Written by
Kevin Camp
January 2014
Written by
Kevin Camp
January 2014

A work of fiction. 

She set before me a glass of water and an apple, as though I was a little child. I was her lover, but she associated me in some ways with her teenage daughter. Always the mother figure. What might have been sensuous for a younger woman was maternal for an older one.

It had been a while since she’d sought a partner, especially one as young as me. Other women her age had found themselves unable to reconcile the years that separated our date of birth. They had grown sons my age or a little younger, and that fact was enough to make them choose total abstinence from me. I severely doubt a man would draw the same sharp distinctions. Having daughters the same age wouldn't be a similar impediment.

The first time I pursued a woman much older than myself, we met at a downtown bar on a rainy day. She’d responded to my online ad, and I found her sweet and sympathetic. We overcompensated a little in conversation, which is commonplace when you want another person to feel at ease and accepted. Compliments were effusive and the date went well. By the end of it, we even ended up making out at one corner of the bar, which I enjoyed quite a lot.

She e-mailed again the following morning, saying she had second thoughts. As for what they were, I was never provided any definitive information, but I could read between the lines. I've been at this for a while. She couldn’t get over being fifteen years older than me. In her defense, I’m not sure I could ever be with someone fifteen years younger than me. The pairing would only work with an old soul, someone with wisdom and maturity beyond her years.

We return to the present. The husband of my latest girlfriend had passed away a couple of years earlier. She had barely grieved. She didn’t hate him, but she held him responsible for keeping her hostage. She’d had to live for decades on end in an unfamiliar city, when she’d never wanted to leave New York. Where the two had settled was his city, never hers. Mostly she’d resented him in a going-through-the-motions sort of way. They’d stayed married for twenty-five years and over the years she'd devised a thousand rationalizations and compartments to justify staying.

Then he got brain cancer and wasted away steadily for two and a half years. Left behind was their daughter, who was about to enroll in college for her first semester. For the first time ever, my now-official girlfriend had total independence. Her daughter was now enrolled in a different part of the country. She proceeded to use this new found agency with impunity.

I’ll be honest. I’d been around for a while, but on the sly. We’d been sneaking around for months. He was too impaired to notice. The plan she’d hatched was for me to move in with the family to assist with her husband’s care. Then, when he passed away, I would take his place, kind of like the changing of the guard. 

It wasn’t a bad arrangement. He was so ill that we could get away with being a little incautious every now and again. The diagnosis had been terminal from the beginning, so we waited patiently. I helped with washing sheets, cleaning bathrooms, and keeping things neat and orderly. He never suspected a thing. He was a quiet sort, and appeared to like me.

She had only one rule. While he was still living, we could never use the bedroom she and her husband shared. Instead, she completely remodeled the attic, installing a reasonably comfortable bed in one corner. The only drawback is that it was unheated in winter and boiling hot in summer. But, for what it was worth, it worked for a time. It worked because we had no choice. The sex was too good to turn down.

When her husband left this life, I made my way at last into the inner sanctum, a place I’d never been allowed to enter until that very moment. The transfer was conducted like a coronation, with grave seriousness. She’d gone to the trouble to put clean, smooth sheets on the bed. What was a very adult act was contradicted somewhat by my afternoon snack, which arrived, unasked for, after a quick trip to the kitchen. I could have complained about it, but kept my mouth shut. I took a perfunctory bite or two of apple and drank all the water in the cup.

Finally she was ready. The ceremony commenced. The only thing I didn’t like about our lovemaking is that she was a very poor kisser. She had thin, pursing lips, and mine were much more generous in size. Kissing her always felt a little like kissing a Muppet. I’ve always found kissing very sensuous, and it disappointed me that we couldn’t seem to strike a balance. That act being mostly useless, I decided to explore elsewhere.

The labia and all outwards parts of the vagina had completely lost all elasticity with time. They drooped downward so precipitously that it was difficult to know where the opening began. Her breasts, lamentably, had taken the same path. They had no remaining definition and elasticity. They sagged. I’d been a touch rough on them the first time we’d had sex, and she quickly corrected me.

You’re going to have to be gentle. She smiled.

I was gentle, but she was not gentle with me. She told a story of a sadistic male gynecologist who’d taken pleasure in conducting an unnecessary surgery that had greatly cut down on her sexual sensitivity. Because of this, and at her strict direction, I contorted my body in a thousand different ways to produce her own orgasm. It was not easy, and her arms always wrapped tightly around mine, pushing hard, side to side against both shoulder blades.

But when it was finished, the result was always the same. I accomplished my intended purpose. I was pleased for that. Her eyes rolled back in her head, then she regained full consciousness. It was as though she had slowly returned to earth from somewhere else, very far away. Rushing immediately to the toilet, she laughed when my seed spilled out of her. I never found the act as amusing as she did, but I concede I may be a bit of a prude sometimes.

There were other examples of her silly, offbeat sense of humor. The first meal we ate together, post-coitus, was hot dogs. That was all she had remaining in the refrigerator. She thanked me later by e-mail for “the hot dog” she’d received, the meaning of which is fairly easy to decode. Again, I was not amused, but I tried to be.

She had other quirks. I was never told her real age. If I had to guess, I’d say she was somewhere in her early fifties. I was never told her real name. Instead, I had to use a particular nickname that she’d chosen for herself and insisted on being called. Her paranoia and obsessive behavior knew no limits. I never understood what she was afraid of, really. I thought that if I was the most important person to her, then surely I would be entrusted with a few personal details here and there. But this was not to be.

I was strongly attracted to her and always had been. In the beginning, I could barely believe my good luck. For the first several months, we had sex two and three times a day, especially on weekends. She was not difficult to seduce and was appreciative of my company. Yet, I did learn a very important lesson. Sex can’t sustain a relationship indefinitely, but it can at least patch over significant problems for a little while.

One day, as we were lying together, side by side, she spoke her mind. She hoped I’d support her in her old age. This gave me reason for pause. When in middle age, I would be reasonably young and she would be a senior citizen. I’d just taken a lengthy part in the caretaker role, albeit not by myself. When it came her time, I might be able to count on her daughter for assistance, but most of the burden would fall upon me.

She’d made her sacrifices and so had I. For the duration, I'd had to cut ties entirely with my family, who disapproved strongly of my relationship. They made their displeasure known loudly. Even with the pain of estrangement, I stayed with her for four long years, because at least there I had some degree of stability. I had a place to stay, food to eat, a woman who loved me, and everything else I was sure I could handle with the passage of time.

But after a while, I couldn’t handle the daily third degree when I received came home from work. She was secretive about every last one of her personal dealings. I couldn’t pick up prescription drugs for her, like most couples do. She had to do them herself. I couldn't do even routine errands that involved her. 

The same was true when we considered a joint checking account. I would have learned her real name, real date of birth, and other sensitive information. I couldn’t understand her fears and she rarely explained them in much detail. I chalked it up to a kind of untreated neurosis and gritted my teeth.

After a while, I’d had enough. It wasn’t the looks I got from the faces of her friends and my friends. Those I had long since blocked out entirely. I hadn’t gotten bored with her. It was her daily scrutiny and the lack of transparency that prevented us from having a functional relationship. I’d thought I could handle it, but after a time it began to drive me crazy. She pleaded with me to stay, but I couldn’t do it any longer. I missed my family and negating all her insecurities had worn me out.

I’m told by mutual friends that she went into a period of mourning following my departure. She even dressed entirely in black for a full year, with clothes she bought specially for the occasion. I took no satisfaction in upsetting her, but I always have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried. Her complexes and eccentricities became too much for me to handle. Our relationship was not a disaster, but after a time, I felt a little like William Holden’s character in Sunset Boulevard. I was the prisoner of aged actress Norma Desmond, an accidental gigolo for hire.

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