Sheila was sitting with the girls in the cafeteria working her way through a pathetic looking bowl of salad. This time of the day anything else took much too long to order – the lines snaked into the hallway. “Check out that cute guy near the cash register” Jen said excitedly pointing to a tall, dark-haired man in khakis and a white linen shirt. “Yeah, he’s nice” Sheila agreed. Heather threw in her technical assessment of his butt for good measure which made all three of them laugh.
In a few minutes he was at their table asking “Do you ladies mind if I join you ?” . Sheila had to wonder if he had overheard them discussing him earlier. Over lunch they learned quite a bit about the “cute” guy. He was born in Malaysia but was of Indian descent. He grew up in Indonesia and New Zealand, attended Cornell and was here on a consulting assignment for a couple of weeks. Most importantly he was all of twenty one.
Business cards were exchanged, Heather promised they’d do lunch again – maybe take him to the Asian fusion food place that had recently sprouted downtown, and then it was time to leave. Later that afternoon, Sheila received a call from Umang Mehta. He came to the point quite promptly. “I really enjoyed talking with you earlier. Can we meet again this evening after work if you are free ?” Though more than a little astounded by the suddenness of it all, she decided to go with flow having no plans for the evening.
Besides after the four hour team work-out session (the benefit of had never been evident to her – they continued to remain just as dysfunctional as a group after as they had been before) a drink or three could not hurt. “Sounds good. Where would you like to go ?” she asked. “I don’t know much about here. You tell me” . “Let’s go to the White Gerbera. It’s really nice and it’s not too far from here” Sheila suggested. “I have no shame in admitting that I’ve been lost despite the Garmin unit. Can I follow you ?” Umang said with a laugh.
After some back and forth they were able to work out each other’s co-ordinates and how he might find and follow her to Gerbera. After hanging up, Sheila came to the sobering realization that she had just agreed to go out on a date with someone ten years younger than herself and that would be a first. “Out on a date, Shell ? You look very nice” Barry observed with his signature evil grin as she swiped her badge at the main entrance on her way out.
“Thanks, Barry” Sheila smiled back. She had slipped into her stand-by black pumps, freshened up her make up and God forbid even dry shampooed her hair. Clearly the preparation spoke for itself. Why she would go to such lengths for some random cute kid she had no idea.
Flipping through the menu, Sheila asked Umang “Do you realize I am ten years older than you ?”. “Honestly, I would not have guessed that. You don’t look much older than me. But I have to admit, I have this thing for older women” he replied. “What kind of thing exactly ?” she asked looking up at him with mock concern. “You know the young male kind of thing. I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship with someone your age” he replied sheepishly as he fussed with his napkin. “Interesting” Sheila observed sagely.
“Would you be interested ?” he asked hopefully. “Interested in what ?” she asked as she sipped her drink. “In something discreet and intimate with me” Umang replied. “Wow, it does not take much to get to the point, does it ?” Sheila managed to say. “Appreciate the candor, by the way” she added. “Thanks” Umang said relieved. “Since you’ve been so upfront about the nature of this thing you have for older woman, do you mind me asking what exactly might be involved in this arrangement you have in mind” Sheila asked more curious now than offended as she had been a few minutes ago.
“I’d like it to be a relationship but I am really interested in the physical side of it – this will be my first experience” Umang explained. “If I am understanding this right, you are asking that I help you lose your virginity” Sheila said matter-of-factly. “Now I am really embarrassed” Umang muttered. “I would have never guessed. Thanks for telling me” Sheila said laughing, making him smile as well. “Yes, that’s kind of what I am asking for” he admitted. “That, Umang is a lot to ask for” Sheila said almost seriously making him choke over his food. “Why do you say that ?” he asked.
“For one thing it’s a pretty big responsibility. You are going into this thing based on what you imagine it will be like. There is only one first time and one virginity to lose. If it does not quite work out the way you imagine it will, you’ll be very disappointed. That’s the kind of disappointment that sticks for life. I'd hate to have any part of that deal” she explained.
“But I really don’t care. I mean this whole virginity business does not mean anything to me. I have been sort of saving myself but I have no idea for what and even why. Right now, I just want it over with. ” he said.
“That’s what you think now. You may feel very different about it in ten years. And also before I forget to mention it, this is the most bizarre conversation I’ve ever had when meeting for a drink after work. I can’t even imagine I am sitting here talking this stuff with you” Sheila said as rummaged in her bag for her ringing cellphone.
After she had checked her voicemail, she said “Look Umang, I can’t really help as far as the thing you have for older women. You’ll need to find someone else to deflower you so to speak. But there is something I can do for you”.
“You know, Sheila, I think I rather like you. You could be a lot of fun to just hang out with – even if as you say it does end up with me getting deflowered” he laughed. “Are you already in a relationship ? Sorry if I sound too inquisitive but I am really curious” he asked.
“Sure, we could hang out sometimes. As for the question, the answer is yes and no. Does that satisfy your curiosity ?” Sheila smiled at him.
“Makes it worse but I can deal with it.” Umang replied. “ So tell me about what you could do for me”
“I will tell you a story about a guy who like you had a thing for older women. Got started at age nineteen with someone seven years older than him. He is in his mid thirties now. You know hindsight is a wonderful thing when you can stand on someone’s shoulder and look back at the life they’ve lead, learn from the mistakes they’ve made without having had to live through those experiences or suffer the consequences. I could share his story with you. Maybe there is a lesson there that may give you something to think about.” Sheila answered.
“One check please” Umang said firmly refusing to let Sheila split the tab. “Gives me an excuse to meet you again. Now you owe me a dinner” he explained. “Thanks, Umang. Next time, I will tell you about MJ” she said.
“This is like Scheherazade and the Thousand Nights – a small part of the story every time we meet” Umang said with a laugh as they headed out.
“Hey, it was nice meeting you. Thanks for the dinner. Call me later in the week and we’ll plan something for story-time. In the meanwhile, try not to get deflowered. Wait at least until I’m done telling you the story. I promise it won't take a thousand nights” Sheila said.
“Great meeting you too, Sheila. I can’t wait to see you again.” Umang replied.