I just found this in the \”Personals\” column of a local paper: \”Elderly man would like to meet middle-aged female for dining, dancing, sports & lots of hugs!\” If the ad had given an address instead of just a phone number I might have written the following:
Dear Elderly Man,
I applaud your honesty in classifying yourself as \”elderly.\” Many a less scrupulous gent, trying to put his best foot forward, might have omitted that important adjective. I also approve of your desire for human company, which is good for people of any age. And it\’s great that you\’re into sports (not just as a spectator, I hope), and dancing. Dining is o.k. too, as long as you don\’t overdo it.
It\’s the \”middle-aged\” stipulation that bothers me. Powerful men have always gone after, and often gotten, younger women. In his nineties, the cellist Pau Casals married one of his students, who was then in her twenties. The guitarist Andres Segovia fathered a child when he was in his seventies. And everybody knows about Picasso. But it doesn\’t sound from your little ad as though you are powerful, or a genius, or wanting to beget offspring. It sounds like you are an ordinary guy who wants to have fun.
And to have fun you want a middle-aged woman instead of one who, like you, is elderly. A middle-aged woman will probably: a) be better at sports and dancing and, b) have fewer wrinkles than an elderly one. But did you ever prior to penning your ad put yourself in that imaginary middle-aged woman\’s place? Did you think what it might be like for her to ride in a golf cart when she\’d rather be playing squash, or sit down while you catch your breath after a fox-trot? Did you wonder how she might react to the sight of your wrinkles, age spots and ear hairs?
Did it ever occur to you that a woman your age might be more tolerant of your trifocals, hearing aids, pill dispensers and other paraphernalia of the twilight years? That she might be more understanding of your memory lapses, aching back and other occasional deficiencies?
Speaking of which, I\’m not sure what to make of \”lots of hugs!\” Is that intended to reassure the applicant that hugs are all that will be forthcoming? Or is it intended to warn her of your intact virility? The distinction is one that she might want to know about.
Because you are a man, you think that you are less vulnerable to age than your female contemporaries, and thus entitled to younger flesh. But that very assumption, I am sorry to say, dates you even more than belting your pants at the armpits. The only middle-aged females eager to rush into your arms are probably in desperate straits–jobless, or burdened with teenaged children, or in less than optimal health.
You may be so ancient that you still think that a woman is happier on the arm of a man, no matter how decrepit, than alone. If you really are approaching the century mark, you may find that there are still some women around who feel that way. But they won\’t be middle-aged. They will be your contemporaries, your sisters in wrinkles, swollen ankles and ropy hands.
And even there, I would proceed with caution. Strange things happen to old ladies: they get feisty, and won\’t put up with nonsense. They have learned the wisdom of what my widowed mother used to say: \”better alone than in bad company.\”
Dear Elderly Man, I wish you joy and good company, and the peace that comes with acceptance.