I moved into a large retirement community after my husband of 50 years died from a long, debilitating illness. Mine had been an unhappy marriage and I found that I cherished my freedom of living alone. My retirement community (average age is 78) is lively with over 200 clubs and activities in which I readily take part, filling up my days with stimulating undertakings.
I kept active by getting involved in the politics of the community and joining a number of activities. I learned how to produce videos for our little TV station. I started an improv club with another contented widow so that every week we could laugh for an hour by making stuff up (that's our loose definition of improv). I went to Zumba and line dancing classes. I walked about two miles every day. I also learned to play poker and got pretty good at it.
The one thing I knew for certain was that I did not want a man in my life ever again.
I purposely avoided the community's dancing parties and any other activities where it might look like I was actively seeking male companionship. I loved living alone and planned to keep it that way for the rest of my life. Life was good.
Since I was now almost 80 years of age (I was told this was the new 50), my plan to be alone until passing seemed completely logical. I didn't want anyone bringing untidiness into my life now that I had perfected it. I'd lived a cluttered life before and definitely didn't want it again.
But then he came into my poker game and plunked himself down beside me. He looked like he was definitely not relationship material.
Over the next months of card playing, I gleaned that he was retired Navy (a very by-the-book person, I'm much more relaxed), conservative politically (oh no, I'm very liberal), religious (I'm not), plain meat-and-potatoes type (I'm more gourmet vegetarian). See! Nothing appealing to me at all. However, he was tall and although he was my age he looked younger, plus he loved to joke.
He liked to send email to everyone in our poker group and he sent one letter that I felt was racist propaganda and emailed him back telling him so. I was rather rude about it and from his response I saw that I had hurt his feelings and that I might have erred in accusing him of being racist. Since I felt I had been unkind, I asked him if I could take him out for a beer at a local bar to make up for my incivility. Actually, I wanted to prove I wasn't as mean as I sounded in my letter.
Instead he insisted on taking me out for lunch at a very upscale restaurant on the beach and that he would pay for it because he didn't believe women should ever pay. (He's very old school, which rather rubs against my feminism). When he came to my door to pick me up for lunch, he stepped inside, shut the door and planted the most luscious kiss on my lips. OMG! I think I heard an angel sing. Perhaps I need to rethink this man? But no! Look at all those opposing qualities. How could I weigh one kiss against his politics, religion and culture?
During lunch I discovered that he loves the blues and to go to plays and movies. He gets along with his children and grandchildren and he stays active with several volunteer activities. We were even able to discuss a few political points without having a food fight in the middle of the restaurant. That's a point for me since I tend to get belligerent and sarcastic in political arguments. However, he was so kind, it was hard for me to be offensive with him.
After lunch, he drove me home but before he could park, I jumped out of the car, thanked him, and sprinted into my house. I was not going to chance another kiss. I'm 80 years old and I didn't want to risk getting involved at this point in my life.
During the next weeks, we continued to play poker and be polite. He was very easy to be around.
He was also a very persistent fellow and didn't seem to care that we were the exact opposites. After several invitations that I declined, he asked me to go to a buffet breakfast where his daughter would meet us. For some reason I accepted. I loved her immediately. She's as big a liberal as I am and she has a great relationship with her conservative father. I decided that if she can get along with him, maybe I could too.
So when we got home, I kissed him.
We're still going "fast and furious."
After all, at age 80, we don't have any time to waste.
The author is a retired English teacher, living in Seal Beach. You can find her on Facebook.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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