A bachelor's anthem
Old bachelors buckle down in their separateness, their singleness, tuning out the relationship maelstrom. Set in our ways, we learn to savor our solitary time and forbid all intruders. We want company, sure, but only when we want it.
My girlfriend of more than 12 years and I broke up over a year ago and I have found no one to replace her, nor have I tried, so I went and did the next best thing—I got a dog.
A bachelor’s anthem
One man’s view on dating after 50
Editor’s note: Readers may recognize the following story, which first appeared as “The bachelor’s anthem” in the New Times where Stacey Warde met Dell Franklin and ran the piece on the opinion page. The essay elicted lively responses, and even got Dell a date at the local saloon.
By Dell Franklin
I read with interest and amusement a local woman’s report on the malaise of the 50-and-older crowd partaking in the dating game, or the act of attempting to find a new companion.
After reading Susan Stewart’s article, “After 50, dating’s easy…right?", I had to tell the other side.
The truth has always been that if you go out looking for somebody you’ll never find them and if you’re not looking for somebody—when single you’re always looking for somebody—and just stumbling along in a fog, you just might accidentally happen upon the right person; to me, the odds of this success after 50 years of dating age are 100 to 1 against. My best friend down south, a bookie, verified these odds.
I am 60 in a couple of weeks and my girlfriend of more than 12 years and I broke up over a year ago and I have found no one to replace her (she has), nor have I tried, so I went and did the next best thing—I got a dog. This dog is never disappointed with my lack of consideration, my being judgmental and opinionated, my self-centered rigidity in doing only what I want to do, because he is the same way, though not as jaded, for he is still a pup and not as annealed as I am by six decades of dealing with the obstacles of life, all of which become more oppressive when they are being constantly influenced by women, or the lack of women.
I have been a lifetime bachelor, bartender, and non-believer. I lived with three different women, all of whom, remarkably, have recovered and are better off for it. The first two left me because I was a drunk and a hopeless philanderer who seemed unwilling and incapable of mending his ways and was oblivious to a woman’s emotional needs. About this I am not the least bit proud, and for such swinish behavior I accept my comeuppance of being alone as I approach 60.
I’ve never been happier, I peep at the dating ads in newspapers and chortle at these poor groping souls, most of whom were at one time terrible husbands and wives, or else good husbands and wives ruined by terrible husbands and wives, and I see a devastated battleground so dangerously mined by past traumas and tragedies that only a lunatic would tread upon it.
I can understand how comparatively normal peo-ple who have divorced might feel the painful depths of loneliness and unfulfilled hunger and being stranded and helpless, because they are used to going through their paces day in and day out over a period of decades with another person beside them in bed, at the dinner table, in the car, in the movie theater, at parties with friends and relatives on birthdays and holidays, and then suddenly the are alone with a book or TV and the friends are still married, and so parties are unbearable, and movies are no fun not to share and discuss, and everything becomes so much harder; it’s too late to get used to being alone, and desperation and despair settles in and grips one like a vise.
So one can truly sympathize with folks who answer dating ads, primp, try on clothes, fret over deteriorating visages and bodies. rehearse lines, suffer the indignity and hell of the anticipation of both disappointing and being disappointed—like giving your first speech in front of a class—before meeting the blind date, the disembodied telephone voice of a potential leper.
It’s a wasteland out there. Emotionally, as we grow older, we become so shell-shocked and bedraggled we sometimes don’t know whether we’re coming or going. And nothing takes it out of you like a failed relationship. It hurts at 15 (but there is always tomorrow), but hurts worse at 50. I have a 64-year-old pal down south who says it hurt worse than ever at 63, so much so he considered cashing it in.
What really helps me burrow through this morass is my unrepentant selfishness, which, over the years, has proved a blessing. Old bachelors buckle down in their separateness, their singleness, tuning out the relationship maelstrom. Set in our ways, we learn to savor our solitary time and forbid all intruders. We want company, sure, but only when we want it. We do what we want to do, when we want to do it. Our opinions are unas-sailable and our patterns and regimens seldom out of sync, and when they are threatened or broken there’s no telling how disgracefully we might react. If you see us drinking by ourselves in a bar, don’t feel bad—somebody will talk to us; usually a guy in the same boat. If you see us eating breakfast alone at the local diner, book or newspaper propped up, don’t feel sorry for us, because we like our paper more than live company, period. Fact of the matter, most guys either don’t know how to talk to women, don’t want to talk to women, or are afraid of women, and this goes on an entire lifetime. This is why we bluster and are pains in the asses and created a confused modern woman.
My only advice to 50ish women seeking dates and male companionship is to get together with the ladies in your same predicament. Compare notes. Jeer and gossip about the frailties of man and look your best and ignore them at all costs. Go see Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer and seek emotional clarity through exercise bikes and admit neurosis, which can mostly be attributed to men. Amen. Time to walk the dog.
P.S. Knowing there are eligible ladies out there of any age, I am willing to admit that although I am well-read, well-traveled, and an excellent cook who is in perfect physical condition, I am also, at this point, jobless, near broke, most likely unemployable, existing on pittance, and possess absolutely no ambition. However, if there is an exceptionally foolhardy, delu-sional woman out there with a history of poor judgment, is good looking, can laugh at failure and weakness has no religious affiliation, has the poten-tial to become an interesting saloon companion, can afford to spring for the occasional round, likes her sex in moderation—without romantic adornments, and preferably while somewhat intoxicated—I am in the phone book. §
Rogue Voice publisher Dell Franklin can also be reached by email at email@example.com.