“And all would envy,
the older man
and his beautiful young wife…”
It’s no secret that my initial attraction to women runs slightly younger these days than it probably should. While this has arguably served me well over the years, it has come to my attention that, just possibly, that time has past. Being a self described ‘dirty old man’ is charming when you are not old – or dirty for that matter- but at what point does the ‘ick’ factor kick in?
While no one has intimated that I’ve reached that point just yet – my keen powers of observation are pointing me in that direction. I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek- if you hit me over the head with a book titled ‘Dirty Old Man’, with a picture of me in it, while actually saying ‘ick’, I would probably find a way to justify my continued behavior. The line is different for many people, and while I honestly don’t mind crossing it once in awhile – I at least like to know that I am doing so at the time.
It was at a wedding reception last weekend that I saw her. From a distance, she looked out of place in the proud, beer drinking, blue collar community of Milwaukee. Tall in both height and stature, she would have stood out in any crowd – though I certainly didn’t expect to see a runway model tapping a keg. I had to meet her.
So- as discretion is the better part of valor – I asked about her before I went up and talked with her. As it turns out – fashion model wasn’t far off . She is paid to design the garments as opposed to wearing them. My sources told me that she used to be in LA and had moved back to Milwaukee for some reason. She was beautiful, she was brilliant, she was twenty five…
Damn. Really? Twenty five?!?
When the moment came I stood up and went next to her in line at the bar. What was attractive at a distance was truly stunning up close. She was easily as tall as I am with heels (6’2″) – long brown hair with teasing highlights and a smile that lit the room. Her hair fell in front of her face as if it was trained to show just enough to make you want to see more. Dark complected with bold facial features and olive eyes. She was poised, confident and ultimately proved to be well spoken. In retrospect, I wish I could say the same for myself.
What I need at this moment is a killer opening…
“That’s a beautiful bracelet you have there. Is it a watch too?”
So much for the killer opening.
“Thanks”, She said. “I actually got it at a thrift store. It’s worthless, but I like wearing it.”
“It’s nice bling”, I said.
Bling? She’s 25, not 12 you idiot.
“So how do you know the happy couple?” I asked
“I’m the Bride’s second cousin. My name is Amber.”
She transferred the beer to her left hand and held out her right. Her name was as unique and intriguing as she was. Was she more than a pretty face? I was starting to rethink the wisdom of my last 3 or 4 drinks…
“Nice to meet you. My name is Bill.”
At least I got my name right…
We stood in front of each other – sipping mindlessly – saying nothing – for what felt like hours. Why do I feel like I’m looking for a date to the prom?
“Oh. Wait. You’re THAT Amber!” I exclaimed. “Wonderful. I’ve heard a lot about you”. Of course all of it in the last Ten minutes, but hey… “I heard you used to live in LA?”
Nice save. But now she’ll want to know what you’ve heard.
“Oh? Really?” She blushes appropriately but doesn’t take the bait. “I did for awhile. I like it a lot out there, but my friends and family are all here, so I’m happy to be back”. She took another sip of beer. No foam mustache – she’s done this before.
” Are you the photographer?” She asked. “I saw you taking pictures earlier.”
Here’s where the shame factor kicks in – I expected her NOT to be well spoken because I judged a book by its well proportioned dust cover. Now that I realize that she is much more, I am VERY intrigued… I am also suddenly very aware of the fact that she isn’t…
“No. No.” I said, “I’m a family friend on the Bride’s side. She asked me to take pictures for her, but I’m not a professional – just a nice schmuck with a camera”. She looked at me with a pleasant yet confused smile, followed by another well poised yet perfectly time sip. Yiddish, like Shakespeare, should be used sparingly when in the presence of alcohol…
We stood there for a few minutes, watching people who were- unfortunately- more plastered than we were- dancing with the grace that usually accompanies that level of consumption.
So there we were. Standing. Drinking. Not so much with the talking. Hey. Goober. Pretty woman at 12:00! Say something…
“So you didn’t like LA?” No, she already told you she liked LA. Where are you going with this? “I’ve lived in NY several times and love it. I have a few friends that have done the cross continent thing – moving back and forth. I’ve heard LA can be a bit – well – superficial.” Kind of like the idiot you are currently talking to…
Why the hell should she care where I lived. Besides, trying to impress a west coast-er with NY is like offering Mets tickets to a Yankees fan.
“It can be a bit”, she replied graciously. “I was fortunate to have made a good name for myself there, I find I just fit in better here. more friends and family.”
She was graceful, she was conversant, she was self aware – she was completely uninterested in talking with me. Of course, what didn’t help was the less-than-sober friend of mine picking up my camera off the table and, not-so-casually, taking our picture in the middle of this conversation. Kind of like watching a dog get to a bone… with a lampshade on his neck…
I kept the conversation going for awhile anyway. She always laughed and responded appropriately, but never followed up. Each reply came seeded with a disturbing ambivalence that didn’t seem to fit. Until it hit me. It’s not that she wasn’t interested – She didn’t even know I was hitting on her! I’m a nice old guy she is putting up with at a party. The only thing worse than being interpreted as a dirty old man is being no threat what so ever. I have finally reached the point where I have no game at all…
People usually mark the passing of time by the transitions in their life. Marriage. Kids. Grandkids. Milestones that become rest stops on your own personal freeway of life – a place in time where you discard your trash, use the bathroom, then strap yourself back in for the next leg of your journey. With out them, how do you know when it’s time for the next step? What you are left with is extra trash and a full bladder.
Everyone says that the magical mile marker is forty. That dating a twenty-five year old is fine in your thirties, but verboten at forty…. So if my birthday falls on a Tuesday, I can date younger woman on Monday, but by Wednesday I’m geezer-bait?!? I’m looking for the logic here – and coming up dry…
I saw two things that were unexpected on this trip. One was a beautiful young lady that – had I been twenty pounds and five years lighter – may have been a good fit for me. The other was the joining of two people – truly in love with, and perfect for, each other. My task is to now decide whether these things inhibit or inspire me. Either way, I figure as long as I’m able to laugh at myself, I won’t be the only one not laughing.
‘Course that’s just how it looks through my eyes. Your view may be different….