TRIGGER WARNING. This post describes a sexual encounter between an older man and a young woman who had already internalized the idea that it wasn’t up to her to give or withhold consent. I’m not sure why I wrote it from his point of view, but I think I was trying to understand why he thought this was ok.
Lars was 46 when his third serious relationship came to an end. After suffering through two divorces, he had declined to marry Sharon, so this breakup was a little less complicated than the previous two. But in the short run, he was still stuck for a place to live and grateful when a business colleague offered the spare bedroom for a few weeks. He left some boxes in storage and brought a single suitcase with him to Daniel’s house in a west San Jose neighborhood, moving into the bedroom that Daniel’s daughter used when she was home from college.
Living at Daniel’s proved to be a pretty comfortable set-up. Daniel was easy-going and seemed to appreciate the company. Lars could ride to work with Daniel many days and save on gas. There was a pool in the backyard, and after work Daniel liked to grill steaks on the deck. He didn’t ask Lars to help pay for the steaks nor for the alcohol that flowed freely during their meals–vodka and tonic before dinner, cabernet with the steaks. Truth be told, there wasn’t much to motivate Lars to hurry up and find another place to live. The weeks slid by, and he’d done almost nothing about it. Suddenly it was June, and the daughter came home from college.
Though Daniel seemed to be looking forward to Q’s arrival, Lars wasn’t excited about it. Would he need to move out of the room with the queen-sized bed and move into the smaller bedroom with the small bed? And he’d have to share the bathroom with her. Who wants to share a bathroom with a 20-year-old girl? She’d probably play ridiculous music, loudly, as well. She might like rap. It was probably time to start looking for an apartment.
But when Daniel brought Q to the house, Lars was surprised. She was quiet, polite, and serious, not at all what he’d expected. She immediately said he should stay in the room he’d been staying in, and she’d take the smaller room. She cooked vegetables to go with the grilled meat they ate each night. She talked about the German literature she’d been reading, reminding Lars of books he’d read all those years ago when he was in college. He found he liked her.
And he liked her body. She was slender, with long, tan legs. He watched her swim, watched her when she got out of the pool, with the water dripping off her long hair, down her back, stopping in ridges at the top of her bikini bottoms. She wore her shorts very short, and he tried to position himself on the deck so he could see up them. It had been a long time since he’d been in such close proximity to such a young body.
He searched his memory for fragments of books he’d read, German phrases he remembered, anything he thought might impress Q with his intellectualism. She didn’t mention a boyfriend. And when she invited some of her friends over to join a weekend swim party, it was clear that the young men who attended were strictly platonic friends. At night he let himself fantasize a little about her, sleeping just on the other side of his bedroom wall.
She wasn’t staying long, he knew. In early July, she started to prepare for her trip to Germany. Daniel worried because a business trip was going to take him away the weekend she was leaving. Lars volunteered to take her to the airport on Saturday evening—“if you don’t mind me staying while Daniel’s gone.” They accepted gratefully, and Lars was happy at the thought of a couple of days alone with Q before she left.
But it seemed she hadn’t planned to spend her last evening swimming, grilling, and talking with him on the back deck. Instead, she went out for dinner with a couple of her friends. Lars prepared a burger and ate alone, refilling his vodka and tonic more often than usual. He was seated in the recliner, watching television when Q came home. She entered the living room and greeted him in her usual cheerful tone.
“Can I make you a drink?” he offered.
“No, I’m fine. Probably not going to stay up much longer,” she said. “You watching anything good on TV?”
“Not really.” Then, afraid she’d leave too soon, he said, “But wait, I got you a present.”
She tilted her head, curious. He grabbed the paper bag he had left sitting on the table, berating himself for not having it wrapped, and handed it to her awkwardly. “You said you liked Hesse.”
“I do,” she said, taking The Glass Bead Game out of the bag.
“I hope you haven’t read that one,” he said, feeling as nervous as a boy. “I thought it would give you something to read on the plane to Frankfurt.”
She smiled. “No, I haven’t read it. Thank you; I’ll be happy to read this.”
“Are you sure you won’t have a drink?” he tried again.
“No, really, I need to go to bed. I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow to finish getting ready.”
“All right then,” he nodded at her and turned back to the chair in front of the TV.
She said goodnight and walked down the hall. He shut his eyes, blocking out the pictures moving in front of him. Then he turned down the sound. He could hear her in the bathroom, brushing her teeth, flushing the toilet. It wasn’t fair, he felt. He was taking her to the airport. He bought her that book. And yet she couldn’t spend a few minutes sitting with him?
He knew she’d enjoyed those evening discussions over dinner, weeks of them. She’d always been friendly to him. What was wrong now? Then it occurred to him that perhaps she was afraid to show her feelings; she was hiding. Maybe she thought he wasn’t really interested because she was so young. He’d have to show her more directly.
He got up from the chair, a little unsteady. He almost knocked over the last of the vodka tonic but caught the glass just before it slid off the end table. Good, he thought. The reflexes are working. I’m not so drunk after all.
He heard the door of her bedroom—the small one—close quietly down the hall. He strode to the door, took a breath, and opened it. The first thing he thought was that he should have waited a minute to two longer. She was still dressed, reaching to take her pajamas out of the drawer. The Glass Bead Game sat on top of her open suitcase.
Without a word, he crossed the room to her, pulled her slender body up to his and bent down to kiss her. He felt her stiffen, then freeze. He kept kissing her, holding her close. She didn’t relax, but she didn’t fight him either. He took that as a positive sign.
He took half a step back, looking down at her face. She was flushed a little. He reached for her right hand. “Come,” he said, and led her out of the small bedroom and down the hall to his room—hers, really—with the bigger bed. She moved with him, saying nothing.
In the larger room, he continued to hold her hand as he reached over and turned on the bedside lamp. It cast a dim yellow light on the neatly made bed. He turned to look at her again. Her skin was so smooth and tanned. He ran his finger over her cheek. Her eyes were glassy, unfocused. Maybe she’d already been drinking with her friends, he thought, even though it hadn’t seemed that way when she first came in.
He grabbed the bottom of her polo shirt and pulled it over her head. Again, no resistance. He continued to undress her, enjoying it. She shook her hips a little, helping his slide her pants down to the floor. As he undressed himself, she remained standing, looking down. He liked the white triangles of skin against her otherwise brown body. He liked how her skin skimmed the ridge of her hip bones. He bent and kissed her breast. She shivered. She likes it, he thought.
He moved her to the bed, pushing her down and then lying against her. He ran his hands over her, kissed her neck, her breasts, her belly.
“I’ve been wanting this,” he murmured to her. “You wanted it too, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I wanted it too,” she said, her voice quiet, flat.
That was the only thing she said that night. But she began to respond to him, tentatively, touching him back, even kissing him a little. He became more aggressive with his hands. He lifted himself over her and entered her. Exquisite, as he knew it would be. But difficult. He couldn’t stay hard. That last vodka tonic hadn’t been a good idea.
Q surprised him then by sliding down in the bed, taking his penis in her mouth. It felt good, but he knew the signs. It was too late.
“You are sweet,” he said, pushing her away, “but I can’t tonight.
She started to sit up, but he pushed her back on the bed and pushed her legs apart. With hand and mouth, he worked on her until her body tensed and released in the unmistakable shudder of orgasm. I got her, he thought. He lay back on the pillow, a little dizzy, but pleased. For a second, he thought he might have heard her crying, but he fell asleep before he could finish that thought.
In the morning, she was gone when he woke up. His head hurt but the memory of her body made him smile anyway. He walked down the hallway, naked. He’d get her to take a shower with him.
But she had obviously already showered, her hair damp against her blue t-shirt. She was packing her suitcase.
“Good morning,” he said.
“Good morning,” she smiled at him. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, great,” he said, and emboldened by that smile, he walked over and kissed her, running his hand over her breast. “What about you?”
“Too bad I have appointments today,” Lars told her, with genuine regret. “But I’ll be back at five and take you to dinner before we go to the airport.”
“Perfect,” she said.
He was relieved as he took his shower. A small part of him had worried that maybe he shouldn’t have reached out to her last night. Maybe that was helping himself a little too much to things that rightfully belonged to Daniel? But she seemed fine with it. And he’d just had sex, well sort of, almost, with a 20-year-old. Wait until his friends heard about that.
He actually managed to casually drop that fact into three different conversations that day. The most gratifying was his old friend Ben, who’d asked for details. Maybe he changed a few of them in the telling, but the general idea was more or less true. Michael hadn’t seemed to fully believe him. Jeff requested an introduction to the accommodating young lady who liked older guys. Maybe she’d like another one. That was more irritating, since Lars knew it was his special relationship with Q that had brought her to his bed. She didn’t just sleep with any man, he felt certain.
He pulled into the driveway right at five o’clock as promised. There was something strange about her. Q greeted him with a smile, but she didn’t look right. She wore high heels and a dark lipstick. He’d never seen her like that before and felt it didn’t look right. She seemed to be pretending to be a grown-up. She came up and gave him a gentle kiss on his cheek. He kissed her more hungrily on the mouth, mostly to see what she’d do. She kissed him back. She seemed less hesitant than the night before. He wondered, with a vague regret, what it would be like if she weren’t leaving tonight. Maybe he could really fuck her properly.
She reached out and took his hand while he drove to the restaurant. This made it hard to shift, which was annoying, but he didn’t shake her off. As they walked into the seafood restaurant, he noticed the looks as he walked in with such a young woman. To make sure no one thought he was her father, he put his arm around her and pulled her close to him.
But as the dinner went on, he found himself feeling glad she was leaving. She was awkward in a way he hadn’t seen before. It wasn’t only her make-up and shoes, but also her conversation, which had becoming suddenly coy. She was trying too hard to please him, and it reminded him of his final months with Sharon. In the end, maybe all women were like that. You give them a little attention, and they stop acting like normal human beings.
When he dropped her off at the airport a few hours later, he gave her a kiss, patted her rear end, and waved goodbye. Tomorrow he’d start looking for an apartment of his own.