Another night, I ran into him at a local bar. As he flung his arm around my waist, I wondered if he was about to hit on me. I half-hoped he would, so I could run home and snitch.
"Is he your new man?" asked my pal Sarah, eying this attractive guy with his arm around me.
"No," I replied, wiggling out of his grip. "He's my mom's boyfriend."
If I thought this encounter was uncomfortable, then I didn't know what I had coming. A few years later, my mom fell hard for her 29-year old personal trainer, Jay*.
"You've got to be kidding me," I said when my sister called with the news. It wasn't that I didn't understand the allure of a man his age. As a 24-year-old living it up in New York City, I was dating one myself. And I actually liked Jay as a person: during our few brief interactions—before I knew his relationship with my mom wasn't limited to the gym—he seemed kind, polite, even thoughtful. But couldn't she find a kind, thoughtful man her own age?
When I visited home over the next several months, I spied what I had to admit seemed like a healthy romance. My mom and Jay cooked dinner together, shared wine in front of the fireplace, went hiking, and laughed often. Yet I fixated on Jay's age and appearance—buff, tattooed, and pierced. Never mind the fact that my mom had taken to riding around our conservative, sleepy neighborhood on the back of Jay's motorcycle.
The ultimate test of my daughterly devotion came when Mom informed us that Jay would be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner. "Sorry I forgot to tell you," my mom chirped. "Promise you'll be nice to him?"
My sisters rolled their eyes as my face turned hot with rage. Yet, to my utter surprise, everyone was on their best behavior once Jay arrived. Mom seemed more at ease than I'd seen her in years. My grandmother, our family's original tall, blonde flirt, even sidled right up to Jay and made fast friends. "What's the meaning of this one?" she cooed, pointing to the tribal armband encircling his left bicep.
Soon, the whole crew was settling in at the dining room table, and Mom proposed a toast.
"To my family," she said.
I watched a deep smile develop. She was glowing, calm, and content. In spite of myself, I raised a glass and toasted to her happiness, however young he was. I know she'd do the same for me.
Written by Linley Taber for The Frisky