“I’m kidding, Lena! I don’t want to scare you away. I’m just trying to be funny,” said Brandon. I gave a small chuckle as Brandon continued to reassure me that he wasn’t some horndog. But I found it funny that he felt embarrassed.
As we laughed and changed the subject, we found out that we actually had a lot in common, like our musical tastes. Sometimes it was just like speaking to someone my own age. In fact, our big age difference was never apparent in our conversations unless he referred back to his childhood memories or I regaled him with some of my own. One thing that did stand out to me however was the nature of our conversations. Not once did my ex Jared, who was my own age, ever seem interested in what I had to say—Brandon was the complete opposite!
Brandon was impressed with my determination to finish school while working part-time to support myself. I was a breath of fresh air for him, a complete contrast to the other women he had dated.
Every single morning from there on in I woke up to a text message that read, “Good morning, beautiful,” followed by a smiley face. Sure, it was cheesy, but Brandon was anything but dishonest and his opinion of me being beautiful was nothing but the truth for him.
It took Brandon two whole weeks of talking over the phone and text messages to work up the courage to ask me out on our first date. And that’s when reality set in. Was I prepared to go out in public with a man who was old enough to be my father? Was I ready to deal with the stares from strangers? Would I be judged? I was about to find out…
The day of our first date came and I was all nerves. I was bombarded with worries—were we going to be looked at? Was our age difference apparent? It was hard to tell, because I had confused Brandon for being in his 30s when I first met him six months earlier. Being 20 myself, I was hoping I looked several years older than I really was. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know this was going to be a problem with me; I knew our age difference would be an obstacle, but I guess I just never thought that we would really be going out on a date one day.
Throughout my infatuation with Brandon, I questioned whether or not my crush on this older man was just a projected subconscious daddy issue, as people like to assume when they see a younger woman with an older man—a poor naïve, easily-influenced girl working through some deep-seated father issues.
As it so happens, I was brought up with a father who spoiled me rotten and always told me to follow my dreams. I was also given another father-figure with my stepdad, who always knew when to bring my head back down to earth when it reached the clouds. In no way whatsoever had I ever been deprived of fatherly love. So what I really wasn’t looking forward to was the talk, “Lena must have a lot of daddy issues.” And till this day, it is still something that I deal with. But luckily for me, I put any negative thoughts away that night the minute Brandon opened his car door for me.