Single and over sixty: solitude or sorrow?

5 11 2016

solitudeI’ve recently had the chance to speak with several over-60-year-old men, and women, about relationships, being single, loneliness.

Well, okay, some of these were dates. Some were laughter over dates. Some were thought provoking, others broke my heart.

We all handle being alone differently. Many of the women I know who are single seem happy to stay that way, at least for now. They are tired from years of sharing their lives with children or family members and are still craving the gentle solitude of a solo cup of coffee in the morning, or a cuddle with their pet in the evening, when they are weary and don’t want to talk.

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coffee. peace. quiet.

Or they want to take off on women-only trips around the world where they can just go and be without the need to perform.

But they are a self-selected group. I hang out with independent (some may say too independent) women.

I also know so many women whose lives are destroyed by solitude, who must have companionship, preferably male and human, to survive. These women are shattered by divorce and find it intolerable to live alone. They, too, break my heart. No one should be alone who doesn’t want to be…but on the other hand…part of being a good partner is learning to be good on your own, I think.

For me, I may more be one of those independent women who prefers to live in MY space, to invite friends to visit, but never ever to stay. Not to say I don’t like the visitors…

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not a real man in a cabin, though the axe might be real.

I know a few independent men, too. But they seem smaller in number, perhaps because they are out in the woods somewhere living in a cabin and so I don’t meet them often.

Most of the older men I meet are painfully lonely. It breaks my heart. I seriously think men find it harder to be alone, struggle more with their sense of self-worth than women do, on average. They seem driven more by the need to make love/have sex/fornicate than women let show. They wake in the mornings dreaming of sex, they go to bed thinking of it. Without it, a huge part of their inner selves seems to wither.

So what does an aging man have to offer a woman? They don’t seem to know. Instead of seeking companionship, shared interests, etc, they look for younger and younger partners, hoping their flagging sexuality can be enlivened by a more active lass. They tell themselves lies about their fitness, desirability, general selves. And so they doom themselves to failure and loneliness. They aren’t used to hanging out with guys, most of them, so they end up isolated. It’s terribly sad.

Oh, and they judge women, by scores they don’t apply to themselves. In happy delusion,

judge_weird

One of my recent dates, examining my height

they seek tens, when they themselves are 4s or 5s, or on a good day, a 7. I had a 400 pound man tell me that he didn’t think I looked THAT overweight (in tones of condescension). I’ve had people suffering bankruptcy tell me I was getting a good catch who would look after me. Riiiiiiiiight.

They don’t think about evolving themselves to fit the needs of women in their age group, to read, to learn, to cook, to be responsible, to be independent and self-supporting. To have let go of anger. That is unutterably sexy. Women who have spent years looking after people don’t want to meet someone who, on first acquaintance, obviously needs looking after. And so many men have interesting lives, if only they would share them in a non-self-aggrandizing way.

So women are stuck in a bind if we want companionship. No one our age wants us – men seem to want women ten to twenty years younger. The ones twenty years older than us want us, but they are often looking for someone of their porn dreams, someone to care for them, someone to adore them, as they were adored when they were young and fit and had their future ahead of them. Oh, and someone who wants to make love all the time.(One chubby fellow I dated showed me his sticky little book of sexual positions, many of them life-endangering. When I laughed out loud at one contortion, he said, sure, we could do that. No, I said. I’m not standing on my head for anyone. Sorry. That was that. I washed my hands and left.)

518ldvbqs-l-_ul1200_Or they want a nurse, preferably one who would wear that sexy nurse outfit while massaging their feet.

Dating is perilous in this age group. If you meet and decide he isn’t for you, and you try to let him down gently, you run the risk of being stalked, as you try to peel his tentacles off of you.

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If you are clear with them, you are a bitch who only values money. (or healthy teeth or someone who lives responsibly or someone who doesn’t spend every spare minute looking at porn on a 60 inch tv set). They get furious at you.

Either way, dating feels more dangerous than it should.

Other men are so sad and hopeful you want to be kind, you err in kindness, you give mixed messages to try not to hurt, you hope they will break up with you so you don’t have to deal the crushing blow. They, understandably, get confused, and you end up hurting them anyway. Or vice versa.

So for those women who want male companionship with a little naughty icing, they have a challenge.

But thank heavens, we seem better suited to solitude. And as for me, male friends rock. More than that, I dunno.

Maybe that’s why so many of us are into crafting with our friends. js23831350

Off to needle felting I go….

 

 

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“Read it and weep. I always do.”

3 04 2014

Ah, Romancing the Stone, one of my all time favourite cheesy romantic movies, both for the Danny DeVito chase scene, and for the author’s retort to her friend, who accuses her of being a hopeless romantic.
“No,” she says, “not hopeless. A hopeful romantic.”
Yep, I know how that goes. That whole hopeful romantic thing.
Wishing things would mystically turn out, whether romantic things or other life scenarios, hoping for magic instead of dipping my head into the gritty realities of life.
But often, looking about, I see stories that make me weep when I read them, my own or someone else’s.
Sometimes, my life feels a bit like the movie. Somehow I end up on the wrong bus, heading into the jungle instead of where I should be going, being followed by sinister agents, or covered with mud. I place my faith where I shouldn’t, adventure where I would more wisely leave things to the authorities.
In my travels, unlike in the movies, I can see others around me who have much more difficult lives, less romance, adventures I wouldn’t choose, and I marvel at their strength when I feel like I struggle with the small challenges I experience.
I wish for a movie happy ending for everyone, one where the music swells and everyone ends up in the arms of their lovers or being cuddled by their wise parents and grandparents or winning the race or hearing their music or art being praised. It’s that Pollyanna/romantic part of me.
I hope she never leaves.
But sometimes she could use a hug.

.

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Valentine’s Schmalentine’s

13 02 2014

Yep. Here we go again. Another of those dreaded Feb 14ths tomorrow. Outside my window the rain is lashing about like some sky god is having a heartbreak. A sky god who also has an anger management problem and an unfortunate case of wind, that is.

I’m sure everywhere all over the internet tomorrow people will be posting smarmy love notes to their various significant others, so I thought I’d get a lead on it all so I can stay off the net tomorrow. I don’t like smarm. I’m not a romantic kind, and no one is sending me overpriced flowers tomorrow and expecting a romantic evening in return.

(Good thing too as I still haven’t put together my story for the New York midnight short story contest and it’s due in Saturday at midnight.
If only I could stop watching the Olympic luge and focus. I mean, what is so compelling about people sliding down a tube? And yet, full days have passed….)

In any case, I do have a few people I’m fond of – not Valentines exactly, but people I think of when this day comes along, people I feel an irrational urge to buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates for, if only to have an excuse to share.

-My kids, of course. I loves them. I love, too, my younger sons’ partners, wonderful women both. I’m so glad my boys have them in their lives.
-My ex, somewhat surprisingly – we had 25 years together and though I know he’s remarried and happy and I’m glad of both, I still have a fond corner of my heart for the old lug. I hope his wife lets him have some chocolate for the big day – she’s much more careful of his health than I ever was.
-My women best chums, and you know who you are – you build me up and support me and make me feel significant even when I’ve done nothing all day but feed the cat.
-My guy friends, too. All of you, from my far away and long agos to the nearer bys and more recent. Whether or not things worked out with us, you’ve all taught me a lot. I treasure your friendships more than you’ll ever know.
-Another guy. Just sayin’

Love you all, in a variety of ways, most of them appropriate.

And then there’s Hallmark and Walmart, sources of cheap sentiment and better still cheap chocolates this weekend, none of which I can have this year, unfortunately, as I am trying to regain a vaguely sylphlike figure or at least less weary knees. Still, the cheap choccies will make others feel good and a bit sticky, and I am grateful for that.

And a big Valentine’s call out for this place where I live, where, despite weather from upset gods, I get to breathe sea air and chat with famous authors (who are friendly and nice and not snooty at all) and where people are generally glad to share an elevator with you. It’s a grand place, this Nova Scotia.

Even with the rain. To be followed by snow, and more rain, and over it all a howling wind that’ll rip your lips right off of you.





How will I know?

27 01 2014

images-14Oh, sometimes I hate being a grownup.

See, when you’re a kid, you can spend hours gazing off into the distance and dreaming romantic dreams of life with your dreamboat, think about hours spent together, laughing as you walk along some mountain trail or canoeing down some whitewater river together. I remember spending hours and hours just envisioning a kiss. His hand would come around the back of my head, we’d gaze meaningfully into each other’s eyes, and we’d touch lips, gently, warmly together. No tongues. Thrilling!

When you get a little older, you can whisk up some dreams of families and homes with picket fences and Christmases together and warmth and cuddles. You think about joint trips to the hardware store, hanging lighting, renovating a house, camping, toasting marshmallows. Tongues might be involved. And other parts.

And then you get to an advanced age and realize the chances of whitewater rafting with your love approximate zero since neither of you wants to risk the injuries. Families are done, grandchildren dance offstage, waiting for entrance and attention. Cuddling is great provided it isn’t every night since, after all, a good sleep is sometimes better than sex and requires less energy. And legs kick and nasal passages snore and the elegance of sleeping together lacks something when one of you is hot flashing and the other is sucking in the walls a la Yosemite Sam. Hardware stores lose their appeal when you decide neither of you should get up a ladder. Camping? Ugh. Getting up to find a toilet in the dark and bugs and damp? Never. Love is in the simple things: the newspaper, the cup of coffee in bed, the back rub at the end of a long day.

And still, if you are dating, you find yourself reverting to the kid you once were. Does he like me? Does she think I’m handsome? Will he still like me tomorrow? Will we have anything in common? Should I call him? Should I write to her? Am I being too clingy/demanding/honest/deceptive? What about that errant nose hair? You’d think we’d have this down by now.

Is the effort all worth it?

Somehow, after years of being in loving relationships, I still don’t know how to judge them, if my feelings are real or false, if they are being straight with me or leading me on.

I don’t really care. Life’s too short for endless analysis. I want to feel while I can feel. Sing while I can sing. And dance the dance while my feet still know the steps. And if I end up alone at the end of the party, well, there are always the joys of solitude.

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Perfected by the Sixteen Men of Tain

8 01 2014

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Ah, Glenmorangie. Ahhhh, single malt. Like any fresh convert to its splendours, I’m a gusher.
Unfortunately, I was introduced to Glenmorangie Nectar D’or, which spends the last two years of its life resting in Sauternes casks. It’s extremely rare and difficult to find. I have been known to drag hapless family and recent friends around liquor stores in search of it, to no avail.
So today I thought I might try the sherry ripened kind – not a fan of sherry, me, so I’ve avoided it til now. But tough times call for tough measures…
So I’m gazing at the box and saw the tag line, “perfected by the sixteen men of Tain” and couldn’t help a wee fantasy nip to hobbit land. Who are these noble sixteen men? Why sixteen? Why not eighteen or twelve or fifteen? I can visualize them, muscled men in leather jerkins, joking as they work, sharing a cup at the end of the day, heading home to thatched huts where they grab their women and…well, never mind.
Is it warm in here?
Alas, the Glenmorangie site isn’t really clear on the mystery of the men of Tain.They mention that traditionally they’ve employed sixteen men to make their whiskey. Any further explanation is missing. In fact, there isn’t even a leather jerkin to be seen, let alone a thatched roof house. I don’t care. I have my fantasy…
I have to say I love the mystique of single malt. I love the secretive traditions, the special glasses, the careful instructions about drinking techniques.
The taste, well, that’s nectar of the gods.
The Lasanta will wait til the sun dips over the horizon and I’m suitably ready for an imaginary wander through Scottish moors.
I really think I should travel to the distillery and try to clear up the mystery of the sixteen. Maybe one of the men has a secret dream about a short roundish middle aged Canadian girl….nah, probably not.
Still, maybe there are free samples…
Of the whiskey! Whatever were you thinking?





Now Accepting Submissions for our 2013-2014 Theme Issue: Love and Sex

2 07 2013

Now Accepting Submissions for our 2013-2014 Theme Issue: Love and SexPosted on July 2, 2013 by PRISM internationalDear writers,We are now accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama, and translation for our Love and Sex theme issue. By love we mean romantic love, unromantic love, familial love, unrequited love, lost love, love of a friend, love of a friend with benefits, love of a geographic place, love of an imagined place, love of a pet, love of a possession, love of an idea, love of a memory, love of just about anything you can dream up. There are also many different kinds of sex. We’ll let you innumerate those in your own mind, but suffice to say, we welcome a variety of interpretations.We are NOT looking for pornography, which, for our purposes, is defined as graphic depictions of sexuality devoid of literary merit. Keep it hot and spicy, but keep it close to the human condition: vivid characterization, conflict resolution, provocative narration, etc.Theme issue submissions will be accepted from July 2 to November 10. If you are submitting for the theme issue, please make of a note of it in your cover letter. Theme issue submissions may also be considered for publication in future, non-theme issues.Next week Prose Editor Jane Campbell and Poetry Editor Zach Matteson will give the inside scoop on what they’re looking for in theme issue submissions. Stay tuned!Share this:

via Now Accepting Submissions for our 2013-2014 Theme Issue: Love and Sex.





“Sex is a word count” Lilly Cain

21 04 2013

Often, in a gathering of writers (what IS the proper collective noun? A scrawl of writers? A clattering of writers? A thesaurus of writers?), wisdoms shared expand to more global proportions.

Yesterday I was thrilled to attend the Romantic Writers of Atlantic Canada’s event on publishing your first novel. As with the mystery writers I hang out with more regularly, the crowd and panel were so wonderfully friendly and open and willing to help each other out. Even if I never ever publish a book, I like hanging out with these guys/gals – they are people worth knowing.

NRLLilly Cain writes erotic fiction, and was discussing how she is now writing a series of sweet romances and having trouble bringing down the steam rating. The quote above was from that discussion – she is used to having a certain number of words dedicated to hot scenes and now has to fill the space in with other words, actions, adventures.

Something about her statement resonated more deeply with me.

Sex as a word count…a space holder…a part of life, not so important, but needed in its own way. Without it, you must fill in the empty spaces with other activity, other stories. With it…well, life may be more full and rounded but you might miss out on some of the other generative activities you may use to fill up your own personal word count.

It becomes a balance, the sex, no sex, too much sex, not enough sex thing.

In writing, steaminess level (like bloodiness level) determines where your book is placed, whether a given publisher will buy it, who will be turned on or turned away. Many people write erotica under a pen name so that they can have a safe “real” identity. I know my tell all book about my post-marriage life won’t be arriving under my real name. Oh no.

In life, there are costs to pay for taking a relationship to that new, sexual, level – friendship becomes more difficult, things seem more fraught, you feel either intensely attracted or repelled, you feel shame or love or regret or joy. I used to believe it was something that people made too much fuss over, but I could have been wrong there.

In both, sex takes up time and thought and memory and room. How much and how it tilts your story is up to you.

For more thoughts, check out Lit Drift…or Tayari Jones (click on the cartoon to link to her blog), or Steve Almond’s article from the UTNE Reader: (I’m having trouble getting wordpress to accept another hyperlink…) http://www.utne.com/Literature/How-To-Write-A-Sex-Scene.aspx

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