By Christopher Ryan
Age is just a number. I try not to let age play a factor in my dating life, but it becomes increasingly difficult when the men who are younger than I am prove their abundance of immaturity and indecisiveness. I tend to gravitate towards men who are cognizant of the person they are, have acquired years of experience, and are able to hold intellectual conversations, but I sometimes tend to be attracted to the beauty of youthfulness, overt masculinity, and the ill-conceived notion of invincibility that men younger than I am seemingly possess.
An older gentleman was adamant about pursuing me, and I bantered back and forth in my mind weighing the pros and cons of the situation. The one pro that outweighed any and all of the negatives was the fact that he was older. Finally! I thought, a man who knows what he wants, has his life together, and is mature and communicative enough to actively pursue me, sign me up.
It was fall, the weather was cold and crisp and I must admit there is something depressingly romantic about falling for someone during that season. Everything around you seems to be dying and you so desperately want to feel alive.
I decided to take the train into Manhattan, and along the way, the wind knocked a tree onto the train tracks. The passengers and I were stranded for hours. After living in Manhattan for a significant amount of years, I was well versed in the daily disruptions of New York City public transportation. It took about two hours for my patience to run out completely, which is longer than usual. Punctuality is one of my few talents, I became increasingly upset that I would hinder the night with my tardiness. I was in constant communication with the older gentleman, letting him know of the delay and eventually he told me that he would send a car service to pick me up.
My phone battery was running low, my anxiety was running high, but it all worked out and in thirty minutes I was safely at his apartment. He was very charming and spoke eloquently. For hours we exchanged stories, but I found myself more interested in his than I was in telling mine. His eyes lit up when he spoke about his childhood, he even cried at one point reminiscing about the advantages his parents provided him with. Seeing someone else show vulnerability is a weakness of mine. Not because it gives me power, but because it shows peoples’ humanness. Sometime during the storytelling, we both dozed off.
We arose early the following morning, and he allowed me to get ready for the day first. He never once complained about the amount of excess time that goes into my daily routine. And when I finally emerged from the bathroom, he complimented me on how beautiful I looked. When we were both ready to enjoy the day, we decided that we would explore the city and then stop somewhere for brunch.
Our adventures took us to Columbus Circle. He decided on the restaurant and he walked up to the hostess to give her his name.
“The wait will be about thirty minutes.”
“That’s fine; we would like to sit at the bar while we wait.”
“Would you like to eat your dinner there as well? The bar is full service because of the limited space.”
I peeked over at the bar, and there were only two empty seats, but six in total. There were two other couples eating their meals together at the bar.
“No, we would just like to have a cocktail while we wait for a table.”
“I’m sorry sir. Our bar is only for full service dining because of the limited capacity.”
This made complete sense to me. The restaurant was small, the seating and space were limited. I was fine with waiting the thirty minutes, or the full service dining at the bar. Instead, he began to make a scene.
His tone changed.
“Are you kidding me? I want to sit down and have a cocktail while I wait for my table. Can I speak to your manager?”
I turned to him, “It’s not that serious. She’s just following the rules of the restaurant.”
“No she isn’t! She’s not doing her job, her job is to provide me with exceptional customer service and she’s failing to do so.”
I am not one to get embarrassed or to become unhinged in public settings; my body language speaks volumes compared to whatever were to come out of my mouth. I shut down, I was livid. It’s one thing to demand customer service when it’s lacking, but this woman was just doing her job. She came back, face beaming red, with the manager, and he explained the situation the same way she did. But at that time, Mr. Gentleman turned Angryman had just hung up with the host from a restaurant nearby.
“That’s fine, I’ll take my business and money elsewhere,” he turned to me, “Let’s go NOW!”
As we were walking out, I told him that the way he acted was completely unnecessary. The hostess was just doing her job and following the restaurant rules and no one deserves to be publicly humiliated like that. He looked at me and snipped, “Who cares, she’s the help.”
I had to sit across from this man for the next two hours while we ate our meals overlooking Central Park. What should have been a storybook, movie moment was tinged with disgust. I couldn’t stomach my meal and I certainly could no longer stomach this man. A false sense of entitlement stemmed from his luxurious upbringing; money does not make you better than anyone. Money cannot buy you kindness, but if it could, I doubt someone of his nature would ever splurge on it. We arrived back at his apartment; I gathered my belongings, made up an intricate excuse as to why I had to depart early and I was on my way.
During the next few months, I would occasionally receive a text from this man, asking when he could see me again. I politely decline his advances. Anyone who deems someone as “the help” is clearly the one who needs help. No one is better than anyone. Socioeconomic status does not make you any more of a person. People may remember you for how much money you made, or how successful you were, but wouldn’t you rather be remembered for how greatly you impacted someone’s life from the positive way you treated them?
I am so often painted as the villain, and perceived as playing the victim because I have no reservations in calling people out on their shortcomings. If that title means having to alienate people who talk down to people, if that label means having to openly express my warranted disgust for people who believe they are better than others for whatever the circumstances are, I will gladly accept and wear that badge. My heart still breaks for that hostess who probably went home after work contemplating whether or not being in a city full of dismissive, condescending people with illogical inflated egos is worth it in the end. I hope that hostess knows she is more than the way someone speaks to her, that she is more than the job she maintains. She is more, and she deserves more.
So do I.