Updated: Feb 12
In case you haven’t noticed, Cupid is quarantined and that’s not love in the air, it’s Covid. Year Two of the pandemic is really “harshing people’s mellow” as it continues testing the boundaries of our sanity, with or without a partner.
It was sobering to realize how many of my Baby Boomer “galentines” are now alone, either by choice, divorce or losing their partner to an earlier than expected death. I’m blessed to have a large circle of close friends and family, sadly, eight of whom became widows (or widowers) within the last three years. Valentine’s Day for them is less than fun. It can be a painful reminder of who’s missing at their table for two.
Some say they will never remarry; others are ready to find someone with whom they can share, at the very least, a meal or movie. They long to hear a warm voice on the other end of the phone say “goodnight,” or to be that all-important Plus One for events that we all hope will become the norm again, someday soon.
Then there are those who are ready to rejoin the later-in-life dating scene, and that’s always an opportunity for a good dose of humor.
I have it on good authority from several online searchers who assure me “slim pickins” is the order of their days…
Online dating; prospect rating
Nothing is funnier than to hear a few of my very vibrant, attractive, senior friends describe their dabble into “looking for love in all the [web] places.” Words like pitiful, bald, short and old define Mr. Wrong, as their relentless scrolling continues.
No doubt, if their male counterparts were to size up their dating options, the female candidates would be labeled gray, wrinkled, fat and— yep—old.
We’ve all somewhat bought into current, superficial “beauty” standards—a byproduct of living in a youth-revered society where firm bodies, freakishly white teeth, and long flowing locks are considered mandatory for feminine sex appeal by some men.
And yes, some women require hard-bodied, physically active, attractive men with a squeaky clean bill of health, a desire to travel, a fat wallet, no baggage, a villa in Turks and Caicos, an undying love for her cats, dogs, grandkids and total tolerance for the two-hour beauty routine required to turn back the hands-of-time by a couple of minutes.
NOTE: Beware of those dating site profile pics... Fantasy, left; reality, right
Some lonely hearts think it’s not possible to survive without that special Valentine. For them, having a pulse is all that’s required of a companion. A pulse and real teeth. (Teeth are good.)
So let’s say you “land a live one,” someone who allows you to check off the most important boxes on your partner quality-requirement list…
“Let’s go out for dinner. Oh. No, wait. I haven’t had my Covid vaccine yet, have you?”
“We’ll catch a concert! Who are your favorite artists? Oh. Nope. The venues are closed.”
“How about a movie? I think theaters are open, but they’ll seat us six feet apart. That might make sharing popcorn a bit tricky.”
“Why don’t you come over for a drink?” “I can’t. I’m quarantined again until Sunday.”
And so it goes.
That romantic first kiss kinda loses steam, I’m sure, if you have to take off two masks in hopes of finding some semblance of lips under all that fabric.
And sex? I read something the other day that said, “Covid? No thanks. Give me a good old-fashioned girl with chlamydia; THAT antibiotics can cure.”
As if dating in later life wasn’t difficult enough, Covid arrives on the scene and says, “Hold my beer and watch this.”
But even with all the sadness, drama, and intensity of the past couple of years, the human spirit prevails, and many hopeless romantics drift into peaceful sleep, dreaming that their special someone is out there, somewhere.
It’s just a matter of time.
Isolation with your Special Someone is not for sissies
It’s also difficult for those of us who are retired, married, attached or otherwise in a committed relationship during these
l-o-n-g, Covid-charged, winter days. There is only so much to talk about before you’ve said it all. Not a lot to get excited about, no new trips or adventures to plan, visits with kids and grandkids are limited, etc. Most of us are pretty much skinning our aging knees on that same rocky
There are days when I tell Lanny, “Dear, maybe you could go fishing tomorrow. Or hunting. Is there some kinda varmint season open? Please. Bring back anything but squirrel.” (Which translates to, “You need to GO. I gotta breathe for a minute.”)
And, no doubt, there are times when I get on his one, last, good nerve. My phone rings constantly. I talk too much. I have high energy levels that make me cranky when I’m stuck in the house with nothing to do. I whine about missing my family and my friends. The UPS deliveries come so often that the neighbors probably think we bought a big, brown box truck for use as a driveway ornament.
Yes, my hubby has the patience of Job.
The good thing is, we have had the chance to get to know each other all over again. These days of semi-isolation require patience, kindness, lots of forgiveness and understanding. And I think we both learned to appreciate each other’s differences more.
And there are tons to “appreciate”—I love to laugh; he’s serious. I love to write; he’s no fan of the written word. He’s a morning person; I’m a night owl. I crave new experiences, constant brain stimulation; he’s content with the familiar. I’m sensitive; he’s practical. I’m creative, always in search of a muse; his strengths are mechanical/technical, always in search of a wrench.
As polar opposites, too much time together could have taken a very bad turn.
But at the end of the day, I know Lanny’s got my back. He’s my go-to when I’m feeling down. He’s my strongest defender when I break (which we all do, at times), and he makes a mean scrambled egg for breakfast, with toast and Sprite, when I’m down for the count with a nasty cold.
And I think he’d say the same for me. It works, somehow. (Even if he did bring home a dead squirrel for me to prepare for his dinner. Meanwhile, I had an organic, superfood, sprout salad with walnuts and cranberries. Sigh.)
What’s age got to do with it?
No matter how old we get, we’re never gonna forget the thrill of falling in love, that all-important first kiss, and the exhilarating feeling of being alive that finding the right person can bring. Nothing else compares.
I’ve lived long enough to realize that age has nothing to do with needing that powerful, human connection.
I worked in the medical field until I retired and some of my fondest memories were of patients in their 70s and 80s who came in together and announced they had just gotten married. There were many. You could tell that they had found a new lease on life. The sparkle in their eyes said it all.
It takes both partners to realize it’s perfectly okay to look beyond the inevitable, fading, physical attraction and find satisfaction through respect, kindness, companionship and mutual support.
And if you do find that somewhat elusive WOW factor, you’ve really hit the jackpot!
It’s never too late to find the right person to share your hopes and dreams with, regardless of how much lifetime is left.
Take a chance; roll the dice. You never know…
Sometimes love comes in smaller packages
There are many people who dare not attempt love because they feel their first loves or husbands set the bar so high that no one could compare. Others feel their love lives were so dramatic and abusive they’ll never try again. Some broken hearts simply don’t mend.
Then there are those women who—after years of raising kids, being the salt to someone’s pepper, working a fulltime job, cooking daily for two or more, washing and cleaning—believe that finally having time to read, relax, do as they please, and then going to bed and waking up according to their own circadian rhythm isn’t half bad.
For some men, not having to answer to anyone for anything may hold the same enticement for keeping it simple and going it alone.
The other night, my six-year-old granddaughter called me to thank me for the Valentine I gave her. She ended with, “I’m gonna read my book to you. That way, you can have a good sleep.”
And read, she did. Stumbling through a few words, she did her best to read me a bedtime story from her homework assignment. Then, I read part of a book to her. And yes, we both “had a good sleep.”
Don’t limit your “Valentine” to the romantic variety. Love comes in all kinds of packages. There are cards for friends, neighbors, aunts, uncles, cousins, pets, and I’m sure if you look hard enough, you’ll find a card for your friends’ neighbors’ aunts, uncles, cousins and pets.
Love is where you find it. And if love comes in the form of a first-grader’s bedtime story, enjoy every botched sentence.
Love is hard, commitment harder. Sometimes the wrong person comes along at the “right” time. Sometimes the right person completely blindsides you at the wrong time.
And, if you’re really lucky, sometimes the right person comes along at the right time.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you look in the mirror and see the evidence of lost youth. While body parts may head south at an alarming rate, hair may thin, wrinkles appear, knees wobble and body parts jiggle regardless of how much you exercise and try to beat them into submission, don’t sell yourself short. If you’re lucky enough to be on the top side of the dirt with most of your body parts still intact, you’re still lucky enough.
Arriving at “at certain age” slightly shopworn, graying, with a less than perfect body is proof that you lived. As long as you’ve got a pulse, you’re still able to love and be loved.
Oh, and teeth. Teeth are good.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Sending you all a virtual hug,
Because they said it better:
Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. Albert Einstein
Immature love says I love you because I need you. Mature love says I need you because I love you. Erich Fromm
Love is much nicer to be in than an automobile accident, a tight girdle, a higher tax bracket or a holding pattern over Philadelphia. Judith Viorst
My wife was afraid of the dark… then she saw me naked and now she’s afraid of the light. Rodney Dangerfield
Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell. Joan Crawford
The happiest marriage I can picture would be the union of a deaf man to a blind woman. Coleridge
Photos are mine; with the exceptions of the obvious ones, purchased by contract, 123RF