Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon

By Holly A. Phillips



I work part-time at a shoe store in the mall. It’s not my dream job, but it provides cash, plus I get to meet all kinds of different people.

About a quarter of the customers I meet are hot guys. When a hottie comes into the store, I think, “Yes! A hot guy!” And then I remind myself that I’m selling shoes and stick to the script: “Can I get a size for you?” Insert obligatory comment about being on my knees here.

Working in retail at 29 is a harsh reality at times — I’ve pushed aside my degree, work odd hours and most of my coworkers are 19.

At the risk of sounding like a pervert, one of my coworkers caught my eye. He works in the stockroom, has this silky blond hair and a nickname I still haven’t figured out.

He reminded me of a guy I dated in high school, who had a punk-rock flair. Enter: my lifelong crush on Something Corporate’s Andrew McMahon.

I knew my coworker had to be young, but I just wasn’t sure how young. That is, until a customer asked him how old he was and he replied coolly, “20.”

Twenty. My heart nearly stopped. At 20, I barely knew who I was, had just lost my virginity and made terrible decisions.

At 29, I had a crush on a guy nearly 10 years younger than me. I felt slightly guilty for the fantasy I’d drawn up during the shifts we worked together: that he’d throw me up against the rolling racks in the stockroom and really go at it (while on the clock, of course). Afterward, we’d smoke from his vaporizer pen, because that’s what all the cool kids do.

At times, the words coming out of his mouth form themselves into sentences I want to hear: “Let’s get naked.”

I felt like Stifler’s mom, complete with Al Bundy’s job and minus the botox.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not attracted to youth — in some way, we all are. Photoshop or not, I’d still pull out my best moves on Justin Bieber.

Although sexing a 20-year-old is totally legal, women are taught to date older. It’s men that can date younger without the stigma (hi, Edwin Edwards). Nonetheless, I’ve kept my clothes on. In reality, I don’t know how I’d feel making sexual advances someone 10 years younger than me. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of mixing business and pleasure.

I’m not sure what’s brought on my cougar mentality, whether it’s the fact that I haven’t had sex in awhile, that my latest dating attempt went to shit, or that this 20-year-old is just sexy.

When I finally mustered up the courage to tell my coworker about my crush, he was “chill” on the subject.

“But I’m, like, way older than you,” I said.

“So,” he said. “It happens.”

Read more about cougar-like tendencies on Holly’s blog, TheBitterLemon.com.


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