I'm going to quote myself at some length in this post, so brace yourselves. This is from a piece I wrote for the Portland Mercury's 2008 "Back to School" issue...
"When you speak of this in future years... and you will... be kind."
Right after she says that, the older lady in Tea and Sympathy fucks the living shit out of this hot high school boy—excuse me, makes tender love to this hot high school boy. It's a selfless, altruistic act; she wants to help the boy prove to himself and others that he's only sensitive and poetic, and not, you know, gay and homosexual.
The circumstances in Tea and Sympathy don't precisely parallel the ones scores of Mercury readers over the age of 25 are likely to find themselves in soon. Very few of you are married to headmasters at elite prep schools, and still fewer would sleep with an actual high school student—however sensitive and poetic or gay and homosexual. But many of you will soon be fucking the living shit out Portland's much younger people—all those fresh-faced new college students you'll soon be spotting in Portland's bars and coffee houses and crappy service-industry jobs. And while in most instances yours won't be selfless or altruistic acts, you will be spoken of in future years by the younger people you fuck the living shit out of today.
And if you wish to be spoken of kindly—and you do—I've got a pretty simple rule for you.
The standard sex advice for older folks tempted to fuck the living shit out of younger folks is this: "DON'T!!!" While advising older folks to keep their paws off younger folks is an easy way for an advice professional to feel morally correct, it's not terribly realistic or useful advice. [And I should know—I've give that advice myself.] Older people are attracted to younger people and vice versa. I could stand on street corners all over downtown Portland and howl about the inappropriateness of it all, but my efforts would be unlikely to prevent even one scorching-hot intergenerational facial.
But before we declare open season on the class of 2012, let me remind older folks who intend to mess around with younger folks—or those of you who wind up messing around with younger folks without premeditation—of something I like to call the "campsite rule." As with campers at campsites, the older partners of younger people should always leave 'em in better shape than they found 'em. Don't get 'em pregnant, don't give 'em diseases, and don't lead 'em to believe that a long-term relationship is even a remote possibility. Answer questions about sex, correct misconceptions they may have, show them where the clit is, make sure they know that birth control works, teach them to "just say no" to hard-and-evil drugs like meth and "just say yes," in moderation, to soft-and-charming drugs like pot.
We should all, of course, do all of the above for all our sex partners, regardless of age. But the responsibility to behave ethically—which is no impediment to hot and nasty sex—is more pronounced. And if you do the right thing—if you honor the campsite rule and leave 'em in better shape than you found 'em—your younger lovers will always speak highly of you in the future.
And what's in that for you? Well, good word of mouth is the best advertising... and the class of 2013 will be here before you know it.
First: Spooky, huh?
Second: We know that Beau didn't emerge from his weekend-long affairette with Sam Adams pregnant—at least that's what we know now—and if Sam had given Beau a disease or gotten him hooked on meth it seems highly likely that Beau would've worked those details into his interview with the Oregonian. So it looks like Adams honored the campsite rule. I'd say that Breedlove, however, hasn't upheld what shall now be known as the Tea and Sympathy rule: When the younger person in an older/younger affair speaks of it in future years, he or she has a duty to be kind. If no harm was done to the younger person, then the younger person should strive to likewise do no harm. If the younger person remembers the affair fondly, if the younger person considers his or her former lover to be a friend, then the younger person shouldn't speak of the affair—even kindly—when the younger person knows that doing so will wreak havoc on the life of his or her old fling, flame, fuckbuddy, etc.
Adams upheld the campsite rule. Breedlove hasn't honored the Tea and Sympathy rule.
For the record: this judgement is based on what we know now. And upholding the campsite rule doesn't make Adams' actions any less foolish or reckless, it doesn't make that the affair any less ill-advised, and it doesn't mean that there's nothing squicky about older, more powerful folks making out with teenagers in toilets.
UPDATE: "Maybe Breedlove is squealing because Adams did NOT honor the campsite rule," writes a commenter over at Slog (where this is cross-posted). That's entirely possible—and if that's true, if Adams harmed Breedlove and Breedlove is speaking out for that reason, then Breedlove needs to drop the "I love Sam, Sam's my friend, this was a great experience for me, I wasn't harmed..." line that he's peddling along with the damaging details of their affair. It's strange to hear someone say things they know will do serious harm to someone they profess to like so much as a friend. It makes Breedlove look dishonest at best, unstable at worst. It undermines Breedlove's credibility.
The more we learn the clearer it gets that Adams and Breedlove are both, to borrow a phrase, a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty. Adams should've known better, of course, and is more culpable, as the older person. But Breedlove-as-pure-victim doesn't quite wash, does it?
"I understand that people want to take Breedlove's side, and see him as the victim," writes a friend who is no fan of Sam Adams. He thinks Adams should resign. "You don't kiss 17-year-old-boys in city hall. But we can think that what Adams did was wrong without checking our brains at the door. This Breedlove person — who isn't a teenager anymore — seems like an attention-seeking nut. He's speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He's saying things that he has to know will destroy Adams while claiming to like him. He's complaining about media attention to the media. If he likes Sam so much, and hates media attention, why is he giving interviews and talking to newspapers about his relationship with Adams? Too bad they can't both resign."