Broken-Hearted Bob returns on November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Remember me? Mr. Nice Guy. Well here’s my quandary this time.
I have officially changed my major to Fine Arts. And in doing so I go to a different branch of my college that is off campus. At the craft center, the whole place is different — it’s a completely different learning enviroment from the structured regimented classes on the main campus. This environment in turn breeds a completely different type of student. And all of the women there are TOTALLY COOL!! And there is one in particular I’m a bit sweet on. She and I hang out, and we just get along well. I was going to ask her out one day, and then we got to discussing age, my b-day is in a few days, as is hers. I was joking that since I was turning 20 that I would have to “grow up” and “get with the program.” She laughed and said that wasn’t necessarily so. Then I found out that … well, she will be 31 a week or so after I turn 20. Well, that TOTALLY threw a wrench in the works for me. But later we were talking and she asked me if I wanted to go to see “Something About Mary” with her cause she didn’t want to go alone. After the movie she and I went and talked for a while at a coffee house, my idea, then she wanted to get some beer, but my roommates aren’t cool with that so I took a rain check. We’d have gone to her place, but it is a half hour away and she was tired. We continue to talk.
Should I risk the relationship and ask her out, should I just sit on my feelings for her, or should I just go to her and say “Hey what’s up with us?” I have asked some of my more trusted friends and they don’t give me advice, they just kind of make robbin’ the cradle or “The Graduate” jokes. So well I must turn to you, oh great knower of things I don’t quite understand.
Hey, welcome back, former Loft-Builder! You realize that you helped me coin one of the most famous — and most useful — terms in breakupgirl.net history, right? And frankly, as far as this question goes, I’d rather see you working in “plastics” than wood. So: way to go on the coffeehouse plan. And way to go on just going with this one, at least as far as the first date. If only just for practice.
But to get back to making Graduate jokes — I mean, to the age question. Well, how do you feel? I mean, do you feel young around her? Do you feel like she is An Older Woman, or just that she happens to be older? Did you laugh at the same jokes in the movie? Tell the truth.
See, I don’t want to dismiss this one out of hand. And she was definitely flirting with you. But now this old lady will issue some words of caution:
1. It will be annoying to her that you are, beer-wise, underage. Either you will date and this will get annoying, or you won’t date because this will be annoying.
2. There’s no sure test for this, but be careful: make sure there’s flirting, yes, but also a stronger feeling beneath it, as far as you can tell. I want to make sure you’re not some sort of Boy Conquest for her.
3. There IS a big difference between 20 and 31. More than there is between, say, 30 and 41. Arguably, lots more of life happens to you in your 20s. Not that your 30s are some sort of black hole, but think about it: 20s are college, your first job, maybe your first apartment, whatever. You’re still changing, sorting stuff out. In your 30s, well, I hope to God you’re still sorting some stuff out, because otherwise you’d be really stiff and stuck and boring. But in your 30s you are, ideally, more … set. Your art is framed, not gummed; your noodles are soba, not ramen. So if you date someone with not just any 11-year age gap, but with that 11-year age gap, keep this in mind: you’re not going to be “going through the same stuff at work.” You’re not going to be “in the same place.” You’re not going to have had comparable numbers of learning and shaping experiences (including relationships) behind you. You are going to have a different array of stuff in front of you (like Sam Adams vs. Shirley Temple). SO. You and Old Mother Hubbard have got to try and figure out if you have profound, timeless stuff in common. Note: Lust doesn’t count. But Art might.
So about the feelings. Yep, sit on ‘em a bit. But sit next to her in the craft center if you like. But also: see about sitting down at the coffeehouse with someone else who can’t do beer.