In some ways, she seemed her age. In some ways she did not. The times she broke character I could easily see her as a geeky child with a juvenile sense of humor. By this I mean every single time we finished making love she rushed directly to the bathroom. Even with the door closed, I still heard her loudly giggle like a schoolgirl as gravity expelled the proof of my orgasm. I never knew quite what to make of it. It annoyed me somehow, like a bad joke that falls flat.
Even as a child, I had no appreciation of what I always saw as embarrassing, shallow attempts at making others laugh. Toilet humor is designed for the maturity of your typical seven-year-old boy, but I wasn’t exactly average at that age or now. There was nothing funny even then about any of my bodily functions. If her usually straight-faced, no-nonsense personality was not quite so dominant, I might’ve been more offended. I knew in time she’d return to unsmiling adulthood. As it stands, it was a personality quirk, one I might have found fascinating had it taken some other form. I think we all enjoy playing detective at the outset of a new relationship. Finding out about our relationship partner consumes our thoughts and the more complex characters we fancy can produce lots of interesting information to comb through.
As I began speaking about sex, I might as well illustrate my greater point that way. Having never been with a woman considerably older than myself before, I failed to understand the particulars. Like many young men, I believed that intercourse was supposed to be a bit like aerobic exercise. It was to be gasping, forceful, pounding, and high energy. One might as well play appropriately upbeat, motivating music alongside as a soundtrack. By the end, one is to collapse in a sweaty heap on top of whoever has been lying underneath at that moment in time.
You can do that, she said, but it won't work for me. I learned to finesse by way of her guidance. Grabbing hold of my shoulders, she controlled the pace, narrating all the way. I felt somehow like I was a human slalom simulator. She pulled hard first on my right shoulder, then my left, with a kind of inadvertent rhythm. With time, the pressure of her hands and palms on my shoulders grew less frantic. The rhythms came naturally to me. By the end of her tutelage, I could even correctly predict her own climax. Always she let out the same sigh and displayed two glazed eyes staring at nothing, which I think meant that the process had been emotionally intense. And then, of course, she was off to the bathroom.
When not in bed together, we each had our own lives. When, like any couple, our lives intersected in a public forum, we learned how to ignore the stares. It was a guarantee that at every party, someone would ask me whether she was my mother or whether I was her son. The sharpest criticism always seemed to fall on her. Almost none of it was formally vocalized, but you didn’t have to be an expert in body language to pick up on just how weird many thought the arrangement was. It was fortunate that she looked a little young for her age; otherwise the criticism would have been far worse.
Back then, I had neither thinning hair, nor the beginnings of gray around my temples. I looked more boyish than I do today. She kept her true age closely guarded, though I was one of the few who knew it. Sixteen years difference was not an especially difficult adjustment for me, at least. She wanted to stay perpetually young and I was the means by which she attained her wish. I was her fountain of youth, if you will. On occasion, I would fail to follow some frame of reference only available to those within a few years of her, some generational guidepost. She found these to be extremely important and my inability to follow sometimes made her question my role in her life. But it seems that those few moments of self-doubt and insecurity never lasted too long.
And what did I receive from our partnership? Therapist after therapist has tried to diagnose this particular proclivity of mine. It would be too simple to believe that I was looking for a mother. I have one already, you see, one more than capable of being maternal enough to serve the purpose. Nor was I smothered or emotionally dominated by her or any close female figure. The attraction may be unorthodox, but I would not consider it unhealthy. I have my own theories myself, but none has produced much in the way of some satisfactory conclusion. Perhaps I can only say that I find the basic pairing appealing and then I’ll resume justifying it to another soul who finds it intolerably taboo. Honestly, what we have is mostly seen as out-of-the-ordinary and has no doubt been gossip fodder for many.
I just wish she wouldn’t randomly ambush me. The first time it happened I was minding my business, on my way to a routine doctor’s appointment. I was walking beside a waterfall, one that could only be reached by scaling several flights of stairs. She yelled at me, then came bounding down them, one by one. Hey baby! she proclaimed, now standing in front of me. Startled, it took me a few seconds to compose myself. I’ve never mentioned to her how much I hate that sort of behavior, but the next time it happens I know I’ll speak up.
The bystander, a middle-aged woman, who had been walking a few paces behind me scoffed at the whole scene, then continued onward down the sidewalk. It would in many ways be better if I wasn’t as perceptive as I am. The stares I get are nothing compared to the ones other women shoot in her direction. The only thing I can compare it to is the time a few years back that I went on a date with a woman who was 6’2. Apparently even tall men are not supposed to go out with women taller than they are, even if they played for their college’s volleyball team. And it’s even worse for the woman in question, who has been apparently cursed for life to be forever taller than 75% of all men roaming the planet.