Enjoying Love at 80

Widow and widower love

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

July 22, 2022  

by Tom Blake – columnist

How Susie met Jon

One of the most important things seniors can do to avoid loneliness and have a quality life is to incorporate social interaction into their daily routines. That means getting off the couch, out of the house, and being around people. When seniors do that, positive things often happen. Today’s story is an example.

Thirty-four years ago, I was surfing the Boneyard area of Doheny Beach. There was just one other person surfing there that day. He and I were chatting while waiting for waves to break. His name was Alex Rentziperis; he was opening a barber shop called Sports Barber in Dana Point. Alex has been cutting my hair ever since.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Sports Barber for a haircut. The shop is located in downtown Dana Point on the second floor above Stillwater, a popular country dancing restaurant.

When I walked in, Alex introduced me to a woman, whose hair he had just cut. He said, “This is Susie, she’s my only woman customer; I’ve been cutting her hair for 25 years.”

I had never seen a woman customer in Alex’s Sports Barber Shop.

Then, Alex said, “Susie has a senior marriage-success story.”

Alex’s words perked my interest. I told Susie I had been writing about senior dating for 24 years. Susie grinned, “I know, I read your column in the Dana Point Times. I thought your recent column, “Where is John?” was funny because my husband’s name is Jon, just spelled a little differently. I found John, we met later in life.”

I asked her a few questions and then asked if she’d email me her story, which she did.

Susie, who is now a Champ (one of my weekly eNewsletter readers), wrote, “In 2009, three of my girlfriends and I decided to go on a Mediterranean cruise. After unpacking in our staterooms, we decided to check out the activities on each deck of the ship. When we reached Deck 12, we noticed that it was 5:00 p.m., saw an outdoor bar, and decided it was time for a glass of wine. 

“One friend doesn’t drink alcohol, so she went to listen to music coming up from Deck 4. When the three of us got our wine and turned around, we saw our friend dancing with a man. We wondered, where did he come from? 

“After the dance ended, the man introduced himself to we three wine-sippers. His name was Jon; this was the start of a friendship among the five of us.  

“Because of high winds during the cruise, the ship could not dock at four of the eight ports. This gave the five of us time to have many conversations and do activities together. 

“Jon and I got to know each other and became good friends. After the cruise, we communicated often and spent time together. Amazingly, Jon was from Northern California, and I was from Southern California, and we met halfway around the world! Jon’s version of how we met is ‘Susie picked me up on the love boat.’” 

“Jon had been widowed for 1.5 years. I had been widowed for 13 years. Jon told me that if we developed a relationship, I would have more of an adjustment to make because I had been single for so long. A year after the cruise, we were married.

Susie and John Gaare

Susie added, “We decided to live in Dana Point because it was the only place with warm fog and no bugs. Jon says it was simply a ‘no brainer.’

“We purchased a condo together; it has been our ‘pinch-me moment.’”  

When people venture out to enjoy life, positive things often happen. For Susie, meeting Jon was one of them, and sharing her story with a columnist at the Sports Barber is another. 

Why didn’t John ask for her phone number?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter

July 8, 2022

By Tom P. Blake

23 responses to “Where is John?” eNewsletter from July 1, 2022

Last week’s column was titled, “Where is John?” Champ Yoko and prospective Champ ‘John’ spoke for 2 ½ hours at the Swallows Inn, a popular San Juan Capistrano watering hole and country music hangout. But, why didn’t John ask for her phone number? I asked for your comments re: what should have Yoko done?

23 Champs shared their thoughts–21 women and two men. That’s about a 9.5-to-one ratio, which is about par for the course in senior dating age 65+

23 Responses

Althea, “Was he married? Or, just out with his friend to have a good time. Perhaps he “Just Wasn’t That Into Yoko.”

Melanie, “John is married, or has a girlfriend, or just enjoyed talking. Yoko can’t bother herself about the reason…John didn’t want to go further.”

Sandy, “Some men carry baggage from previous relationships and/or use bars as their social outlets to get their social fix.”

Patty, “He was not wearing a wedding ring. That or showing pictures from his phone that show no women is no indication of whether he is married.”

Terri, “Yoko should realize that ‘John” has either a wife or a girlfriend and he just found it pleasant to hang out with her and her friends and nothing more. Done. I have personalized business cards with my name, email, and phone number, should the need arise.”

Teresa, “It seems risky to begin talking to an unknown person in a bar. Everything this guy said could be a lie. He could be looking for a woman with money.”

Thyrza, “His showing off his property would not bode well with me. Men show off their chivalry, that’s all it was. Put it to rest.”

Victoria, “Yoko’s story is as old as time itself. He’s probably married or in a relationship. The lack of a wedding ring is not foolproof. Perhaps he decided a relationship with her wouldn’t work.”

Joel, “I learned, as a matter of courtesy. Just to tell someone, ‘I don’t think we are a good fit’ and to accept it when someone (many in fact) have said something similar to me. You have to click with the person. Say ‘Next’ and move on. It’s not you, Yoko, of that, I am sure.”

Maria, “Maybe Yoko should have said, ‘Would you care to meet sometime and continue the conversation? At least she would have gotten a clearer picture of where he stood. She should chalk it up as a fun evening.”  (comment from Tom: should-a, would-a, could-a) hindsight is always easier).

Larry, “Yoko did all the right things and enjoyed herself. Any loss was his loss. Yoko, keep on keeping on!”

Anonymous woman, “It can take time for a woman to see that a rebuff may have zero to do with her. When that is figured out, it takes a lot of pressure off.”

Elenute, “If a man wants to contact a woman, he will find a way. Yoko should forget about him, attractive though he may be.”

Wayne, “Yoko should have simply stated at the end of the encounter: ‘John, I enjoyed meeting you and would like to see you again. Let’s exchange contact information. If he accepts, great. If not, it’s a red flag.”

Sue, “If John wanted her contact info, he’d have asked for it. He had a nice night and that’s that. Unfortunately, ‘He wasn’t that into her.’

Susan, “Suggestions for Yoko if the situation arises again:

“As Tom suggested, give him your card with contact information.

“Say: ‘I would like to visit your farm, let me know when a good time would be. Here is my number.

“Or, ‘I’m having a BBQ soon and would like to invite you. What would be a good number to reach you?’”

Gail, “John was a player. Yoko, count your blessings and be glad you dodged that bullet. It has happened to me. The guy wasn’t that into me. Fine, who’s next?”

Bonnie, “I learned a great lesson about guys through my oldest son. He and a girlfriend hit a bump in the road. He went through remarkable lengths to renew the relationship. I learned firsthand, that if a man wants to pursue a woman, he will just do so. He doesn’t overthink it. He just courts her naturally.

“Yoko might bump into him in six months, and they pick up where they left off. Timing can be a big deal.”

Heather, “I have a history with the Swallows Inn San Juan Capistrano. My brother Doug was a bouncer there in the 1960s. I really love a seedy bar. What’s funny, I met my significant other, Reuben, there. He has a horse at a stable down the road and came on Tuesday’s when Pedro makes tacos in the kitchen.

“My friends were my ‘wingmen.’ When Reuben would enter the bar, they would coax him over to sit at our table. Once, he grabbed my cellphone and put his number in my phone. Our first date was April 1, 2017. We’ve been together since.

“I wish Yoko had pushed a bit more or returned to the Swallows on the same day the following week. Life is too short for missed opportunities.”

Cheryl, “Has it happened to me? Yes. I’ve had many men tell me how busy they are right now, or what emergency has come up in their lives, that I don’t even pay attention, don’t care. The ball is in his court. My late husband would have driven to the moon to ask me out again if he had to.”

Kaitte, “Happened to me? Yep, for a split second at a gas station. He kept looking at me after he let me in the checkout line for gas. I was at the pump, and he looked around and found me. I should have given him my INTRO card. By the time, I figured that out he was gone. I did post lookout on Facebook but no response. Sigh, I’m 70, those vibes don’t come around often.”

Marie, “I have known friends who already plan weddings after an initial encounter and somewhat naively expect a positive follow up after they have enjoyed themselves. I have had men tell me after a first date that I am everything they are looking for…after knowing very little about me. Presumptions are not limited to the young folks.”

Marjorie: “I agree with Bonnie and my personal experience: If a guy is
interested he will make it happen. Otherwise, as others have said, he is
married, has a girlfriend, or isn’t that interested. Of course, she can ask
about meeting again, but take whatever he tells you as the answer. Don’t chase
him. And more important, don’t settle for being someone’s alternative.”

So, that’s it Champs. I know Yoko personally; she will relish your advice. And, chances are, your advice will benefit lots of other single women who go line dancing our just out for pizza and they meet a guy.  

Why do senior men send mixed signals?

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

By Tom Blake

July 1, 2022

Senior dating challenges: Why do senior men send mixed signals?

Where is “John?”

A Champ and San Juan Capistrano, California resident, Yoko, emailed, “A couple weeks ago, two girlfriends and I went to the Swallow’s Inn in San Juan Capistrano on a Tuesday evening for line dancing lessons. I arrived early.

The Swallows Inn San Juan Capistrano California (Photo by Tom Blake July 2022)

Note from Tom: The Swallows Inn is one of the most popular country and Western bars in Orange County, California. Some customers tie their horses up behind the bar. It’s been around for years.

Yoko continued, “A few minutes later, two men sat down at the table next to me and started a conversation. I was attracted to the man sitting closest to me (I’ll call him ‘John’). He and I chatted for 2 1/2 hours, and I even skipped one of the line dancing lessons as we were engaged in an interesting conversation about a property, he bought in Fallbrook (North San Diego County) this March with many avocado trees. 

“He had lived in San Juan Capistrano for 25 years. He owns his own company, now lives in nearby Mission Viejo Monday-Thursday and is in Fallbrook Friday-Sunday.  He wore no wedding ring. As he was flipping through pictures of his Fallbrook property to show me on his phone, I didn’t see any pictures of him with a woman. 

“He offered to buy drinks and food for me and my friends which I thought was very generous. We had already eaten. He bought a glass of wine for me and sodas for my non-alcohol-drinking friends. He helped move our table a little so my friends would have some space to sit and helped me lower a window blind that was stuck with sun streaming into my friends’ eyes. Very chivalrous of him. 

“All of his qualities I found attractive as well as his physical appearance. I guess his age is close to mine in his mid-60s. His friend kept urging him to dance with me, but he had informed me early in the conversation he did not line dance. 

“I’m not aggressive when I meet men as I was raised in an ‘old fashioned’ environment and the Japanese culture where the man makes the initial contact offer. This has always worked for me in the past. 

“After 2 1/2 hours my girlfriends wanted to leave so I thanked ‘John,’ and said my friends wanted to leave. I lingered a bit hoping he would ask for my phone number or give me his phone number. He did not ask so I said, “I hope to see you again,” and I left. 

“That was one of the strangest experiences I’ve had with a man to whom I was attracted, and I certainly got the vibes that ‘John’ was attracted to me. My ego was a little hurt as I’ve never had a man spend that much time talking to me, who seemed attracted to me and then not ask if he could call or see me again. 

“He certainly wasn’t shy as he initiated the conversation with me as soon as he sat down next to me. 

“I haven’t gone back to the Swallows since this happened but will go sometime. 

“I would enjoy hearing your and our Champs’ thoughts.”

I responded, “Yoko, I have no idea why he didn’t ask how to reach you. Perhaps he’s involved in a relationship or even married. 

“What more could you have done? One of the tips I suggest to single women who’d like to meet a potential mate is to be assertive, not aggressive, when meeting or seeing a single man who appeals to them.

“By this I mean have a pre-printed card (similar to a business card) with your first name and email address on it, that you could have handed to him. Or, you could have written your email address on a cocktail napkin.

“Who knows if you will see him again? If not, it wasn’t meant to be. But, in the future, be prepared to hand over your contact information if a similar situation arises.

“If ‘John’ reads this column and wants to contact you, he can email me, and I shall pass his information on to you.”

Three questions for Champs:

Has this ever happened to you?

What would you have done?

What should Yoko have done?

Thanks, Champs. Welcome to July. Egad. Halfway through 2022.

SOS – ABBA RETURNS TO LONDON

SOS – ABBA RETURNS TO LONDON

On Life and Love After 50 e Newsletter

JUNE 24, 2022

By Columnist Tom Blake

In the last two eNewsletters, I included an SOS message of sorts, reminding Champs to send in their experiences, stories, and questions, so that the articles will keep coming on a weekly basis. Many of you responded, which I appreciate.

Last Friday, while online, I received an email with this subject line: “SOS – The New Lyric Video!” At first take, I thought it was a Champ response to my send in your information appeal. Then, I noticed it was someone else who sent out an SOS message.

As some of you know, ABBA, the Swedish singing supergroup from the 1970s is making a comeback, of sorts. A new custom-built venue called ABBA Arena opened on May 26 in London, which features “Voyage,” ABBA’s first album in 40 years since the group split up. Is the foursome performing 40 years after they split up? Yes, of course, with lots of their old hits, plus some new material also. But there is a twist.

New Abba Arena (photo by Nick F June 2022)

The four original members, Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid have created a concert called Voyage using the same sensational music but digital versions of themselves. The four appear as avatars showing what they looked like in the 1970s, not what they look like now in their 70s.

The London ABBA Arena “Voyaged” show is backed by a live 10-piece orchestra. The show includes the magic of ABBA using motion-capture technology in a spectacular virtual reality show.

They did appear on opening night in person on stage before the concert. The concertgoers went crazy.

In a way, the ABBA members are like we Champs—they are in their 70s now and they’ve aged as we have. In YouTube footage I watched of them appearing on opening night on stage, Agnetha was using a cane. Most of us can relate to them: we loved their music then and they are older like us now.  

Bjorn said it so well in an interview about the story behind the Voyage album. “We’ve aged, but the spirit is still there.”

There are two links listed below to ABBA’S new material. The first is to the new spicy version of SOS. Plus, I’ve included another link to an interview with Benny and Bjorn explaining how the Voyage album came together. The group spent six weeks in a studio perfecting the album and videos.

Performances are sold out for most of the summer. The Voyage website is filled with information, including directions on how to reach the Abba Arena, via train and the London underground tube.

I mentioned ABBA recently in an eNewsletter and how in 2013 Greta and I were in Stockholm on a cruise, and we found the ABBA museum while riding on a Hop On, Hop Off bus. It was the opening day of the museum. They were sold out. We were told we couldn’t go in.

Tom and Greta with Abba look-a-likes in 2003 (photo by Tom Blake)

However, in her gracious, sweet, and convincing way, Greta was able to persuade the museum manager to allow us to enter on that opening day, a memory we will never forget. And while there, we were able to watch while standing four feet away, Natalie Morales of the Today show, interview in person Bjorn and Anna-Frid. That interview aired in the United States live on the Today Show that day.

Natalie Morales of Today show interviewing Bjorn and Anna-Frid in 2013 (photo by Tom Blake)

Will Greta and I go to London to see the Voyage concert? Probably not. But, if we get a call from Bjorn or Anna-Frid inviting us, well, we might rethink it. In the meantime, enjoy the links below.

Link to SOS

Link The story behind the album “The spirit is still there” Bjorn.

Michael McLeavy tells of meeting Elvis in a memoir

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

by Tom Blake – columnist

June 17, 2022

In March 2017, I wrote a column titled, “Delivering a Letter to Johnny Cash,” which described a trip my partner Greta and I took to Tennessee to visit the Johnny Cash Museum and Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and Graceland, and Sun Records in Memphis.

As many of you know, I worked with (and became friends with) Johnny Cash in 1975 and 1976 and wanted to show Greta the places where I had been with him.

A fellow Dana Point resident and Champ, Michael McLeavy, responded to that article. He wrote: “I enjoyed your ‘Delivering a Letter to Johnny Cash’ column and thought you might get a kick out of how I met Elvis Presley, since Elvis was a friend of your friend Johnny Cash.”

Michael and I met for lunch and compared stories about how he met Elvis and I met Johnny, two of Tennessee’s greatest singing legends. Michael presented me with a replica of a poster that pictured Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley together, promoting a March 10, 1956, concert in Armory, Mississippi (photo above)

On April 13, 2017, I wrote a follow-up column detailing how Michael met Elvis.

This February, Michael told me he had just completed an autobiography, which features his meeting Elvis as one of the highlights.

He said, “I purchased your Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark book and was impressed that you self-published it by using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Would you consider editing, formatting, and helping me publish my book on Amazon?”

I said, “I admit, as a senior, I have extra time on my hands due to staying at home during the pandemic. Seniors need projects to work on. Projects can keep their minds active and give them a purpose. I’m not a professional editor, but I did learn a lot publishing my book.”

I thought getting Michael’s book edited and published might take me three weeks. So, I said to Michael, “I will do it.”

Three weeks turned into two months. Besides editing the manuscript, building a table of contents, and creating the book’s cover, there were multiple pictures to reformat and other details to address. One blessing: the book turned out to be only 132 pages.

What Now? What Next? Where To? by Michael McLeavy

As I worked on the book, I became fascinated with Michael’s life. He moved to Los Angeles from Scotland in 1965. His primary goal was to meet Elvis. He did that and so much more. He built a successful career in the insurance business.

Michael is an accomplished singer. He has recorded four CDs, which are available on Amazon.

Currently, Michael’s book, “What Now? What Next? Where To?” is available in paperback only. The cost on Amazon is $14.99 plus shipping and taxes.

However, if Champs would like a signed and personalized copy, email Michael at mmcleavy@cox.net with the details. The charge for Champs is $14.25, plus delivery. He will invoice you via his PayPal account, which can be paid via credit cards.

Michael has lived in Dana Point with his wife Linda since 1989.

Will I begin a second senior career helping people as an editor and publisher of books? Perhaps, but not full time as I must leave enough time to keep writing my eNewsletters and newspaper columns. Let me know if you have a book in your future. I’m receptive to questions.

Tom Blake and Michael McLeavy

End of the line

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 3, 2022

Today’s topics:

Reflections on Memorial Day

Does a potential mate’s marriage history matter?

It’s not the end of the line (if you haven’t found a mate yet)

On Memorial Day, like so many people, I did some reflecting about life. As a veteran, I certainly thought about the men and women of the armed services who paid the ultimate price. I reflected on the American Cemetery in Normandy France that Greta and I visited in 2016. It was a heart-wrenching experience to see the 9,387 gravesites of the Americans buried there. Most were casualties of the D-Day invasion, which took place only a few hundred yards from the cemetery, on June 6, 1944. Some perished in other parts of WWII.

Les, one of our Champs, was involved in D-Day.   

Only four of the 9,387 buried there are women. Greta and I searched the cemetery until we found at least one of the four women’s gravesites. We came upon the white cross of Elizabeth A. Richardson, Mishawaka, Indiana, who was a Red Cross Volunteer, age 27, who died in a plane crash on July 25, 1944. I took a photo of her gravestone.

And I also thought about the men and women serving now. This very morning, Greta’s grandson-in-law Carlos is retiring from the Marine Corps after 23 years. We will be at his retirement ceremony at Camp Pendleton. We’re grateful for his dedication.

Also on Memorial Day, I thought about the last two years where Covid-19 made life difficult for all of us. For senior singles, it made meeting a potential mate very difficult. For seniors in long-distance relationships, it meant not seeing a partner as often.

I spoke to my friend Mike S. on Memorial Day and he stated how the recent tragic shootings across our country had affected him and Joanie, his significant other. He stated, “I’m out of sorts; this is a strange day.” I felt the same way.

I thought about our Champs who are alone, some of them probably feeling a bit empty themselves. I thought about five friends–two who are new widows, two who are new widowers and a guy friend who recently said to me, “I lost the best woman I’ve ever known.”  I know how tough Memorial Day was for them.

And then I felt maybe I could give senior singles a little boost via this week’s eNewsletter.

Recently, some Champs have asked if a person’s dating and/or marriage history is important when seeking a mate. Here are my thoughts.

1 When you meet a potential mate, does their marriage/divorce history matter? What if they were married and divorced two or more times? Does that make them a risky choice?

My answer: no. When Greta and I had our first date 25 years ago, one thing we both fessed up to that we had in common was we each had been married and divorced three times. Both of us had been thinking, if I say that, will the other one get up and leave.

We didn’t bat an eye. Neither asked, “Why so many times?” We both understood what the other had been through. We both seemed like nice people. If anything, that common bond help bring us together. The result: a quarter-century of sharing life together. We finally got the senior relationship challenge right, even though we didn’t want or have the need to marry.

(2) How about dating a widowed person? Most widows and widowers have told me they prefer to date widowed people because widowed people understand each other. An important consideration is: have they given themselves time to grieve and heal?

Twelve years ago, I published an eBook titled, “Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field?” That book addresses many issues that can arise in dating a widowed person, especially dating a widower. It’s in eBook format only and is 33 pages. The eBook costs $2.99. To read a free preview, go to www.smashwords.com and then search on “Tom Blake. Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field.” While published 12 years ago, the information remains applicable today.

Both widows and widowers have told me the book has helpful advice for them, in addition to someone who is dating a widower.

I dated a widow before I met Greta. She kept calling me “Sam,” her deceased husband’s name. I felt she hadn’t healed properly, and the relationship fizzled out.

Is it okay to date widowed people? Of course. However, early on have the discussion with him or her to ensure the person has adequately healed. It would be terrible to fall in love with someone who decides down the road that he or she hasn’t healed enough and dumps you. Ouch!

(3) And is there risk in dating a person who has never married? Perhaps they are the wisest among all senior singles. No divorce scars. But you may wisely wonder, can he or she give and be a supportive and loving partner?

Of course, they can! They wouldn’t be making themselves available if they weren’t up to the task. The more important question might be can you be a supportive and loving partner to him or her.

There is no right or wrong answer to these three questions. It’s up to each person individually. It’s all in the attitude. It’s all how two people interact and care for each other. And don’t think, it’s the end of the line for you because you haven’t met that significant someone yet.

End Of The Line

Coincidentally, as I was working on this eNewsletter on Memorial Day, Greta clicked on YouTube TV and the song “End of the Line,” Volume 1 played, by The Traveling Wilbury’s, featuring George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.” Incredible piece of music. Recorded in October 1988.

Orbison died on December 6, 1988, and when Volume 2 of “End of the Line” came out, the video featured a guitar sitting on an empty rocking chair, placed there to honor Orbison. Toward the end of the video, Orbison’s voice is dubbed in. Bob Dylan appeared on the Volume 2 video. I am ending today’s eNewsletter with a link to Volume 2 of “End Of The Line.” Look for the rocking chair, the subtle picture of Roy Orbison and the cameo appearance of Bob Dylan. And the messages in the song to seniors about living a full life. The video has had 99,000,000 views since being originally posted in 2016.

Senior dating. Big Yellow Taxi

Tom Blake Picket Fence Media

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 29, 2022

Senior dating, wasting her time? Big Yellow Taxi

Last week, I received an email with this subject line: “Both widowed, he is living an amazing life.” The email had been sent from a link on my website. I did not recognize the sender’s name or email address.

The message read: “Dating a high school friend. We really connect. We are both widowed. I have kids…they are fairly independent. He is an amazing father of three daughters ages 45 to 51 and has seven grandchildren and a 96-year-old mom living near him.

“We love each other…I think. But we are in a long-distance relationship. He is in California; I am in Illinois. He texts me his day-to-day happenings and we talk on the phone every 10 days. It’s been four and a half months since we’ve been together.

“He had a knee replacement and is recovering well. He seems all on board and his daughters seem receptive of me. But I am afar. I feel like a vaycay gal.

“Where do I fit? Am I wasting the time I have left? What do you think?”

I felt it was not my place to advise her about senior dating, wasting her time or not. I’m a columnist, not a relationship counselor. Besides, she didn’t provide enough information to give her an intelligent answer. I get questions like this often from single seniors. In responding to a situation like this, it’s best for me to ask questions which might nudge her to answer her own question.

I emailed her back. For openers, I asked, “What is a vaycay gal?” Followed by:

“How often have you been together in person? 

“Did you re-meet at a reunion?

“What do you want? To move to California or him to Illinois? Who would relocate?

She responded: “A vacay gal is when you are in a long-distance relationship, but you only take vacations together. I knew him in high school. We are both 72 and widowed. We reunited at our last reunion in 2018.

“A year ago, we started emailing, texting and talking. He visited me in Illinois for a week last October. I visited him in California at the end of December. We really hit it off. We would have visited again but he had knee replacement surgery March 8. He is doing well and will visit me May 15 for three weeks. Plus, we have a trip planned to Hawaii in September.”

And then she added: “I doubt he would move because his three daughters, seven grandkids and mother live in the same California town.

“I want a partner in life and a loving relationship.”

I responded to her: “Wasting your time? Heck, I think you’ve got a good thing going. What do you expect him to do?”

“You didn’t answer the relocate question: “Would you be willing to move to California and would he want that?”

We’ll see what she says. Her emails remind me of a 1972 song by Joni Mitchell called “Big Yellow Taxi.” More specifically, this stanza.

“Late last night, I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi took away my old man

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”

The final sentence “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?” is repeated five times in the song.

Maybe, she’ll realize she’s got a good thing before the big yellow taxi takes him away.

Has the senior dating scene changed in 28 years?

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter April 8, 2022

By Columnist Tom Blake

Has the senior dating scene changed in 28 years?

This week, I was rummaging around my computer desktop when I came upon the first newspaper article I wrote. It was published July 8, 1994, in the Laguna Niguel News and the Dana Point News. Those newspapers created a new category called “Middle Aged and Dating.”

“Home alone, with only dogs for company,” was the title of that first article. When I re-read it this week, I thought to myself, “Oh my, age 50-plus dating has changed in many ways in 28 years, but, in some ways, it hasn’t.

Why did I start writing about dating after 50 in 1994? An unexpected divorce was the triggering event. I had been happily married for six years. I spent Christmas 1993 visiting my 83-year-old mom in Northern California. Simultaneously, my wife was taking what furniture and belongings she wanted and moved out. The catch? She hadn’t informed me of her plan.

I wasn’t a writer back then, but I’ve always kept a diary. That move-out event started an entirely new diary chapter. I wrote about the move out, the subsequent divorce, and the rather unsuccessful attempts at trying to date in the first few months after the divorce. I had blind dates, first dates, expensive dates, frigid dates, frustrating dates, and last dates. After each date, I wrote the woe-is-me details in the diary.

Five months later, I converted those diary notes into a 70-page short story. I thought perhaps that some newspaper or magazine might be interested in my hard-luck story, written from the man’s point of view. Luckily, the Laguna Niguel News and Dana Point News editors gave me a chance. They thought my articles would agitate but attract women readers.

At that time, the Internet was just in its infancy, so responses from readers were either faxed to me or left on the newspaper’s telephone InfoLine. There were no Internet dating sites.

As predicted by my editors, that first article struck a chord with women readers. The first message I received on the InfoLine was: “Who is this sniveling puke?” The second message was, “Get the boy a crying towel.” My editors loved those comments.

Tom’s first article July 7, 1994

In that article, I described the middle-aged dating scene as a “jungle.” Not much has changed in that regard, senior dating is still a jungle.

The biggest change: the Internet and online dating. Seniors are able to cast their nets far and wide to try to find a potential mate, which can dramatically improve their chances of meeting someone. However, with the good comes the bad; scammers prey on vulnerable older singles and are a menace to internet dating.

And then, for the last two years, we’ve had this thing called the pandemic, which has made meeting people face-to-face challenging at best.

The terminology has changed. In those days, there were terms like “breaking up” or “petting.” Now, words like ghosting, catfishing, cupcaking, cuffing, breadcrumbing, phishing, and LATs (living apart together) are now tossed around.  

One of the biggest changes in the last 28 years is the ratio of single women to single men. Back when the column began in 1994, the ratio of single women to single men was very close to being equal—one-to-one.

But now, as we seniors reach 70, 80 and beyond, that ratio has reached 4-to-1 or 5-to-1, or even larger, making dating more difficult for women.

Some things haven’t changed: networking through friends to meet potential mates is still an important way for singles to meet. And single people are still lonely, in many cases, even more so. Frustration with dating is still an issue.

And most of us are not with the same partners we were with 28 years ago.

So, yes, things have changed since the middle-aged dating era. We aren’t middle-aged anymore, we’re seniors. To keep up with the times, I’ve changed my column name from Middle Aged and Dating, to Finding Love After 50, to On Life and Love After 50, to Senior Dating. I haven’t figured out what the next term will be. Hopefully, my readers will make suggestions.

In 2013, I changed newspapers from the Orange County Register to the three newspapers that make up Picket Fence Media in South Orange County: the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times and The Capistrano Dispatch. It was the smartest journalism move I’ve ever made. I’m blessed to still be writing for printed newspapers.

I look back and am grateful for the 28 years of writing columns. There have been nearly 4,430 columns and eNewsletters combined and five printed books published. Some of my readers have been with me for nearly the entire time. I appreciate their friendship and support.

And speaking of appreciating Champs, as I was composing this article on Monday, I received an email from Champ Larry L. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He sent me a video of Glen Campbell singing the song, “Yesterday When I Was Young.” I hadn’t thought about that song but always enjoyed it. And it seemed to summarize today’s topic of what has changed in 28 years. I also liked Roy Clark’s version.

Here’s the link Larry sent of Glen Campbell singing “Yesterday When I Was Young.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZVm-vHeG9Q

Match.com brings a senior couple together

Rob new pal terri
Rob, originally from Australia now living in Atascadero, California and Terri’s new friend she met on Match.comterri from palmdale
Terri from Palmdale, California went on Match.com and met Rob. Their story is below.
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

April 1, 2022 eNewsletter #13

by Tom Blake

Terri, 71, Palmdale, California, was one of the 16 Champs included in last week’s eNewsletter. She mentioned that she had recently met a new man who is a great travel partner. I asked if she’d share with us how they met and for more details about their evolving relationship. I told Terri she looked about 40 years old in her picture. 

Terri said, “I‘ve always taken good care of myself. I guess I didn’t do too bad in the ‘picking good parents’ derby, either: My mother, a tall, gorgeous redhead, worked as Rita Hayworth’s double at Columbia Studios in the 1940s. She turned heads well into her 70s when she was running for a seat on the Lancaster City Council. 

“My father was nearly 6’3” (very tall for that generation) and an imposing figure as well. He was a pioneer in the serve-yourself gasoline business in Los Angeles and “Big John” had the dashing good looks of a George Brent or a Don Ameche. They were a tough act to follow. Thankfully I’ve managed to have an interesting life on my own! 

“I met Rob on Match.com, back in the dark ages of 2021, right in the middle of Covid-19, and right after we had both received our second vaccines in February 2021. I guess we were feeling a little invincible. 

“He lives in Atascadero and I was considering a move to Paso Robles, near that area, so I put that zip code in a Match.com search to see what the dating pool from age 66-76 might look like. Rob had been widowed for about a year after a very long marriage. His daughter had suggested he give Match a try. He was on there for about a month. I was divorced in 2014 after a 33-year marriage. I was on Match a lot longer than I’d like to admit, however, I met some interesting men and some who remain, dear friends, today. 

“I saw but didn’t answer Rob’s profile, thinking it deserved more than a cursory or flippant reply. Surprise, surprise, he then wrote to me, giving his email address and asking if I’d like to begin a conversation? So, I wrote him back. 

“We talked on the phone for a couple of weeks and then he invited me to a family barbecue at his house. He sent me a dozen red roses before the BBQ. And it really was a family barbecue: his daughter, her boyfriend, his grandson, his best friend, and her boyfriend. I guess it was the ‘approval committee’ barbecue and I passed! 

“We’ve been having fun ever since and I have been thankful for his presence in my life throughout some health problems I encountered (since recovered). My life would have been a lot tougher this past year without Rob’s positivity and his presence. Now it’s time for us to travel some and to have more fun. Life is an adventure! 

“Rob owns a nice home where he lives with his daughter and grandson. So, we’ll be something like an LTS (living together separately) couple about 15 minutes away from each other.

“Rob was born and raised in Australia. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy at 16 and traveled the world for 20 years, including extensive service in Vietnam. Upon his retirement from the Navy, he was a ranking officer. He helps his fellow RAN (Royal Australian Navy) officers celebrate ANZAC day each year (see Rob’s photo).

“After his military retirement, he lived a dozen years in England and six years in France, working as an antique dealer. His American wife wanted to return to the US, which brought them to California, and the Central Coast where he has lived for the past 24 years. Kind of an International guy, no? Love that Aussie accent, and Rob’s a great travel partner! 

“He’s an honest and up-front guy, with a high energy level to boot! I would say that persistence and resilience are two of the best qualities one can possess if you want to meet someone and pursue that through dating sites. “Thanks for your columns, Tom, and for all I’ve learned from you about life and being a ‘senior single’ in the past 7+ years!” 

Part 2
RETA – “No Grumping for me”  

Reta, 84, Cincinnati, emailed: “No Grumping for me. After reading all the comments from the ‘young champs,’ I had to comment on my situation. I’m 84 and babysit my three great-grandkids ages 2,4, and 6 three days a week. This is when I notice fewer aches and pains and enjoy life. Sometimes I’m driving the 30-minute drive home after dark-not a problem.

“I also volunteer to crochet shawls for a hospital. I have different groups of friends to keep in contact with. I don’t walk as easily as I used to, but I keep walking and keep doing. Tell that grumpy man that he needs to do the same.”

Tom’s response to Reta, “Good on ya! I like your comment about being around the great-grandkids helping to keep you thinking young. And driving after dark? Courageous. And volunteering. You’ve got all the healthy buttons pushed. “Proud of you. Keep it up!”

Stop grumping and 15 other responses

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

March 25, 2022 eNewsletter #12

by Tom BlakeColumnist

Stop Grumping and 15 other responses

16 Champs comment about last week’s “Three things to avoid after age 70” article

Last week’s eNewsletter quoted a guy named Doug Armey who said that most people after age 70 act and talk old. I didn’t like what he said. Many of you felt the same way. As often happens, our Champs chimed in with concise and sage comments. Here are several of them:

Jacquie, “Today, the 25th of March, I turn 74. I don’t feel old. I’ve had two back surgeries and have bursitis and tendonitis, but I still walk 10,000 steps nearly every day. I also read lots of books and magazines. My brother and sister-in-law are four years and three years older respectively and are always traveling. They also walk often.

“I retired at 70 so I could do more of what I want. I won’t be reading Armey’s column anytime soon.”

Rosemarie, South Africa, “I’m 82 and manage my business and interact with clients every day. Health is 100%. Three times a week to the gym. I have lunch with my women friends. It’s best to keep busy.”

Kaitte, “I remember my mother telling me when I was 32 that I was no ‘spring-chicken’ and needed to settle down. At 44 I had cancer. I was dating a man five years younger. My grandmother told me she wished I’d find a man my age and settle down. I told Granny 40-year-olds now aren’t like they were when she was 40.

“I figured if I was going to die, I was going to live what was left of my life on my own terms and not in a hospital room.

“I’m 70 and feel the same—not living my life by some society rule that says I’ve got to act or be a certain way at a certain age.”

Pat, “I just celebrated the 41st anniversary of my 42nd birthday (83) and am still going strong. I don’t dress, act or think like an old lady. My significant other and I are in our 18th year together and it keeps getting better. It’s all about attitude.”

Tom’s comment: Pat’s story about how she met “Cowboy,” her significant other, a Harley rider, was so refreshing and inspirational, I included it in my 2009 book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” Her story’s title: “Love on the back of a Harley.” The printed lesson learned from Pat’s story: Open your mind to meeting people with different interests and backgrounds. Expand your horizons.

In Sarah’s email, she used a word of which I was not familiar. She emailed, “I wonder if Armey has found himself thinking/acting/feeling those things and not happy about it…thus, his grumping about it.”

She added, “I don’t see anything wrong with mentioning age…unless one is grumping about itOccasionally, I mention my age, but it’s because I am happy to have achieved it—a badge of honor—sort of like my gray hair. I am proud of that too.”

Tom’s comment: I had never heard the word grumping. It’s not listed in my older dictionaries, but it is listed in some online dictionaries. So, no more grumping from me!

Nigelle, Glastonbury, Somerset, UK, “Hurrah for you, Tom, for speaking up for all 70+ peeps that this Armey chappie has never come across.”

Carol, “Loved your article: it sure hit home. I’m almost 85 and all those things were me…I try to keep doing things, but I don’t ‘drive after dark.’ Your eNewsletters are always good for laughs, even when they hit home.”

Thyrza, “I am pleased you give us your take on the articles published. Who wants to read those unfounded negative reviews of people regardless of age? Armey, who wrote the piece, should learn basic philosophy or logic. One does not make sweeping statements that apply to most people, based only on one’s experiences.”

Diana, “I’m 64 and love every year. Being old and acting old is a choice! I choose to never do either. A fun Friday read.”

Teresa, “One thing never to avoid: if you disagree, speak your mind!”

Terri, 71 and counting, “This Armey guy is all wet and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Seventy years go by awfully fast. I’m lucky. I’ve got great kids, nice friends, a beautiful home, and men still find me attractive.

“I’m in a relatively new relationship with an accomplished, high-energy man, who is a great travel partner. Mercifully, none of us knows how long we have left. Life is and always has been, what we make of it.”

Larry, Florida, “At age 72, I still flip off inconsiderate dudes, like you described in last week’s column. My friend Liz bought a big-screen TV. We rocked and danced to videos of our favorite musical artists. There was a knock on her door. It was her neighbor politely asking to lower the sound because her teenage daughter was studying for a test.’ We considered her comment a badge of honor. We felt instantly younger. We turned the music down, and still ‘danced the night away.’”

Heather, “I turned 69 last week. I rewarded myself by purchasing three new bikini’s. I love being outdoors and getting Dana Point sunshine. No early-bird dinners for my partner Rueben and me. We love to cook and BBQ. Tricky meals are my favs. If they are Rueben approved, they get put into my “Momma Knott’s favorite binder.”

“Also, volunteering is such a pleasant thing to do; I enjoy doing that as well.”

Larry, California: Another thing to do: “Stay off of ladders.” 

Tom agrees: That’s for sure. It’s tempting when you need an item from that top shelf that can’t be reached without a ladder. But think twice before doing that.

Kathy, “Some of us who were active in our 30s, 40s, and 50s develop severe knee problems in our 60s and 70s. Even after knee replacements, we can’t engage in those activities we used to enjoy. So, Armey, unless you have walked a mile in those knees, zip it.”

Tom’s comment: My sister Pam recently had surgery on one knee. The rehab was painful and lengthy. But, she’s a trooper (and Champ) and has toughed it out and walking well. I admire her tenacity.

Susie, Virginia, “I’m 80. I’ve had a hard time adjusting to living in an age 62+ community. 80 is just a number to me. There is no one living here like me, I have been blessed with good health and good genes. I’m pretty lonely here.”

Thank you, Champs, for your warm, positive, and friendly responses.