The New York Times recently introduced a new blog for Baby Boomers: Booming, "Living Through the Middle Ages." It met with some mockery around the blogs that have been around longer, because beyond the fact that the New York Times itself could be argued as a paper for Baby Boomers, there's that inherent conflict in creating a cool new blog for the so-called olds—"olds" in this case being people older than the typical Internet reader's age right now.
Someday, we'll all be reading online, you'd imagine, but for now we have an Internet overly populated by youngs, particularly when it comes to blogging and revealing the ins and outs of their dating lives and oft TMI sexual exploits. Today in Booming there's kind of a treat, though! A bridge, maybe, reflecting that we're all the same, we've all been there, we've all done that. This is Joyce Wadler's amusing Modern-Love-esque essay, "Sex in the 60s," tagline "I Was Misinformed." Even if we're 30 or 40 years younger, we're equally misinformed, trust us.
Wadler begins, "I am single, and therefore I spend a lot of time thinking about sex, which is very different than it was 40 years ago when I was in my 20s and spent a lot of time having sex." There was lots of sex back then, she remarks, so much that there would be propositions made from street corners, denied on account of herpes. We don't know Wadler or what she did in her 20s and we would never judge, but we will say that sometimes one looks back with rose- or even crimson-tinted glasses at the exploits of one's past, and that is perfectly fair. She brings us up to date, quickly, alluding to a contrasting "sexual drought" she and her female friends see now that they're in their 60s. It's argued this is because men only want women "in their 40s" (younger ladies have been known to remark on a version of this, too), but she thinks it's really just about work, and exhaustion: "Men in their 60s have no energy for sex because they are putting everything they have into holding on to their jobs; they are clinging to the ledge as some middle manager jumps up and down on their fingers and they are tired," she writes. Yet who hasn't, in her 20s, dated a hard-working and aspiring young fellow who was always falling asleep on a couch, or, in her 30s, maybe a 40-year-old—more established, more "important," and even more prone to falling asleep without warning? Tiredness is not an age, it's, well, tiredness. Sometimes it's also indicative of self-absorption, sometimes it's a matter of lack of health. It's rarely a good sign.
So we share that as an experience, but we haven't encountered another issue Wadler mentions, knock on wood—finding that our former liaisons may have passed on. They're all still alive as can be, available for us to track on Facebook or Twitter as they say and do their inane things; for that we are glad! Later this may change, per Wadler:
"You go flipping backward in your little mental Rolodex (one of those things I had in my $77 apartment) and wonder what happened to Endsley, that guy I went out with when I was 22, who got out of that fleabag Broadway hotel just before it collapsed and went back to Ohio and became a traffic reporter or something like that. He was kind of a macho jerk, but I was no model of restraint at the time either. Now, in our maturity, we would certainly be able to appreciate one another and it would be fascinating to see what he developed into. Then I Google him and find out that he died 15 years ago when his helicopter went down."
Another shared reality is social media's great gift: allowing all this information to be at our fingertips. Maybe there's a silver lining somewhere in there, though for Wadler, not Endsley. But on to happier news! Wadler ends up getting a date by the end of the piece, a guy who is alive and has connections, is a doctor, in fact, and so can put in some calls to get her uncle the surgery he needs, powerfully and impressively. Younger women have been felled by such displays, and Wadler is no exception, though the content might be a little different: "I had always liked Frank, but now it was dizzying, can’t wait, do it in the park standing up lust. I also had a realization: What is sexy to a Boomer babe? A guy who has the power to get someone you love to the head of the department."
They make a date, she wears heels, her date has a chauffeur to whom he professes his abiding adoration of Wadler, who presumes, given that conversation and "a little makeout session on the sidewalk before going into the restaurant," that there is more to come. It is not to be, however:
At evening’s end, when Frank walked me into the lobby, I asked the question I assumed was strictly pro forma.
“Would you like to come up?” I said.
“Oh, God, Joyce, I wish I could,” Frank said, “but I’m tired.”
The ratio by which we will fight exhaustion to enjoy other pleasures may change over the years, but this post proves that one thing is consistent: Writing about our dating lives will always be an equally cringeworthy and enlightening endeavor, and we will always, regardless of our ages, remain a little bit "misinformed," a little bit haphazard and bad at communicating, and just a little bit tired. We're glad it's not just us, though, and that there's plenty more to look forward to. There's some comfort in knowing that the more we age the more we stay the same. Also: The dating essays that end in amused disappointment rather than gushy paroxysms of joy are unfailingly the best.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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