When I was a young woman I considered a wedge of brie, a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a bottle of Mateus Rosé the perfect menu for a picnic or a romantic dinner. That was four decades and two divorces ago, when the men I dated had iron stomachs and teeth. Today, my idea of a romantic dinner is the Senior Early Bird Special and the company of a gentleman who isn’t lactose intolerant.
The internet has been a blessing for us single seniors looking for a life partner, or rest-of-our-life partner, or just someone to chat with who remembers skate keys, Hopalong Cassidy, TV test patterns, winding watches, and the game of Pong. For us elderly folks, online dating sites can be a tremendous time-saver, a precious commodity at any age, but more appreciated by those of us who are at the time of life where estate planning and “arrangements” are common topics.
There are numerous dating sites appealing to the senior market differing only slightly in price and search options. The standard format is a brief essay and a questionnaire about interests, education, retirement hobbies and personal history. A pull down menu opens a list of possibilities for finding a match. I am partial to the nerds, geeks, and absent–minded bowtie-wearing professors with tweed jackets and suede elbow patches.
I am particularly attracted to the nerdy types, not just because I appreciate their logical super brains, but because they remind me of puppies. They are typically gangly, not quite sure what to do with their arms and legs, they generally seem happy, they have an insatiable curiosity about everything, and they genuinely appreciate a decent meal and a little scratch on the belly.
The challenge with dating these tremendously intelligent, analytical left-brained men is that they don’t take hints very well, or at all. I appreciate their directness, although it’s a challenge for me since it’s my inherent southern nature to coyly flutter my eyelashes and subliminally transmit whatever I want through mental telepathy. One afternoon, while standing in line to buy movie tickets, my date, a brilliant computer engineer, asked which movie I wanted to see. I batted my eyelashes and sweetly crooned, “The new Sandra Bullock movie has gotten great reviews, but whatever you choose will be fine.” I need to work on being more direct because half an hour later we were sitting in a theater watching the kiddie matinee of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”
I prefer first meetings to be at a coffee shop during the day, often near a Metro station since many of these elderly gents no longer drive. During one of these first dates, I sat across the table at a downtown sidewalk café chatting with a retired surgeon about things we enjoy doing. I mentioned I like going to the movies. The good doctor told me he never went to the movies, he preferred watching DVDs at home so he could turn on the subtitles. I knew things were going well and he wanted to see me again when he asked if I had any infectious diseases. After several dates in public places, I invited a physicist I was especially fond of to my apartment for a romantic candlelight dinner on my balcony. He thanked me for the meal then went back inside. I found him fifteen minutes later asleep on my sofa.
Dating older men can be entertaining as well as challenging. Whether they have been widowed, divorced, or never married, they all need a bit of instruction in courting more mature ladies. Training an elderly man is much like training a puppy: reward good behavior, ignore bad behavior, and if they really get out of line, whack them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.
By: D. Sherwood Chamberlain
D. Sherwood Chamberlain is a professional speaker and writer specializing in the history of America’s First Ladies. You can view her website at: deborahjonessherwood.com.