My spouse David will be forty-six the end of this month, the age I was when we first met. He was only thirty, which was quite an issue for me at the time. It never seemed to matter to him, because at forty-six, I was still younger than his ex that he’d broken up with several months before. In my own history, I was most often attracted to older guys, if not chronologically older, at least more mature than myself, which was easy to be. I suffered from a major Peter Pan complex well beyond my thirties, so that nearly anyone would seem far more mature than silly me. I spent the first half of my forties relatively unattached. I need to qualify that by explaining that I “dated” a man for six years, all the while he lived in his place and I in mine (but that’s another story, and this one is about my David).
We met at a party in Boston for single gay men in May of 1996. I arrived and was immediately uncomfortable, as I didn’t know anyone very well, not even Jim, the host. It was a cute little apartment but rather dark and there was a collection of half a dozen or so guys. Most of them were around my age, give or take a few years in either direction. No one jumped out at me as very charming or interesting and in the looks department, well it was not any better. The apartment door was tucked into an alcove of sorts and I remember this man David appearing in the doorway. He looked tall, about six-foot two I’d guessed, his head and shoulders shadowed so I could not make out any features. I heard his voice though, clearly and it was rich and warm and liquid-like. It wasn’t particularly deep or resonant, but so pleasing that it made me curious to see who the person responsible for it was. Before he got a chance to actually enter the living room, our host sent him to the Package Store on a beer run.
While he was gone, I asked a few of the guys if they knew this man and one or two described him only as “a younger guy”. I didn’t know exactly what age that might be, but I hoped it wasn’t what I would consider too young. David returned a while later and now I found myself curious to the point of distraction. It seemed like he was taking so long to get his jacket off and join the rest of us. When I finally saw him , I think I must have grinned from ear to ear. He had a look that made me melt inside. It was those big, sad, dark brown eyes that really got me. I don’t remember if I introduced myself, or if he did. More than likely it was me, because he is very quiet and shy, especially around strangers or in unfamiliar places.
A few others arrived and soon we began sharing our backgrounds – the stories about ex boyfriends or lovers who may have done us wrong, or whatever the reasons were that we were single and here at the party. David had been with his first and only partner for as many years as he’d been out. He had just entered his thirties and was starting over again. It seemed to me that he was at a place where he would want a chance to sow some wild oats and discover the world and himself in the process. I’d done that many moons ago during my salad days in New York, before committing to a twelve-year monogamous relationship with Alejandro, then, spending the last six years somewhat alone in a state of quasi-betrothal with my “dating boyfriend”. Now I was looking for some serious nesting time in my life. David appeared ready for just the opposite, plus there were those sixteen years… The two of us spent quite a long time together despite our great divide, however. He was a really sweet guy who seemed honest and genuine with a big heart and something about being with him was beginning to tug at me. Suddenly I felt a need to get into my car and drive the hour or so back to my little house where my Cocker Spaniel was waiting for me. I was certainly old enough to know this scenario could not have a happy ending. I left the party very early on.
I thought about the evening and David all the way home. I recall feeling foolish, that at my age I could entertain the notion that I possibly had anything in common with someone that young and even if I did, that a relationship could ever work. Leave it to me to be putting the cart before the horse – RELATIONSHIP? What was I thinking and who was I kidding? I was becoming one of those deluded old queens, like the pathetic guy in the white suit in DEATH IN VENICE, on the beach with the cheap black hair dye streaming down his aging face, watching the boy romping in the surf. By the time I pulled into my driveway, I had shelved the whole insane idea. I would forget those warm brown eyes and that melodious voice. Wake up and smell the coffee, Mister; you are WAY beyond boyish romance.
I awoke the next morning and went on with my life as usual. I cannot say I didn’t think about him at all, but I really was able to nix the thought of seeing him again. No, I dialogued with myself, if I ever met another prospective mate, he would have to be my age or more likely someone my senior. I remember chatting with a colleague of mine at school a few nights later, that I had met this “younger guy” at a party over the weekend and her first comment was “did you get his number?”. She wasn’t at all bothered by the age difference and thought I was foolish to even consider it. We actually had exchanged emails, but neither of us had written them down and at that point, I wasn’t even sure what his was anymore. And why bother, I thought, nothing will come of it anyway. He was just being polite at the party and I was being ridiculous.
The following weekend I got an email from him. I’ve saved it somewhere, all these years later, but of course I cannot find it now when I want it. It was worded something to the effect of: “I hope I have the right guy. We met at a party last weekend. I really would like to get together. If this is not you, please excuse the email”. I nearly shat myself right then and there. Now what was I supposed to do? I thought probably the best thing would be to delete it and save myself the heartache and embarrassment and just pretend that he did have the wrong guy. But there was this engaging quality to his interest in me. That weekend I phoned a few friends and all of them felt I should give it a go and at least see him again. It was the age thing that made me so skeptical and of course there is that reluctance to make yourself vulnerable and getting hurt in the process. My solitary life was far from empty and I was enjoying living in my own house, having enough money to be comfortable and truly content. Why fuck it up with some young guy who is only looking for a fling, or worse, a Daddy. No, I was not interested in that scene in the least.
Yet I answered his email a few days later and gave him my phone number, suggesting we might get together for a drink. He lived only half an hour or so away. Why was I doing this to myself? I knew my ego couldn’t bear the bruising, yet I had sensed from just the sound of that shadowed voice in the alcove, that la forza del destino, some force of destiny, had once again tempted me to trust the fates. How lucky was I, to have taken the chance and followed this young man’s pursuit. We met for drinks at a little pub where we ended up having dinner as well that night. It felt so odd, starting all over again at that point in my life, both of us recounting our histories that brought us to this point in time. But that was exactly what it was. Life had just begun for the two of us.