I met my boyfriend, Robert, at age 59. I hadn’t had much luck with men prior to that.
We were at a local music spot and he sidled over to my friend Linda and me. He plied us with Perriers, and asked me to dance. When the rock ’n’ roll segued into slow blues, we went out to the patio to talk.
“When did you graduate high school?” he asked tactfully.
“Wilson High, class of ’65,” I replied.
“Oh that’s good.” He smiled. “You’re a freshman and I’m a senior.”
That sweet comment made me feel 15, and led to seeing him again. Two years later, we’re still dating. Truth be told, I still feel 15, and he merely validates it.
I don’t Botox or peel. I have weathered Southern California skin and wish I’d listened to Mom’s admonitions about sunscreen. (“Oh, Mom, all the kids use baby oil.”) But I’m lucky to have someone who thinks I look good. (One charm of senior relationships is that neither of us can see all that well, especially without our glasses. Instant face-lift.)
My boomer friends and I are not going gentle into the dark night of old age. To begin with, we don’t think we have to age. If our knees blow out, we ask the surgeon to make us new ones. And if we can’t jog anymore, we bike or swim.
One of Robert’s friends summed him up well. “To love Robert, you have to love the child in him.” And I believe that’s the key to my entire generation. We still sing rock ’n’ roll and wear blue jeans. Anyone who courts our demographic would do well to remember that we feel internally and eternally youthful.
There is a scene in the movie Young @ Heart where a choir of seniors, average age 75, sings “Forever Young” to some male prisoners in New England. The camera pans the faces of inmates as they listen and some of the toughest begin to weep.
There is also a look of bemusement on their faces, as they make the most important mental shift that young people can make about my tribe. They see that kindness is ageless.
AARP Bulletin’s "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Sue Clark is a reader from Grass Valley, Calif.