The other night, a 20-year-old dude asked me, “Are you her uncle?” in reference to the girl he was hitting on, who happens to also be a good friend of mine. I tried laughing it off to give him an out (because he was clearly being serious) and he insisted, “No, really, you’re her uncle, right?” After resisting the urge to face-palm him off his barstool and spit my beer on him, I had a realization: the maturity gap is real.
I spent the majority of the summer seeing a 21-year-old. There was a six-year gap between us, but I was simply abiding by the “half your age plus seven” rule which COMPLETELY legitimized my actions. We didn’t have a relationship outside of a few dates, summer parties, and the occasional sleepover. It was peanuts. However, the information I gathered through the courting process was invaluable.
See, you can think of the maturity gap as a generational gap’s grandchild. It’s a small enough age difference between significant others that it could be swept under the rug and considered negligible, but it’s also a big enough chunk of time that the differences between the two parties is enough to break them apart. Those differences, you ask?
Cultural References Are Over Their Heads
This girl and I were at a Venetian festival and a guy dressed as a Star Wars Stormtrooper walked by us. She pointed and said, “Oh, that’s the dude from Halo!” What the fuck? Correct me if I’m wrong, but Star Wars is probably the most successful movie franchise in the history of the world and you’re mixing it up with a fucking video game? I’m not even a fan of “Star Wars” but I know a fucking Stormtrooper when I see one.
Just days later while getting drinks, I made a Seinfeld reference and she had no clue what the puffy shirt was. I know the puffy shirt isn’t on the same level as a Soup Nazi reference, but still. I mentioned George Costanza and he could have been our waiter, for all she knew. And because I couldn’t believe she had never watched Seinfeld, I asked what shows she watched growing up. Her answer floored me: “Oh, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” which came out in 2005. When she was twelve. Or, for a completely different frame of reference, when I was a freshman in college facing Busch Lights.
Newsflash: college chicks are poor as fuck. I forgot what it means to be “college poor.” I asked if she wanted to grab a beer after skiing and she sent me a screenshot of her bank account that had $3.98 in it. A few nights later, she texted me and asked, “How much are the Moscow Mules there?” and I almost felt bad telling her they were $10 even though I was on my third one. If my bank account was down to single digits like hers, I’d be having a full-blown motherfucking existential crisis. $3.98 doesn’t even cover an ATM fee, let alone a cocktail.
The silver lining in all of this? Their college poverty level makes you look baller as fuck in their eyes when you pick up their $5 double-well vodka sodas and the side salad they ordered. It’s a well-known fact that once a girl gets out of college, she immediately starts classifying herself as a “foodie” and acquires a more expensive taste, so you have to be as efficient as possible early in the game if you’re looking to impress on a budget.
They Stay Up So Late
If I’m not going out, I need to be face down in my pillows by 11:30 p.m. at the latest. I’m lucky to even see the words “Jimmy Fallon” on my cable menu, let alone stay up late enough to watch his monologue. I haven’t seen a musical performance on a late night show since, like, 2008.
During my Christmas break, I rolled over in bed to check my phone at 3 a.m. and saw a text that just said, “Hi.” I assumed that I had missed this text because my phone was on silent and I had probably just fallen asleep, but then I received another text that simply said, “Whacha doin?” At 3:01 in the fucking morning. This chick was still awake. My read receipts were a dead giveaway that I had received her iMessage, so I responded assuming she was late-night boozing or something. Nope, she was just chillin’ in her bed watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and wanting to text about what my favorite appetizer was. Because I was too lethargic to maneuver my way out of the conversation, I ended up staying up until 5:15 a.m. shooting the shit with her about nothing. It took me a solid three days to recover.
They Communicate Differently
I couldn’t have been more confused when I was asked, “Do you always text like this?” I wanted to respond, “Like what? Slowly enough to make you wonder why I’m taking so long but fast enough to show I’m interested?” But, I opted for simply, “What do you mean?”
“Your grammar is so good, and you never use emojis. It’s so much pressure for me.” Then, in a lapse of judgement, I decided to go rogue against my Ten Commandments of Texting With Babes by using an emoji. All I was doing was playing down to my opponent, which was a huge mistake. This just opened the floodgates to her rapid-firing me fragmented sentences, emojis, GIFs, and some shit I had never even seen before. From that point on, I just kept telling myself, “Text like Ernest Hemingway would, text like Ernest Hemingway would, text like Ernest Hemingway would.”
But whatever. I guess this maturity gap is better than the 40-year-old I hooked up with who signed her name at the bottom of her texts after leaving her business card in my wallet, which I left at her house..