I was fighting off the flu, but I'd wrapped myself in a dress, cinched the waist tight, and now sat, flushed and underfed, sipping down a hot toddy (my cold medicine) in a hotel bar.At 34, I'd agreed to meet for drinks with a man 24 years my senior.
If you take blatant gold digging out of the equation, dating someone older is a symptom of…what? Despite my girlhood outsider identity, I've always had a strong sense of self and a large store of ambition and focus. But if by (a word whose nonliteral use always repulses me) we mean someone classically masculine, a man of substantial clout, then what's so strange about that attraction?
A man with enough personal authority to persuade you to slow down, to put aside the quest for public recognition—and maybe, on some level, to act as a mentor.
Growing up in Manhattan, I was an obsessive girl with a dog-hungry appetite for books beyond my years.
(I read without understanding that impotence was the nasty catch in the love story.) On lonely afternoons, I'd pay what I liked (25 cents) and pass the time wandering the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Or, chicken versus egg, the man who added meaning to their lives naturally became their lover.
While a little dysfunctional, it can be pretty damned satisfying to allow the person you're dating to become your answer, your philosophy.
A writerly mind in cowboy boots, always eager to play up his remove from the Establishment, he courted me long-distance with two-hour phone calls, eventually flying me to his ranch out west.
He was brimming with bald-faced declarations about the meaning of literature in line with the rugged old-boys' school of Thomas Mc Guane—a winning combination of unflinching artistic principles with macho trimmings.
His past was so checkered that I couldn't help but remark, during our first dinner, on his "bad reputation." (A Google Images search of the fellow literally made me smack my forehead.) But now older, he was in the flush of later-career financial success, and signs pointed to the possibility of a new calm, and the now-I've-got-my-act-together relationship that might come with that.
I was moved by this thought, that someone could take his experience and wrap it around himself—pull in his horizon like a great fishnet, as Zora Neale Hurston put it.
(The feminist in me just burst out laughing.) While it's true that Kurt Cobain was thrashing around on TV in a dress during my formative years, my tastes in the masculine—and what the greatest hits of '90s theory would call "the performance of the masculine"—have remained decidedly old-world.