It was a tired Friday night.
Dad and I arrived at the Thai restaurant to what would be our last hurrah before I flew the nest. AKA left home.
In my room was the final box, with a depressing puddle of activewear at the very bottom.
Both of us were feeling rather lost about me leaving. Yes, I am 22 years old and yes, he’s not my mum.
But good old divorce packaged us as a salt and pepper set. And so, we felt a house without the other would taste somewhat – unbalanced.
I was trying to inflate the excited part of me over the one who becomes nervous with the change, however, dad’s awkwardness made it rather challenging.
So, dad trying to usher a tone of celebration into the night brought his own bottle of cellar wine and we turned up to the restaurant a polite, 25 minutes late.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a flourish of small, Thai girls with Mini-mouse bows on their heads. I thought this was rather random but very cute, as they showed us to our seats. My dad, of course, doesn’t like sitting at the first table offered and points to another. On our way over, I couldn’t help but notice several sets of eyes sizing up their next meal.
Me and then my dad.
My ‘Situational Crime Prevention Act’ of glaring back didn’t seem to deter the women, as more friends turning in their chairs so they too could join in the conversation.
At first, I thought maybe my face was still pink from the shower – but no. After finding our seats, I casually glanced once more to see the number of eyes had doubled.
No smiles. No accidental looks. I was a David Attenborough special and these bitches were seated front row, with their binoculars. And by binoculars I mean wine. Me, in the most casual outfit ever at an affordable restaurant with – oh. OH. My 56-year-old sugar daddy.
My dad, chipper in his bubble of social-naivety laughed it off, calling me my mother’s daughter.
Ignoring another invitation for a fight, I debating whether to go over there and tell them in my most eloquent all-girls-school voice,
” He’s my dad you fucks. ”
But then I thought, if I’ve learned anything from high school it was that one angry woman vs several others, with wine, would not go down well.
The whole experience kind of made me wonder when this became acceptable. In high school, this kind of behavior was expected. Feared. Thinking back, in most same-sex schools we were openly ranked against each in intellect and athleticism.
Competitive systems like these capitalised on our insecurities and impulsive natures at a very young age. But hey- at least I got into University right? ( My dad loves to remind me. )
But these women were mid-to-late forties, not high school girls. I had no effect on their lives yet they still felt they had a right to pass judgment on mine.
After dinner was served, the reason of ‘why’ was still nibbling at my cashew nut stir-fry. Perhaps I haven’t quite worked it out yet, about the envy of younger girls for older women and how we were somewhat prime real estate for men. But I think what women forget is how at my age, our looks are the only department we feel somewhat successful in.
We have nothing else worth mentioning.
Student loans, no credentials, no money, most boys our age liken us to pieces of meat and we can’t cook a thing without parental supervision.
Across from me was my dad, trying to eat his pulled pork belly and rice in peace. Poor dad.
So I swallowed
their husband’s cum the bitter aftertaste of anger I felt and it was all fine until the table next to us started staring.
” I’m sorry, who do you think he is to me? ” I ask one lady.
“Um…..” she smiles, scared. This triangle of women, each complete with sparkly-rocks, turtlenecks and freshly brushed bobs, stop their conversation.
My dad comes back from the bathroom, looking slightly alarmed.
” No, I’m not angry, I just want to know what you thought? Because…. you were looking over quite a bit. ” I gesture towards my dad and then back at her.
Dissatisfied by the woman’s lack of sound, I start to unravel what had happened before they’d arrived.
Tactile women these were, as they still didn’t answer my question but were clearly amused by the gossip that had landed on their plates.
” OooOOOo which ones, ” they asked.
Obviously, we were sat next to the right table as one woman chipped in with,
“ Sometimes, when I take my 17-year-old son out I hope people believe I’m a cougar… praying on the innocent, you know. ”
All four of us stop to look at her, dad included.
“They don’t….” She said and we all laugh.
I then went on to tell them how I wouldn’t date anyone my own age let alone younger.
” I seem to attract trash, ” I confess.
One woman went on to tell me, her son is twenty and says the same thing about the girls.
“ Hmmmmmmmm, ” I sigh.
“Maybe I’m the trash…”
“No!” Another woman grabs my hand from across the gap in our tables. And so I believe her. ***Because I’m 22 and believe anyone who is older and not related to me.**
I told her about the topic of dating older men, how I feel that’s the only way to go. She ruins this idea by stating, “I have a 48-year-old man-child at home.”
“Oh-” I reply and we both laughed.
After they leave and one gives my shoulder a reassuring mum-tug and new people are seated.
I look over to see a young Asian girl and a sizeable greek man sporting a grey ponytail.
” Some more Rotti? ”