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Rated: 13+ · Essay · Personal · #1768410
Comedic Essay
First Date(s) - Again
Dating in the golden years; either I've forgotten a lot ... or the rules have changed!

Time's mark has been stamped on courtship for the over-sixty set, for better or for worse, and I contend that it's for the better. One of the nice things about "maturing" (the older you get, the more euphemisms you discover) is that, when you reach a certain age, what you haven't done (or will admit to doing), you've seen before. Of course, that ignores the fact that things change. I only have to look into a mirror to be reminded of that. Still, there are some shared experiences and values that the older generations were raised with and that should set some ground rules. It seems, however, that this is a false premise and I have discovered that the norms I remembered have been packed away along with my bell-bottom trousers and love-beads.

Context is everything. To understand my position, you need to appreciate that it had been a year since my wife of 44 years had passed away and the joys of being a single parent of a fifteen year old daughter were wearing thin. How I ended up at 63 with a fifteen year old is another story and germane only in the sense that it was a motivating factor. My hesitancy (okay, procrastination) came to an end one morning as I stood before the mirror trying to navigate my experience lines with my razor and realized that time wasn't on my side. "I need to get a life," I said. Oliver, my Golden Retriever, looked at me and whined. "OK, Ollie, but it's going on my list right after I let you out." Dating in the 21st century was a conundrum to me, so I decided to approach it like any good mystery and look at means, motive, and opportunity.

Means: Without school, church functions, or friend's parties, the age old problem of how to meet someone – anyone – has been complicated. In the good old days, (Darn! I'm starting to sound like my Dad!), there were social networks of real live people that provided opportunity. Today, outside of Florida anyway, there is a gap. The traditional sources are still available for the young. Once you're of legal age, bars, concerts, work and get-togethers are added to the mix. For some reason, many of these doors close once you hit sixty. I'm not sure where the older women sneak off to but I've found that no one older than my eldest daughter seems to appear in these venues. My rule of thumb is never date anyone younger than your kids for fear of sibling rivalry. Much to my relief, I discovered that the internet had uses beyond ... well, never mind. There, for the price of a Happy Meal – a week – you can belong to a community of peers and discover why all those older women are missing in action. They're still meeting and talking about men boys but now it's done electronically. There's something about having a permanent record of their thoughts I find unsettling but it is 2013 and I will adapt. Of course, I'm rushing ahead a bit. Before you actually meet, there's The Profile. Like beautiful blossoms, they form a bouquet of attractive women that are your peers. Unfortunately, many seem to have fallen under the influence of "Cougartown." Beautiful flowers but lacking perfume! Still, as I read through their well documented requirements, it became clear why they are looking for men ten years their younger. They all exercise five times a week, love hiking, mountain biking, and marathon running. Personally, I think it's thinly veiled "empty nest syndrome."

Motive: It appears that motivations have changed. I remember when I first started looking for the love of my life. No, it didn't involve hitting someone on the head and dragging them back to my cave. Music was filled with idealistic messages; "forever" and "always' were an essential lyric and somehow, we internalized those messages. It wasn't until later that it evolved to "looking for love in all the wrong places." Today, it seems that love is often spelled c-o-m-p-a-n-i-o-n. To be fair – and to support my contention that there's little new under the sun – Stephen Stills did sing "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" in 1970 but I didn't realize it would become an anthem of my generation in 2013. From personal experience, it appears that the keys to a new and happy relationship are distance ... uhh, distance ... and distance. Oh, and it really helps if you can find that you have something in common. Perhaps the best part of today is that so many introductions can be made in your underwear and, when you find nothing in common and get rejected, it's just another email you can delete.

Opportunity: Today, time is compressed. The Rolling Stones sang "time is on my side" and that seemed true, back in 1964, looking to the future. In 2013, the future appears to have moved closer. That's not necessarily a bad thing, given my failing eyesight, but it does contribute to a sense of panic not unlike that feeling you get when your body says it's time to pee and you're between rest stops. What's one to do (about the panic, not the peeing)? The obvious answer is to pick up the pace through technology (not to be confused with pace makers). In my case, I joined a senior's dating site ... and was, in short order, swamped with coy little "Hello" messages. Most suggested, at some point, that we meet at Starbucks. Who knew that Starbucks would become the lover's lane of the 21st century? Okay – to be honest, they weren't all coy. Some seemed downright too direct leaving me feeling like I was sitting in a small room, a bright light shining in my eyes, and a stern voice demanding the most intimate details of my life. "Have you been tested?" I took a guess and answered yes; my blood pressure was normal, my cholesterol was a bit high and my IQ was above average. I discovered these were all the wrong answers and the question related to STDs. At my age? Really? was my first reaction. I have since found out that it is a growing problem. Evidently, some wisdom doesn't come with age. My most memorable question came during a phone meeting. I don't remember the specifics of the conversation – most likely I was practicing the lost art of witty small talk – when the lady asked "Are you fully functional?" When I feigned ignorance, she interpreted it as a negative response and added, "Don't worry. They have a pill for that!" There wasn't a second call. In spite of living longer, the encroaching horizon doesn't speak well for taking months or years to find someone who's both special and, evidently, capable. Score one more for change.

Looking in the mirror (yes, the same one that started me on this journey), I've come to realize that while it's apparent that I've outwardly changed, I've also inwardly changed. When I first began dating, I upheld the values that I had been brought up with modified only slightly by the effects of raging hormones. (God bless Ford and Drive-Ins). Thankfully, I've continued to grow and adapt over the years. What was important then isn't as important now. My new "first dates", it turns out, really aren't all that different but I am – and I love it! There are two lessons I have learned - buy stock in Starbucks and, love – the forever and always kind – is still there. It's just been digitized.

An entry for "Invalid Item
Format: Comedic Essay (non-fiction)
Word Count: 1,243

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