By Ruby Pressman
As we walked in to the Little Mexican Kitchen on Main Street, I leaned in to open the door, but Joel opened it for me, and I said, “Thank you!”, revealing my blue turquoise bracelet with crosses on it. I thought this might bother him, but he didn’t say anything.
“No problem,” he said, holding the door open for me.
As we went, a few people greeted us and we sat down at a small table on the left side of the room. There were a few other people around, and I figured they might be wondering what a young woman like me, someone who looks like she’s in her early 20s but is actually in her late 20s, is doing with a forty-year old man. And I didn’t know he was forty until that night.
We had been walking over to the restaurant, side by side, our bodies and energies melding together, like two old friends walking down the street together, and I asked him how old he was.
“Well let me ask you this: how old are you?” he said.
“I’m 28. How old are you?”
“Really? Oh my god, you look so much younger,” he said, “you look maybe 20, 21?”
“How old are you?” I asked him again, realizing he was avoiding the question.
“How old do you think I am, Ruby?”
“I don’t know…35?”
He nearly doubled over laughing.
“Thank you,” he said.
“Older?” I said.
“Yes,” he said.
“I am 40, Ruby. Does that bother you?”
He looked young, like he was in his thirties. He looked like a grown man, mature, sturdy, but not in his forties.
“40?” I said. “I thought you were like 35, maybe 36! You look so young!”
“Thank you, Ruby,” he said quickly to the side, and then laughed.
“I don’t think it matters though, right?” he said.
But I wasn’t so sure. I didn’t answer.
And there we were sitting in the Mexican café, two people nearly a decade apart sitting only two feet away from each other.