It’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time!

Except it wasn’t. A new guy and I were at Panera Bread getting lunch. He had never been there and the menu didn’t appeal, so he ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with potato chips.

I vowed never again to date a younger guy.

Don’t get me wrong – I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But at Panera? He was 19 to my 23. He was still in college; I was working at my first “real” job. To pay my bills, I’d picked up some shifts at the local Outback Steakhouse, which is where we met.

It was a two-week affair, riddled with examples of why dating a younger guy is nearly always a bad idea, including one very brief encounter in the bedroom that left both of us unsatisfied. The fact that it didn’t last long was the best part.

“It’s not the age; it’s the mileage.” Indiana Jones had a point, and I think it applies to young men, too. (I’d still do Harrison Ford; I don’t care if he’s 60.)
Three out of the four of the guys I was recently seeing were younger than I. The age isn’t the issue; it’s how old they feel, the mileage.

James, for example, is a mere two years younger than I. But as I get to know him just as friends, I realize I’m VERY glad I did not go there, because he is truly young in life experience. He’s very picky about foods, doesn’t like to try new things and is just now living in a city away from home for the first time. Most of all, he’s never had a serious relationship. Run, don’t walk.

I crave calamine lotion when I hanging out with James, because his naïve statements are so irritating, like I’ve been bitten all over by mosquitoes.

Saturday night I went out to Chapel Hill for a drink with a friend who is also in her late 20s. I’d never been to Top of the Hill, so we hit that and then West End Wine Bar. I liked both, but rarely have I felt so old, surrounded by college students, some of whom were sporting fresh faces full of pimples and fake IDs.

Tell me: if you’re a young professional in Chapel Hill, where do you go to find the non-collegiate crowd? Obviously not to the cliché college bars, as we did.

I usually date older men. Frank was 11 years older than I am. I barely noticed, except for a few differences in our childhood pop culture references. But did he ever view me the way I see James? If so, how could he stand it?

It’s not just the PB & J guys that get the bad rap.

Sunday a friend of mine from meetup was telling a group of us about her planned date that night with a 38-year-old – the same age as Frank when I dated him. Our reaction: “He’s 38 and not married. What’s wrong with him?”

Frank was anti-marriage. Maybe this guy is the same way. Maybe he’s got a foot fetish. Or maybe he really hasn’t met the right woman yet. I’m thinking age, like many other checklist criteria, might be one of those areas in which women judge too harshly.

My friend Kevin is a full three years younger than I am. Yet he feels so different to me than James. He’s the one I alluded to Friday, regarding my new perspective. If you’ll recall, he had asked me out weeks ago, hoping to take friendship to relationship. More on all this in upcoming entries, but I think I’m about to break my vow on never dating a younger guy.

As long as he’s got the mileage and doesn’t order PB&J, what does it matter?

For now, I ask: does age make a difference?