Tag Archives: older men

Older guys

A post I wrote recently got me to thinking about older men, specifically older ones I encountered when I was still quite young. As a teen, I thought guys out of high school and beyond were intimidating. Why, they looked like grownups. Even factoring in that guys that age back then would likely have been more mature than their present-day counterparts (not a swipe at younger guys today but a reflection on the fact that 20’s then is like thirties now and so on, given increased life span, each stage taking longer, etc.), the idea that they were really so worldly or grownup is laughable.

One summer when I was 15ish, a guy 3 years older, who had a reputation as a flirt decided to bestow his attentions on me one afternoon at the public swimming pool. It amounted to holding me in is arms in the water, tossing me around, and so forth for a long time. Playful, not icky or pushy, if a bit too much considering we had no prior relationship. I was flattered as hell. An older boy focusing on me. I remember he walked me home and that was that (although 3 years later, after I’d graduated high school, the two of us did have a serious, memorable, if fairly brief relationship).

In high school, I rode a bus to and from school. One of our drivers was an attractive, mustachioed guy in his twenties. After school let out, a bunch of buses followed one another down the main drag leading away from the building. One day a girl I didn’t know, sitting at the back of the bus ahead of ours began flirting wildly with our driver, blowing kisses and more. She really went for it, to a degree that pretty much shocked me at the time, particularly because she was so brazen and in full view of everybody on our bus. With the distraction, it’s a wonder our driver didn’t careen his busload of high school kids off the road. In retrospect, maybe this girl felt brave because she was at a safe distance from our driver. I really don’t know. The incident made quite the impression on me, though, because I couldn’t imagine coming on like that with a guy clearly out of high school, clearly older.

I did meet an older guy at a dance but the circumstances were different. Through older siblings, I knew a member of a band that was going to perform at a dance at my high school. I may have even had a small part in the arrangements because beforehand I talked on the phone with another band member who I did not know. We seemed to have a friendly rapport. At any rate, we met in person, if briefly, at the dance. I remember having a good time and enjoying the band.

Apparently though, it was another girl who caught the band guy’s attention that night. One of those high school girls who seems older than high school if you know what I mean (I was not such a girl). She was very pretty, popular, and acted like she was 25 or so. I learned about this after the fact when talking on the phone with band guy. He seemed to want my advice and I liked the attention. I wasn’t used to that from an older guy, being treated as an equal. He hadn’t gotten the girl’s information, however, and needed me as a conduit. His thought was that I should approach the girl at school and get her phone number for him (since he couldn’t go waltzing into the high school looking for her). I wanted to help but no way was I going to walk up to a strange girl and request her phone number. Without telling him first, I found her in a group of friends and instead gave her HIS phone number, saying he wants you to have this. Guess it worked out, because I stopped hearing from band guy and later heard the two married.

I knew I turned a corner, when, after graduating from high school, I and two older sisters went to a party hosted by people one of them knew. My sister was forever scouting about for an eligible man to date and this time was no different. There was one particular guy that was attractive and charming with us all. He commented that I seemed especially young – and in that group, I was – but when there was a lull outside and we momentarily found ourselves alone, it was me he kissed. Maybe I should have kept my yap shut later when we girls rehashed the party and my man-hunting sister claimed this particular guy was interested in her. But I didn’t. I set her straight. I never saw the guy again, but the barrier was crossed; older guys were starting to look different to me now.

Mother and daughter. Different worlds.

One summer when I was a teenager and working as a lifeguard, there came a day, for reasons I sort of remember, that my mother and I left the house together and set out walking. I think my mother was running an errand to the store. I was headed to my job, maybe catching a bus? That kind of sounds right. We never went places together, almost never, just the two of us, and that alone might have made the occasion memorable.

My parents were two generations older than me, old enough to be my grandparents; conservative and “religious” on top of that. It’s true that I talked with my mother at home, or tried to, but we didn’t have a lot in common, and frankly, the talking devolved too often into her concerns. I was largely working things out for myself, facing problems both outside the house and inside it alone. By that point in time, I had something of a double life, with plenty going on my mother knew nothing about and didn’t want to know about. This was not my ally and I knew that young. Still, she was my mother.

After adolescence, I had started to attract attention from the opposite sex – boys I mean – which I liked. This too, was largely something I handled alone. I don’t think my mother had any idea how sexually oriented the world was then (didn’t want to know), or the kinds of people and situations that were a regular part of my life as an attractive teenage girl.

On the day in point, I was wearing my lifeguard one-piece swim suit with shorts over it, standard guard attire. The two of us walked past the public tennis courts, where a group of men were playing. One of them casually said words to the effect of “isn’t that a fine one.” I wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly till his buddy immediately answered, “You aren’t going to do much better.” I was shocked. Flattered. Embarrassed.

These were grown-up men. I was not interested in grown-up men and typically shied away when older men made plays for me. Further, I could not believe men would talk like this, as if we were not real people who could hear them, let alone say this about a girl in front of her clearly mature mother. My mother, who HAD to have heard the men’s comments, said nothing, did not even look at me, or them.

I was somewhat used to getting sexually-toned attention but NOT in front of my mother, nothing so overt. That part made it mortifying – somehow I knew it was better my mother did NOT really know how men responded to me – I sensed she wouldn’t like it and consider me to blame. Adding to the convolution, I picked up on resentment – she certainly worked overtime trying to squelch me in general and this arena – garnering male attention – seemed like more of the same. The fact that any part of me was flattered by the men’s words, well, you’ll have to forgive teenaged me. I wanted and needed validation I wasn’t getting elsewhere, not that I entirely grasped that then.

I expected something from my mother. A word to ME at least. She wasn’t the sort to take up on my behalf, and holler something back at these men, that I knew. She acted like nothing happened. I took her lead and said nothing, certainly not a word to these unknown men, and nothing to my mother either. We walked on, my mother in her usual back-straight posture, looking straight ahead. If I was a betting woman, I’d imagine the incident was quickly pushed aside and soon forgotten. Me, it burned into memory.