Last Fall, I had just begun dating a great guy. He was handsome, smart, very funny...and about fourteen years older than I was. One night, after dinner and a comedy show, we cuddled in the backseat of his car, alternately kissing and discussing the potential roadblocks in our relationship's future. It was during a particularly sweet, tender moment, as rain slid down the fogged-up windows of his station wagon and we held one another tightly, that he said to me, "The age difference is just kind of intimidating, you know? I can't exactly compete with the twenty-nine-year-old white knights out there."
I broke into peals of laughter.
"I'm glad you find this so amusing," he said.
Finally, I collected myself. "I'm sorry. It's just that, well, no, you can't compete with twenty-nine-year-old white nights...because they don't exist."
We both laughed and eventually the subject naturally shifted (or the kissing recommenced--I don't remember), but the thought of his imagined throng of mythical twenty-nine-year-old white knights waiting in the wings to seduce me stayed on my mind after that date, throughout the next several weeks of dates, and into the following months, in which I resumed dating men a bit closer to my age. I was tickled by the idea in my former companion's head that there are men in their twenties running around, looking to be heroes to supposed damsels in distress. I was also confused by the idea of an intersection of romance and rescue.
Still, while I would liken the existence of the twenty-nine-year-old white knight to that of the unicorn (made-up, or at least extinct), there appears to be no shortage of smart, beautiful, modern women remaining hopeful that one day their prince (or investment banker or doctor or lawyer) will come. Upon showing up, he will save them from their current state of misery, loneliness and, in some cases, financial woe, and they will live, as they say, happily ever after.
These women may not know it, but the shortage of white knights (twenty-nine or otherwise) trolling the dating scene is actually a good thing. First of all, being forced to figure things out for oneself teaches self-reliance and independence (something white knights totally rob you of by swooping in and taking care of everything). Secondly, real, flawed, vulnerable men are much more interesting than some pretend (or, at least outdated) masculine ideal.
I learned a lot from the man who believed in white knights, most prominently--and it's something I will always be thankful to him for--that I can take care of myself.