Last Thursday nite I took a trip on the lightrail to ASU central with two of my twenty something friends. We went to listen to a talk on Voodoo, African Vampires, and Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, to be presented by Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes. The talk was somewhat interesting, and we had hoped to learn the secret of making a really powerful Voodoo doll, but instead Dr. Rhodes read from 2 of her books and answered questions in a circular fashion , not quite answering the question, but spiraling around the questions with great enthusiasm. I raised my hand and asked about the meaning and origin of the word “voodoo”, and was left none the wiser after her generous answer that lasted longer than my attention span. She was inspiring. For the entire 1.5 hours of this talk , a young man sitting directly in front of me slept with his head on his desk. He was obviously there because he needed some extra credit, and from the looks of things, he obviously wasn’t going to get it. I found this almost as interesting as I found Dr. Rhodes. Really? The front row? There were at least 20 rows in this place! I’ll bet he meant to get up real good and close so he could pay extra special attention, then he would impress his professor with a killer paper. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, no?
After the talk ended, we were hungry, so we walked down Central avenue and discussed the possibility of getting back on the lightrail to find food. Chelsea was concerned with the half mile trek that lay ahead of us if we decided to go to The Thai Hut. She never exercises she told us, never. She is naturally thin and she is 26, I don’t hate her for this because quite often, 26 equals naturally thin. We didn’t want to wait for the light rail, so we decided against the Thai Hut and started to walk down Roosevelt to the old Fate, now called 905. I had been to Fate several times, and by golly, I liked it! It was housed in an old cottage off of 3rd st. and Roosevelt that had been converted into a restaurant. As Fate, they used to serve interesting and yummy Asian dishes tossed in a pan by a spunky, also Asian, little man named Johnny, who also happened to be the owner. Johnny no longer owned this joint, but we decided to give 905 a chance. Their menu was rumored to be “pan asian” , and we were all in the mood for Asian. Selena and I thought The Bread Fruit , a jamaican joint would have been more in line with our theme, and it was just a hop away, but Chelsea was against The Bread Fruit, she thought it sounded “weird.”
We made our way through the well lit streets of downtown Phoenix, and up the little stairs leading us to the patio of 905. I poked my head inside and my eyes were met by a by his eyes, they were acknowledging and sweet. I felt something SPECIAL was about to happen. He was tall and muscular, with a short dark brown ponytail and a 5 o’clock shadow. He had sweet brown doe eyes, and sparkly white teeth, teeth like a puppy. He looked like Johnny Depp did when he played in 21 Jump street, but current, twenty first century young Johnny. We were asked to have a seat outside wherever we liked, so we chose a table under a heat lamp, next to a tree wearing a jacket made of little blue lights. He came around with bottle of water , and noticed me eyeballing the white plastic bag like hanger on the side of the table, he said “that’s for the water.” He read my mind! He was attentive and explained in great detail all of the items we inquired about. I found myself blushing and asking more questions than I needed to make my decision, but he was eager and excited to tell us about this food. He lingered after bringing me my Xingu which he recomended when I asked for “something like Bass, or Fat Tire.” He was young. I would have guessed 30, maybe 28. He was well spoken and confident. Did I mention, he was SEXY? After we ordered the spicy tuna ball appetizer, he left the table, and Selena and Chelsea agreed there was some chemistry happening.
The spicy tuna fritters were delicious, but the rest of our dinner was less than mediocre. The ramen was too salty, and the tofu steak tasted like tofu. Tofu should taste like what it’s been marinating in, this was just bland and not well marinated. But it wasn’t the food that made us order all 3 desserts and move to the bar to linger over more drinks. It was Joshua, waiter/journalism student/Johnny Depp look -a- like. “how old are you?” I asked him after we all shared a laugh about Chelsea’s story of 5 woman with 10 vaginas between them that she saw on Tyra show, ” I swear it’s true!” “Twenty five”, he said. “Damn it!” I replied, “I was going to ask you on a date!” This time he was the one blushing as he left our table to go do “side work” so he could meet us at the bar for drinks. I was flirting with a toddler and I didn’t care.
While we were waiting for Joshua to return to 905 after finishing an online test in Sociology that was due before midnight, I asked Chelsea what she thought it would be like to date a 13 year old, since that’s what I was looking at if I were to consider dating Joshua. She and Selena agreed this wasn’t a fair comparison. Selena confessed that she had given my phone number to Joshua when she went up to pay our bill. I had layered my mouth with my pink Chanel lip gloss and given my consent by kissing the note containing my phone number after I caught her trying to hide it from me, but I didn’t expect her to give him a lecture too. She told him that if he had some other “situation” going on, he was better off not calling me, that I was her good friend and deserved only the best. He agreed.
Joshua returned forty five minutes later, ordered a Sierra Nevada from the twenty one year old bartender with the incredible ass, and then came to stand by me so we could get to know each other better. He liked yoga, cooking, hiking, writing about food, and hoped to move to San Francisico some day. He was wearing jeans, a green Italia soccer tshirt, flip flops, and a hat. A weird snug fitting black knit number with a little brim. I’m sure I would know correct name if I were twenty five. I do know the logo was Volcom. He seemed less confident now, and I was less energetic. He asked me how old I was, to which Chelsea swung her head around fast, and reminded Joshua that it was impolite to ask a lady her age. ” I’m in my thirties” I said, something I learned when I was in my twenties from a dear friend who was in her thirties. I never knew just how old Rachael was, only that she was in her “thirties”. Mystery is sexy. Joshua replied, “no, thirties? I thought you were in your late twenties at the most!” This was when I noticed the shift in Joshua’s attention. I think he smelled a cougar. It was twelve thirty now and Chelsea was showing signs of fatigue, holding her 26 year old head up with her hand, eyes drooping. Selena was engaged in a converstaion with Ruben and his girlfriend . Ruben’s girlfriend asked Selena for her phone number, she thought they should “hang out”. Selena lives with a lesbian couple and has recently been getting asked out by women. She told us later that she had given Ruben’s girlfriend the wrong number, she wasn’t interested in “hanging out” with this bi curious nymph. I interupted the conversation of this would be threesome by asking Selena to call a cab. I hugged Joshua on our way out and he said it was fun talking with us. I told him I knew he had my number and to call if he wanted to go on a hike or something. He smiled what seemed like a nervous smile, and said he would.
It seemed feasible at the time, the possibility of dancing romantically with a twenty five year old, but the wine has worn off and two days have gone by. Now I am wondering what constitutes a cougar, could I be one, and if so, do I have what it takes to sink my claws into something as delicate and sweet as Joshua meat? I think of my ex-boyfriend Brent when he was twenty five, dating a twenty five year old me. Could he have been tempted away by an older, more confident version of myself? When I was twenty five I couldn’t fathom dating a man 13 years my senior. They were like aliens, like dirty old men. I remember being a cocktail waitress at Hops! when I was 25, and getting hit on by a handsome local tv weather guy, ” do you have a boyfriend? ” he asked looking me up and down as if I were a selection on the menu, “yes, I do.” I chirped. He was probably in his early thirties at the time, but to me he seemed really mature, even old. He went on to ask me if Brent treated me well, I said he did. He slipped me his phone number and said to call him if that ever changed. I took his number but in my mind, he was Chester the Molester, old and slimy. I threw his digits in the garbage and tried to avoid him until they asked for the bill. I wonder if this is how Joshua began to think of me after almost learning my age. I became a predator. A cougar! Hester the Molester!
Younger men seem simpler than the forty somethings I have known. They are sweet, less jadded, less baggage. Eager to please and to learn. That’s attractive to me. I’m not sure if Joshua will call, and I’m not sure if I want him to. I am sure that I could learn alot from the twenty five year old me, the girl with hearts in her eyes. She is less jadded, she is holding less baggage, she is so eager to please, she is eager to learn. She doesn’t even know how to play the games played by the grown ups. Aside from their abundant energy and good looks, I think what is so attractive about younger men is their innocence, and I’m not sure I want to be the one to steal that away.