I believe the same open-mindedness that allows me to entertain the possibility of finding myself interested in a woman is the one telling me there is nothing wrong with chatting up a male co-worker who happens to be twice my age.
My mother would disapprove. My college friends would tell me I need a(nother) mental evaluation. I’m curious which they would consider more socially deviant, a much older man or a woman. But I believe they are looking at the situation from the wrong perspective and they need to stop thinking about what may or may not be happening in my bedroom.
Sex doesn't just sell, it motivates, it inspires. It also skews and confuses. Inherently, however, sex is biology, stimuli, pleasure, carnal. You don’t get to love through sex. You may not get to sex through love. But sex is the definitive end result of a successful encounter. Love is less defined. Love is not always pleasurable. Love can hurt. We don’t always look for love. We often run from it.
Consider for a moment: on a blind date, what is the thought process of the players? Are they there to find love or find a lay? Deep conversation or deep penetration? Intellectual stimuli or…check, please! This is a blind date, a first meeting. So why do I think, even in my hypotheticals, such human interaction always boils down to: is he/she fuckable? So crass. So rude. But this is how we define ourselves. Homo-, hetero-, bi-sexual. We tell the world by virtue of our labels what we like to do to pleasure our body and the body of another when it’s really none of no one’s business. These and other labels then can block us from the potential of deep spiritual connections to be made with those deemed “unfuckable”. Because, you know, why bother with the mushy introspective stuff that you don’t really care about if sex isn’t the end result, right?
I’ve found that an open mind works best without the undue burden of such expectation. If you expect sex, you will only see the person across the table through that filter. These days, that bridge to cross isn’t even on my map. At one time, however, it was at the center, a dominant feature. And the measure of my life was gauged by whether I was avoiding it or seeking to cross it. Love and spiritual connection was some obscure thing I didn’t know was missing from my old map. I wouldn’t have known what it looked like if it were there, a small gem hiding in the corner.
Previously, as a result of my former life map, I was married for four years to a guy I wasn’t in love with and I knew I wasn’t in love with him before I agreed to marry him. I knew I couldn’t bring myself to fall in love with him which is why I thought he would make a good lay--that “no strings attached” sentiment romanticized in our so-called Hook Up Culture. (When there are copy-cat movies on the subject, for an audience of fifteen year olds, we’ve reached a different kind of low.) But as I said, I didn’t know then what love was supposed to be so I convinced myself the problem was in my own head; I was demanding too much and not appreciating what I had.
But no amount of great sex could bring me to love him. Taken too early in a relationship, while crossing that getting-to-know-you bridge (or, I-thought-I-knew-you...), sex becomes a filter through which you process anything else you learn about, and the behavior you present to the relationship. Suddenly, you agree with what you don’t. You pretend to enjoy what you don’t. You choke down food that doesn’t agree with you. You go to the church of a faith you don’t hold. And there goes round and round, the Dance of Falsehood. I danced myself right down the aisle.
So now, with wisdom gleamed through error, and a better understanding by virtue of another decade lived (and a few sessions with a therapist), I’m no longer in a “hurry” to define myself by my physical relationship(s). Invariably, however, when I find myself talking about my co-worker as a “gentleman of a certain age,” the rebuttal I’m faced with is how could I possibly find him physically attractive. Umm, I don’t (although he’s not unattractive). But I don’t see that as a barrier to getting to know someone as a fellow human-spiritual being. Human-sexual beings are all the same—been there, done that. Adonis doesn’t interest me in the long term. The awkward grey-haired fellow whose name I didn’t know, who damn near knocked someone over just to open a door for me when I wasn’t even headed that direction (he thought so as I adjusted for the flow of foot traffic)—yeah, that gets my attention. Grinning, knowing his thoughts, as I walked through the open doorway and proceeded the long way around the office, I think “Oh damn, now I have to make a decision about this guy.”
Occasionally, life will set a covered platter down in front of you. You may smell the aroma of what’s underneath, but you do not know what’s on your plate. All life asks is that you make the decision to lift the cover and enjoy the feast. For most of my life, when presented with these platters, I have pushed them aside and refused the feast. Not for fear that I am being deceived by the aroma and the food is in fact rancid, but for fear that I will relish the flavor of life and ask for more.