I come from a conventional family; meet the wealthy love of your life by 23, provide your parents with grandchildren by 25, stay at home to create a haven for said husband and children, and when you can’t take the screaming brats any longer, get a part-time desk job at a soulless corporate firm.
To give you an idea of where my life sits on this scale, at 24 I’m convinced love was a concept invented in the 18th-century, and my card was recently rejected when buying a KitKat.
“You need to find a nice man to settle down with.” Survival instincts and my Grandma dictate that in order to thrive in the over-priced depths of East London, one must first find an older man securely fastened to the property ladder, with a less secure hairline and a charitable recklessness with his contactless debit card.
Settling down. Like an overworked and exhausted cow collapsing in a muddied field, burdened by a life of monotony. Moo thank you, Grandma.
So in the most unrebellious of rebellions, last summer I dated a 21 year old.
Three whole years my junior, he wasn’t on the property ladder – in fact, this was his first stint away from home. He chose to wear limited-edition collaborations over straight-leg Levis, and his aspirations were more survive the weekend ahead, than start a family.
Before our first date, I was apprehensive that the socially vilified age-gap between us may be too palpable. Was he yet to discover avocado on sourdough toast? Did he even know what an avocado was?
You know when someone’s younger than you, and you dismiss them as “like, 12 years old.” Well, it turns out we were wrong. He was razor sharp (not literally), and wittier than half the men I’ve dated (literally). He was interested in music, but it went further than EDM. He made no advances on a gin and tonic intoxicated me, and yes, he knew what an avocado was.
When I was finally able to digest the fact he went to college with my younger cousin, we started dating.
Destroying any remnants of culture Hackney had retained, we spent weekends as any other gentrified millennials would; we ate vegan dinners, we cheersed in pubs decorated with taxidermy and we drank overpriced coffees in independent cafés. My knight in a Reebok tracksuit, he didn’t even call me pathetic when I turned up at his house in an Uber at 11pm on a Sunday night because of the ginormous spider squatting in my bedroom (seriously though, pay some rent).
The Cheryl to his Liam, of course this sugar-mamma dynamic was destined for failure. It all happened on that fateful night at my flat in early October.
To lazy too cook, too impatient to order in and with no vegan restaurants in sight, dinner took the form of pumpkin seed toast à la Bonne Maman strawberry jam. Delicious, non? On demolishing my conservative slice and a half, I noticed his was partially remaining. Did he not like my Bonne Maman strawberry jam? With a quiver of concern and a frown upon my face, I asked if everything was okay, to which he replied, “I don’t like the crusts.”
HE. DOESN’T. LIKE. THE. CRUSTS.
So this is the story of how I misread a Tinder bio and started dating a pre-teen. Turns out he really was “like, 12 years old”.
Somebody arrest me already.
Images via Giphy.