Prince in a bottle

So, physical attraction.  The sizzle that sparks when one brushes past the other.  The eye contact, at first sight, where intensity overrides shyness.

Do the Social Security checks come in, and the pheromones go out?

As I age, I look for signs of my sexual diminution.  Forget the biological clock; is there a stop-watch for sex? The usual questions:  Did I feel this way when I was in my 20s? How did my youthful hormones color my world, and are the Crayons now down to nubs in this time of estrogen deprivation?  If I could transport myself back to, say my 40s, where I had experienced a strong sexual attraction with someone, could I still feel its magic at 65?

In 1989, I was 41. I was a decade and a half away from meeting BF.  I was a fashion editor for a metropolitan newspaper, which meant that I experienced many of the same things Anna Wintour did, only my view was five rows back, I never arrived in a long black stretch limo, and couture was a word I wrote, not something I wore.  But I got lucky at a Gianni Versace show. The runway was an aisle that stretched from one end of a large warehouse space to the other.  The chairs were only four rows deep, and I sat on the front row, just like Anna.  (Never mind that the front rows at this show were so long that equal opportunity was unavoidable.)  Thank you, Gianni (and rest in peace).

It was the last show of a rainy day, and I had schlepped to my chair, my black trench coat diminished to a wet blanket.  Fashion shows run late, and it is often blamed on the models going from one show to another, but celebrities also must make an entrance.  And no designer is going to start his show if he knows a paparazzi-worthy figure is due to arrive.

This night was no exception.  The empty chair directly across the aisle from me was taken by Prince  (of course, his name at the time had just been changed to an unpronounceable symbol, but once a Prince always a Prince).  He and I were the same size.  Hmmmm, 52, probably the same weight.  We could probably wear the same clothes.

Prince and Kim Basinger had just ended a hot affair post-Batman.  I (and the rest of the world whose homework was pop news) found that curious.  There seemed to be a repulsive side to the ultra-talented musician, yet his androgynous and libidinous image was undeniable.  Had he even noticed me, I would not have registered any adjective, derogative or otherwise, on his radar.   But here I was, the invisible me,  getting a good look at the icon.  Tight pants, boots, Nehru-style jacket . . . .  and those trademark dark glasses.

I allowed myself to stare.  After all, its a reporters right.  To observe?  But my first-amendment freedom was about to face a challenge.  I had started my assessment at Princes high-heel boots, slowly moving up and mentally recording every detail.  When I got to his face, he was looking straight at me. Or at least his face seemed was turned in that direction.  Its more likely that Prince was composing a song behind those black shades, unless he was assessing me for the sheer pedestrian entertainment of it.  Does he know my Armani jacket is fake?  (Get to my shoes, Prince, my shoes!)  They were true Prada (I had found them in a second-hand shop. The original owner obviously would never be caught dead in last-years clunky version. Add a scuff to the left heel, and the price fit my budget).

I could not see Princes eyes, but I could feel his aura.  Or was it just a mystique? It was that not-knowing where he was looking that made me uncomfortable in my own chair.  But not in that oh-my-I-forgot-and-wore-white to a wedding (back then, it was still a no-no).  Nothing like that.  I could feel my skin growing hot. I wanted to lower my eyes, but I could not break my gaze. Finally I managed, just long enough to exchange a hello with the person who took a seat next to me.  My head was turned, but my eyes went back to Prince. Was it the dark shadow of the moustache that outlined his full lips?  Or his hands, those long fingers adorned with bold rings?  A mans hands can speak volumes. Hmmmm, maybe.  But no.  His wiry frame? No, I prefer a more solid physique in a man.

The lights go down; the show begins.  Willowy models start down the concrete aisle,  something airy flowing here and something sculptural staying there. Fashion shows are an assembly line of colors and shapes and movements.  But each time there was a space between models, I watched Prince.

This fashion show was my seventh that day.  I had walked into the show feeling trend-weary, with thoughts of room service back at my hotel.  Now I felt electrified.  I would never doubt Kim Basinger again.

My across-the-aisle encounter with Prince left its imprint.  I cant quite define it, but I know it has to do with ones sexual sense of self.  I had no desire to act this out with Prince (I know you were wondering; but he did not offer me a ride back to my hotel in his limo). I did not venture into some sexual fantasy. OK, maybe a little.

It was simply a vibration (not the Beach Boys milk-toast version). More like a sizzle under the skin.  Or was it an electrical charge to my brain? Was it more about repulsion than attraction?  More about energy than sexuality? Or was Prince just downright sexy?

The reason I am spending so much time this morning pondering this is because fleeting moments of such memorable intensity are just that, fleeting.  No one can sustain intensity.  And who wants to live in a constant euphoric state, no matter how electrifying? Seriously, we would become calorie deficient and dangerously low on potassium.

But I would like to put that Prince experience in a bottle for application when BF and I have had a significant blow-up, or when familiarity has become the Naugahyde recliner of passivity, or when the to-do list was longer than the day. Or when a shortcoming from the past returns to wound us yet again . . . .  shall I count the ways magic is squelched by reality?

So if I could put Prince in a bottle, I think I know the formulation.  First, it contains no past or future.  It holds only the present.  An unknown.  No patterns or predictions. And because there is no reference, and there is no expectation, the bottle is filled with only now, which is a mystery and a moment.  Mere seconds in time. And therefore intense.  Nothing can be wasted because there will be nothing to keep, and there will be nothing to throw away.  And there are no refills.

Relationships require time, a vast accumulation of it.  To contain it would be like putting Niagara Falls in a Ziploc bag.  The Prince moment?  More like the flick of a Bic. Who am I kidding?  More like a bonfire in a matchbox.

Man-hater: To hyphenate or not to hyphenate.

Blog.he.sheHe should have known better.  Things said in anger are fodder for blogging.

Man-hater!, BF calls me in the heat of an argument.

Man-hater? I immediately think of the 1982 hit by Daryl Hall and John Oates.  Oh, no, that was Maneater . . . . Ooh, the beauty is there. But a beast is in the heart. So I looked up some actual Man-hater lyrics.  Whoa! The fact that I am not even compelled to repeat the verses here should disqualify me as a Man-hater.

Angry words are so piercing, especially when a label is uttered.  Is it the actual word or is it the delivery?  Is it the source (the man I love thinks I hate men)?  Is it because on some level the words ring true?

I wanted to poll my two ex-husbands, maybe even a couple of boyfriends.  Take a vote;  majority wins.  I would have to be a drunk-dialer to do that, you understand.  Drunk dialer I am not.  Man-hater?  Verdict still out.

It would make sense.  I had a carousing alcoholic father.  He was very smart and the most charming man I have ever known.  But he was not the most reliable.  Early in my years, I learned to be disappointed in men, yet fascinated by them.  Women were just as disappointing and just as fascinating, so I dont think this is a gender thing. I think it is a human thing.  How can we not be disappointed with our own species, the flawed human being?

Yeah, but what about all the chauvinist males you encountered while trying to establish your career.  Youve told me about them, I could hear BF say (although he didnt), but he and I had watched together the sexist scenes of the 60s in every episode of Mad Men. He had seen me bristle. In past conversations I had shared with him the male therapist who was more interested in a sexual encounter with his patient than helping her find her inner child, and the congressman, when I was a teenage page in the state legislature, who liked to lick the fingers of young girls. BF knew about the male-only club in journalism.  BF had watched the 1991 Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and heard Anita Hill testify about sexual harassment by the nominee – one black female facing six white males with questions that would never be worded that way today. (One can hope.)

BF thinks my formative passages may have may have caused me to resent men in general, spilling over into man specific – him.

Worth pondering, I tell myself.

Do you think I am a Man-hater?, I ask a female friend over a vegetarian pizza in a noisy restaurant.

No, she says, pausing to swallow her last bite of roasted carrot and take a sip of wine.  You are a man-trainer.

Gulp.

You mean like dog-trainer? I ask.  You mean like sit, stay, fetch?

She just looks at me in silence, as if her Pinot Grigio had paralyzed her tongue.

Man-training. Is that the equivalent of opening a door, pulling out my chair or carrying the 10-lb. bag of mulch? Nothing about manners flashes Man-hater!

I find myself looking up the word.  (Is it one word or two?)  It is hyphenated in Merriam Webster, and one word in the Urban Dictionary.  No need to state definitions; the words speak for themselves.  But the fact that the word exists says it is often used.

So I explore song lyrics I have never before heard.  Oh, my.  My favorite is My Give A Damns Busted.  I played Jo Dee Messinas version three times on You Tube.  Its just downright cute!  Country music is the way to go on this one.  Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks might be a little harsh.  However, in all these lyrics, the male composites were deserving of disdain.

But what about the boyfriend with the Average Joe shortcomings? My English professor BF critiques my questions before answering them.  If I have to cancel plans, he says I do not make enough time for him.  If he cancels. it is a simple adjustment on the calendar.  I will spare you as I have tried to spare him.  The experience of my formative years tells me this is just another double standard, but perhaps I exaggerate.  Yet sometimes my inner Gloria Steinem cannot be contained. I state my case, and he begins his justification which results in an argument that goes too far. I stop talking.  That pretty much shuts down a conflict, but it is a highly irritating move.  I know that.  So, when I recently refused to use my words, thus snuffing out a highly incendiary exchange, the word MAN-HATER  popped out of BFs mouth.

It was a below-the-belt comment, meant to slice through my wall of silence and entice a verbal response.  But I sat there like a monk who had taken a vow of silence. Now here I am, pecking away at it on my keyboard. BF and I have gone on to have romantic dinners and intimate nights, but that label has a residual effect. I am a sucker for self-improvement.  It is my favorite book section at Barnes & Noble.  And it has paid off; I eat better, feel tremendous guilt when I do not exercise regularly, meditate when my discipline kicks in, am an experienced juicer and  am codependent no more.  Now I am the Man-hater looking for conversion.  Is that like looking for a cure for gravity?

I think the next time BF and I have a heated disagreement, I will just label him a Woman-hater and call it even.

But I will take a final stand.  From here on out, I am making Manhater and Womanhater one word. No hyphens.  Flows much easier in confrontations, dont you think?

The angst of maturity

blog.angstIn the beginning, there was adolescent angst. Then puberty hit.  More angst.  I hit professional angst at 21. Now here I am, a woman in her sixth decade of metamorphosis, wallowing in senior-citizen angst.

I was awake at four this morning with anxiety about the future. Do I have enough money to live out my lifetime?  How much more time do I have for writing before my mind goes?  Will I outlive my age-appropriate boyfriend?  Will I enjoy sex until I die? Will I have the joy of seeking wisdom for the rest of my life?

This is much heavier stuff than the angst in my teens when the questions I pondered were: Will I have breasts?  Should I actually practice kissing a Coke bottle to prepare for my first real kiss? Do these Weejuns make me look fat?

There is a lot of pressure that comes with living out ones final days, much more than the previous generation felt. It is no longer newsworthy to live to be 100. That  means I could have to support myself for at least another 35 years.  This means that I could have another three and a half decades to evolve.

I wont get any taller; if anything, I will get shorter.  I wont be training for the Olympics; that ship has sailed. And it is definitely too late for tutus and pink toe shoes. But it is not too late to strive for that higher plane in life that levitation above the lowly human state.  I no longer want to move forward in life on a horizontal plane called momentum.  I want to elevate myself to a fresh new perspective. I no longer crave the distractions that were satisfying, yet as fleeting as the taste of chocolate on the tongue.

At this point I should be talking about how this growth takes place in a relationship because this blog is about love and romance. But personal growth is, well, personal.  If you find that other person who is looking for the same, the two of you become both teacher and student to the other.

Even though I feel I have matured, I am here to tell you there is a senior-citizen adolescence that is as awkward as the first time around.

You can get away with a lot in the first four decades of life, but after that, the slightest misstep can appear very unattractive, even foreboding.  Case in point: Jennifer Lawrence can look really cute in her ballgown falling up the stairs on her way to get an Oscar.  But someone like Helen Mirren?  Not so much.  You dont believe me because you say that Mirren has earned her elegance and grace. She is an icon of poise. But a stumble in ones senior years can send a gasp through the crowd.  Oh, my God, did she break a hip?   Is she becoming feeble, and the time is nigh to bid her adieu with a lifetime achievement award?

Thats why I say that the metamorphosis in ones later years becomes very private, and the results are very subtle.   Only those looking for it will see it:  that absence of tension above the brows, the hands resting happily wherever they might fall, the lips soft and relaxed and slightly Mona Lisa.

I am not there yet.  My hands give away chaotic thinking, my lips tighten into my mothers pucker when I am worried, and I qualify for the before photo for Botox with my furrowed forehead.  But I am free of zits and virginity.  I am capable of sprouting wings, but I would like to feel grounded before I do.

Waiting to be sprung

blog.prisonBF and I know oh-so-well how where we have been is who we are.

If when I had said I do the first time in 1970, and had not said I dont two years later, I would now be celebrating my 44th. wedding anniversary.  And If my second marriage had not dissolved after seven years, I would be celebrating my 29th anniversary.  Instead, the only consecutive years I can add up total 65.  Thats how long I have been on this earth.

Therefore I pluck randomly from my past to understand my present.  Pick a year, any year. Like 1989.

I was 40, at my physical peak I would say. And biologically, very vulnerable.  Still time to mate, hormones at reasonable capacity, feeling professionally stable and very single. Whether or not we humans admit it, we know that in our child-bearing years we subconsciously think of procreating when we see someone of the opposite sex who fits our concept of mating (but sadly, not necessarily our concept of a mate).  Ones blood is capable of boiling at this point. And when the blood boils, the brain cannot hear itself think.

It was almost 8 p.m., my favorite time to visit my gym after the rush had subsided. My health club was small, but efficient.  Only one room held all the weights and benches.  I was watching my form in the mirror as I did bicep curls with 15-pound dumbbells when he walked in. A blonde rock with blue eyes. I quickly cut my eyes back to the mirror and continued counting reps to myself, but I have great peripheral vision.  He was a vision to behold.

I kept my distance from him like a proper Southern girl who waits for the man to come forward.  Just as I put myself on the floor in plank position, he walked over.  He spoke.  I brought my head back in cobra position to look at him.  Hmmm, he was even better than my first impression.

Blonde rock was smooth at small talk.  He said he had been away from the city for awhile and wanted to know the latest restaurants and if the book store near the university was still open.  Books? Wow, pretty boy liked to read. It was obvious from the well-defined shoulders that he had read some heavy books.

But this I knew about myself; I had a reputation for attracting the guys with serious quirks.  They were either pathological liars or total scoundrels.  I returned to my push-ups as I continued our conversation, trying to figure out what was wrong with this guy.

I thought you said you used to live here, I said.

I did.  I have just been away for a couple years, he replied.

Oh, where? I asked.

Dead pause.  Such a long pause, in fact, that I sat up, waiting for his answer.

Federal pen, he said.

I collapsed into laughter, dropping onto the floor.

Ive never gotten that reaction before, he said.

Im sorry, I replied.  Its just that this gorgeous man is flirting with me, and I am wondering whats wrong with him.  And now I know.  It took only ten minutes.  Thanks.

Youre welcome? he said.

Thats when the friendship started.  His wife had divorced him while he was incarcerated, not because of his white-collar criminal activity, but because of his infidelity.  She was the darn-near perfect woman — a good mother, a writer extraordinaire, a beauty, and a woman who loved her husband.  But the manager of a casino had tempted Blonde Rock  with her maximum use of perfume and her minimalist approach to clothing. She could cut a swath down an aisle of slot machines, or so he said.

We had been health club friends for just over a week when he invited me to go for a run in the park with him, and it was there that he confessed he would like more than a friendship. So here was the local version of Brad Pitt, poetry and beard stubble, standing before me offering me romance. Fortunately, my brain trumped my pheromones.

No, thanks, I said.  Believe me,  down the road you will be grateful that I am your friend and not your girlfriend.  (Im sure I meant that I would be grateful, but why not sound charitable every chance you get?)

Blonde rock continued to test my romantic boundaries, and as his talent as a writer began to emerge with letters he would leave for me, I had to admit a vulnerability for the way His Hunkiness could weave his way with words.  Of course he could; he was a criminal and a carouser.  As our friendship developed, he admitted that during the course of his incarceration he had come to accept the fact that he needed imposed boundaries, or he would be tempted yet again to go off-course.

If I didnt have a probation officer, I could easily slip back into repeating this crime, he said.  And I knew that if Blonde Rock did not have an enforcer as a significant other, he would also continue to be a philanderer.

I did not want to be a hall monitor for love. I will tell you how this ends, but you probably know.  Blonde Rock ditched the Casino Doll and married a woman who was a member of the criminal justice system.  He is now a successful entrepreneur and author who walks the straight and narrow.

I, on the other hand, am still mulling over the wisdom of my years and enjoying my freedom as a single woman.  Or did I send myself to prison long ago, happy to be on the inside looking out?

BF says he always feels like he is on probation with me, that I just wait for him to do something I view as wrong, that I use that judgmental perspective to reassert my independence.  Independence. Is that just another word for solitary confinement?

Romancing memory loss

blog.cuffs2Forget memory loss, its total recall that scares me.  After all, we are the product of our experiences.  And because we Boomers are now seniors, we pride ourselves on our evolution, learning from lifes hills and valleys. We talk about the freedom that comes with aging —not caring as much what other people think and not fretting as much about the small stuff.

And yet as we have gotten older and hopefully wiser, I do think we have lost the freedom we had when we didnt know so much, when we had not yet graduated from the School of Hard Knocks. Life was much simpler when I did not see the caution lights and the orange barriers. I was fearless.

I saw my art professor as my mentor, not a manipulative man who used his teaching skills as a tool of seduction. I saw my first husband as my one and only, not a stepping stone to divorce. I saw my 1962 Ford Falcon as the safe way to travel until its brakes failed in the rain, and my car went hood-first off a bridge.  I saw Gods green earth as the soil to till until I witnessed a tractor running over my friends head.  I saw politics as a way to change the world until I realized my work was being used to repay a political favor.  You see what I am mean.

I wouldnt call myself jaded, but I do know that expectations are purely that —assumptions. I have learned that outcome is often something else entirely. It can be better than you ever imagined, or fall short of what you saw coming. And you must hold yourself accountable for the outcome.

My generation was searching for Utopia, stopping at Nirvana along the way,  and ever trekking to Enlightenment. We brought about notable changes in the world, many of them in the area of relationships.

I am of the generation where one in every three marriages ends in divorce.  Many of us have experienced relationships as a single person, a married person, a widowed person, a divorced person.  And after you have been divorced or widowed for so long, you fall back into the single category.  Each stage presents its own set of rules and expectations about love.

So when it comes to relationships, we Boomers have probably accumulated more baggage than the Rolling Stones on tour.

Here I am in a four-year relationship.  I have been married twice, divorced twice and now I am facing another fork in the relationship road after staying single for a quarter of a century.    There is a reason I have been in this relationship for four years without the label of fiance or wife.  Significant Other is where I reside. I stand at this precipice like a trembling figure about to take the Polar Bear Plunge.  I am old enough and have probably had more therapy than Woody Allen, so I dont really perceive of where I am as relationship limbo.  (But never underestimate the Boomers knack for being a slow learner.)  And please dont tell me it is important to merge with another because no one wants to die alone.  Odds are, we all die alone, unless a couple decides to jump into that volcano together, or they simultaneously experience a fatal tragedy simply by being in the same place at the same time.

To be perfectly honest, the thought of caring for an aging husband, or to have him take care of me gives me pause.  I think such acts of love come somewhat naturally after many years and passages together.  When couples come together for the first time in their 60s, there is something unfair about jumping from a romantic dinner in Paris to having someone feed you pablum at your bedside.

But thats not really why I am wrestling with the thought of marriage or cohabitation. Its because I know too much about coupledom.  The key ingredient is compromise (I have been guilty of calling it sacrifice).  And State Farm does not provide insurance to guarantee that love conquers all.  If they did, I couldnt afford it anyway.

But take this from someone who has undergone the training to be single, the training to be married, and the training to be divorced — all those certificates of education come with a nervous tick.  You just cant see it.

When you live alone, you are pretty much the queen of your own kingdom.  This doesnt mean you rule a village of one with no thought as to the responsibilities of maintaining a lifestyle. There is no one on a  24-7 basis to hold up a mirror so you can see yourself as others see you.  There is no one to test your patience.  No one tells you the eggs are too runny. No one stops you from walking out the door with dog hair on the back of your black sweater.  And Fido will not tell you that you snore like a diesel truck going uphill (which is probably why more aging Boomers are choosing to live with canines and felines).

BF wants to know how I see our future.  Truth be told, give me back my myopia!  I dont want to have to see into the future.  It is somewhat out of my control no matter how responsible I am.

When BF and I first started dating, I welcomed momentum toward marriage.  I saw it as a strong possibility, until we had our first conflict. And our next and our next.  We watched other couples we knew fall head over heels in love, move in together or marry.  One relationship took only nine months to get to the altar.  And then he died before the year was over. It is strange to attend a wedding in May and the grooms funeral in August.  Is this not the ultimate example of life is short?

Somewhere along the way, I began to feel that every tiny passage was like boot camp for us.  And I could not help but think that if this relationship were meant to be permanent, it would have flowed more smoothly.  The puzzle pieces would have fit much sooner.  And compromise would not make me feel claustrophobic.

I cant help but feel that other couples we knew sprinted to happiness.  BF and I are still plodding through our marathon.  And now he feels that enough time has passed that we should be making a decision about our future.  Cohabitation or marriage must be on the horizon, or we are wasting our time.

He is right about the time factor.  We live across town from each other.  He does more driving than I do.  There is commuting time we could use as time together.  And yet we both like our alone time, solace that requires no justification or explanation.

I dont want to date for the rest of our lives.  We both have done that, BF says.  He has a point.  That boundary of distance, however, formed our relationship. We found a comfort zone there. Momentum for us was one step forward, two steps back.  It has been like the hokey-pokey of love and romance. Right foot in, right foot out . . . .

And now we have turned ourselves about.

I dont intend to live alone for the rest of my life, he said last night at the end of a six-minute monologue.  (I admit, I timed it.)

Neither do I. But, in the words of one of our esteemed Presidents, it depends on how you define alone.

Unburying the past

blog.art.unburyingThis blog is about romance in one’s ‘60s, written from a woman’s point of view. Although I write these entries in first person,  I have permission from my female confidantes to weave their experiences into mine in order to write a blog that addresses the lives of women in love or lust in their 60s.

When an ex-boyfriend dies, even if you havent seen him in years, it packs a powerful punch.  I have lost three.  Each time the phone call came, the news made my knees go weak.  Once, I actually fell to my knees and came down on all fours, sobbing. My dog was my only witness.

Now that I am 65, I wonder if my ex-loves will start to fall like dominoes, and my own death will be the only way to stop it.  Or rather to stop my knowing about it. Its not that I have had that many boyfriends, but when you live half of your life single or divorced, a list of the men you loved, or thought you did, accumulates. Relationships take hold, and they begin to add up to who you are in this life.  The pieces make a whole. Its like gathering seashells when you are on a beach walk.  You pick up some for their perceived perfection, others for their interesting brokenness. And then you simply add some for interest.  In your hand, you have shells that have traveled from the bottom of the ocean to the shore unscathed, and others that have the marks of a journey that did not end well.

The news of Roberts (the name has been changed to protect a man who can no longer defend himself) death came via a text message. (The first time an ex-boyfriend died, I saw it on the 10 oclock news. That was the time I fell to my knees.)  When a friend notified me about Robert, saying I thought you would want to know, I was in Pier I shopping for Christmas ornaments.  I wandered around the store in a daze, carrying an empty basket,  for about 20 minutes. Film of my time with him  began to roll through my brain. (Yes, notice the word film; if I were not 65, I would have said video. Or would I?  Film rolls; video does not.) The time we were in that quaint hotel in Boston, and he threw my scarf over the lamp to soften the light in the room. The night we danced every song Jerry Lee Lewis played until Robert was soaking wet, and he held me close during the last song, drenching my T-shirt with his sweat.  The night he cooked for six, one of the guests his ex-girlfriend and one my ex-boyfriend. We decided it was simply proof that there are only so many degrees of separation.

And then there was the strain of our only Christmas together. He was soon to get a diagnosis of cancer (but it would be a heart attack that killed him), and we would become more awkward with each other each passing day.  The relationship was still young enough that the physical vulnerability of disease created some kind of psychological wedge between us.  Both of us got our feelings hurt.  We retreated and advanced.  He wanted an old friend to be with him for the surgery.  I felt pushed away.  But I also felt relieved.  He didnt want me to see the recovery.  I understood.  Perhaps it would have been better if I had not.  It signaled a departure.  We would not make the termination of our relationship final until we had accomplished a four-hour conversation in his apartment two weeks after the surgery.

I have no solid recollection of the dialogue.  But when I saw his photograph on page B-2 of the daily newspaper, announcing his death, I felt a need to recall those last moments between us. All I could feel was lack of closure. I have grown to hate that worn-out therapeutic milestone that really just might be like forgetting to zip up ones jeans. There is a personal embarrassment when you realize it.  It is a piece of a ritual left out.  When you get dressed, you zip up your pants.  When you say goodbye, you try to get it all said so that you dont leave anything undone.  Its almost trashy that I would compare zipping up ones pants to ending a relationship.  Ask BF; he knows I am not good at making comparisons.  I am always failing at comparing apples to oranges.

But I do know this.  Death is not closure for the living.

What the NFL can teach us about relationships

blog.flagYou always hurt the one you love.  Sing along:

You always hurt the one you love The one you shouldnt hurt at all You always take the sweetest rose And crush it till the petals fall You always break the kindest heart With a hasty word you cant recall So If I broke your heart last night Its because I love you most of all

Any therapist worth her weight in Gestalt would strike the last two lines of those lyrics.  It dismisses one of personal responsibility.  But inflicting emotional pain is a universal reflex among couples. It can be unintentional and fleeting, but the damage is still done.

BF and I have crossed that line, leaving the other with the sting of a piercing comment that often leaves a scar.  Hurting the one you love  just might be a humans worst flaw.

In a conversation with a girlfriend the other night, I felt reassured when she told me that it takes awhile for her to get over a flash of temper and an unkind word from the man in her life.  Most men, we generalized, can dismiss an argument as if it were a mosquito bite. I said most.

I am guilty of sending BF into retreat mode for a few days with harsh comments of my own. But in my own defense , I have become more open with my zingers since meeting a man whose rants are as impromptu as a sneeze. Perhaps if I could contain his outbursts to a lone staccato moment I could recover much quicker. But BF is a professor; he does go on.  And on.

My mother did not believe in spankings; she preferred tongue-lashings. There we have it.  Some things we never outgrow, like the wounds from childhood.  And when our adult relationships mirror our past, we turn our lack of coping skills into toddler tantrums.

Ive been giving this a lot of thought.  Should BF and I arm ourselves with water guns, always loaded to shoot down bad behavior?  Should we treat each other with decadent chocolate to reinforce good behavior?  Should we just keep masking tape on hand to seal out harsh words?

I was pondering this while I watched the Saints play the Patriots.  It was a nail-biting game. Players seemed to be taking more hits than usual, and tempers flared. Then in a whisper of a moment, the yellow flag is thrown, and everything stops.  The referees huddle to determine who is at fault.  When the verdict is handed down, however, there is usually cursing and spewing from one side of the field. But in that moment of the flags flight, it is like snow falling.  Silence. And then it dawned on me.

Why dont couples throw penalty flags instead of throwing down the gauntlet. I vote for the Hermes scarf; it has such an elegant billowing effect.

Sexting for seniors

blog.sextI had a friend who once shared this advice from his grandmother:  Dont say anything you wouldnt want to hear on coast-to-coast radio. While the statement might be dated, the truth in modern interpretation, holds.  Right, Anthony Weiner?

The sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via cell phone is not limited to the young.  And while you might think we all  learn from those who learned the hard way, Apple innovations and reasonable facsimiles are as tempting today as was the other apple back in the Garden of Eden. But who DOES NOT  love the spontaneity of doing something just naughty enough that you might get caught?

Me, for one.  I have a fear of seeing my text messages displayed on the Today Show.

But that hasnt totally stopped me from sexting.  BF sexts with words.  I prefer photos.  Photos of other people. But I treat them with the same respect I would afford myself.

Like the time I fulfilled a request from BF with a photo I took of a bra ad in Vogue magazine.  BF doesnt know how to transfer text photos to his computer (or does he?), so I knew that he would be looking at a postage-stamp size photo on an antique cell phone (If anyone under 30 found his cell phone on a sidewalk, they wouldnt bother to pick it up). I also shot the bra ad a little out of focus.

Tips in a Huffington Post article (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/08/sexting-top-tips_n_3724433.html) on the art of sexting are suggestions I have instinctively followed:  dont send photos with your face in the shot, and keep it erotic rather than pornographic and remember the subtle suggestion of something can be far sexier than showing everything.

OK, so I followed those tips to the extreme by not using my own image in any sexting photos.

There was the time I photographed Beyonces midriff from a magazine fashion layout.

I know what you are thinking.  Hasnt he seen you naked?

Well, theres an age-old practice that enhances cutting-edge technology.  Fantasy.  You never really outgrow it.

The younger man in my life has white hair

blog.white.hairOf course he does.  Im 65 years old.

Its just that when I was 42 and dating a younger man, he was, uh . . .  well, young. I had just started highlighting my hair (a convenient ritual of denial) to camouflage any gray hairs that were threatening my classification as a genuine dirty blonde. If someone asked if I were getting any gray, I could honestly say I hadnt noticed any.  Twenty-three years later, I can still deflect the question (which is now rhetorical, of course).

When I turned 56, I dated my first white-haired man.  White hair is beautiful. But let me tell you about a rite of passage for single women that is not about marriage, birth, death or divorce.  When you kiss your date goodnight, and you open your eyes just enough to see the kisser, that halo of white is like facing ones own mortality.

Needless to say, the man about whom I write could turn any of my aging features into the fear of death as well.  But its my blog, so I get to write about this rite of passage from my perspective.  Im guessing that if you have been married for 40 years, and you have seen your romantic partners tresses turn gray one strand at a time, it is not, shall we say, the  shock of white hair.

Dating someone my own age is a humbling experience. The person who holds my hand grew up eating TV dinners and watching Bonanza;  he remembers where he was when Kennedy was shot, when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and when man stepped on the moon. He knows I do, too.  And now hes wondering how many more years I have before I forget my own name. The man with white hair is just as aware of my age as I am of his.

The first white-haired man I dated bought fine wine, and lived in the moment.  But also the next. The first white-haired man I dated was, well, a visionary.  He was a developer who wanted to leave his mark in the skyline of the city where he lived.  He wore trifocals because he needed them and Big Star high-tops because they retro-cool. We had a great time together for the appropriate amount of time, and then we parted.

The visionary and I were the same age. The only other white-haired man I have dated is BF. He is six years younger than I.  Appearance-wise, he is a cross between William Hurt and Tim Gunn.  He is not a visionary; he is a Victorianist.  The past is his profession.  He teaches college students the writings of Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, etc., to college students.

When my dog died, and I buried him in my backyard, my snowy-haired BF let the perfect words of poetry fall from his lips as a tear fell from his eye.  The mature professor found words from the past to mark the present as I smoothed the freshly dug dirt on the grave that held a piece of my heart as I said goodbye.  I seriously doubt a man without white hair could have done that so eloquently.

I am also fully convinced that men with white hair do not have sex; they make love because its what they wanted all along. That when they argue irrationally, they secretly hate themselves for it because they are not totally convinced tomorrow will come and an apology can be made. That when they unfairly criticize the woman they love, they are secretly getting back at their mothers, and they know this without being told.

There is something both authoritative and angelic about a man with white hair.  And when you are a 65-year-old woman, neither is intimidating.  Suddenly the white-haired man who was your preacher, your high-school principal, your college professor, your grandfather   . . . suddenly the white-haired man is your boyfriend. He is no longer in a position of authority. The man with white hair is now your equal.

But he still makes you face your fears.  Like the fear that one day the younger man in your life will have white hair.

Menage a trois

blog.menageNever take for granted a man who loves dogs. Never have a boyfriend who doesnt love dogs because if you are like most dog-lovers in this world, your Fido knows no boundaries. And if he is your only dog, he is probably your Velcro-dog. He sticks by your side, follows you everywhere you go, and, yes, sleeps in your bed. Which brings me back to the boyfriend.

Six months ago I had three dogs. As heart-wrenching fate would have it, we humans outlive our dogs, I now have an only dog. Petito. The name pretty much describes him. Petite and a little Italian.

Petito loves BF, but not as much as Petito loves me.  So if I put him in another room for those intimate moments I share with BF, Petito is, shall we say, vocal?  Dogs are sensitive to many sounds.  Dogs are sensitive to being banned.  So, because I have a BF who loves dogs, I just let Petito be Petito, which also spares my neighbor in the apartment next door any doggie disturbances such as excessive howling or barking.

So, like the lone parent to a two-year-old having a tantrum in a restaurant or on a plane, I do whatever it takes not to disturb those around me.  Perhaps  I am also overcompensating for the loss Petito and I have in the absence of my other two dogs.

I have a BF who understands this. Wow.

BF and I have tried avoiding the bed since Petito feels a little territorial about it.  Its his bed, too.  I get it.  (What neurotic dog parent wouldnt?) So BF and I have relocated our private moments to other rooms.  Petito follows. BF has gently reminded me that men perform much better when there are no distractions.  Intimacy, after all, is between two people.

But try telling that to a dog. A very spoiled dog. I will spare you the details.  Just let your imagination soar.

Fast-forward to that last scene, captured in old movies with the couple lying back in bed smoking cigarettes.  Or the soap-opera version with the cooing couple draped in silk sheets.  BF and I get to embrace tradition in those moments.  It is now okay to reclaim the bed. As we spoon,  Petito joins us.

He thinks were the Three Musketeers, I say.

BF laughs.

Never ever choose a BF who doesnt love dogs.