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When I moved to New York right after college, finding a boyfriend was the last thing on my mind. I was 22, single, and enjoying the fact that bars in the city stayed open until 4 a.m.
Out one night near my apartment, I pressed myself against the bar and tried to get the bartender's attention. He didn't notice, but an older guy next to me, slightly balding with a crooked nose, did. He ordered four shots of Jameson.
"You want one?" He asked, looking at me sideways. He was cute, I observed, broad-shouldered and solidly built.
"Whiskey is an old man's drink," I said.
"Oh, really? We'll see about that," he replied, handing me a shot. I took it quickly and gagged while he slammed his without flinching. "Can't handle the 'old man's drink,' huh?" he teased.
We continued to joke back and forth, and despite the fact that I'd just graduated from college and he probably had a decade ago, it seemed we had a lot in common. We'd both gone to school in the Northeast, had traveled around the world, loved skiing in Lake Tahoe and watching professional hockey. He was funny, articulate, and charming. We stayed deep in conversation until last call, and eventually he asked for my number.
"You're way too old for me," I said. "How old are you, like 30?"
"Yeah," he said. "How old are you?"
"26," I lied. I knew that if he knew I was 22 the conversation would soon be over, and I was enjoying it, despite myself. I gave him my number and he hailed me a cab. Two minutes later, I got a text.
"My name is Michael…in case you forgot." I had forgotten.
"Thanks... I was struggling with that… I bet you don't remember mine either though."
"Vanessa," he responded. Oops.
On our first date, I was telling Michael about my upcoming birthday plans when the truth came out.
"How old are you again?" he asked.
"Um, well, I told you I was 26. But I'm actually turning 23." I was really nervous he would freak out, but instead he started to laugh.
"Oh, wow," he said. "You're a young one." I said I hadn't wanted to scare him off by telling him my real age, and he agreed that he probably wouldn't have gotten my number if he had known I was so young. Before I knew it, we were well into dessert, and I realized I didn't want the dinner to end. As we grinned at each other across the table, maybe it was just the buzz from the wine, but I began to think that maybe eight years age difference wouldn't be so bad.
Then Michael kissed me goodnight, and I couldn't stop smiling all the way home. My roommates grilled me, and I gushed about how smart, handsome, and hilarious he was. I really felt a connection with him, I told them. After all these stupid hook-ups with college guys, I might have really found someone I could fall for. I was so giddy, I stayed up all night replaying our date over and over in my mind. It was perfect.
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