Picture us on our 20th anniversary of being a couple, sitting in a candle-lit Cuban restaurant, sipping sweet-tart mojitos, talking about death.
This is why: Not too long from now, we’ll make our first visit to a lawyer to prepare a will. Necessarily, we’re thinking about the thereafter for each of us. If I died, would you – could you? – move? Where would you live? If I died, would you – could you? – keep working? Would you – could you? – start dating?
Our waiter in the Cuban restaurant is a gentle man wearing a white shirt and a red scarf. He brings fish and pork. A couple arrive who look as if they are in their mid-20s. He wears a black shirt and a white bow tie.
If you dated, would you – could you? – ever consider again someone so not your own age?
Sheri tilts her head, stops chewing. “I didn’t look for a younger man 20 years ago,” she says. “He just showed up.”
“Well, yes.” Michael leans closer to speak more softly. “But now you could. So the question is, would you?”
“No. I’m not feeling very cougarish these days. I can’t imagine a man your age actually seeking out a woman my age. Can you?”
“It’s possible. But it’s not so easy to imagine as when you were in your 40s and I was in my 20s. I wasn’t looking for an older woman twenty years ago, either. It just happened. It could happen again, but I think I’d seek someone more my age.”
“That’s true of me, too. If a man were younger, he’d be five years or so younger, but not seventeen. Or five years older.”
“Interesting how there is such a strong impulse to seek a partner in your own age group. Yet we fell in love anyway. And it doesn’t mean it would happen again. Probably it wouldn’t.”
“It used to be, when I imagined your life after me, should I die, it was always with a younger woman, one who could bear children. Now that you’re heading toward 50, that picture is breaking up a bit.”
“That’s because she’d have to be 17 years younger.”
The gentle waiter brings us flan, and we share, dividing the final taste into ever smaller and smaller pieces. Sheri, looking over Michael’s shoulder, notices another couple. This woman keeps looking away from her date, eyeing the well-dressed man in black shirt and white bow tie. Her date is dressed in jeans and a baggy shirt, and Sheri smiles and Michael asks “What?” and she tells him.