"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. 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.