It’s a good thing I’m not overly sensitive because it was bound to happen sooner or later. That it did happen wasn’t a surprise. The surprise was that it didn’t happen more often.
She wasn’t someone I knew very well so it wasn’t really her fault. Not that fault or blame could be assessed to anyone. It just was what it was!
She was relatively new to our church. I wasn’t even sure of her name, but she knew mine. She came in the door, joining the small cluster of parents waiting in the church vestibule for our children to return from some event.
“Hi.” She leaned in to hug me. I smiled warmly, returning her hug while I tried to jog my memory for her name. Remembering names was something I was usually very good at, but although her face was familiar, I couldn’t conjure up her name for the life of me.
“Hi. How are you?” I responded. “This is Jeff.” I pointed to the young man standing next to me, hoping she’d throw out her name in an introduction to him. It was actually his children that we were waiting for. My children had grown beyond the age for children’s events.
“Hi Jeff!” She extended her hand to him in greeting. Turning back to me, she smiled and asked “Is this your son?”
I hesitated, not because I didn’t know how to answer, of course I knew the answer, but because the answer would make the situation awkward and, of course, embarrass her.
“No, he’s my boyfriend.” I said softly, grimacing inwardly.
Her face reddened. “Oh…uh…I’m sorry. It’s just that I..uh…know you have older children,” she stammered.
I grinned, touching her shoulder gently. “It’s okay! Please don’t feel bad, because I don’t.”
She smiled weakly, gave a half wave of her hand before scurrying away. Jeff and I just looked at each other sheepishly and shrugged.
If the term cougar as a connotation for older women with younger men had been in use in 1991 when I first started dating Jeff, I wasn’t aware of it. To me that whole cougar thing evoked thoughts of an animal of prey, stalking its victim, waiting hungrily in the bushes for the moment to pounce, and then catching the victim off guard, thus guaranteeing a kill.
That definitely in no way, shape or form describes me! Not then, not now, not ever! So, as I was plotting my strategy, eying my prey, waiting for the right moment to make my move, Jeff asked me out on a date.
To begin with, it was a mystery to me why he wanted to date me. That I allowed myself to date him was even more of a mystery. I considered myself a level headed woman. Not only that, but I had suffered enough heartache in my life at the hands of a man without risking hurt and possibly eventual rejection at the hand of a much younger man. Because that was exactly what I thought would happen, that someday, like the proverbial light bulb appearing over his head, Jeff would realize that I was old and he was still young (or at least considerably younger), and I would be cast aside like yesterday’s newspaper.
Jeff was twenty-six years old and I was forty-two years old when we started dating. We had known each other for six months at that time. When I was getting married at the tender age of sixteen in September 1964, Jeff hadn’t even been born yet. He would not make his entrance into this world until two months later in November.
Not quite four years after our first date, we got married!
**** True story taken from excerpt of manuscript I’m working on about a blended family when the woman is the older spouse. Although perhaps some thought it, that would be the last time anyone would ask me if Jeff was my son. I did struggle with embarrassment about being much older than Jeff.
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