Okay, it wasn’t quite as simple as that.
But the song was “Fight for Your Right.”
More often than not, I’ve dated women who are older than me. It’s not a state of affairs I’m one-hundred-percent comfortable with--I think a part of me still looks at a woman even a couple years my senior as a high school junior to my freshman, or as a college girl when I was still in high school. A world apart, inaccessible, unattainable. Just the same, my more logical side usually wins out. That there comes a point when a few years don’t make much of a difference. After high school, after college, after a few years outside academia, life’s playing field levels off, and age is less of a defining quality than a construct. All that, plus, the way I live my life is closer to that of an older man than most people I know in my demographic.
All of that’s a prelude to the fact that when I went out with Julie, I knew full well she was younger than me, and it was an odd sensation. The mid- prefix to my twenties was losing steam, as late- started to take hold. And she was fresh out of undergrad, in a new city, living with roommates.
Julie was kind. Smart. Pretty. An impressive young woman with an even more impressive future ahead of her.
But when I kissed her neck, she giggled and said I was like a vampire.
And when I invited her to join me and my friends for an eighties cover band concert, I realized she’d only been alive for the smallest sliver of that decade--hardly long enough to consciously remember it.
And then, when the cover band played the chorus to that Beastie Boys song; when I clenched my fist, pumped it in the air and screamed along; at that moment, she looked up at me, smiled, and said “I’ve never heard this one.”
Couplings end for all manner of reasons, and as I grow older, I like to take responsibility where it’s due--both for the occasions when I deserved to be dumped, and the occasions when I made the call to end things, not for any deficiency in my partner, but because of my own neuroses.
There are times when I think back and wonder what might have been with Julie, had I been a little more patient or a little more open-minded. Or had the band not played that particular song.
Just the same, I return to the same principle: I’ve never felt older than I did in that relationship. If I can retain some semblance of youth just a few years longer, I like to think I’ll have a happier life for it.
I may, indeed, need to fight for that right. But if I have my way, I will still crank my eighties jams every now and again. And I will still party.