I have just finished two enchanting pieces from or about couples in their senior years – one a book and the other a New York Times article. I think of them as slow burner and fast burner. Whatever the approach, the results are reaffirming for our later years.
On the slow burner, we have two never-married residents of Brooklyn who have been taking care of their elderly and sickly parents for much of their adult lives. They grew up in the area, never really left and have returned to the fold to do what might be expected of single, adult Italian children. This was the situation until one day in 2007, Ann stopped at the local bocce court on her bike ride home from work. Sitting on a bench just watching the action was a guy who didn’t seem to notice her. Well, Ann was looking for a respite after busy days, so she made the stop a habit. The guy Peter was always there, but never said a word.
Friends notice, but Peter doesn’t. Friends comment, but Peter doesn’t react. Friends point out commonalities in their lives. Nothing. Well, we’re talking eight years here, so you’ll have to go read the rest of the story for yourself.
On the fast track we have Lube of Life, A Tribute to Sex, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Boomer Age by Mindy Mitchell and Edward Land. Two sixty-somethings, he widowed, she divorced, they go looking for love in all the wrong places. No, no – got to get those 60’s songs out of my head. They go looking for relationship and hopefully love at a dating site. They do not meet each other’s on-line profile, the most challenging being that they live 200 miles apart. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The ritual begins.
This is a chronicle of several very fast flowing months in their relationship. It is a compilation, with intervening narrative, of their on-line posts, their e-mail exchanges and their telephone texts. It is quite frank (I can’t imagine the expurgated parts), but funny and compelling. I have met Mindy and she warned me about the book, should I be a prude. Well, in a sense, I felt like a voyeur, yet I and the rest of readers have been given permission to read on.
Mindy and Edward are opposites in many ways. She says that he is non-linear with respect to the timing of events; she is the opposite and needs to nail it down. She is super-organized and makes her living in part from helping others to be that way; he is a keeper which is not the same as a hoarder. He has a regular 9 to 5 type of job; she can work from home and is quite flexible. What they seem to have in common is a lust for relationship, closeness and love, should it happen.
This book is a fascinating insight into the hopes and aspirations that drive virtually everyone of us, in the same way that Ann and Peter of Brooklyn are exploring their lives as a couple. Read both.
[Note to self: can I ban Mindy from viewing our The Stuff category, or should I engage her to counsel me professionally on dealing with it all?]