“You’re nuts!” I shout in their haggard faces. “Your dates don’t want you to mumble on about your past exploits! They don’t care about your nostalgia for your former selves!”
I’m playing Ann Landers to two dear friends who find themselves single and lonely and investigating their options. (It’s just my thing: offering unsolicited advice on matters I know nothing about.)
As suitors, both of these guys have been unavailable for decades. They were busy addressing challenging careers, upside-down mortgages and kids’ college tuitions, as their bodies became marked by receding hairlines and extending belt sizes. Now they are back on the prowl.
Each one is searching for their next soulmate, a woman who will appreciate and adore them deep into Social Security and Medicare. Cecil is roaming the country in an RV, and looking for love in all the weird places (it’s currently plugged in at Death Valley National Park). Meanwhile, Jay is playing the role of a cat-loving vegetarian on dozens of “just for lunch” dates.
Here’s my take: both men assume their seasoned dates really care about the Cecil and Jay of the past. Off they go, chatting about their past jobs, past spouses and past potential, thinking that the nodding heads, smiles and “how interesting” comments are sincere. Neither one of them understands the importance of letting go of the past, embracing the now, and looking to the future. Historians may be lured by what was, but these captured prospects are looking for what will be.
I sit down with Cecil and Jay, and instruct them to focus on who they are today and what they have planned for next week and next year, no matter how personally scary or insecure those stories may be. “These women aren’t wanting to e-harmonize with the you of 30 years ago,” I explain confidently.
Cecil and Jay agree in principle, but they argue about how thrilled their potential long-term mates have been to hear stories about their winning basketball shot at the regional state tournament, or how they won Salesman of the Year for selling the most Xerox photocopiers back in ’96.
I’m done trying to help Cecil and Jay. They can’t grasp my savvy advice, and I don’t have any time to spare this week. My grandsons are stopping by on Friday and I need to prepare my photo album to show them what it was like growing up back in the ’50s. Then I need to explain to our staff the things that originally made our little company a success, before all this digital stuff came into play.
Fortunately, these should be enjoyable interactions. I generally get lots of nodding heads, smiles and “how interestings.”