Senior sex and commitment

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 21, 2022

By Columnist Tom Blake

Senior dating is difficult with a myriad of challenging issues–trying to meet people to date, the lack of available single men, ghosting, scamming, gaslighting, dating married men, and a plethora of different relationship types such as long-distance, non-romantic, friends-with-benefits, and living-apart-together relationships, for example.

And then there’s another important senior dating issue that I tend to avoid: senior sex and intimacy. Why? It’s too personal! I feel uncomfortable writing about it, although I think it’s an important issue for seniors and I admit I’m physical myself.

Usually, the topic of senior sex and intimacy gets included in this eNewsletter when a Champ fires off a question or comment that makes me squirm a little. It happened this week when Champ Jerry, not his true name, sent an email. He and I have been buddies for a couple of years and I thought this is an important topic for seniors.

Jerry emailed, “It is weird being out there at age 81. Many of the women with whom I talk say that all the men they meet just want to get into the sack with them but with no real ongoing relationship. Generally, those women state it’s not worth the bother. Consequently, many senior women simply avoid the dating scene entirely.

“It is just my impression, but when you start sleeping together it becomes more emotional. At some level that implies more of a commitment.”

Comment by Tom: “Geez, Jerry, thanks for clarifying the sleeping together/commitment issue. That may be helpful to some of those men referred to above who just want sex without a commitment.”  

Jerry continued: “I really like sex, but I have not been pursuing it because I don’t want to hurt the other person by not following through with an emotional and enduring commitment. The other side of that is I am picky so that is frustrating as well. I suspect I am not unique in my feelings but, who knows?”

Quirky but not kinky

Jerry added, “So here is the quirky thing. I live in the city of Laguna Woods, in Orange County, California, with 18,000 people over the age of 55, mainly property owners. Of those, 6,000 are men and 12,000 are women. I am assuming that 5,000 of the men are married, which leaves 1,000 single men.

The dreaded senior dating ratio

“The remaining 5,000 married men are married to women of Laguna Woods, which leaves approximately 7,000 unattached women living here. That represents an approximate ratio of single women to single menof seven-to-one. I have heard the ratio is more like eight-to-one, also a ballpark figure. Some women–consistent with the lack of interest in dating that I mentioned above–are not available to date. Regardless, that still suggests there are lots of ladies out there.”

Comment from Tom: I have referred to this ratio in previous eNewsletters and newspaper columns as “The dreaded senior dating ratio.” An 8-to-1 ratio is pretty dreadful, and so is seven-to-one.

Jerry continued, “I have some lady friends that appeal to me on one level or another, but it just hasn’t reached the Physical stage, a la the Olivia Newton-John 1981 record. I suspect it will come but who knows when?  ‘T’is a conundrum.”

Tom’s comment: Often, when a song is mentioned in an eNewsletter or one pops into my head, a link is included to that song. But I must admit I wasn’t a fan of that Physical song, and the video is kind of sleazy so no link to it is included today.

2-WAY STREET

Jerry concluded with: “The final issue is, while someone might appeal to me it does not necessarily follow that I would appeal to her. It is not her fault that I don’t float her boat. The ending remark is from a friend who a lifetime ago said “Om, All will be revealed. Om.”

Tom’s summary comment: I would think an 81-year-old single guy living in the same small community as 7,000 single women aged 55-plus could find a compatible woman who appeals to him physically and she to him. Perhaps, he’s undecided because there are so many desirable women from which to choose.

And then there is the commitment issue that accompanies the senior sex topic.

Of course, how single seniors define commitment as it pertains to senior sex needs to be decided between consenting partners. Dating exclusively? Living together? Getting married (doubtful)? Personally, I think an exclusive commitment is the way to go.

Let’s hear what Champs have to say about this touchy subject.

And speaking of commitments, to enjoy these “Humps,” a commitment of 300 yards is required

Dating a still-married man

On life and love after 50 eNewsletter

Like a rubber ball (bouncy, bouncy)

October 14, 2022

By Columnist Tom Blake

Dating a still-married man, while enjoying the domestic side of life (bouncy/bouncy)

Let’s say you’re 60 or older and single again. You might be divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. Or perhaps you’re a widow, or a widower. You admit you are a bit lonely, so you’ve decided to put yourself out there into the dating world in hopes of meeting a compatible mate.

You are committed to getting off the couch and out of the house to focus on interacting with friends and meeting new friends. Perhaps you are considering online dating.

You don’t want marriage, just someone you’d enjoy being with. Someone who shares your values and interests. You’ve managed to have a few dates, but no one has clicked yet.

And then someone comes along who adds a little spark to your life. You think that perhaps a relationship could evolve. It’s hard because you find yourself comparing that new person to your ex and they don’t have all of the qualities that your former partner had.

Dating a still-married man

You’ve had some interesting conversations with the person, which have revealed a small red flag or two. Take, for example, Jane (not her true name, changed by request), who emailed, “Four months ago, I met Bill (not his true name either) online. He’s been separated for two years from his wife of 26 years.

“On our first date, the hours flew by. We had fun conversation and seemed to connect. Afterward, he emailed saying he had a great time, and our interests were similar.

“I wrote back expressing two concerns based on our discussion. One being that he is from Canada (his company transferred him to the USA) and his family lives 16 hours away by car. What would happen if he got homesick and wanted to move back there to live?

“And second, his marital status: I would be dating a still-married man, separated for two years. What is really going on there?”

These two issues trouble me a bit but he and I discussed them.

“He assured me that he’s here to stay, that his family is in full support of his being here and his divorce is pending because he owes his attorney money and that was all that was needed to get the ball rolling.” Hence, I’d be dating a still-married man.

While Jane mentioned that she intended to proceed slowly with Bill, she rationalized that she too was once in the same position: separated, heart ready to move on, but a legal system that can take a long time to finalize a divorce.

Jane added, “I have seen his divorce papers, so I know he’s working on the final stuff, and he was truthful with me. I gave him a chance because I had someone take a chance on me while waiting for my divorce to be final. So that concern has been eased a bit.

“We’ve had an awesome four months together. He helped me with remodeling my townhouse and he met my family. We spent a weekend away exploring galleries and hiking. We enjoy our downtime after work and making dinner together—enjoying the domestic side of life.

You bounce my heart around

“Then, suddenly, the rug was pulled out from under my feet. Now he’s telling me that his head says one thing but his heart another, that there is a wall up. Apparently, he was hurt as a teenager by a relationship and again when he arrived in the states. It’s taken him six months to get over his latest heartbreak. He thinks if people must work at a relationship, it’s not the real thing.”

Jane rationalized again, stating: “He is bewildered and confused by his feelings, due in part to a lack of senior dating experience. This guy hasn’t ‘found’ himself yet.

“I must let time take care of things. I like him, but only he can find himself. He feels bad that he hurt me. His being in my life has been a positive thing; I experienced how wonderful it is to have someone REALLY treat me like a woman, which I haven’t experienced in a very long time.”

I hear what Jane says, but Bill didn’t treat her like a woman for long. She feels he backed off because of “a lack of senior dating experience.” What the heck does that have to do with it?

Rather, her situation reminds me of the 2004 book “he’s just not that into you.”

Seniors who choose to date again need to trust their instincts and keep their expectations in check. I think Jane needs to get on with her life.

Remember the Bobby Vee hit song “Rubber Ball” that was popular 61 years ago in 1961? Jane fits that mold. Perhaps if he finds himself and bounces back into her life, she’ll avoid becoming a rubber ball by ensuring he is only true to one woman (she).

Here’s the second verse:

“I’m like a rubber ball.

“Baby that’s all I am to you (bouncy, bouncy) (bouncy, bouncy)

“Just a rubber ball

“Cause you think you can be true to two (bouncy, bouncy) (bouncy, bouncy)

“You bounce my heart around (you don’t even put her down)

“And like a rubber ball, I keep bouncing back to you.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=rubber+ball+song+1961&view=detail&mid=8D216B6F768D19ACD98B8D216B6F768D19ACD98B&FORM=VIRE0&ru=%2fsearch%3fq%3drubber%2bball%2bsong%2b1961%26qs%3dUT%26pq%3drubber%2bball%2bsong%26sk%3dAS1MT1%26sc%3d10-16%26cvid%3d4FB1FE07EB77432F8FC2BB34149EE72A%26FORM%3dQBRE%26sp%3d3″

Popular 2004 book, “he’s just not that into you”

Senior Love in Galveston

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter

By Columnist Tom Blake

October 7, 2022

Senior Love in Galveston

Champs tell me they love hearing senior later-in-life romance success stories from other Champs. Here’s one today, with a little south Texas flavor.

Champ Kim emailed: “I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas in Lake Jackson but moved to London at age 13. I returned each summer to stay with my dad and play with my friends. I married at age 25.

“I was married for 30 years. In 2017, I was divorced, and I returned to single status at age 55. I joined Plenty of Fish (POF). After nine ‘dates’ on POF I was pretty sure it truly was a mad, mad, mad world, and most of all I wondered, ‘Are you kidding me?’

Plenty of Fish love story

“Galveston Island is small (32 miles long by 2.5 miles wide) and there were several of us singles fishing out of the same dating pond. In 2018, I saw a profile picture I loved – a guy on a boat running from a storm. He was bald (I do not do bald unless it is natural), but his profile looked fun and adventurous.

“I found Ray on POF in 2018. He also grew up on Galveston Island but unlike me, he seldom left. Our ages were only six months apart, hence we had been at the same concert venues, parties on the beaches, in the cow fields, and in dance halls when we were younger.

“We knew a lot of the same people, and we were revolving around each other, but we never met. Online dating can be maddening for sure, but it worked for us.

“Ray was married for the second time in 2015 but was divorced after two years. Both of our divorces were final in early 2018.

“We talked on the phone from late spring and into the summer. We wanted to meet, but summer is my busiest time for work, and I had a trip planned for September. We agreed to meet after my trip. We also agreed to turn off our POF profiles until that time.

“This gave me time to check his background. I had two things going for me in that regard. First, I have a wonderful friend who is two degrees removed from knowing all Galvestonians, so Ray was checked out by my friend. “Plus, I was a law enforcement dispatcher for Alaska State Parks and very good at investigation.

My friend uncovered information about Ray’s ‘high school’ first marriage as well as other interesting tidbits about him and I found some good stuff in my own queries as well. 

“Knowing things about a person before going on a date is good because you can judge right away how honest a person is going to be. You also can learn about a person’s relationships, court records, employment, and what hearsay is being said about the person. 

“He emailed me precisely on the day I got home from my trip. I put off meeting him in person for one week, and then met him at his house on September 28, 2018. When I pulled up in his driveway, the look on his face was like a puppy’s when you get home from work.

“He opened the gate and seemed mesmerized as if he were thinking, ‘You are finally here. I have been waiting for you.’ He has the most beautiful green and brown eyes.

“The night we met we stayed up all night, as young kids will do. Neither Ray nor I ever had children and people we know who have kids tell us we are seniors who still act like kids. They have been telling me that all my adult life! 

“Ray was forthright with everything that night; he said his second marriage was a real doozy. He verified what I knew about him, and he didn’t hold back. Were there some red flags for me? Of course, but I had been left behind in a 30-year marriage and was ready for an adventure. I went from vanilla to chili pepper. Woo-hoo! We’ve been together since.

“Fortunately, I have lived all over the world and traveled extensively and am very adaptable. Ray has not traveled much and has spent most of his adult years working and living in the Gulf.

“We now have a new puppy and are moving forward in these crazy times. I was fortunate to have met Ray before Covid – we made it through that and an election together. He also grew his hair out.

We just went to a 62nd birthday party for his best friend. I taught his friend’s son when the son was in the 8th grade; we have stayed in touch over the years. 

All is well on Galveston Island with Kim and Ray. It’s as if Glen Campbell was singing about them in his 1969 song, “Galveston,” which was written by Jimmy Webb.

The video of the Galveston song by Glen Campbell can be found on YouTube.

Kim and Ray at Astros game

A widow says, “I’m okay without a spouse”

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter 
September 29, 2022
by Tom Blake Columnist

 A widow says, “I’m okay without a spouse”

This week, we share responses to last week’s eNewsletter, which featured Dee, a recent widow. Dee hoped that Champs would comment about what she should do with her wedding rings now that her husband is gone. 

As the responses poured in, they reminded me of the poignant words from the song “Graceland,” a song written by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and released in November 1986 on the album of the same name. 

The Graceland album won a 1988 Grammy for Album of the Year. Fifteen million albums were sold. The Graceland song is Simon’s favorite of all the songs he has written. The poignant words:

“Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart. Everybody sees the wind blow.”

(A link to the song Graceland is at the end of today’s column)

I think those words are some of the greatest love-lost-pain words in history. You’ll understand why the following sage responses from Champs made me think of them.

Vickey emailed, “Dee, you have my sympathy. To love deeply is to grieve deeply.

“I am a widow of 20 years. My advice is to not second guess your decisions about the ring. Wear it or not, it’s ok. I have traveled many miles since being widowed by losing my one and only husband. I do have a companion who in every way makes me complete.”

Kaitte, “Re the widow wedding ring issue, Dee, you need to do YOU for YOU. There is no law that says you can’t wear your rings till you are no longer here, and if anyone says something, simply walk away. They aren’t worth a comment unless you want to add, ‘Just widowed,’ and walk away. Same with the pictures. Don’t ALLOW anyone to tell you differently.” 

Susie, “Dee’s letter was very sad. I was thinking that anyone who is going through anything at this stage of one’s life should exchange emails and get a group together and talk out some of our feelings; we might be able to help each other, what do you think of that Tom?” 

Tom’s comment to Susie. There are many widow and widower groups in existence across the country. It would be easier, I think, to search online for those and join one near where you live. If a Champ wants to start a new one, I suggest that person start a Facebook page. If someone does that, I will be happy to mention it in a future column. 

Also, one of our Champs is Christine Baumgartner, who is a relationship counselor and a widow. She is aware of several widow and widower groups. Her email address is christine@theperfectcatch.com if you’d care to reach out to her. 

Dr. John (a family doctor), emailed, “Dee poses some interesting questions. Here’s my advice: 

– Dee says she never wants to date again – well, maybe. She’s still grieving, it’s way too early to be sure. Also, quick ‘rebound romances’ tend to be a bad idea. 

– Most men view widows favorably. After all, one of men’s’ biggest worries is divorce, which in the USA is mostly initiated by wives. Widowhood means the wife stayed with the husband to the end.  I had a patient two months ago who lost his job AND his wife (who divorced him), when he came down with cancer, which he beat. But then he got heart disease from one of the chemotherapy drugs he was given. She ‘didn’t want to be his nurse.’ That goes to show why men have a legitimate fear of women divorcing them. 

– I’d suggest re: the widow wedding ring issue, she wear the wedding ring until/if she decides she’s ready for a new relationship.” 

Virginia, “Life is short. Dee might benefit if she would consider going to some counseling sessions to help her put her feelings into perspective. While it’s normal to take time to grieve, sometimes a snag like an emotional quagmire can ruin the rest of a person’s life and she or he might need a little help to move on. 

Dee is a survivor and has years ahead to enjoy the rest of her life. Maybe someone can suggest a good counselor or psychologist who could gently help her move on, so she doesn’t get bogged down with this and ruin her life.
“There are also some well-written self-help books on the stages of grief and how to recognize what she is going through that might help her.” (See Tom’s comment below for a book suggestion).    

Joanie, “Dee should move the ring first to her right hand. Then to a nice chain with the ring on it to wear around the neck. Eventually, she might put the ring into a jewelry box.” 

Carm, “Dee’s story reminded me of my Karen’s comment that the nearly five years we spent together were the happiest days of her life. Pancreatic cancer: Only an 8 or 9% survival rate.  “It also reminded me of the puzzlement I went through with our rings: I eventually taped them to the big mirror in my bedroom.”

Cynthia, “I just reread your newsletter about Dee the new widow. I feel her pain after she met Ron and her thinking it was her final marriage. I’ve been a widow for 7 1/2 years and I still have pictures of my husband all over my house because I enjoy seeing them and that brings me comfort. I don’t have any intention of moving them out!

“As far as her wedding ring, after a couple of years, I moved my wedding ring and my husband’s wedding band to my right hand. I wear his band all the time but when I’m going out, then sometimes I’ll add my diamond engagement ring. I enjoy wearing it and I don’t want to give it up so I understand Dee’s feelings totally.

“I think everybody has to figure out what works best for them and I know it’s really soon after his passing but I pray that Dee will take it slow.”

Sharon, “I have been a champ for 14+ years after my husband David passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2008. Dee’s story touched my heart about her wedding rings.  

“What worked for me is that I took David’s wedding band and my wedding band and had a jeweler link them together. I bought a very nice gold chain and wore them around my neck for many years. Like Dee, wearing my wedding rings after David died felt different.  

“I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t married anymore and those rings were a reminder of the 31-1/2 wonderful years that were now gone. I emphasize gone because I loved my life, being David’s wife, and the life, we had together.   

“I did date for a couple of years after his death, but it was difficult because David and I had an autistic son who was 18 when David died. It was hard for me because I think I was looking for someone who would be family and most of the men I dated wanted a companion, not a grown child. I was a ‘packaged deal.’  

“I didn’t like bringing different people into my son’s life. It was a challenging time for both he and I. It seemed so easy when I met David and trying online dating was hard for me. I finally decided about seven years ago that I didn’t really want to try dating anymore.  

“I have a full life, job, family, good friends, our son Philip, and Special Olympics, and I just prayed that I would be content with the full life that I had. Sure, there are still times, that I wish I had a special someone, but I am so thankful that I am okay without a spouse.  

“I joke with my friends, that my husband was such a good husband, father, and man, he made it impossible for someone to compete with that! Except now I have two dogs, and they are special! 

“I hope Dee in time finds her way. Trust me, I know how hard it is to lose a spouse, but I take each day one at a time and try to remember each day how grateful I am.” 

S, wrote: “To Dee: I wore my wedding ring for seven years after my divorce. Just didn’t feel right without it.”  

Wayne, emailed, “The only problem I see with a woman wearing her late spouse’s wedding ring on her left hand is that it indicates she’s still married. Wearing it on her right hand is fine.

“I wear an old wedding ring on my right hand sometimes as it’s an attractive ring. I’ve asked a few women if that bothers them, and they’ve said it was fine. I respect a woman that isn’t afraid to occasionally mention her late husband in a loving way… he was a big part of her life and I see it as a sign of respect.

“Pictures around the house are fine; I prefer they be part of a family photo.”

Thanks, Champs. Not only have you helped Dee, but others–women and men–who are also dealing with being widowed or losing a significant other. 
At Graceland, in 2017, Tom and Greta on the left, Bill (Tom’s brother) and Linda on the right

A Tweet from Rosanne Cash

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter (special edition)

September 24, 2022

By Columnist Tom Blake

Picture of Johnny Cash and a future king together (photo courtesy of Rosanne Cash) below

Johnny Cash with Prince Charles (photo courtesy of Rosanne Cash)

Our Champ Andrew emailed on Tuesday a “heads up” of a Twitter post by Rosanne Cash, the youngest daughter of Johnny Cash. Andrew didn’t know if I had seen the @rosannecash post. I hadn’t and really appreciate him sending it to me. 

I have known Rosanne for 46 years and Greta and I try to see her in concert when she performs within an hour or two from our home. Rosanne is in the Country Music Hall of Fame (along with her dad) and is extremely talented and intelligent. Here’s what her Twitter post stated (keep in mind, this was the day after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral):

“I’ve been debating all day whether or not to post this photo, but it’s just too good to keep it under wraps. I expect a lot of captions, but none I haven’t thought of already. But go right ahead.” 

I decided to provide a caption that I can guarantee neither Rosanne nor any of her 103,000 likes followers thought of. As a co-producer of Johnny’s album of train songs, “Destination Victoria Station,” I came up with this caption:

Tom Blake

@TootScoot

Replying to @rosannecash

“Johnny wrote a song titled “Destination Victoria Station,” about the Victoria Station train station in London. Album is the same name. JRC nailed it. The other guy in the photo passed through the Victoria Station train station but was probably lost. John is giving him directions!”

The other guy in the picture is King Charles III in his much younger days. 

Destination Victoria Station record album by Johnny Cash
Reunion with Rosanne Cash. Pam Peters (Tom’s sister) Christine Blake (Tom’s sister), Rosanne Cash, Tom, Greta after Rosanne performed in Poway, California in March, 2020

Widow wedding ring

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

by Columnist Tom Blake

September 23, 2022

Widow wedding ring dilemma

Dee has been a Champ for several years. She used to attend the Senior Singles Meet and Greet gatherings at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, which I owned for 25 years. The last time I saw Dee was a year ago in August at a book signing held at the deli. At that time, she told me, “Things are going well, a lot has changed, all positive. I got married two years ago to Ron.” 

On July 31 this year, Dee emailed me an update, “I wonder if you remember my email from last year at some point where I talked about Ron’s and my relationship and how we had gotten married after he was in a terrible accident that killed his brother and caused so much damage to Ron’s body, caused brain trauma and hurt his spirit. 

“Well, Ron passed away two days ago, on Friday, after spending a week in the ICU at Saddleback Memorial. He had this stubborn cough that would not let up. Turned out he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his lungs.

“Now I am a widow from my ‘fifth and final’ husband. When he asked me to marry him in 2017, he said he wanted to be my ‘fifth and final.’ This deep grief is new territory for me. We were supposed to ‘grow old together, the best was yet to be.’” 

“I am so sad. Thank you for being there.”

Dee’s news was a shock to me. Besides Dee, I’ve had three other women friends become widows in the last 12 months. I admire their strength in dealing with their respective losses. Each is dealing with her situation in her own unique way.  

On September 13, Dee updated me, “I have been a widow for eight weeks and wonder ‘What’s going to happen in the future?’ For the first few weeks, I jealously guarded my wedding ring! I did not want to remove it even for a moment. 

“As the weeks went by, I began to think about the ring. My husband Ron and I had two sets of matching rings plus I have a gold band as well. I started changing my rings to go with my mood or my outfit for the day. I still want to wear it. I will never forget him or cast off our marriage. 

“But I am starting to think about the symbolization the ring stands for. It says, ‘I’m a married woman, but I realize I’m not anymore.’ I have no intention of dating. I recognize I have many months of contemplation and reflection ahead of me, and I just want some companionable friends and people to spend time with, nothing romantic.  

“What do you think our Champs would say about wearing a wedding ring after one’s spouse has passed away? How does one decide when and if to remove the symbol of marriage? I was going to start by changing the placement, going from my ring finger on the left to the ring finger on the right…start there and see how it feels. To me, this sounds reasonable, but I almost feel disloyal. Wedding ring guilt.

“As far as the pictures go, his old room is now back to being an office and most of the pictures of him and of us are in there. I moved all but my favorite one from my room two weeks after he died because seeing his smiling face was wrenching. 

“I like to see his picture before I turn the lights out. His 11” x 14” portrait picture that was taken after his accident-repair dental work is on the dining table, and I see it often, and I love it!

“When he was in the accident many of his front teeth were damaged, so he got them all fixed up and gained an even more amazing smile. The dentist sent him to a photographer for a portrait for their office (before and after). The photographer was kind enough to send me a larger portrait since I only had a 5×7. 

“Ron’s life changed immensely once we met, dated, married. His daughter tells me his life unfolded five-fold and he was SO happy. Many people that knew him for years like co-workers and friends told me the same thing. Our relationship opened many new doors for him and I was happy and thrilled to bring these things like college and travel into his life. 

“This created some challenges for us, we had different value systems that we had to learn to integrate, but we got there, and we became best friends who looked out for each other, loved up on each other, and made our tiny home a cozy little nest and had so many adventures together.

“When/if the time comes, I will put some of the pictures away if necessary. But for now, I think you can see that I’m very confused. What might Champs say?”

Close encounter with a future king

2009 Casablanca Valley Wine country brochure

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

By Tom Blake columnist

September 16, 2022

Close encounter with a future king and queen consort

On March 1, 2009, Greta and I flew from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile, to begin a three-week land tour of South America. Because we were unfamiliar with Santiago, we booked a tour guide named Mauricio Yanez Mora to pick us up at the Santiago Airport and transfer us to the Orly Boutique Hotel, where we would stay for three nights.

We also scheduled Mauricio to show us around the city on a half-day tour the following day.

Greta and I were so impressed with Mauricio that we hired him to drive us on a day trip to view the Casablanca Valley wine country and the port city of Valparaiso on March 3. Valparaiso is 75 miles from Santiago. (See the brochure from 2009 above).

Our first stop in the gorgeous Chilean countryside was at Emiliana, an organic winery, about an hour west of Santiago. The autumn leaves were starting to turn; the scenery was breathtaking. 

There were only a few other visitors at the vineyard that morning. We walked 45 minutes around the grounds, seeing geese, roosters, hens, and other birds, which ate the bug pests, instead of the winery using pesticides. There were llamas around the vineyard. We were able to sample some wines in the wine shop.

When we returned to Mauricio’s car, he discovered his car battery was dead. The winery had no battery charging equipment. Mauricio borrowed a phone and summoned a truck from Valparaiso to fix the battery problem. We’d be on our way in a half hour or so.

And then, a bizarre event occurred that startled Greta, me, and Mauricio as well. Seven green and white police motorcycles came into the vineyard with lights flashing and flags flying, followed by two army trucks, also with lights flashing. The motorcycles and trucks turned in our direction. There were three sharpshooters standing in the back of each truck, holding high-powered rifles and machine guns.

The three of us looked at each other. Had we done something wrong? Were we going to jail? Would we be victims of a military coup? The trucks and motorcycles passed within 20 feet of us and in less than two minutes, they disappeared into the vineyards. They appeared to be looking for someone in hiding.

Mauricio asked the vineyard employees what was going on. We were relieved to hear that it was merely a security check by the police and military in advance of a visit to the winery by Prince Charles and Camilla from the U.K. who were visiting the vineyard on March 5. Apparently, Prince Charles’ hobby was organic farming.

Not to be political, but I didn’t care that Prince Charles and Camilla were visiting the winery because I wasn’t a big fan of Prince Charles at that time.

Before long we were on our way to Valparaiso, a bit relieved that we weren’t in handcuffs in the back of an army truck. And, Mauricio’s car had a new battery.

Fast forward to last week, September 8. The airwaves were filled with the news that Queen Elizabeth had died. Prince Charles became the new king, King Charles III, and Camilla became the Queen Consort.

Upon hearing the news, Greta and I looked at each other. I said, “Think about it, 13 years ago, we missed having a nearly private encounter with a future king and queen consort in an organic vineyard in Chile. Not many people can say that.”

We both smiled. In our travels, we’d come upon some firsts for us. Among them, almost seeing Prince Charles and Camilla at a Chilean Winery in 2009 and being at the ABBA Museum in 2013 in Stockholm on the museum’s opening day. Events like these are rewards of travel.

Now, Emiliana is the largest organic vineyard in the world. In 2021, more than one million cases of wine were sold.

If you are traveling to Santiago, Chile, and want an incredible tour guide, contact Mauricio. Read the below review about Mauricio. I am confident this is the same Mauricio who drove us around in 2009. If you book him, remind him of this story at the Emiliana Vineyard in 2009. He probably now has a spare battery in his trunk. 

Link to Mauricio’s review

A variety of senior topics

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

By columnist Tom Blake

September 9, 2022

Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition dated Feb. 12, 1990

3 Topics from the Mailbag

1. Too good-looking to pay her restaurant tab

I read this little tidbit online Monday, September 5, 2022. Nothing surprises me anymore:

At the Harry Reid Airport (Las Vegas), a 28-year-old woman left a Chili’s restaurant at the airport without paying her tab a week or two ago. She was arrested by police.

She reportedly said that the police arrested her because they had never seen anyone so good-looking. Apparently, she threatened to spit at the police.

Delightful. I guess she felt that being “so good-looking” allowed her to skip out on her restaurant tab.

Judit Masco, a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition front-cover model, pictured above, was pretty “good-looking” and not only paid for her tab in 1990 at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, but also left a large tip). 

2. Comments from Champs responding to last week’s “Senior non-romantic love” article. (also known as senior platonic love)

Kaitte said, “Some of my best friends are men. I have met and known several women who have married younger men. One man was 17 years younger, and they are as happy as a clam.

“All of the items you listed–keeping your independence, keeping your life, and staying friends are important–they will know if their situation changes but after 10 years together, I doubt it will.”

Brenda emailed, “I have a senior unromantic love relationship. My man friend and I have played very important roles in each other’s lives and shared many laughs and tears. We have confided things to each other that we’ve never discussed with others. I wouldn’t trade his friendship for anything.”

Ted (a Jackson Michigan, high school classmate of mine) emailed, “Regarding your ‘Live at the Ryman’ article two weeks ago, I’ve always envied your relationship with Johnny Cash. I knew very little about country music until my days working at WALM radio in Albion, Michigan.

“One of my colleagues there came to Michigan from Tennessee as a young man and brought with him a love and deep knowledge of that genre.

“We had a program at WKHM radio in Jackson (Michigan) that was hosted by a guy who called himself ‘Georgia Boy Ben Worthy,’ who used Johnny’s Orange Blossom Special as his theme music.

“I have two or three favorite Johnny Cash albums that I listen to as I mow my lawn. (Yes, I still mow my lawn, maybe just to prove that I can!) My wife Marcia says that sometimes I sing along with Johnny as I mow, but of course, I attribute that to her imagination.

“I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite Johnny Cash song, but Sunday Morning Coming Down would be near the top of the list.

“‘I Walk the Line’ always reminds me of our classmate Lee Taylor because it was on the jukebox in a tiny restaurant he and I visited during one of our extended fishing trips 200 miles or so north of Sault Ste. Marie.”

3. Senior scams. Scammers at work

On Friday, August 26, I received an email from a comcast.net address with this subject line: “question!!!!!!!!”

It read, “Please can I ask you something important?

Jon”

I thought it was strange. Not only was the question grammatically incorrect–“can” is wrong here; “may” is the correct word, but why does someone need permission to ask? Normally, I would just delete an email like that, but I didn’t want to be rude in case it was one of our Champs asking the question. So, I replied, “Sure, what’s up?”

The person, using the same name, replied from a different email address(<axxxxxxxx34474@gmail.com): “Thanks I’m glad you replied back. Sorry to bother you, today is my niece’s birthday and I promised her and her friend a Sephora gift card for her birthday. I’m traveling at the moment and have tried every means possible in purchasing one online, which is to no avail.

“Please, I would appreciate it if you could help me purchase it in a store around you. Am only looking to spend a $400 Sephora gift card ($100 each denomination 2 cards) on it. I’ll pay back as soon as I get back. Please let me know if you can handle this.

“Await your soonest response. Best regards, Jon”

Of course, I knew it was a scam. And then I realized that the name on the original email seemed familiar. I checked our eNewsletter subscriber list. Sure enough, the name and email address belong to Jon, a Champ. I had received 16 emails from him between 2007 and 2013, but none since 2013. However, our eNewsletters are still being opened by him.

Hence, I sent him an email to notify Jon that he had been scammed. Jon responded: “A lot of people got stuff like this. It’s all nonsense. Ignore and discard.

“I’m still seeing Sharon. Today is our mutual birthday. Going out for dinner when her cat recovers.”

Hence, Jon is aware of what happened. I also reported the scammer’s Gmail message to Google. They are investigating.

And then this Tuesday, I received another suspicious email from needles@progidy.net, with the subject line: “Urgent.”

It read: “How are you?

“I need your help. I’d appreciate it if you could email me back. Am unable to talk on the phone right now due to a serious sore throat.

“Please let me know if you are online. Thanks. Deanna.”

A sore throat? Really? I did not answer.

These two emails are samples of methods scammers are using. Please beware.

That’s it from the Mailbag for this week. Let’s hope this heat wave eases; we all need a break. 

Senior non-romantic love

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

by Tom Blake columnist

September 2, 2022

For seniors, none-romantic love can be as important as romantic love

A woman Champ emailed: “Your eNewsletter two weeks ago reminded me of the long relationship I’ve had with my friend Bill, who I affectionately call, ‘Misterbill.’ I’d be curious what you and the Champs think about my longtime senior platonic friendship with this much younger man.

“As of this month, Bill and I have now known each other for 10 years. We met through one of the dating sites, Plenty Of Fish or Match.com, I forget which one it was. We had our first date on a scorching August day in 2012. It was on a Tuesday; he was coming from a job and was a bit grimy and sweaty – he does handyman work and construction.  

“I didn’t mind the grime, he had already warned me, and he was quite nice! A welcome change from the duds I had been meeting. He had a sense of humor and a nice dimpled smile. He was 44 and I was 61—a 17-year difference. He thought I was 51. (That was when I was lowering my age by 10 years on dating sites and easily getting away with it. Not sure I could get away with it anymore!)

“Bill thought I was seven years older and told me he always liked older women…yeah, heard that before! But eventually, I told him my actual age. He still didn’t mind the bigger age gap.

“When we met he was just three months out of his marriage and he told me it was in the divorce process. We had some similarities in that he had been married at 18 or 19 – and like my daughter, his two daughters were young adults already and out of the nest.

“We loved dogs, the outdoors and he had a good sense of humor. But that’s pretty much all we had in common, plus our lifestyles were SO much different, due to our ages and living situations.  

“Bill has always had his own business as a handyman and he works alone. He made very little money, and his wife for the most part didn’t work, so he was their sole support. At one point they lost the place they were renting and had to move into his parents’ house when his girls were young.

He was still living there when we met because he was never going to make enough money to afford to live on his own, and he needed his parent’s property for his business storage–tools, machinery, junk cars, etc. He is also a welder.

“We got along well and dated for a few months. I realized he was not going to be the forever man for me because we were in totally different places in our lives that didn’t mesh.

“We have never been intimate except for kissing…although he did sit in my hot tub with me, naked…with no fooling around (but he wanted to!) because I didn’t want it to get to the sex part when I knew it was going nowhere. Hence, the dating ended after a few months, but we kept in touch. He still wanted a relationship; I still wanted a friendship.

“The two main problematic issues were:

#1. Living arrangements if we became a couple, and he had a passion for off-roading and rock climbing with his 4-wheel drive vehicles, which he did about every weekend with a club and went out of state to do often. With my developing arthritis issues, I wouldn’t be able to do those things and didn’t want to do them.

“#2. There was no way I would live in his father’s house (his parents were still alive and living there, and they were messy/hoarders). Or, if he came to live with me in the house I was renting, I was afraid I would end up supporting him for the most part. Plus, he wouldn’t have been able to put his work stuff and cars, etc. on the property I was renting. I thought of all the possible angles, and nothing would work.

“Money, and not having enough of it, can sure hold a person back from doing the things he or she wants.

“Then there was the matter of his divorce, which he never got because his business was in both his and his wife’s name and he would have lost it or had to divide things, start over, pay alimony–a big mess.

“We’ve stayed in touch for 10 years. He’s been a good friend. Each time I moved he’s been right there to help me pack when I couldn’t, move plants and some things to my new places, and has done general handiwork for me like building a small corner shelf unit and hanging lights, curtain rods, towel rods, etc.

“I’ve always paid him, though not as much as he’s worth because I have just enough to live on, and I’d either prepare him a meal or purchase him a meal when he was done. This May, he drove me to my storage unit, packed the contents into his truck and brought it back 85 miles to my new storage place, and packed it all back in. I paid for his gas and bought our lunch on the trip back.

“He was out of the state working when I needed my new furniture put together so his daughter Jen – who’s a welder – came over and did it, in three trips. I paid her and also fed her pizza each time because she came over directly after work.

“He now pops over to say hi when he’s working in the area. He was here on Tuesday, brought the ingredients and made pizza for us, stayed and watched a movie then left…though I think he wanted to crash on my couch because I kept having to tell him I was tired and had to go to bed! It took a lot to get him to move off the couch. LOL.

“I invited him to come the next night to have my meatloaf dinner with me and afterward he took me for an evening sunset ride in his 2004 Mercedes convertible and we ended up at his daughter Jen’s house – 45 minutes away.

“OHH! – the night of our convertible ride when he brought me home, as he was hugging me goodbye outside in the cool evening air, he said, “I love you.”  I was a bit stunned but smiled at him and said spontaneously, “I love you too!” 

“Again, what do you think of my longtime platonic friendship with this much younger man? 

Tom’s comment: I think this Champ has managed this relationship perfectly. She had the common sense to not get into a living-together or intimate relationship. And it wasn’t the senior 17-year age difference as much as it was the lack of many important things in common.

And yet, after 10 years, they have remained friends and professed their non-romantic love for each other. They are there for each other; they help each other. That type of senior non-romantic love is priceless.

Live at the Ryman

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

By Tom P. Blake – columnist

August 26, 2022

 LIVE AT THE RYMAN

Man In Black by Johnny Cash autographed to Tom Blake on Aug 15, 1975

In September 2019, when Ken Burns’ eight-part film series “Country Music” premiered on PBS, my partner Greta and I watched the series in two-hour segments. We loved it. After that, we started watching more country music programs on YouTube.

This Monday night, I turned on YouTube music while working on a Sudoku puzzle before going to sleep. YouTube music often presents us with a choice of country music selections based on our previous viewings.

I noticed Monday that “Country Music. Live at the Ryman,” was on and featured many of my favorite country music stars. I thought perhaps it was a segment from the 2019 “Country Music” series, but it wasn’t. It was a two-hour show, also produced by Ken Burns, that promoted the release of the upcoming 16-hour “Country Music” series.

“Live at the Ryman” was released in March 2019 and filmed at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, which was home to the Grand Ole Opry for 31 years until the Opry was relocated a few miles away in March 1974. Greta and I took a tour of the Ryman in 2017.

That Ryman tour touched me deeply as my friends Johnny and June Carter Cash, on March 15, 1974, sang the final Opry song at the Ryman, which was “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” (Made popular by the Carter Family and others).

Many of you know that I worked with Johnny in 1975 and 1976 when I was the director of Marketing for the Victoria Station Restaurant Chain (restaurants were built of boxcars and cabooses–Johnny loved trains). Johnny agreed to do our radio commercials.

On the night that his band recorded the music for our commercials at the House of Cash recording studio in Hendersonville, Tenn., Johnny invited some of his friends to play along with the band. Band members included Carl Perkins (Blue Suede Shoes), Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers, Earl “Pool” Ball (piano), W.S. Holland (drums), and Marshall Grant (bass). I think Marty Stuart and Rodney Crowell were there as well. I got to meet them all.

While watching “Live at the Ryman” on Monday night, I started to feel a little nostalgic. Especially when Larry Gatlin sang my favorite Johnny Cash song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down (written by Kris Kristofferson). Once, at the Sahara Resort in Lake Tahoe, Johnny asked me before the show what my favorite song of his was. He opened the show by dedicating that song to me before an audience of 2,000 people.

I have remained friends with Rosanne Cash. When Rosanne sang on the show, “I Still Miss Someone,” a song her dad, Johnny, wrote for her, it was a real grabber for me.

Marty Stuart was on the show. He had played guitar for Johnny and was married to Cindy Cash, Rosanne’s sister for a while.

Seeing Vince Gill playing guitar on nearly every song, regardless of the artist singing was indicative of his versatility and talent. Gil has been a regular at the Grand Ole Opry for years.

When Greta and I were having a private VIP backstage tour at Opryland in 2017, we walked past Gill’s dressing room. He was there receiving lots of visitors, so we did not get to meet him. Our tour had been set up by Johnny’s long-time manager and dear friend of mine, Lou Robin, who was still overseeing Johnny’s royalties, 24 years after Johnny had passed away.

I got to know the Carter family well. Mother Maybelle was a sweetheart, and June’s sisters, Helen and Anita were always nice to me. Mother Maybelle played an instrument called The Carter Scratch. Her best-known song is “Wildwood Flower.”

Anita Carter, June’s sister, had one of the purest women’s voices in the history of country music. Her singing of the song “Peace In The Valley” was breathtaking. Anita’s husband, Bob Wootton, and I became buddies during the two years.

When “Live At The Ryman” ended with the entire cast returning to the stage, and singing, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” I nearly lost it. Rosanne was front and center and she and Dwight Yoakam were having fun up there together. Ken Burns was even on stage singing. I thought to myself, how fortunate I have been to have known so many of these talented people.

By the way, I was so captivated that I didn’t make one entry in the Sudoku puzzle!

In 2015, I published an eBook on Smashwords.com, titled, “The Johnny Cash I Knew. A Kind and Caring Man.” The 64-page book details my time spent with Johnny and June. It’s $2.99. I think you’d enjoy it. The link is below. Once it opens, type the book’s title in the search box.

Link: www.smashwords.com

As I often do, I include an appropriate song in my articles. There were many from which to choose but I think this version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” is exceptional, as many country music people are featured. Johnny opens the video. Watch for the picture of June Carter Cash near the end.

Link to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”