New Year Cheer
Anyway, armed with the required jackets, trousers and cardigan, I headed home to drive to my demanding and distant volunteer job as an engineering project coordinator. OK, I had to sand a vintage bus bodyside, many feet of it. The usual local crowd were on site, busy with other jobs during the day and getting in training for New Year revelry in the pub in the evenings. Mellow from the enjoyment of a nice Christmas with family and friends, I started wittering about my dating antics, including the statement “I don’t go out with ANYONE older than me.” Unknown to me, this sent out a signal of availability to someone who, until then, was off-radar. So off-radar that I hadn’t really noticed him during the previous two and a half years.
This raises an issue of Websites vs. Real World. In the Real World, because we do not expect a positive response, the more inhibited among us do not generally approach lads fifteen years our junior. Especially not when we are all dressed in overalls and steel toecaps. On a fifteen year age gap, take this comment by amateur detective Isabel Dalhousie in Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Friends, Lovers, Chocolate’:
“There had been a fatal, anachronistic error in the stars that had brought them together. Had she been born fifteen years later it would have been a perfect match, and she could imagine herself fighting tooth and nail to possess him – he would have been all that she wanted; but now it was inappropriate, and impossible, and she had decided not even to think about it.”
Pah. Such decorum. Anyway, I didn’t have to make a move at all. Paul volunteered to help me with the ceiling, then when we’d been chatting a while, asked me to the pub himself. As everyone else was going too, this prompted me to joke, “Is that a date then?” It most certainly was, especially after a couple of large glasses of wine. A mate commented that he could hear my giggles receding in the distance as Paul held me up on the way back from the pub.
The next night was New Year’s Eve, and Paul’s father was coming to the pub party, along with his own girlfriend. Now, if there’s something you want to avoid as an older woman, it’s meeting the (near your own age) parents. What would they think? As it turned out, it was pitch black at the moment of our introductions (handy for hiding wrinkles) and they turned out to be very friendly. I did let myself down in the pub quiz though – by revealing the correct answer to “What animal was Brian in ‘The Magic Roundabout’?” Nobody seemed too worried – we were all having a good time.
On my return home, I had to phone up one of my exes on a technical matter relating to the bus bodyside. I told him about Paul. If there’s one thing a younger ex doesn’t like, it’s finding out you are going out with a Much Younger New Man. “What – Paul?” said Ex. “His hair’s receding.” Sourpuss. However, Karenza, my workmate, put a positive slant on this fact. “At least it will make him look older than he is,” she said. “And nearer your age.”Anyway, as I once said to a balding church friend, “Hair is over-rated anyway…”
There followed a daily flurry of solicitous text messages, emails and phone calls, including offers to drive many miles to see me. So much attention! Why didn’t I notice him before? Just goes to show, sometimes you can try too hard and what you want is right under your nose…