Cutting the cable TV cord

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – March 29, 2019

by Tom P Blake 

Cutting the cable TV cord

Cutting the Cable TV cord

At the end of last week’s newsletter, I included a short paragraph about cutting the cable TV cord. I asked if any Champs had done that, thinking the question was a little off topic from the dating and relationship issues we often discuss. I didn’t expect much of a response.
Instead, I was astounded by the number of Champs who shared their experiences of doing just that. Oh my gosh, so many of you are way ahead of the game. You amaze me.

A little background is in order. In 2014, the cost of Direct TV at my home was $120.00 per month and the cost of Cox Internet was $60 per month, for a combined monthly total of $180. Each year since, I watched the cost of those services go up.

At the start of 2019, Direct TV had reached $156 and Cox Internet $80, for a combined total of $236 a month, or $2832 a year. Spending that much on TV and Internet is unacceptable.

Three weeks ago, Greta and I were visiting friends who showed us this cool TV remote control streaming device called Roku. I asked, “What’s that?”

“It’s a way to watch TV without paying for cable service, it’s called cutting the cable TV cord.” My ears shot up like a rabbit’s.

I researched cutting the cable TV cord for a few days, and then ordered two Roku Express devices (one for each TV) from Amazon Prime, for about $31 each, and returned the Direct TV equipment, ending their service. Immediately, we started using Roku, learning the ins and outs. The potential savings: $1,872.00 a year.

The Roku Express (and there are other more expensive Roku options) uses a simple remote control, and a tiny box that is perched in front of the TV. The box connects to the back of the TV via an HDMI cable, which was provided with the purchase.

Roku Express remote and black box

For Roku to work, the TV needs an HDMI slot in the back. I use the same slot where the Direct TV cable box was plugged in. And we had to keep the Internet.

What we’ve learned after three weeks without cable TV:

  1. It’s not just with Roku that you can cut the cable cord. The Amazon fire stick 4k, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Nvidia Shield also work. The prices of those devices vary, depending on the features offered
  1. If you choose Roku, you begin by signing in to and create a free Roku account. You need to give them a credit card number to create the account, in case you want to sign up for any of the premium services offered by different channels that Roku offers. Getting a Roku account is a snap
  1. I recommend Roku users immediately sign up for the free Roku blog and research the blog’s previous articles. The blog is invaluable in providing information on the ins and outs of how Roku works
  1. You must have Internet at home for Roku and other streaming devices to work. Hence, getting rid of the Internet provider wasn’t an option so that expense remains. If someone only wants nearby local channels, a small antenna that plugs into the TV can be purchased for $15 to $30 (I use Amazon Prime). I’ve read they work well in some locations and one Champ told me it won’t work where they live. She said bad weather hurts the reception. There is no other cost besides the purchase of the antenna but try to get some opinions before buying an antenna
  1. The picture and sound quality have improved compared to Direct TV, which was always out of lip sync
  1. With Roku, there is access to many free channels. The Roku blog lists them and explains what’s on each one. However, to watch some premium programs, people pay a monthly fee–like Netflix, we pay $15 for their premium version, but they have cheaper options. However, I had to pay that for Netflix on Direct TV in addition to the $156.00. Since, we were paying extra for Netflix on Direct TV, I don’t consider having Netflix as an added cost with Roku, but for people who don’t have it, there is an extra cost
  1. If you are an avid game-show watcher—thinking Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, for example—and you want the current version, you’ll likely have to use one of the premium channels provided by Roku for $30 (or more per month) to get them. Consider this before taking the Roku plunge because you do lose most of your current local TV programming that you are used to
  1. Watching 60 Minutes on Sunday on CBS has always been a favorite for us. To be able to watch that, I simply signed up for CBS All-Access at a cost of $6 per month. And the basketball March Madness coverage is included in All Access. It’s like having your local CBS channel at your fingertips
  1. One of the paid channels on Roku is Amazon Prime. If you already subscribe to Prime for your shopping, then access to it on Roku is at no cost. It has tons of viewing options. Amazon Prime for shipping is now up to $128 per year.
Before you “cut the cable cord,” do the research. As mentioned, there are other options besides Roku. With us, we purchased a Roku Express system and experimented with it on one TV. Remember: you need a good Internet connection and that HDMI slot in the back of your TV.

If where you live only has sluggish DSL service, this cutting the cord option may not work for you. Or, if you live too far from a city that has TV service, the antenna may not work either. But it sure the heck is worth looking into.
There is a free website called Broadband Now where you can type in your zip code and get a list of Internet providers in your zip code.

You might sign up for one of the premium channels on Roku such as Hulu + Live TV or You Tube TV and give it a test run. You can cancel a subscription at any time. One or the other would cost you an estimated $45 a month and might be adequate for all your needs.

Beware, the cable companies don’t want to lose you as a subscriber and will do all in their power to convince you not to leave them. Like keep you on hold forever. They will offer promotional rates for a limited period to keep you attached to them. Direct TV came back to us and offered $35 per month for a year.

How do we feel about what we’ve done? We are seeing concerts, documentaries and shows we would have never seen on Direct TV. And boy, are we ever thrilled! Not just for the cost saving, but for the programming we would have never seen.

For example, on Roku, I mentioned the You Tube channel (totally free) and the You Tube TV channel, which costs $30+ per month. On the free You Tube channel, we’ve seen concerts by the Doors, ABBA, Neil Diamond, Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66 that have been incredible. On Wednesday night, we watched a Bruce Springsteen video of his Broadway show (Springsteen on Broadway) on Netflix that was incredible with him narrating and occasionally singing. His tribute to his former E Street Band Saxophone player, Clarence Clemons,  was very moving.

I’ve figured out how to watch the sports events I want. So far, we are flabbergasted and thrilled with new-found enjoyment. Not to mention, saving more than $1800 a year. The biggest issue: discovering how to watch the favorite shows, local news, and programs we were locked into.

I’ve read that the biggest group of cord-cutters is in the age 18-44 bracket. So, if those young whippersnappers can do it, so can we. (However, you might need to eat a little senior crow by asking one of them to come over and show you the ropes).

What our Champs said
I am including a few of the comments Champs made. You sent in incredible info. I couldn’t include everybody; here are a few of the highlights.

Trent: “I live in San Diego and we are pretty much held hostage by Cox for our TV and Internet cable service with their ever-increasing rates. We recently opted to go with just Internet and ditched cable. We have purchased the Roku Ultra for one TV and use an older Apple TV on our upstairs TV.

“We subscribed to YOUTUBE TV for $39 per month and it has all the channels you want (local news, network stations, pretty much all the cable stations we had before). If you want Premium channels like HBO those would cost an additional $15 per month. We can share the YOUTUBE TV on up to 6 devices with family and its even viewable from our phone while traveling. The ROKU player was about 50 dollars online and even has voice command. The apple TV also is good and can be picked up for around 100 dollars.

Alex (Tom’s website guru, a youngster, whiz)

“I’m all about the Amazon fire TV stick and the Apple TV. You may want to touch base on Apple’s streaming service, they announced it on the 25th. Rumors are saying it will be great.

Loretta, “Roku is Ok. Not for current events such as nightly or regional news. It’s a decent alternative to paying for boxes. You still need high-speed internet and a good signal. Boosting the internet signal may be needed to have a good experience.

Subscriptions to channels you can’t live without are available. Make sure you have the right length cable to install the device. Take a photo of your internet password so you have it and you are not chasing it down.

Sandra: “Apple TV 4K in CT. I have been off grid for 8 years with a digital antenna and Apple TV. Wonderful selection of programs delivered at your convenience.

Dee, “Partner and I have the Amazon Firestick (2 years now) and take it with us when we travel and must spend time in our room. This way we are not stuck with the hotel viewing offers. At home it is always convenient too and is now connected to the 2nd TV.

“Last summer, I purchased Ron a larger screen Roku (to my initial distaste…why have a bigger TV? I thought), and we both enjoy the ease of it.  We have simple internet connection though AT & T, for which we pay $60 per month, then we have various subscriptions which change depending on our needs or wants of the season.

“Currently we subscribe to Netflix and Hulu in addition to being Amazon Prime members. To me it gives us more control and is less expensive than the Cox TV/Internet choices.”

Terry, Connecticut: “I cut that cable cord several years ago and haven’t looked back. My setup: I have a an outdoor HDTV antenna (screwed to the top of my condo privacy fence and cable snaked through the AC wall opening) for local news and broadcast stations (including 3 kinds of PBS), along with two Roku devices, one for each of my TVs (I like the “box” rather than the stick).

“I have more television/streaming than I’ll ever be able to watch. Paid services via Roku: Netflix, Hulu (the cheap version with commercials) and Curiosity Stream (documentaries, channel by the fellow that created the Discovery Channel).

“ I like movies, documentaries, comedy, and certain TV series. Admittedly, am occasionally transfixed by YouTube (so helpful for DIY research, travel, arts, crafts, and amusing otherwise).

“All together I pay $17.14 a month for Netflix/Hulu, and $35 A YEAR for Curiosity Steam. Cut that cord, folks!  You will save TONS of cash. (However, I will eat cat food before giving up my internet.)

“Service outages sometimes happen when the landline has issues with storms, car taking down a pole, etc.  Every so often I need to reboot the modem to “refresh” the internet connection.  Minor annoyances for the much cheaper cost.”

So, that’s it, Champs. Do your research. What might work in one location might not work as well in another. I hope you save some money.

Finding a mate with similar interests at age 70

March 22, 2019 – Random thoughts on finding a mate with similar interests at age 70

by Columnist Tom Blake

There are two parts to this week’s On Life and Love after 50  e-Newsletter

Part One – This week, Champ Stella emailed, “Tom, finding love after 50 was easy! We were still young enough to do/look/feel decades younger. How about an update on dating after 70? That’s where the problems seem to appear…”

flaf spy glass cover

When I read Stella’s comment, I decided to include a few recent, random, thoughts from Champs on an aspect of dating after 70: Are similar interests critical when seeking a mate?

Art – Florida

“When women have too many litmus tests before even meeting a man, it stands to reason that they are dateless. I have met many women on POF (Plenty of Fish) over a long period of time, meeting at least 25 to 30 of them for lunch or coffee. I have dated Christian women, and Jewish women, and women of no religious affiliation, and formed relationships with at least a dozen of them.

“Six years ago, I met a woman on POF who was Jewish, and I’m Christian, and we have been in an exclusive relationship since our first meeting. She accompanies me to church on Christmas Eve, while I attend church alone every week. We have no conflict with this situation, and I have been invited to Jewish holiday celebrations at one of her children’s home.

“She knows that I vote conservative, while she votes to suit her own choices. Neither of us tries to influence the other, and we enjoy so many other things, such as live theater, travel and dining out, that politics plays no role at all in our lives.

“I suggest that both women and men look for people with similar interests, however, to be open to exploring new interests too. There is a whole world out there, and to try to fit a person into a pigeon hole without even meeting them can only be self-defeating.”

Bruce – Ohio

“People have to decide if not being with someone who doesn’t fit all their criteria is more important than just trying to find someone who they can just relate to and get to know and enjoy life with, regardless of their ability to meet the other person’s requirements.”

Curtis – Wisconsin
“A tender touch, a gentle caress, a warm embrace. It’s said a baby can die if not held and touched. Older people need the same–to feel as if someone cares.”

Mary Ann – California

“People don’t realize that even for folks age 30 and 40 it’s hard to find a quality date, let alone for people over 70.

“At 70, there are fewer men in the single world compared to the number of women. Also, when men get used to their routines, living alone, they don’t believe in marriage or a monogamous new relationship in their life.

“They are getting smarter and have already learned from life that a marriage or close relationship at this age would not be a good investment.

“Women are more emotional and still believe in romantic relationships no matter their age. Most keep looking for Mr. Right, until the end of their lives. At the same time women also are changing. They don’t compromise as they used to do in their young age when the hormones were there.

“To build trust and get comfortable with a stranger takes a long time. We don’t have a long time. My advice to women searching for mates: relax and let happen if it’s God’s will.

“Focus on interests like water color painting or book clubs or whatever makes you relax. I love the attitude of the lady from your article three weeks ago who relocated to Florida and enjoys her freedom being single.

“To people who already have somebody in their life, no matter if it is Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong, keep what you have. At our age, you may have already caught the last senior dating train. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to think about all the issues in later age and for helping us get wiser.”

Part 2 – Question: I’m curious if any of our Champs have installed Apple TV, the Amazon Fire Stick, or Roku, or any other device that can be used on your TV in lieu of cable TV providers. I’d like to hear of your experiences and opinions. Any negatives? Simply hit reply and email your comments with your geographical location. We may do a future column about these devices that can potentially save large amounts of money.

Roku Express remote and box 

Finding senior love in Los Angeles isn’t easy – California Dreamin’

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – March 15, 2019
Finding senior love in Los Angeles isn’t easy – California Dreamin’ –

You’d think, for seniors, finding love in Los Angeles–the second most populated city in the United States with 4,000,000 people (New York is first)–would be easier than in most cities. With its warm climate (despite being one of the coldest Februarys on record), sunshine, beaches, and Hollywood appeal, it seems L.A. would be teeming with single senior men (available).

Not so, says a woman Champ, who lives in L.A. We’ll call her Cass. She and I exchanged emails this week about her dating experiences in Los Angeles.

Cass wrote, “I’ve been widowed 15 years, and unfortunately, am still single. I am online, attend meetup groups, am still attractive and keep myself in excellent shape, and I have an approachable, bubbly personality. But there are things in L.A. that continually work against me.

1. In my age group (I am 72 and am willing to date men 65-79), men are extremely resistant to drive on our crowded freeways, so a woman practically has to live no more than 10 minutes away from the man for him to even consider her. Many men my age can’t see well enough to drive at night anymore2. I am politically conservative, and about 80% of men I’m in touch with say that that’s a deal-breaker

3. I limit myself to men who are Jewish

4. Most men won’t consider a long-distance relationship. I let them know I’m willing to relocate

5. I meet many jaded men who have been divorced, kicked out of the house, and other things that have cost them dearly, so, they are bitter and say they will NEVER be in a monogamous, live-in relationship again. A lot are looking only for friends-with-benefits and have no intention of becoming vulnerable by opening their hearts

6. Some of the men I’ve gone out with haven’t been on a date for 40 years, and have no idea how to date, how to treat a woman, or even how to display social graces.

“I am not discouraged, as I know there are some terrific men out there too. I’m happy to meet them halfway geographically. I’m amenable to a LAT relationship. I attend classes and lectures and am taking a hosted singles cruise in July.

Tom responded: “Let’s review what you’ve written:

“Your point about Los Angeles traffic and freeway congestion is eye-opening. Hadn’t thought of that before. The not-driving-at-night thing I get. Greta and I often take Lyft or Uber after dark. This not-wanting-to-drive-in-L.A. eliminates many L.A. men from consideration. Hence, the pool of available men shrinks.

“Also, you live in California, not a politically conservative state. You say 80 percent of the men you’ve been in touch with say that’s a deal breaker. Think about that. Before there is even a date, 80 percent of the men you encounter are eliminated.

“You limit yourself to men who are Jewish. That further restricts the available men.
Have you tried the dating site J-Date?”

“And there are the jaded men, as you call them. They get eliminated (understandably).

The primary reason, as I see it, that you are having trouble meeting men is: you’ve eliminated more than 90 percent of the men you encounter just by the six factors you’ve listed above.

“Try to schedule an in-person meeting with the Palmdale man. Check out his background and talk to him on the phone before meeting. He asked if you’d consider living in Palmdale? That question at least shows an interest.

“Your singles cruise in June sounds fun. Hopefully, you’ll meet some available prospects within your age requirement on board.

“Keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. And thanks for sharing with us.”

Cass’s response: “Yes, I have tried JDate and found it to be the worst site ever. I barely ever received a response. I’m not sure why, but I have heard that it has a low membership. It’s been years now; maybe I’ll look at it again. I belong to another Jewish site too, and, get emails from older men in Israel or New York.

“I could give you enough stories about men not wanting to drive in L.A. for you to write a comedy. A woman practically must live next door to the man. One man, an attorney in Century City, said that my city, where I live, is way too far. (It’s 20-30 minutes).

“One man said he doesn’t drive at all, so I’d have to always drive on our dates. I believe the men are opposed to spending money on Uber.

“A handful of men have flown in from other states to meet me, but, when they didn’t get a roll-in-the-hay, they went back to the airport – one didn’t even say good-bye! We’d made plans for the whole weekend, and when I called his hotel on Saturday morning, he had checked out!

“And since my late husband was the epitome of kind and a total gentleman, I wasn’t prepared for this lewd, self-centered, ‘one-thing-on-his-mind’ population.

“Dances are the place to meet tons of men (I am a good dancer and attend dances, but for some reason, older Jewish men don’t go). I’m considering dating non-Jewish men, just to be friends, nothing more. And I look forward to the cruise in July, although chances are there won’t be many from California on it.”

Tom’s final comment: “You say you are considering dating non-Jewish men for friendship only, nothing more. Friends-first in a budding relationship is important. However, almost all older men, regardless of religion, aren’t interested in a friend’s-only relationship. I don’t know of one. We just aren’t built that way. We may be old, but we still want the hugs and physical contact in addition to companionship.

“So, yes, a willingness to date non-Jewish men would enlarge the pool of available single men, but at the same time, your friend’s-only requirement would eliminate almost all those men.

“I’m not trying to be negative, but here is what I think: you’re eliminating almost all available men even before you meet them. You aren’t giving them a chance with your rigid, up-front, requirements. Sounds like dating in L.A. won’t be California Dreamin’ any time soon. But, that can change, if you’re willing to as well.”

Today’s discussion, reminds me of The Mama’s and The Papa’s song, California Dreamin.’

Link to California Dreamin’:

Part 2 – Two weeks ago, I included a link to an article that did based on an interview with me. This week, a sister site,, also did an article based on a different interview. Both of the sites are loaded with dating information and advice. Both will be able to be reached via a link on the home page of my Finding Love After 50 website.
Here is the link to this week’s article posted to the

In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter when judging a new mate?

On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter March 8, 2019
by Columnist Tom Blake
(There are two parts to today’s e-Newsletter)

First, welcome to our new Champs who have signed up for the
e-Newsletter in the last couple of weeks. Our group keeps

Part One – Champs respond to the “In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter when judging a new mate?” topic from last week’s column

I’ve often said, and I’ll say it again today: Our Champs are among the most knowledgeable, open, and cooperative group of mature adults on the topic of senior dating and relationships of any group anywhere in North America. Here are responses from nine Champs (5 women, 4 men) to last week’s newsletter topic:

Mary Lou, “One of my dearest friends has been married five times. His most recent marriage is great, at least it looks that way from where I sit. He seems to have a keeper now (in his 70’s) and they have been married for over 10 years.

“I, on the other hand, have only been married once: 17 years, divorced for 36 years. I was only 20 when I got married, and I believe I did it because I thought I was supposed to. It’s what we did back then.

“Senior multiple marriages don’t matter at this stage of my life. If I met a man with whom I clicked, no matter the number of marriages–or even whether or not he had children–I would be glad for him in my life.

I have no intention of getting married, or, living with someone again. I would, however, happily participate in a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship, no matter how many times he was married. Perhaps I might feel differently if I were younger; now I don’t see the relevance of the number of marriages. I think the man’s heart, health, intelligence (and ability to drive at night – lol) are way more important.

John, “I understand that the number of times a person was married (multiple marriages) is a factor to consider, but, putting a label on someone early in a relationship also denies both people the potential of finding compatibility with each other.

“It may also find the other person cannot commit to one relationship and then you know the checklist was right, but only then. While no one wants a track record like Elizabeth Taylor (eight marriages, seven husbands, married Richard Burton twice) or Zsa Zsa Gabor (nine marriages), they apparently were willing to take that risk each time to find happiness with someone since happiness eluded them from just being rich.

“We are all unique and have to consider all the factors within a person to decide about a potential mate in senior love instead of selecting relationships simply by a checklist that uses cold facts over emotional acceptance.”

Gena, “The number of prior marriages (even five) isn’t as important as is the full disclosure of such events before a budding relationship turns serious.”

Joanne, “One of my theories: if you fall off a cliff it hurts – don’t keep jumping! I’ve been divorced once, and I learned from it. Don’t need to do that again.

“Too many people don’t get to know the other person well enough to make that kind of decision. I’m seeing someone that I really like. We’ve known each other 40 years. That’s a long time and we should know each other by now. He’s been divorced three times. That is a red flag for me, but we’ve discussed this and both agree the LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship works great for us.”

Bruce, “A person has many relationships in life, especially while single. Some work, many do not, so why worry about it too much?

“Enjoy who you are with at the present time and count your blessings that you are with someone you presently enjoy. If it lasts for a year or many more, then so be it, and count yourself fortunate for the good times you had.”

Jon, “I’ve known two women, both with multiple marriages; one was the president of a singles club, the other was a worker in the cafeteria at the agency where I worked. Both claimed they had been married eight or nine times. Ages were only 40’s or 50’s so I don’t know how they found the time for all that. Once was enough for me, I’ll stick with my dogs (and Sharon).”

Stella, “As we age, marriage doesn’t seem quite as important to some. We no longer have the same goals: establishing a home, raising a family, building a future together. Sometimes, it can be a hindrance financially – think social security benefits, taxes, etc.

“And where is the need? We’re not going to have any more babies. We can do the very same things in a loving, caring relationship as in a marriage.

“Take marriage out as a goal, and you open up endless possibilities.”

Dee “I’ve had five marriages. My current sweetheart and I have just enjoyed our two-year anniversary. We will marry eventually, but now is not the right time financially.

“I do not regret any of my marriages because each one was amazing in its own way. All of them served their purpose and made me a better person. And since my last name begins with the letters ‘Cinque,’ which means five in other languages, it’s appropriate somehow!

“Now I have the best relationship of my life, so I have done something right!”

Jim, “It helps your chances for a successful marriage if you choose someone with the same interests as you. If you like to dance, and the other person doesn’t, guess what? You’re going to be spending an awful lot of time not dancing, while your spouse will be spending an awful lot of time hearing complaints.

“Being available and willing to marry doesn’t make them automatically a good candidate for marriage.

“Sadly, people don’t learn from history. We make the same mistakes over and over, and the behaviors that sabotaged our past marriages, we bring into future marriages. Why are people surprised when they get the same results? Another failed marriage.”

Tom’s only comment this week on the “multiple marriages” topic: Oops. We aren’t going to call them “failed marriages” anymore. We will call them “marriages that ended.”

Part 2 – A pleasant experience and a new Champ

Most websites have a banner across the top of each page that shows that website’s major categories. The purpose: to make navigating that site easier.

My Finding Love after 50 website has eight categories. One of my categories is “Consulting.” I seldom refer to it and frankly it’s not accessed too often by website visitors.

But it’s there because, on occasion, someone will want to talk to me for a half hour or an hour about a senior relationship issue he or she is having, and doesn’t want to make a therapist or counselor office visit.

Most of the time the person simply wants a man’s point-of-view. I do charge for my time, but am told it’s reasonable.

On Tuesday, a woman from the East coast, who was not a Champ, emailed me via the website and scheduled a consultation. Turns out she was intelligent, friendly and pleasant. She had an issue she wanted addressed immediately. We tackled it together in an hour.

In the end, I feel I benefitted as much from our conversation as she did. Plus, she’s become a new Champ and will likely join the Finding Love After 50 Facebook group.

One of the most rewarding things about my writing is when I hear from readers that I’ve helped them, or when I see a couple out and about around south Orange County who say, “You are the reason we met each other, and look, we’re still together.”

Warms my heart.

Dispensing advice in Singapore along the river walk. But did they listen?

The link to the consulting page on my website:

Senior seeks dating advice at Dana Point deli

Customer service: a senior seeks dating advice at Dana Point’s Tutor & Spunky’s deli

By columnist Tom Blake

When I owned Tutor & Spunky’s Deli on Coast Highway, in Dana Point, California, for 25 years, it became a meeting and gathering place for older singles. One reason that happened was the deli sponsored a “Meet and Greet for singles age 50+” one night each month.

I know of at least 20 couples who met at those events and it pleases me to know many of them remain together years later.

I sold the deli four years ago to Jim and Shelley Mouzakis, who have continued operating it as a popular, locals, place to eat.

Tutor and Spunky’s Deli has won the “People’s Choice Golden Lantern Award” for “Best Sandwich” in the Dana Point Times’ Best of Dana Point Magazine 10 years in a row, including 2019.

I believe one of the key reasons for winning the Golden Lantern award is that employees Teresa (30 years), Debbie (20 years) and Sandy (17 years) are still working there. They were among my favorite and most loyal employees.

Great employees Teresa and Debbie
Teresa and Debbie at Tutor and Spunky’s   Deli in Dana Point, California in 2004

Last week, I received a text from Debbie. She wrote: “A man by the name of Ray asked about the age 50+ singles group that you and Greta hosted here at the deli before you retired. He asked if any of the singles from that group still come here.

“He wanted your telephone number to find out information about other singles’ groups that meet in south Orange County. Here is his phone number,” (which Debbie provided).

I texted Debbie, “Thanks, Deb, you have always been so thoughtful and considerate of customers, always helping them. How old do you think Ray is?”

Always being the diplomat, Debbie responded, “He is older–guessing late 70s, maybe 80. He seemed very eager to find a new lady friend. He took his girlfriend of 13 years to a community center Valentine’s Day party, but something happened, she is no longer his girlfriend.

“He was looking for a place where older singles hang out and knew you could help him. He will be happy to hear from you.”

Thinking that Ray must be very sad, or, he can’t cope being alone–after all, it was just five days since Valentine’s Day—I phoned him and left a message that I’d be happy to talk to him. I feel bad when older couples lose a mate and one or both are desperate to immediately meet someone new.

I was prepared to tell Ray to take a deep breath, think about what happened, and not be so eager to rush out and replace his girlfriend. Also, that there is no place of which I’m aware in south Orange County–or anywhere for that matter–where older men go to hang out to meet older women close to their age. Places like that don’t exist.

Ray called me back on Friday, February 22, leaving this message:

“The reason I called you: I was a single. My woman-friend and I broke up after Valentine’s Day. I was looking for a place where older singles hang out and knew you could help me.

“But, she and I are attached again. That’s just how it is with women: one day it’s one way; the next day it’s another.

“We are happy now, but if it happens again, I will call you. Thank you.”

Some older men can’t handle being alone, not even for a few days. They rush into a new romance, and after a while, realize they weren’t prepared mentally for a new relationship. The result: they often end up breaking the new woman’s heart. Not good.

I didn’t find out what transpired in Ray’s case—why they broke up or why they got back together—he didn’t say.

I notified Debbie that Ray was already back with his girlfriend.

Debbie’s reply: “How funny. Oh well, we gave him the best customer service we could provide. I wish him success.”

Perhaps, in 2020, the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times, and The Capistrano DispatchBest Of” Magazines will add a new awards category: Best restaurant to dispense senior dating advice.

A  version of this article appeared March 1, 2019 in


and the February 28, 2019, San Clemente Times

aeb8d6_d1217dc996dc4392a46d4bcabc21eb2f_mv2                                                               San Clemente Times

In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter –  March 1, 2019 
by Columnist Tom P Blake
Senior Dating. Multiple Marriages – do they matter?
In last week’s e-Newsletter, Champ Lisa said she had gone to counseling for 18 months to try to understand her “three failed marriages.”That comment gave me an idea for an e-Newsletter topic. So, at the conclusion of that newsletter, I wrote, “When seniors are dating and meeting new people, does having had multiple marriages, on either person’s part, matter? Would that be a deal breaker? Red flag? Or, non-issue?”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and define “multiple marriages”–for this discussion only–as three or more.

Some Champs shared their opinions.

Lynn, emailed, “Regarding the ‘failed marriages’ issue, I have been married three times, and have viewed each one as a much-needed lesson learned about myself.

“People come into our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime. It was always important to me to embrace whatever I could learn from the marriage experience and part gracefully and remain friends. I loved that person at one time and love can change.

“It was also important to help my ex’s, to ensure nobody failed—life happens; we control very little. It stings to see so much anger and or hurt when a marriage/relationship ends.”

Tom’s reply to Lynn: “I appreciate your enlightened view on marriage ending. Also, I think Lisa’s definition, ‘failed marriages,’ isn’t quite the right term.

“‘Marriages that ended’ might be a better description. I don’t view my three divorces as failures although at the time they happened I did. They turned out to be blessings in disguise—it just takes time to recognize that.”

Rhonda, two marriages, said, “I find that a future man in my life who has been through some of the same things I have been through to be a plus, while four or five marriages would be a potential red flag.

“I also think a person who has never been married may be a red flag as well. My insight to both of my marriages and what I have learned from them makes me who I am today.

“Experiencing the demise of what once was a seemingly great relationship can help people move forward in some ways. Seeing what didn’t work and what I can do better hopefully will make for a solid relationship the next time around. I see now how valuable communication and true friendship is in a happy couple (like you and Greta).

“I would be somewhat apprehensive to be in a relationship with a man who has no kids. Why? Because I am extremely close to my adult children and I don’t know if someone who isn’t in that same place (at least a bit) can fully understand.”

Champ Kenny wrote, “Potential red flags dating a woman three-times divorced? It would depend on the woman’s intentions/goals in any future relationship. If her sole mission was to remarry for a round four, I’d be running as fast as I could in the opposite direction.

“But on a positive note, Champ Lisa apparently has many great qualities. She seems upbeat, cheerful, super-active and fit while enjoying her Florida retirement lifestyle.

“Not to be judgmental, but I can’t fathom a three-times divorced 70+ age women looking for yet another husband? Better to date casually and if Mr. Wonderful does once again miraculously appear, maybe they should work as a couple into a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.”

This past Tuesday night, at the WomanSage panel discussion in Costa Mesa, California, (six Champs attended out of the 44 women guests), Champ Carolyn indicated to me that she would likely avoid any man with three or more marriages.

In my archives, I found a column I wrote on this topic 10 years ago. I picked out what I think are some of the more salient points and am including them here.

A woman named Marjorie had written, “I met a man two weeks ago at a musical theatre performance. I am 63, he is 66. We have been out twice, but we talk every two or three days.

“I have been married three times and think I am a fairly good choice, but he is somewhat reluctant to reveal the number of times he has been married, although I am aware of at least three.

“I haven’t pressed this issue. He has an excellent relationship with his children and grandchildren. It is obvious his most recent marriage was short-lived and bitter. How many marriages before it becomes a red flag?”

I responded: Egad, woman, give it some time! You’ve only been out with him twice, and talked to him, what, maybe five times?

If you press the issue, you may chase him away before you even find out how many times he’s been married. If he’s reeling from a recent bitter marriage, the last thing he wants is to defend himself or talk about it. Why not enjoy the moment and forget about his marriage tally?

Why are you concerned about how many times he’s been married? Are you so intent on getting married again that that’s all you’re worried about?

And besides, Margorie, you aren’t a golden angel yourself, with three divorces under your belt. So, what if he’s had four? That’s only one more than three. If he’s had five or six, now that’s a bit of a red flag, but only if you are eager to get married again.

It isn’t uncommon these days for people our age to have had more than two (or three) marriages. Does that make us tainted? Are we bad people? No. We just lived life.

Were our decisions to marry mistakes? No, they just didn’t last. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what we were thinking when we decided to marry in our earlier days. Most likely, we thought getting married was the right thing to do. So, we did it.

How about the people who’ve been widowed? They had no choice in losing a spouse. Some have even lost two spouses. Should it even matter how many marriages they’ve had? (Well, if they’ve had four, and all have died under suspicious circumstances, then that might be a red flag).

I’ve had three marriages, and Greta, my partner of 21 years now, (back when this was written, it was 11 years), has also had three. Having the same number of marriages was one of the things we had in common when we were sharing information on the first date, so it was a positive thing that we both had ‘multiple marriages.’

And despite three marriages each, we have the best relationship I could ever hope for (still true after 21 years). We live together but are not married; neither of us feels that it’s necessary (still true after 21 years).

I guess it’s because neither of us would want the number four emblazoned in scarlet upon our chests—but that’s not the reason we haven’t married.

It’s simply: why mess up a good thing?

Also, I’ve never had children. And yet, I’ve got four kids, eight grandkids, and three great grandkids, thanks to Greta. I love them dearly, and I’m pretty sure they appreciate me, so why risk changing that dynamic by getting married?

So, for people “our age,” whatever the heck that means—60, 70, 80, or 90–should the number of marriages really matter? I don’t think so…but when the number reaches four, it’s time to scratch your head. Five or more, well, it depends on the circumstances, so obviously proceed with much caution.

Marriage number one for this Shanghai couple

This column on multiple marriages reminded me of Simon & Garfunkel’s song “Mrs. Robinson,” from the Bookends album, and of course, the movie, “The Graduate,” with Dustin Hoffman. Probably because of these words:

“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio…Jolting Joe has left and gone away. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.”  The link follows: