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Sitting on the subway headed to the Delancey nightclub, my guy friend promised me I would meet someone that night. “When we go out," he said, referring to his group of gay friends, "we always meet people. My friends and I attract all of the guys. Trust me, you will find someone,” he said.
It had been six months since I had split from my ex-boyfriend. After months of grieving and reanalyzing the breakup, I finally received the closure from my ex after a well-needed conversation and some rekindled sex. I was now fine. I was only focused on my career as a journalist in New York and a man was not a part of the plan, at least I thought.
And that is when I spotted him on a Friday night at the Delancey. He was standing by the bar in a collared blue jean shirt and a brown wool coat. He was so attractive. He was an Instagram picture shy of @postbadbeards. Just like that I had changed my mind. I figured there was no harm in dating.
Throughout the night he stared at me profusely but never made a move. After hours of pretending not to be interested, my friends swayed me to “pump-thru” the restaurant turned nightclub in order to let him know what he was missing (to “pump-thru” means to prance around a place with the intention to attract someone). In my black pencil skirt from Express and a Nastygal leather top, I pumped away.
Apparently, it did the trick. About 30 minutes later, the guy approached me.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked.
I declined and instead he motioned me to a couch where we held a conversation for the remainder of the night. His name was Troy*. Troy was from upstate New York — between Monroe and Pennsylvania — and was living with his grandmother in the Bronx to help pay for bills. We talked about the norms: music, family, occupation, and age.
“How old are you?” I asked him.
“How old do I look?”
Everything about him appeared 23: physical appearance, his ability to hold a mature conversation, and the obvious fact that he was in a 21-plus nightclub.
It was as though we had met before. We held hands all night and he caressed my waist. One thing led to the next and we began to make out like no one was watching. I had never kissed a random person before. But this was New York, and in New York you do spontaneous things, so I went along with it. He ended the night with a kiss on my forehead followed by a plea to see me again.
We continued to see each other almost every day for the next three weeks. In that three-week span, I learned a lot about him. I learned that he dated a 31-year-old for six months (according to his Instagram, this was true). He loved the arts and was into photography like me. He thought love was a choice rather than a feeling. He considered his little sisters his children. He was a Christian who attended church regularly. Wow, a God-fearing man. He was everything I had been praying for.
Troy was a man of many dreams. He, in fact, sold me a few of them. As a Chicago native unfamiliar with East Coast territory, he promised me a trip upstate to visit his home. Allegedly, his parents owned a big house. And in the months that were to come, he promised rides around the city on the back of his moped. I had never ridden on a moped and little things like that excite me.
Troy also promised to take care of me in the bedroom. This promise came after his inability to have successful phone sex. In a conversation that was supposed to fulfill both of our sexual fantasies, he responded to all of my desires with the world’s most vague answers.
When it came to being intimate, he would rather I say what I wanted from him. He swore he wasn’t being shy during phone sex and said it would be better for the both of us if he showed me rather than told me about his bedroom skills.
They say the only real valuable thing is a woman’s intuition. For some reason, I kept questioning his age. While everything else about him seemed likely, his age left me with much doubt. During a phone conversation I asked Troy about his age for clarity and he would not tell me. He said if he told me his age it would change my perception of him. I ignored this detail and continued to see him. Besides, age was just a number, right?
I liked Troy because he made me feel special. He always complimented me, something my ex-boyfriends failed to do. He would look me dead in the eyes and say with a soft tone voice “You are beautiful.” I once sent him a selfie, and his response was, “Every part of your face was perfectly placed on that smooth canvas of skin, you are beautiful.” Again, it was the little things.
One early morning, I couldn’t sleep. I was seeing this guy continuously and he couldn’t tell me his age. Why was he keeping it from me? I sat up in bed and decided to pay Google a visit on my laptop.
I first searched his Facebook. We were not Facebook friends, so my search was limited. I found little to no information about his age or birthdate. Next, I typed his full name into the Google search bar and found his track & field records from high school.
On that morning, I learned the true value of my intuition.
I couldn’t believe it. He was a teenager! I was kissing a fucking teenager! I was so embarrassed. Everyone he came with to the Delancey that night knew his age but me. Was this some type of game he played? Here I was thinking I had found a potential boyfriend and that for once I wouldn’t be lonely in the city. I was wrong.
I thought of ways I would confront him: over the phone or in person the next day. But I couldn’t wait. I immediately dialed his number.
He could barely get the morning crust out of his eyes before I blurted, “So you’re 19?” He tried to play dumb by saying he didn’t know what I was talking about, but the Internet does not lie. The school records I obtained online were from his senior year of high school. In 2013. After going back and forth for five minutes he finally confessed. “I’m 19."
He told me that he was concerned that if he told me his exact age I wouldn’t have spoken to him in the first place. While he thinks age is important, he believes behavior is the determining factor.
Looking back, there were red flags I should have paid more attention to. Firstly, the majority of Troy’s friends on social networks were fresh out of high school. One of his friends had recently gone to prom. Secondly, Troy’s siblings were young, between the ages of 7 through 12 and they all shared the same parents. And finally, the most revealing red of them all is he wouldn’t tell me his damn age.
If there was one thing Troy was right about is my perception of him did indeed change. It wasn’t the age so much; it was deceit. He pulled the wool over my eyes. He is a liar and I cannot trust or build a relationship from a lie.
Troy apologized for not being direct, even though he said there was logic in his lie. I cut ties with him. To this day we have not spoken.
*Name has been changed