As soon as I said I was thirty, I wondered why I had said it. “Thirty,” said the woman I was talking to, who had a tousled gamine haircut, dyed white as only a very young woman will risk.

“I’m not thirty, I’m fifty,” I confessed. “I don’t know why I said thirty.”

“You can’t be fifty, either,” the woman said.

In fact, I wasn’t, but it seemed right to exaggerate slightly in the other direction now. How old was she? I studied the corners of her eyes. At one ­moment they were wizened and at another they were fresh, and it occurred to me that she might be of no age because she was the angel of death, who would have to come for me at some point.

“You’re not fifty,” she said again. If she were the angel, she would know.

She said it nicely, however. The party was ­being held on a pier, and it was a summer night. It was pleasant to be flirted with, so pleasant that I wondered if I might in the end turn out to be straight, which would be a surprise this late in the game. Perhaps I would even have children! I felt very proud of the woman’s attention. 

Parked farther out on the pier, away from the other drinkers, was a ruby sports car with its top down. The rubber of its tires had never touched a road and was satiny and still studded with tender filaments that would be ground off after only a few turns on asphalt. The interior was a soft, white leather.

We got in, clapping shut the unconfining doors. We kept talking. After a while, she lay a hand on my crotch, and shortly after that, I felt an erection stirring under the pressure. Women of her generation, I observed to myself silently, didn’t seem to live under the same strictures as the ones I had grown up with. She kept talking as if what she was doing were nothing, and I liked her for it.