03/11/2014 10:46 am ET Updated Mar 11, 2014

In Praise Of Older Men

Cat London via Getty Images

I was fighting off the flu, but I'd wrapped myself in a dress, cinched the waist tight, and now sat, flushed and underfed, sipping down a hot toddy (my cold medicine) in a hotel bar. At 34, I'd agreed to meet for drinks with a man 24 years my senior. A painter, he was dressed as he'd been when we met -- at a literary party in TriBeCa, to which he was accompanied by one of his nude models -- in a fleckless Savile Row suit. He wore it effortlessly, in the way only men over 50 can. He had the solemn good looks of a Roman senator and brushed his dark hair, thick as a horse's mane, straight back from his temples. Realizing where we'd sat, he laughed: Leering down at us from the wall was an early work of his, something from the '80s. "They actually hung that up in here?" He then presented me with two gifts: a book about his "old friends on the New York scene back in the day" and a small wooden frog on a stick, a Japanese toy. The first established the access he offered; the second seemed to comment on my place in our burgeoning relationship. The tone had been set, and I was prepared to play my part.

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