LUNCH WITH A YOUNGER MAN
Some weeks ago a vibrant, intriguing man asked me out to lunch. Overtures like this always surprise me. Not because I don’t eat lunch, but because I rarely think in terms of this kind of social interaction any more.
I was so surprised, I forgot to say no. And suddenly there we were: date made. But one of us knew something the other didn’t. Namely, that I was much older than my date.
Now first: how did I know? Well, that man looked younger. And: I looked him up. You can, of course, find anything with Google. Actually, I have never looked my age. So much so, that I used to joke that I would go from immaturity to senility in one fell swoop. And for a while, I claimed to have a portrait stashed in my closet like Dorian Grey. Even today, I look younger than I am. I put this down to an entirely blameless life, a perfect diet enriched with copious amounts of chocolate cheesecake, and the fact that the dog who owns me makes me walk her every day.
In the days between accepting the invitation and turning up at the table, I mulled over the situation. How to broach this, I wondered.
“Actually, I’m much older than I look,” sounds as if I’m fishing for a compliment which I don’t deserve, because really, there is no merit in simply inheriting interesting genes.
And, “You know, in most third world countries I would be old enough to be your mother,” doesn’t make good lunch time conversation, even when couched in the most casual of tones.
I was reminded of Agatha Christie’s remark about her archeologist husband, a man thirteen years younger than she was—coincidentally the exact difference in age between my lunch partner and me. “An archeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.” She said this after decades of marriage, but it’s germaine to mention here, that when her husband first proposed, she was “horrified” by the difference in their ages and initially said no.
But here the similarity between Dame Agatha and me ends: her future husband knew her age; my lunch date didn’t know mine. And liberated as I am in some ways, this didn’t feel right to me. And I began to have dark thoughts: I was nineteen when JFK was shot; my lunch date was six. When Sputnik was launched I was thirteen; my lunch date hadn’t been born yet. Starting down this track becomes more and more uncomfortable and unfortunate examples abound.
As it happens, we had no second lunch date. I think he looked me up: you can find anything with Google.
And so ended a brief but charming episode. The food was good, the conversation was lively, but the elephant in the room took up too much space.