally wonder: what was he thinking?
Obviously, I can guess at the psychology of older people engaging romantically or sexually with younger people pretty easily, but when I look at a 20-year-old now, I see someone too young to engage with, even if they’re smoking hot.
Knowing someone well can also change how you view their age, for better or worse. Knowing someone builds trust and something closer to equity. Reflecting later on why my date seemed too young for me at 26, though I’ve probably hit on/made out with/whatever’d with people of a similar age gap, I realized it was the power imbalance. He was nervous and I was not.
I’m not saying I’ll never be nervous on a date again. It could happen. At the moment, though, I am a gentle guide through the dating process, like…Charon on the river Styx.
My date very nicely admitted his nerves and I told him he was safe with me. We talked and drank a lot of prosecco and it was honestly a very lovely date and he was a cute guy. I just couldn’t shake my feeling that I had some sort of power over this person I hadn’t earned, because I was older, because he knew me through my writing, because he was having a moment where he was getting back into dating. I relate, but I’m in a different place now, which is an epiphany of its own.
Power is a component of love and sex. Some people seek to exercise it over others, some lack awareness of the ways that they do. I often think about that older man and wonder what he saw when I was only 20: an inexperienced girl who didn’t know what she was getting into, or a woman he’d come to know over years who seemed wise for her age. The answer would change a lot.
Anyway, if there are any 26 year old ladies looking for a date, I have someone to recommend.