I like dating older people. Back when I dated men, my boyfriends were often older than me by 4, 5, 6, sometimes 7 years. It’s not that they were better, more that they knew themselves better. They had experience. They knew what they liked and what they didn’t and sometimes they could see things I couldn’t – a mental or intellectual spark hovering between us like a firefly.
They also didn’t mess about. They were frank about their feelings: I like you, I love you, let’s live together. There was rarely any drama or bullshit or games with older men because mostly they had no time for it. Being with an older man was like stepping off a merry-go-round and feeling the world slowly right itself.
I’ve got a date with an older woman, a lawyer. We’ve spent the last month going back and forth trying to find a time to meet: me suggesting a date, then her suggesting a date, then me suggesting a counter date like a couple of sparring legal counsels. “Let’s just play it by ear,” she says eventually and a couple of weeks later the ear delivers a Friday we can both do.
We meet in a hotel bar that’s as expensive as she is. I arrive late and sweaty in a grubby backpack, headphones and ratty sandals whilst she’s in heels and salon hair. “Great venue,” I enthuse, hiding my ugly feet under the table. “Thanks, this place stocks my favourite champagne,’ she replies and I briefly want to giggle at the thought of anyone having a favourite champagne.
We drink grown-up cocktails and talk about grown up things: work, dysfunctional families, dysfunctional relationships. She talks about her job as a family lawyer – the warring parents and lost children and long nights trying to piece them all back together again like Humpty Dumpty. “It’s tiring,” she says, and I wonder why she does it until brings up her parent’s own shitty divorce. Ah. That’ll be why. She loves to read. And write. “I’ve got three ideas for novels,” she says shyly and I tell her I’d like to read them one day.
Our second date takes another month to organise. At first, it’s a bit awkward. The long wait makes it feel like we’re strangers again and our conversation stops and starts and shudders dangerously. When she tries her cocktail and makes a face about it being too strong, I feel stupidly guilty, like it’s really me she’s making a face about. But eventually we relax and find our rhythm. When a drag queen comes on later and she starts cheering and waving her Prosecco I know we’re on the home dry.
This time, I kiss her outside Shoreditch High Street station. “Why haven’t we been doing this all night?” she grumbles and I laugh. “Look, this might be a bit soon but I have a flat on the coast. In a couple of weeks, they’re having a fireworks display. Would you like to come?”
We say goodbye and later I get a text:
“Can’t wait for fireworks!!!”
No drama. No bullshit. No games. Just fireworks.