“There’s a lot of it about,” The Equestrienne said one evening last week as we sat in a bar between our offices, each halfway through a glass of something that behooved a midweek evening. “I’ve got a friend in her early thirties with a boyfriend’s in his twenties, and I got asked out by a 24 year-old the other day.”
Chat had, as it almost inevitably does over gin on a Wednesday, turned to boys, and we were discussing the merits (or otherwise) of younger men.
The same subject had cropped up that morning when I’d exchanged tweets with someone bemoaning the fact that an apparently interested chap she’d met the previous weekend had turned out to be rather younger than she.
There will be no date, she tweeted, having eventually discerned his age.
My suggestion that if he was a tempting prospect she should ignore how old he was and go for it anyway fell on deaf ears.
To be fair, before The Writer cropped up on the scene, I had much the same attitude. The men I dated were around my age, if not a few years older (and then some…), and there was little to no way on God’s green one that I would have thought younger men would provide me with any more luck in matters of the heart than their older, if never wiser, counterparts.
Age differences seem to attract disproportionately more attention when the woman in a relationship is older than the man she’s seeing. A chap can install a woman 20 years his junior into his life without so much as a batted eyelid, but when a woman does the same, all sort of eyebrows are raised. Just ask the Sam Taylor-Woods of the world.
My realisation that I had met my very own younger man came on my second date with TW. We’d left a party – very nearly getting run over along with Ronnie Wood and his much younger squeeze (who, admittedly, had raised eyebrows, but because she was young enough to be his great-granddaughter) – at a set of traffic lights near Regents Park, and were wandering, a little squiffily, towards the centre of town to have a late dinner. Quite how we got to the subject, I don’t know, but at some point it in conversation it emerged that TW’s birthday was a couple of weeks later.
“Ah, so how old are you going to be?” I said, taking the opportunity to ask some of the crucial questions we’d not covered – and now I come to think of it, I’m not sure how we’d not covered them – during our mammoth first date.
“Ah, well – how old do you think I’m going to be?” TW said, a little unfairly I now know, as I’ve since learnt that he knew precisely how old I was before we’d met.
“I don’t know,” I said, taking what I thought was an educated guess, even under the influence of all the red wine.
“Er, no, not quite,” he said.
The conversation continued in a mathmetically-decreasing spiral until TW had confessed his age, resulting in my having a minor panic attack yards from a central London tube station.
But, Thai food and – I think – more red wine, and – definitely – takeaway pudding later and I’d got over the surprise and we giggling our way back to TW’s flat in the small hours in a repeat of my hussyishness on our first date the previous weekend.
The rest, to paraphrase the cliché, is the best relationship I’ve ever found myself in. If this is what dating younger men does for a woman, just call me Mrs. Robinson.