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Survival of the Fetish 

The appeal of younger men

Everyone has a different type of sexual fetish. Come on, admit it. We all have a certain amount of kink that we occasionally drag into the bedroom to spice up our sex life. For a few, it may be that Inflatable Bondage Chair that you picked up on www.sextoys.com, or it could be the more public approach of a nudist resort. Unless they're exhibitionists, most people are too embarrassed to just walk into a shop and plop a 9" dildo on the counter. I understand completely.

However, most professional adults like to keep their fetish private and hidden away from those who aren't up on the latest leather fashions. They may tuck their naughty toys underneath their bed, on the top shelf of a hall closet, or in their bedside drawer. Whoa, not me. Stuffing my fetish into my gym bag doesn't draw enough attention or make my life complicated enough. I've decided to go public with mine. My fetish happens to be younger men.

If you think for a second that people can't be a fetish, rework the thought. When you're a 33-year-old single woman, trust me, men under 25 are not relationship material -- they are, at best, a fetish.

It's a really nasty and addictive habit I've got into in the last year. I used to be embarrassed about it. I used to hide it. It started last spring innocently enough, with a 22-year-old computer whiz I met at the Liquid Lounge. It was an honest case of mistaken age guessing, but I didn't exactly run when the truth was revealed. I also didn't end the relationship just because I discovered he was in diapers when I started the 5th grade. What woman doesn't get turned on by these perfectly sculpted Ambercrombie-and-Fitch-types who drip sex appeal? Still, I kept my little fetish to myself.

Adding younger men to a collection of ex's isn't exactly the type of acquisition one gains by leasing, with an option to buy, in hopes of turning a later profit on E-bay. It's an investment worth maintaining with limited resources, as you can easily sink more into the account than you'll ever see back from it.

I'm no Mrs. Robinson, however. I've discovered since last year that I'm not alone. I scanned through the yellow pages of support groups in Charlotte, and couldn't find a single one that was dedicated to reforming women in their 30s of breaking the "much younger men" age barrier. I started to wonder how many women watched The Graduate and lived vicariously through the sexy seductress and wished they had their very own Ben Braddock?

I remember when I was barely in high school, my mother teased one of her co-workers, Pam, because of a much younger beau who had moved in with her. Mom referred to her friend's lover as "That Boy," and I recall joining my mother in the laugh and agreeing with her every time she would say, "Oh that Pam, she's crazy!"

I think Pam was the one who had the last laugh.

Why not? Many women who have reached my age have been fortunate enough not to go through a couple of divorces, but we often find ourselves in a solitary existence with no rug rats on which to collect child support.

I then came up with the theory that any of us can become victims of the social evolutionary type -- you know, those who embody the survival of the fittest. Of course, I don't think this is what Darwin originally had in mind.

I, and other women my age, have found men in their early 20s have their distinct advantages: It's a pool of men who are virtually baggage free. We relish the thought of dating someone who has no issues with children or child support, or alimony payments that come with ex-wives. Unfortunately, most don't have much of a career either, but hey, a girl can't have everything. If we're lucky, they haven't experienced too many long-term relationships, so we don't have to put up with the "my ex-girlfriend fill-in-the-blank" stories over and over again.

Women, after all, eventually reach a threshold of just how much we can endure. We survived high school, the frat boys, and worked our way through college just hoping that there was light at the end of the tunnel to justify all the madness and mayhem that comes with dating. We discover, much to our disappointment, that the male species has simply mutated like a rampant virus and gotten better at the ultimate social sport. So we huddle up and change our strategy.

For some reason, I woke up one morning and suddenly decided that men who have MBA's, live in Fourth Ward, and drive the typical uptown Lexus or Saab are becoming dated. There's a new breed of competition that has all of the perks, and none of the collateral damage, that older men bring with them to new relationships.

With more and more women becoming less financially dependent on men, I have a strong feeling this is a trend that will continue to grow. Women aren't as secretive about it anymore as we used to be. We realize that we do have a choice -- a choice to forego all the drama of the ghost of broken marriages past, and just have a great time with the young stud muffin we ran into at City Tavern last weekend. We certainly don't need him to help us make our mortgage payment -- we'll just give him the title of Lawnmower Man and let the neighbors gossip as they may.

So is there really such a thing as social evolution? Who knows -- but it's a theory of (very) natural selection I'm certainly willing to explore.

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