What Dating Is Like When You’re An Old Soul Stuck In A Young Body

Michael Gregg
Michael Gregg is 23 going on 80. His interests include pre-1980s music, brown alcohol, and making relationships complicated. He hopes to one day be the host of The Dick Cavett Show.

I found myself in a coffee shop the other day, as one often does as an unemployed recent-ish college grad, whittling away the hours over three gallons of coffee and a steady supply of old New Yorker magazines. I saw a female friend eating lunch with another woman who I didn’t know. We exchanged brief and pleasant words, but as I walked back to my seat on the couch, I heard the other woman ask my friend, “What’s that guy’s deal? He has a real ‘grandpa’ vibe going on.”

Though that’s not quite the first impression I would like to give an attractive 20something girl, I guess I can’t argue with her assessment. In the hour or so I had spent at said coffee shop, I had: muttered at the newspaper, called a barista “darling,” complained about the way my pants fit, pronounced Adele — “A-de-lay” — and asked that the music be changed from trip-hop to Aretha Franklin.

With that rap sheet, I certainly wasn’t going to pass as one of the “cool kids.”

Though I’m proud of my personality and interests, I will admit being culturally geriatric makes navigating the world of 20something life and relationships a touch difficult. I can’t chat up a woman in a bar about her musical tastes — lest I go off on a tangent about how this bleep-bloop music that’s so popular these days is total garbage and everyone should be listening to Randy Newman. No one likes my movie night suggestions. Why watch a gross-out comedy when there’s some 3-hour-long ponderous 70s borefest on IFC? And it’s truly a real pain to suffer through the loud bars with terrible atmospheres we as a generation have anointed as our public houses.

I also worry that I’m perceived as having unnecessary affectations or that I’ve veered into self-parody.

Everyone I knew in college would laugh mercilessly at Unicycle Kid (or Segway Kid, or Trench-Coat-in-August Kid) as he ambled through the quad, myself included, but what if I’m the same level of ridiculous, just with a vintage suit instead of a fedora and Hawaiian shirt? It’s one thing to be a little eccentric, to have a few quirks that make you unique, but nobody ever wants to become his or her city’s Unicycle Kid.

I’m not a complete anachronism, of course.

I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone (probably read more), and my Facebook profile consists of more than just photos of my grandkids and pro-Donald Trump memes. I even have an Instagram! It’s not like I would really like to be elderly; other than the dinner discounts and immunity from minor crimes that are afforded to the elderly, the actual mechanics of growing old are grotesque and horrifying. Nor do I hold onto some rosy vision of the past. Even though I’d love to live in an era where I could smoke indoors or see live jazz on a regular basis, I’d much rather attend a desegregated school and be able to send a letter to China in a matter of seconds rather than weeks.

I suppose I’ve just got to start seeking out spaces and people that are more in line with my particular brand of joie de vivre.

I should be hanging out at knitting circles and antique stores — not bars — in order to meet the type of woman who’ll willingly attend a Bob Dylan concert or historical tour with me. Somewhere out there is a pretty lady just waiting to enjoy my 40-year-old cultural references and labored, sweaty lovemaking style. It falls on me to track her down.

It’s the same for everyone, I think.

There’s no point in wasting your time, energy, and sexual fluids in venues and people that share few commonalities with you. Not everyone is down to clown, so to speak, so it’s up to us, the lonely weirdos, to find our niche and get to fucking.

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