The Goddess Speaks
When spring and winter collide
It was a hot summer, so I splurged on an air conditioner. The man who came that morning to install it arrived 10 minutes late, hair mussed, wearing surf shorts and a tee.
We had never met, but with simple pleasantries he was immediately familiar. I knew his easygoing manner, like listening to a Jack Johnson song. It was a persona I hadn't encountered in a while.
My mom arrived to supervise, so off I went. I later received his voice mail asking if I'd join him for a drink after work. Perhaps, I thought, I seemed familiar, too.
As I maneuvered through the evening crowd, I spotted him in the distance -- and froze. All spiffed up, long-sleeved shirt, locks smoothed, it was perfectly clear. The man was a baby. Compared with me, anyway, in my very late 40s.
Flattering as it was to have gotten this 33-year-old's attention, I suddenly felt embarrassed for being unconscious of a big age difference. Maybe I hadn't had enough coffee that morning. He might have thought the same about me.
It was too late now; there I was, sitting across him, old enough, almost, to be his mother. I probably reminded him of his mother. The bistro had the kind of lighting that is a middle-age woman's enemy, and I kept expecting him to excuse himself with an emergency, bracing for the question that never came. He was too polite.
"Tell him how old you are," said the goodie-two-shoes on my right shoulder. But the rascal on the other beat it to a pulp with, "She's having a good time, back off!"
I did mention it after that date, and he found it quite intriguing, in a wink-nudge sort of way.
"I watched 'Age of Love,' " he laughed.
The NBC reality series ended with the 30-year-old bachelor choosing the 24-year-old "kitten" over the "cougar," 48.
It's more the norm to see men coupled with women almost half their age. Recently, however, the reverse is in vogue with Hollywood sirens paving the way: Demi with Ashton (45/29); Halle Berry with model Gabriel Aubry (41/31); and actress Barbara Hershey with Naveen Andrews of "Lost" (59/38), all women who've got status, money and a personal trainer as leverage. More power to everyday December women in May/December romances; hear them roar.
To each his own.
It would have been fun, slow-mo romps toward each other on the beach and so on. But when he realized he was falling for me (I'm the scriptwriter, so, of course), he'd stop himself cold because it's just not practical for a young man with a blank canvas for his life. He'd then court some pretty young thing -- and leave me holding the emotional bag.
I already have that T-shirt.
Got to take your toes out of the water if you're not willing to dive in, tempting as it might be to wade awhile -- lest you slip and belly-flop. He didn't know as I hugged him goodbye (not a metaphor), it would be the last time I'd see him.
I was supposed to walk into the sunset head high, with Jack Johnson's "Never Know" playing in the background: "We're moments just combusting ... feel certain, but we'll never know."
Except that hug cast a spell for days with its familiar aura of carefree serenity, something I embraced in my husband but haven't come across since becoming a widow many years ago.
Every now and then, in the cool air of the living room, I think fondly of the young man, his gentle voice and beach-tousled hair.
And always, with warm reflection, that other free spirit who graced my life and the space of time that is the barrier between.
Ruby Mata-Viti is a Star-Bulletin page designer/writer.
The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and about women. If you have something to say, write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210,
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