I have always admired the Stetson man—my older, married lover—for the way he treated my son. My son did not have a true father figure in his life until he met the Stetson man. His biological father viewed my son and me as a package deal, and so when we divorced, he divorced the two of us. And then my second husband was only a friend to him at best. My son longed for a father figure to be interested in his life and future. He had just graduated high school with honors and was making lifelong decisions. This was a point in his life when a male role model would be very influential. It had to be a good man with great values; it had to be the Stetson man. I knew that I wanted to introduce them, but it took me a while to get the nerve up.
When I finally decided the time had come, I asked the two of them to dinner. I was nervous for a few reasons, one being that the Stetson man was nearly my father’s age, and, of course, there was the pesky fact that he was married. I knew my son loved me dearly and would accept my decision to be with the Stetson man; however, it was also my desire to have the Stetson man as my son’s role model. There were multiple generations between them, and my son talked fast and often used the latest teenage slang. To make matters worse, the Stetson man did not hear well, and his ego would not allow him to wear a hearing aid. It wasn’t just important for my son to like the Stetson man, I also wanted the Stetson man to like my son. My son was a direct reflection of my parenting skills, and I imagined that the Stetson man would be thinking the same thing. I figured that if this dinner didn’t go well, our relationship would feel the negative impact.
I chose a steak house for the meeting. The Stetson man and I arrived before my son. The hostess led us to a table tucked away at the very back of the restaurant, and I chuckled because I knew this would supply commentary for my son. Moments later, I looked up from my menu and watched my son stroll toward us, a wide grin on his face. He gave me a hug and shook the Stetson man’s outreached hand, and then he immediately commented about how our “covert” table was good for keeping the paparazzi at bay. My son and I laughed, and though I am not sure he was familiar with the term “paparazzi,” the Stetson man laughed along with us. We all sat down and before long the two of them were discussing sports and politics. My son was fascinated with the older man’s success and spent the evening asking business-related questions—I was so proud. The Stetson man, having no problems hearing, seemed honored to receive my son’s attention and obvious admiration, and he kept smiling at me after my son would ask another question.
I was quickly able to relax and enjoy the evening. I knew that they liked each other and I knew that like would soon grow to love. At dinner that day, my son found an instant mentor and surrogate father in the Stetson man. It wasn’t long before my son would ask when he would get to see the Stetson man again. They developed a mutually loving relationship, and every time I saw them interact, I fell deeper in love with the Stetson man. My son was on the receiving end of several meaningful gifts, and I treasure those gifts to this day. It was wonderful to see them making plans for the future and to know that my son was happy for me.