I smelled like Love’s Baby Soft and the occasional sneaked clove cigarette and stolen sips of lukewarm chugged behind the bleachers after class.
I just wanted people to be nice to me, men to be nice to me, and when you are pretty and angry and lost you date older guys because they have cars and money and your dad moved out and your mom is busy crying so you go with them. And my mom did her best, but when you have this Tasmanian Devil of a daughter who screams fuck you and pierces her nose and sneaks out of her room and you are just trying to work to put mashed potatoes on the table (because potatoes are cheap–they are still cheap) there isn’t a lot you can do.
In tenth grade, we made friends with a group of older guys who hung out on the main street of town, which ran parallel to the local university — guys who'd once gone to our same high school and had never left the social scene. I remember how quiet it was, birds soaring overhead, no other sound. "Like we were supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend, or something.""Well," she said slowly. I'd completely accepted her romance with an older guy as normal, even destined. When he wasn't upset, he was in kindness overdrive, buying me things: a gold necklace with a floating heart, stuffed animals.
Recently a client of mine who is 17, started dating a 23 year old man, and while the age difference isn’t drastic, one has to think, what would a 23 year old man who could date anyone 18 and up, want with a 17 year old high school student? Of course they had a lot of that, often unprotected, but luckily she never got pregnant although she hasn’t gotten tested for any sexually transmitted diseases.
I told her when she initially talked about him pursuing her, his reason was that there aren’t any girls 21 and up that were “cool”, that there just wasn’t something right about a man who should be on the verge of finishing college, dating someone who’s in high school.
And you work long hours and cry a lot and your daughter has a bedroom with a window and a balcony and she is a quiet ghost who waits on the corner for a car to pick her up.
By some older dude with a full wallet that can buy drugs and booze and cheap jewelry that turns her neck green but at least it is someone.