Thursday, April 5, 2012

In which I could have been Mrs Robinson


You guys, I am mortified to find that I already wrote about this story two years ago. I am losing either my memory or my mind or both. I am also apparently running out of material.

When I was still working at Consolidated Buggy Whips, a younger co-worker developed a crush on me.

By "younger," I mean, "I could have been his babysitter when I was in high school."

By "younger," I mean, "I had graduated from high school before he started kindergarten."

So there you go. I have it. Or I had it. Whatever it is that draws men.

Much younger men.

We had been working together for years. Billy was a nice, nice guy. Quiet. Shy, I thought. Sweet, sweet boy. I liked him. He was very good at his job and I was happy to have him on my team. He was a baby - a baby - when he first started working at CBW. It was his first job out of college. I was already a wise older lady.

After I had broken up with JT and during the Navy Pilot Who Kissed Mushily Drama but before I met Primo, Billy asked me out to lunch.

I wasn't suspicious. Colleagues lunch together all the time. No big deal.

But when we got to the restaurant, he told me this was his treat. I protested, but he insisted. I stopped arguing and accepted graciously, although I think lunch between colleagues should be dutch treat. But it’s ungracious to argue when someone makes a generous offer like that. When I offer to buy lunch for someone, I mean it, and find it insulting to have the person make more than a token protest.

What is the protocol for ordering under those circumstances? What if I'd been willing to pay for something more expensive for myself (OK, you may stop laughing now) but wasn't willing to have someone else pay it? If I know someone else is paying, I always try to order something not too expensive. When I treat someone else, I usually wait until we're done eating and then I just take the check. That way, my guest doesn't worry about overspending and orders what she wants. I'd rather not know if someone is going to pay until after I've ordered.

We had a nice conversation. On a big project we had worked on together, I frequently made brownies for the team. Chocolate is an amazing motivator. I might not have been able to give my team members a raise or a promotion - I was not their manager, but I could keep them well supplied with baked goods. “No brownies for you!” became a mantra when I was teasing someone.

Billy told me there was a guy on his team now who was always bringing elaborate desserts to work and that he – Billy – wanted to make something even better. (Men are so competitive.) Did I give dessert-making lessons?

No, I told him, but I would send him some recipes. And, I said, he might want to consider taking some cooking classes – that would be a great way to meet girls!

Then I got nosy. “Do you have a girlfriend?”

I asked that in a big sister way, not in a I wonder if he's available for me way. If I had actually been interested in him for myself, I never would have been so bold as to ask if he had a girlfriend. I would have been far more subtle. Asking, "So, what did you do this weekend?" or, "What are your plans for the holidays?" often gives one the necessary information.

“No, not right now,” he said, blushing. He’s a quiet, reserved guy – not the sort who would be out on the town all the time, I would think.

“We’ll have to figure out a way for you to meet a nice girl,” said yenta me.

Then he told me that he had gotten a cat and we compared kitten and cat stories. “You need to come over and meet my cat,” he suggested.

“OK, sure,” I said. I love cats. I like visiting other people's cats. Although some of the thrill of cats has worn off now that Primo and I have two Siamese/tabby blend cats who got not the best of each breed - no shedding and little talking - but the worst - constant constant talking and constant shedding. I love my kitties but I wish they would just SHUT UP sometimes.

Then he told me about the business trip he had taken to India. I was really interested to hear about such an exotic city. How come I only got to go to the convention center in Orlando? “I have photos,” he offered. “You can come over and see them if you want.”

“Email me some!” I said.

By now I was starting to wonder, but thinking, No! I am THIRTEEN YEARS OLDER than he is! I am completely misreading things here. (I did not pick up any gaydar, either, but I have completely lost my gaydar in the past few years.)

My friend Leigh thought he was interested in me and not in a I-am-old-enough-to-be-his-big-sister way.

I disagreed, but still took action. I tried to set him up with a young woman in the accounting department. “She’s your age!” I emailed. “She’s very cute.”

I asked her if she wanted to be set up. “I have a boyfriend,” she said.

Rats. I passed the disappointing news on to him.

“I’d really be more interested in getting to know you better,” he replied.

Holy smoke. Leigh was right.

What do you say when a co-worker (strike 1) who is 13 years younger than you (strike 2) is that direct (not a strike at all)?

I was hot enough (I blush as I type these words because they are so boastful and really, so inaccurate) to attract a much younger man. I was impressed with myself.

But I was also completely uninterested.

I consulted friends. "Why don't you go out with him?" my brother asked.

Not useful.

"Tell him you're not interested," said one friend.

Ouch. That seemed unnecessarily harsh. Especially considering I still had to work with him. I didn't want things to be awkward.

"Lie," another friend suggested.

That's the ticket.

I lied. Sort of. "Billy, I am so flattered," I said, which was probably not the best way to tell him because it is the opening line that leads to a "but." I should have just said, "Wow! Thanks! But I'm seeing someone."

Which is what I did say, more or less, after the first line. I thought that would be enough.

"Is it serious?" he asked.

I was getting more and more impressed with him. What guts! What woman doesn't like a man who is open about his desire for her? If only he were older.

That's when I lied. As I said, I was seeing the Former Navy Pilot Who Kissed Mushily and Who Still Shared A House With His Ex Wife. Neither quality appealed to me. And indeed, after the mushy kiss, I didn't see him romantically again. All we had were awkward encounters during the many, many meetings we had together at work, which is why you never date someone you work with.

But I told Billy I was dating someone and that yes, it was serious.

It was so far from serious you couldn't see serious from there with a telescope.

It was one kiss past over.

But it gave me a way out that let him save face. I liked Billy. I didn't want to hurt him. I just didn't want to kiss him.


  1. What a pertinent post. I have a younger man very interested in me at the mo who happens to be 12 years younger. It IS quite flattering :)
    Trying very hard not to feel like Mrs Robinson....failing miserably.

  2. thank goodness for your update; I thought I was losing MY mind!

    1. pq, I think there are some other double posts. I guess I need to make a spreadsheet and keep track!