“Sue…Sue…SUE!!!…Stop! I know you’re frustrated and I’m sorry, but I hate when you sound so negative…Yes, I understand. It was a date. A bad date. Okay, the worst date. I’m not mocking you! I know, I know I wasn’t the one that had to look at the gray bushes flourishing inside his nostrils while I was trying to eat dinner. But, I have an idea. Maybe next time you could just go for coffee? It might be easier on your stomach.”
Such is the ongoing conversation I have had with my friend Sue, since her husband passed away nearly four years ago and she began her search for a reasonable facsimile. It isn’t that Les was perfect, far from it as a matter of fact, but he was the love of her life. For better and worse, he was the source of her joys and nightmares, and losing him has only made her more certain that their love is not something she can or will ever find again.
Perhaps she’s right. But, she is only in her mid-sixties and I, as her ‘adopted’ little sister, cannot imagine her spending the rest of her days alone. She’s still too beautiful, vibrant, sexy, and, perhaps most importantly, thin, to throw in the towel and become a self-proclaimed old maid. She doesn’t even like cats, and why should a perfectly wonderful tried-and-true brownie cheesecake recipe go to waste just because there’s no one to bake for?
I decided to be proactive on Sue’s behalf and set up a profile for her on JDate, the primary go-to dating site for Jews seeking to change their relationship status from single to blissfully coupled. It had been a good place for me to get my dating feet wet after my divorce, and I figured with Sue’s gorgeous black mane and blue eyes she would attract an immediate following.
At first, she balked at the idea and insisted that if she was meant to meet someone it would happen organically, like at the supermarket while buying groceries.
Maybe. Especially if she were living in a Hallmark movie. But, as I explained, in this day and age it would simply be common sense to utilize technology to check out who one might expect to find while deciding between a rutabaga and a turnip. She remained resistant until I shared that her ninety-year-old mother had told me her single wish was to see Sue married again.
Wanting to please her mother was apparently motivating, prompting Sue to not only approve the JDate profile, but also to sign up for Match.com, PlentyofFish, Jmatch, Eharmony, Jwed, and any other site with a free trial period and an assurance that most profiles include a recent photo. I know it isn’t her thing, but living in a New Jersey retirement community where most of her friends are married, I don’t think there are many other options. Especially since even the men with ailing wives are, unbeknownst to them, already on other women’s strategically composed waiting lists.
So far for Sue — not so good. She’s been dating, but the guy in need of a trim whom I mentioned above is probably the best of the lot. Some of the others have notably been of questionable character:
“Hi Sue, how’d last night go? Where’d he take you? To meet his son. Oh, a piano player. Okay, maybe it’s a little soon, but a concert sounds nice. What do you mean it was at a prison?”
“Lovely man…very attractive…this all sounds very—oh, gonorrhea?”
“Okay, he has no car, no address, no cell phone, and no form of ID. Oh, a tattoo. No Sue, you got me. I have no idea why he’d want Mohammed Ali between his legs. Well, at least he said you were a knockout.”
“He keeps a hunting knife in a box of Ring Dings that he keeps in the trunk of his car. I can understand wanting a little nosh every now and then, but who is he planning to stab, Little Debbie?”
“Handsome and a full head of hair. Great. Who’s eighty-six? I thought you said he was sixty-eight. You did. So he lied about his age. He didn’t lie? Oh, he’s dyslexic. Well, if he’s that good-looking and he can still dress himself…”
Unfortunately, it’s no joke. The dating situation for seniors is bleak, especially for women like Sue who were raised to save sex for love and marriage. Time may change many things, but values are not likely to undergo reconstruction simply because circumstances seem to warrant revision. A girl who didn’t ‘put out’ at sixteen isn’t very likely to feel any more inclined to do so at sixty. But, in many instances, those who don’t hit the sheets are asked to hit the road.
Once or twice, when she’d hoped there was true relationship potential, Sue honored her sexual instincts. While I can’t recant chapter and verse about those unfortunate experiences, she did offer enough description for me to conjure up my own haunting images. I know she was being kind. It’s not her nature to be crass. But, this is where we part ways. Sorry Sue, but I am in my mid-fifties and spent most of my forties single enough to know firsthand that there is little physically sexy about gravity-challenged balls and a wrinkly, sagging behind. Maybe, and just maybe, if a guy is a pleasant conversationalist, chews his food without dribbling, and smells clean, there’s a better chance for all that jiggles and pools to be overlooked.
Although senior sex may not be the most aesthetically pleasing activity on the planet to those of the younger generation, it certainly is popular. According to a recent study, 71 percent of men and 51 percent of women in their sixties still have sex regularly. Given those percentages, it’s unsurprising that 57 percent of men and 30 percent of women continue to be sexually active in their seventies, with honorable mention belonging to those in their eighties with a quarter of men and 20 percent of women still happily doing the deed.
This could be perceived as great news, but as with any pro there must also be a nod to the con. Sexually transmitted diseases are rising among adults 55 and up. In a recent five-year period, reported cases of both syphilis and chlamydia have increased approximately 43 percent. What’s even more telling is that in areas with large retirement communities, reported cases of these STD’s increased twice as quickly as the national average.
For seniors, and at any age, there’s simply no way to get around the ins and outs of dating. With her mother’s blessings, I am going to continue to encourage Sue to date for as long as her constitution will allow for the possibility of disappointment. I am convinced there is someone out there for her who looks like his photos, enjoys music, traveling, long walks on moonlit beaches, and wants to be loved by a good woman with a warm heart. If you’re out there…she’s beautiful, she’s here, and she’s waiting.