If I were an inanimate object, I’d be a coloring book. I’d rest my back on hardwood floors; pages open, waiting to be filled. Suddenly, two sets of elbows pin me down. I meet eye to eye with a sharp, colored pencil and scream, “On guard!” Then there’s childlike laughter. I relax a little, knowing they will play with me and love me, even if just for a moment. I will be filled with bright blues, greens and reds, even if it’s outside the line. Because you can’t expect much from children.
Much like the coloring book, my love life has been filled by youngings. Most of my male suitors have been 4-6 years younger and some, like Double Duce, have been a decade my junior. I’ve gotten used to the age gap but not so much the fierce enthusiasm, clumsy pokes (in my pepa) and young disregard for commitment that boys bring. But no matter how much I try, I am always courted by men who may very well be wearing diapers. And I’m not talking about Depends.
I met another young man a few weeks after my emotional breakdown with Mr. G. Mr. G was still calling and texting, but I was detaching myself, slowly. I really needed a distraction, and in came Army Boy.
We met while I was temping as an usher for Harlem Stage. I leaned on the wall, watching the production while guarding the exit door. He approached me with intensity in his almond shaped eyes and struck up a conversation. I told him some surface details – name, age, educational background – and he listened intently, as if I were divulging the secret code that unlocks the armor to Xbox 360’s Halo. Soon, the big boss shushed us and gave us the evil eye.
“We should probably stop talking,” I said as my responsible, adult, work ethic kicked in.
“Nah. He’ll deal with it,” he replied nonchalantly.
I cocked my head up to look at him. He was confident; I like confident. But maybe this baby suitor was just crawling the crawl.
“Besides, I’m your boss,” he continued, chest puffed out. ” I’ll just tell him I was explaining procedure,” he finished. I nodded and pretended to be impressed by his big role as Head Usher.
Hours later, the show was over. We all scattered out of the theater and into Big Bosses’ office to fill our timesheets. As I searched for a pen, which was always an impossible feat, Army Boy motioned for me to follow him. I obliged. Maybe he’d found a pen.
He walked into an office a few doors down and I followed. “What are you doing after work?” He asked while filling out his sheet.
“Going home. I’m a little tired,” I replied cautiously. I knew what was coming.
“Maybe you and I can go out sometime,” he responded. This time he looked me dead in the eyes.
“Yeah, sure,” I heard myself say. “How old are you again?” I continued. He smiled and I braced myself for the worst.
“21. But I’ve always dated older women.”
“That’s what I thought,” I muttered while looking away. It seemed I was picked up by a child again. My pages were flipped open. The crayons were chosen. The colorless drawing would soon be splashed with brightness. I only hoped that he’d do a little less jabbing and stayed within the lines. Because you can’t expect much from children.