The following is a guest post from my god-sister Michaele Connor:
Do you realize I am old enough to be your mother? If I had been 16 and pregnant you would be the same age as a son or daughter who would have been born to me back then. These are the words I long to say to him but the moment never arrives. From the start I noticed the eye glances and locking stares between us. When I was his age of 22 people thought I was still 16. Until I was 27 the common remarks I heard were that I looked so girly and baby faced that people assumed I was one of those very young women who were very mature emotionally for their age. Since I skipped a grade my intelligence was such a calling card that men calculated me as innocent jail bait they would rather protect like an older brother instead of try to date. Boys my own age were worse. They simply ignored me or relegated me to the “friend zone” and my status as the asexual female was fortified. Only when age 28 arrived did my looks suddenly take on a more adult appearance thanks to many late night cigarettes that deepened my voice and my expression lines. I looked like someone a few years out of college but the round baby face remained.
When the big 3-0 hit no one believed me and I was able to start passing myself off as younger and younger. I quit smoking, started dancing, and invested in a luxury skin care regime that seemed to slow down time. I added a complex nutritional diet filled with anti-aging vitamins recommended by Dr. Perricone that as I approach 40 in a few months, people guess my age as between 27 to 34 depending on my clothes and make-up. My hair may have thinned when I developed a low thyroid but the beauty tips I learned along the way during a youth spent yearning to be glamorous have paid off thanks to a knack for extensions. If you are wondering what I look like the complements I’ve received for the last decade is that I am a combination of Sarah Shahi and former Oakland cheerleading grandmother at 39 Kathy Ferrin. The men who approach me are often between 25 to 50 which shocks me every time. But he is the youngest man to ever look at me that way.
It began with eye glances that lingered and locked mutually for several seconds. He looked so much like my first love that I did stare only out of amazement at the resemblance. Somehow he looked back and now six months later that is all we seem to do. We hardly talk but when he does speak to me his face turns red and when he converses with the other younger women it is nowhere near that color. Once he sat by me at the staff brunch and for three hours neither of us said a word but I felt comfortable being beside him. Before you accuse me of being a cougar let me tell you a few things: I have always dated men my age or older and he is only 18 months older than my god-son. My niece is perfect for him age-wise. Young men under 32 look like little boys to me. My celebrity crush is the very manly Gerard Butler and I can’t stand immature pretty boys. Somehow this is not some weird Mrs. Robinson situation. He thinks I am only 27 or 28. He also has no clue that I am so much older than him. My feelings towards him are both protective and warm but nothing maternal about it. Is something wrong with me? Where was a guy like him back when I was 22? Does my worldliness of having lived in Germany, Australia, and France before coming home to California intrigued and intimated him? We hardly talk to one another but he always looks up towards me when I am speaking or joking with the other guys about Harley motorcycles and Steve McQueen.
Nothing is worth speculating. What is happening is nothing more than frequent eye contact, long held gazes, and sadness inside me. You see, he was the kind of boyfriend that I wanted, I needed, I wished for at 22. But back then those guys just walked on by. They never noticed me in favor of the Megan Fox type of her day … the Cindy Crawford look-a-like. So in feeling rejected, passed over, unattractive, and heartbroken in all that loneliness I created the person I am today. I decided one day at 22 that I would be a world traveler, fluent in three languages, able to ride a motorcycle, a Shutzhund trainer, and all around female James Bond except a journalist instead of a secret agent. I did it. Along the way I learned tricks of the trade among models in Paris and Milan. After a decade abroad I returned in 2009 to California a much more seasoned and skilled cosmopolitan person who had published three books after landing three separate book deals with three different publishers. My tactic and strategy was to become this intriguing daunting figure that would scare off men and therefore I had an explanation to why I was alone. I had it all figured out. It worked. My next step was the sperm bank so I could make some half-Viking babies. Men no longer scared me. You know why? Because I scared them first and they approach me with the kind of demeanor one would take if coming near a badass Czech German Shepherd Patrol Dog.
So why does this man-child melt my heart? Simple. He reminds me of that window of opportunity when I was capable of love and partnership. Had he shown up when I was 22 and the same age as he is now I would have become a very different person. Back then my innocence allowed me to have an open heart. I would have relished time with him. I would have treasured the joy of his attention. If he had been my lover and boyfriend back then I would have held on to the gift of him forever if God had intended us together.
When I see him it’s like a view to the young Hugh Jackman: masculine, kind, tough and tender, sensitive yet strong, smart, and most of all a beautiful soul. Sometimes I feel the tears come when it hits me just how much time has passed since I was that girl who wished for a boy like him to come along. A boy who would make me feel safe and happy in the simple joy of young love that got to grow up together. There was no partner to experience growing pains with. No man was there to have a pregnancy scare with or lament over parental issues during college. No. I was alone and just working surviving, getting ahead, building my writer’s portfolio, and plugging away at a PR career. Before I left for overseas adventures I did not have the iron heart I do now. I would see boys like him fawn over the beautiful girls and couples go away for a romantic weekend or holiday and it felt like a knife pierced my soul. It hurt. God it hurt a lot. So I ran away to distract myself from the ordinary pleasures of life and came back unable to even have hunger pangs for love. Instead of wanting a guy I fancied to reciprocate my goal was to scare the men with the well acquired assertiveness, fierce independence, Athena-like qualities of a man’s woman like Margaret Thatcher (aka The Iron Lady) in the form of a fashionista who emulated Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolos.
My program worked but it also failed. The moment I realized he and I were exchanging knowing glances and blushing faces it was obvious that all this time, all these years, the only thing I wanted was to meet and marry a boy like him and settle down in the suburbs of Walnut Creek, California. Besides, he has a girlfriend, a college sweetheart who looks like the young Mila Jovovich, whom he took out to dinner on her birthday and whose picture he proudly shows off to the other guys in the office. Perhaps this is all in my head. Maybe I have old maid’s disease and see affection and attraction where none exists. Whatever the case In know that the best way to see this temporary experience is to consider it just another passing fancy. The little moments are nothing more than the reminders of a broken heart and lonely tears my younger kitten-like and more innocent self once shed. The woman I am today doesn’t cry over boys. She just has learned to live without them unless said boy(s) is/are her own biological son(s). No cougar and cub situation for this old gal.
P.S. To be honest I’d rather gush over cute puppies than boys to men. At least a dog will never cheat on you as long as he is fixed. He should have shown up when I was 17.