A distinguished gentleman with a sizeable inheritance volunteers as a docent at a Washington, D. C. museum only to find himself perturbed by outrageous comments from a fledgling young artist. The younger man’s comments concern nubile young swimmers in an Impressionist painting leading him to assert the artist might have been a pedophile. Why is James so discombobulated by Kasey assertions? Could he be hiding something?
When Kasey manipulates James into admitting he’s gay and agreeing to take the artist to a club featuring male strippers, James is even more disoriented. Eventually James develops a fondness for the impulsive youth to the extent he becomes concerned about looking foolish to his friends−afraid to be labeled a “dirty old man,” or “cradle robber.”
In desperation, James takes an extended leave of absence from the museum and travels alone to France. While strolling in Montmartre, he decides to end the troubling relationship; a decision he relates to Kasey upon returning from his trip. The perceptive young man delivers a candid tirade before storming away, leaving James to ponder the wisdom of his actions.
Kasey does not show up at the museum over the following two weeks and I learn his easel is reassigned. Perhaps that’s all for the good. I think I was getting infatuated with the vexing young man. With that thought in mind I went about my docent duties in peace.
“Hello, Jim. How are you?” Kasey came in to the exhibit room without his artist supplies.
“I’m fine thanks. What brings you here without your materials?”
“Do you like opera?”
“Yes, I rather enjoy a good performance.”
“Well, a friend who sings in the chorus for the current production can get complimentary tickets for tonight. The particular opera is not selling out and management wants to paper the house with family and friends of the cast and orchestra. I can get two center orchestra seats if you care to join me.”
“I’d like that. Should I pick you up an hour before curtain?”
“Great! I won’t have to Metro it then take the shuttle bus or walk to the theater. I promise to dress appropriately.” Before I can respond, he’s gone.
Imagine my surprise when he comes out of his apartment building in an expensive looking navy suit with a white shirt and matching tie. Even his shoes are perfect−polished black lace-ups. I’m pleased I elected to go with a grey suit and burgundy tie.
“Don’t we make a dashing couple?” Kasey quips upon entering the car.
“Like a father and son,” I retort.
“You are not my father and I’m not your son. Why make such a tacky remark?” He’s clearly upset by my flippant comment. His face wears a mask of distress.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to be so dismissive. You look great! Thank you so much for thinking of me for the free tickets.”
“I’ll forgive you if you acknowledge this is a real date, our second, and the club was our first.”
“I concede the matter. Damn you drive a hard bargain!” His genuine laughter at my accusation is a relief and I decide to enjoy our date.
The opera is mediocre at best but sitting next to an attractive young man is a pleasure rarely afforded me. The surreptitious glances from some of the obviously envious other older men make my minor concession worthwhile.
At intermission a couple of my friends approach me while Kasey is retrieving the wine we pre-purchased before the first act. “Who is that charming lad on your arm tonight.” The older partner quizzes me.
“Kasey’s an art student. We met at the museum when he was sketching for a class project. He’s simply a friend so don’t let your dirty mind go into overdrive.”
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers.” The other gentleman pipes in.
“You and your trite old lines. He has never been in a bed with me. Meaningful conversations about art are our thing.” I can see neither man buys that but I’m rescued when Kasey returns. I make introductions all around and we sip our wine while complaining about the opera.
“The older guy is a real dirty old man,” Kasey tells me as we walk to our seats.