A Return to Online Dating at 81 Precipitated by an Accident
This story is part of the CelebrEighty Series written by Judy Katz… Yesterday a beloved friend, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, was on his way to meet me for lunch. We were going to Felice Columbus for the fourth time. Why keep returning when there are so many fine restaurants all over Manhattan? If you order the Crostone Ricotta on brochette, topped with fresh ricotta, Italian linden, spicy honey, figs, and sliced almonds, not to mention my favorite cocktail ever, their one-of-a-kind multi-liquor/liqueur “monteregina,” you too would be culinarily attracted to the same fine dining experience.
But this is not a cooking column: I want to tell you why this lunch never happened—and may never happen again—because my friend fell on the sidewalk and injured himself. That fall was unnecessary. He is a proud man. And as we know, sometimes “pride goeth before a fall—in his case literally! He wouldn’t use a walker to steady himself or make sure someone was there to walk beside him the few blocks from his townhouse to the restaurant. One of his devoted assistants said, “He wants to think he’s still 25.”
Handsome. Distinguished. Rich. And foolish. As he lay there on the sidewalk, bleeding badly from a cut lip, a cut on his forehead, and a bump on the back of his head, or when he was found by a pedestrian who called 911, or when he was put into the ambulance, or when he was stitched up at the nearest hospital emergency room, do you think he reconsidered his stance on no walker? On having someone with him for walks to and from places? The answer is—nope.
The most intelligent people are not always the smartest regarding their health and well-being. But what, if anything, does this have to do with online dating, Judy? Here’s the connection—in my mind at least, even if a bit tenuous. We all have our blind spots, and they often don’t serve us well. My friend refuses to use a walker because it would make him look and feel old—even though not using it can ultimately kill him and has already proven dangerous to his continued survival. But, when I returned home from that aborted lunch, I realized that I was putting myself in the same position as my friend—albeit less physically dangerous. A few years ago, I went off all online dating sites because I felt like what I had to offer was no longer what I had to offer in past years and even decades. I was in danger of not experiencing life to the fullest because of my insecurity.
My friend would not accept the reality of his unsteady gait. I could not accept the need to put myself out as I am now: softer and more wrinkled in places—and let’s not even discuss the need to keep removing chin hairs, wherever they come from! I am not the great beauty I thought I once was. I no longer have that slim, trim, and endlessly energetic body. I am different, but thinking of me as diminished is wrong. I may not need a walker, but I need cosmetics, the ministrations of skin and hair people, and flattering fashions.
But that day, I decided it was high time to stop thinking I had to be the younger Judy. It was time to accept the positives I could bring to a potential relationship, thanks to my experiences and greater understanding of human nature and life itself. I also decided to factor in a realistic picture of who my new potential audience is. They will be men in their 80s and beyond. Do you think some of them might have some physical “issues?” Absolutely. I am healthy (knock on wood) and take no pills beyond multi-vitamins. Many of the men I know of this decade have a veritable pharmacy—and permanent conditions that take them from doctor to doctor. Nonetheless, to me, they remain fascinating and desirable.
Will some of these men in my age bracket and beyond want and believe they can get women decades younger? Of course. They are not my targets, and I wish them well, despite my cynicism that this will serve them best in the long run. I would love The Rock in my bed—even for a night, Dwayne, if you’re listening—but I know that such an age and experience disparity will not serve anyone well, with a few exceptions. I will tell the truth about my age and make no apologies. You can shave years off your profile, but there’s the in-person meeting.
Openly reporting my actual age will scare off 90 percent of the potential male respondents—but I am seeking one man like myself, and I believe he is out there. Of course, he may not be on a dating app, so online dating must be accompanied by other efforts, such as going to events and telling everyone who will listen to what you’re looking for. As my grandmother used to say, “Judy darling—if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Great advice, bubby! Always ask! Put it out there. I do, and so should you. The Universe will align behind you, even if in an unexpected way.
If we want to find love and/or companionship, we all need to make allowances for others—and ourselves first and foremost. I can tell you that my online dating profile will be interesting. Let’s see if any “fish” take the bait.