Here I was again. Same situation, same problem. Exacerbated by the fact that this time, the difference was around twelve years instead of three.

It wasn't that I couldn't be trusted. The problem, at least for me, is that I can.

Let me explain.

I hadn't had a boyfriend for a while. The last boyfriend I had was actually quite a bit older than me. He'd said he was forty, when he asked me out. Turned out he was 48. Not a bad age, exactly, except that I'm 30. A "young" 30, although I wince at the term. And to put it mildly, he couldn't keep up with me, in bed or out of it. The memory that springs to mind is the two of us climbing a set of stairs outside a mall, with me trying (a bit impatiently) to subtly slow down and him puffing along behind me. He kept asking me to marry him, actually. The funny thing is that despite his age, he really wasn't ready. That much was obvious. I'll leave out the gruesome details of our sex life, because basically they consist of him trying to convince me that I really wanted to sleep with him, which I didn't, and, the two times I reluctantly went along with his clumsy seductions, that I had enjoyed it. Mhm. No, I don't think so.

So, to put it in simple terms, I don't consider myself particularly age-ist. I just want someone who isn't going to slow me down. And I don't want to think about retirement plans! I know I'm not eighteen, but I do feel like I'm just getting started on the rest of my life. Which means that if a guy is looking for a trophy wife to settle down with on a farm in the back of nowhere, he's got the wrong girl. Woman. Well, whatever.

On with our tale.

I'm relatively new in town. I've been living in this city for just over two years. The first year I was here, I was too caught up in recovering from the most major and most disastrous relationship of my life. Believe me when I say that I shocked myself by having absolutely no interest in men at all for quite some time. I'm not the type to sit home with my multiple cats and multiple cheesy movies every night. Well, I don't even like cats, I admit it. I'm more of a dog person, although I have been known to pet a kitty now and again. Point being, I haven't been my usual social self until recently. Now I'm getting back to normal, or as close to it as I ever do get.

Rachel is one of the few people I consider a friend here. Which means seducing her baby brother is probably not a really good idea. I'm trying to avoid it, but he keeps sort of popping up, all hopeful puppy eyes and gangly legs. I can tell by the way he looks at me when he thinks I'm not paying attention that he has a little crush. It's sweet. Well, sweet and dangerous. He's at a hard age. I don't want to hurt him.

It's nice to have someone a little bit in lust with you, but it's kind of tough when it'd be really wrong to encourage him. I'll be honest. I'm lonely, he's awfully cute, and I'm tempted. But I won't do anything stupid. I'd like to think I'm not that careless of a person.

I was thinking, tonight, when he messaged me on Facebook, that I shouldn't even talk to him. But the evil interweb intervened, as it does. Someone sent me another tacky app, "Sexy Date" I think it was. Well, I know the girl who sent it, and she probably just thought it was funny. But I vaguely skimmed the friends that appeared on the list, wishing one of them really was a sexable date. My wifi crashed just then. So, bearing in mind the scientific repercussions of Murphy's Law, of course the app sent messages to all my friends because of the page error. Oops.

He was practically burbling with excitement. "So, I'm your top Sexy Date, huh?" Uh oh. Screwed by proxy, in this case, via bad bandwidth.

"Oh um well... sorry! Actually it was a page error. I wouldn't have sent that to you! You're practically jailbait, ya know!"

Quickly, I put up a status message informing all and sundry that any "Sexy Date" messages they received from me were due to an error.

"Damn," he typed back. "People keep telling me that!"

I thought back to his parents' barbeque on Independence Day. How he'd half-heartedly tried to convince me he was twenty-two. How, for a second, I'd believed him, because with his height and shoulders, he easily could be. But then I looked at his face and saw that slight babyishness around the chin, and decidedly hollered back, "You are not!" It was all very relaxed and casual. At some point we all wound up singing old Simon and Garfunkel songs. I think I was the only one who knew most of the words. I love singing, and I'm not terrible at it. I was belting out lyrics with the group, and he was sort of staring without staring, if you know what I mean. Hey, not my fault I have a chest. I didn't invent it. I don't flaunt it... much. He ducked inside halfway through, and I felt unreasonably guilty. Le sigh.

Last time I had a little mutual crush on my best friend's little brother, back in my hometown, he and I were both in our twenties. Well, he still is. I somehow thought it was important to be honest and tell my friend. She was horrified. "He's my baby BROTHER!" she hissed. "Yeah," I pointed out. "But he is twenty-one, not a child." My twenty-fifth birthday would be just before his twenty-second. It didn't seem to make much of a difference to her. I never did anything about that one, either. I remember hanging around their house all summer that year, and my friend's brother making a point of casually appearing in a tight undershirt whenever I showed up. Oh, it was kind of nice.

I knew my friend, and her family, which I consider to by my extended family, were too important to me for me to mess up that relationship for a little fling with Studly Jr. over there. Her mom actually encouraged us to date, dropping heavy hints when she saw us together. But once I saw past the Ben Affleck looks (I swear, not exaggerating: probably better-looking) to his less-than-enormous brain, my crush was over. When it comes to gray matter, size does. He's married now, to a very nice if not very bright girl. He has a little pot belly. And he still casts lingering looks in my direction if I'm around, although he'd never do anything about it now. I'm really glad I never went further than some flirtation with that. His laugh is really kind of dopey. I know that sounds mean, and I'm not trying to be. Just saying that because it was the one thing that first clued me into his non-genius-type status. Augh. I'm not as snotty as that makes me sound. I'm happy for him. He's got kids and all.

But back to Rachel's brother, whose name I won't mention to protect the semi-innocent. No one's that angelic in their teens! We can call him Gabe.

I saw him on the bus the other day. Trust me to find a way of making catching a bus look crazed. It was late, and it was the last bus. I was a bit distracted, thinking about the movie I had just seen, and the bus nearly passed without stopping. I waved my hands and ran after it, and it skidded to a stop a bit farther down. Nice when the bus driver recognizes you. He's too grumpy to admit it, but he does, and it was really nice of him to stop. I flung myself aboard, grabbing the waistband of my cute new skirt. Damn thing was far too stretchy and almost stretched itself into a pile of fabric on the floor.

"Hey, young lady."

I looked around in bewilderment, catching my breath. "Oh, hi."

"What are you doing out so late?" His tone was mock-stern.

"Oh, uh... just coming back from seeing a movie with a friend."

I could see the wheels a-turning. Date, he was thinking. Well, no. Actually, it had been an evening trying to cheer up my stressed-out friend Lara. I had treated her to dinner and a movie, and she is sort of ex-gay, except on alternate Wednesdays, but we really are just friends. So no, not a date. I'm kidding about the Wednesdays. She does get "that look" in her eyes every so often when I'm wearing something sexy, but she's trying out straight as a lifestyle, and I'm very supportive of that.

I have to admit I was a little bit pleased to see him. There's always a shortage of available, good-looking guys. I have to keep reminding myself that he's actually NOT available. Not unless I were his age. Ha! I wouldn't go back to being a teenager for anything. Besides, most guys didn't look twice at me when I was that age. Goofy, frizzy, frumpy and braces, plus some chub. Ouch. Nope, wouldn't switch.

What is it with this "older woman" thing? Shouldn't guys his age be attracted to the dazzling young twits flitting by? Things! I meant young things. They're rather sweet, really. I just don't have the patience for them anymore. I don't think I'd have the patience for myself, either, if my younger self somehow appeared on this city bus and sat down next to me. It's easier dealing with people my own age, or older. Which should mean that I'm not as pleased to see him as I actually am.

Is it really so wrong that I'm thinking unprintable thoughts about my friend's little brother? Yes! YES it is. I shake an imaginary finger at myself, in my head. Bad girl! Very bad.

Gabe got up and sort of hovered, shifting with the bus's motion.

I patted the seat next to me, trying very hard to be virtuous and succeeding in lying only to myself. "Want to sit?" I wasn't going to do anything. Really. Not on a city bus, anyway.

He looked at the scruffy bus seat regretfully. "Nope. Gotta get off next stop."

I smiled. "See ya around."



I smiled anyway, thinking things that should get me at least a slap on the wrist, all the way home. Good thing my trusty plastic pal was ready and waiting, as it always is.

It's hard doing the right thing. I hope he stays away from me. He should be falling in love for the first time, not being enthusiastically corrupted. Double damn. I swear I'm trying. But couldn't hurt him since he doesn't know... that I'm seeing his face, among other things, at the most inappropriate moments.

Good luck, Gabe. Find yourself a girlfriend at your high school, or in your theater group. Someone who has the right to play all the naughty games she wants with you. I'm taking my piece off the board.

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