IT’S APRIL FOOLS’ DAY AND I FEEL A TAD FOOLISH, but I’ve signed up, so I’m going. I leave the house early to assure myself a good parking space near the entrance. When I get to the town parking lot in front of the movie theater, I’m lucky to find any space at all. Of course, I should have known, seniors are usually early. I’m happy for the senior center’s director, Linda Hayes, who organized this event. Perhaps there’ll be a fairly decent turnout, maybe even 30 or 40 people.
When I enter the theater, I’m floored. I do a rough count of those already seated as people keep pouring in. One hundred twenty I estimate. Maybe more. Most of those gray- and white-haired heads belong to women. Where are the men? Are they afraid to show up knowing they’re outnumbered? Or have they moved to apartments in Boston after losing their mates to divorce or death?
We’ve come to see “The Age of Love.” The movie shows non-actor seniors in their 70s and even 80s unafraid to reveal that no matter what their age, they desire companionship and relationships as much as do those many years younger. And these brave souls are up for taking part in an unrehearsed senior speed-dating event and doing it in front of cameras.
Yes. This might come as a surprise to you youngsters, but seniors are not all dried up inside. Don’t get me wrong, having loving adult children and grandchildren is wonderful, but most of us would also like to have someone of our own age to love and be loved by. And, no, we are not all looking to get married again. Once is enough for many of us.
Following the movie, those who have signed up go over to the Mill Wharf restaurant for a discussion/reception. Over slices of pizza and glasses of whatever, we share our stories. There are even some married women who have come because they anticipate they too will be alone in the near future.
I tell those near me about my experience. I was told you have to put yourself out there, I say. And I did. I tick off all the things I tried over the years since I moved to Scituate. Joining Parents without Partners, South Shore Singles, New Beginnings, going on a singles radio show, answering ads, signing up for a dating service, joining clubs, and finally trying Match.com and eHarmony. Did I go on dates? Yes. Was it worth the effort? Sometimes yes; more often no.
But now the number of years I’ve accrued is seen as a negative to others. I’m swimming against the age tide. I don’t mind my age (although I’m seriously considering doing something about my neck), but others do seem to mind. For all the lengthy forms you fill out, especially on eHarmony, about your likes, activities, and goals in life, let’s face it, folks, the first criterion a potential date looks at is your age. And if you’re over the hill, you might as well be 6 feet under, no matter how interesting or full of life you may be.
I’ve written up a few of my dating experiences over the years—for example, the one with the guy who, an hour into our first and only date, asked me point-blank whether I was sexually active. Was he really expecting a roll in the hay at the end of the date?
I’ll share a couple of these experiences in future columns. In the meantime I’ve signed up to take part in Scituate’s senior speed-dating event scheduled for April 29. I hope Linda Hayes can persuade enough seniors, especially shy men, to take part in this event.
Ten men will sit down and talk with 10 women for a few minutes each. When the bell rings, each man will move on to the next short date. (I’m assuming the men will do the moving, as in the film.) I plan to use my half of the time to paint a picture of who I am and what I still want to enjoy/learn/do in the time I have left. I hope my 10 dates will use their time to do the same. I also hope they’ll focus on what they can still do, not on what they can no longer do. Negativity isn’t my thing.
No matter what the outcome, I’ll applaud myself for having tried. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”