"Paul. I like that name," the older woman who resembled Sophia Loren said, as she read my license at the DMV.
I told her I didn't care for it. "It's too plain."
She looked up, pouting, her lower lip thick, brushed with red lipstick, pointed to her name tag and said, "Try living with Ruth."
"OK," I said, "but maybe we should try dancing first."
"Oh, you're bad," she replied with a light, tinkling laugh. "I'm probably twice your age."
"And I'm probably twice your weight," I said. "Age is only a partial measurement of who we are."
She thought I was joking. I wasn't. I'm a man who agrees with the line: "A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Its loveliness increases." Radiant, her ocean-green eyes beamed at me, elegantly highlighted by the lines of time.
Most men want to hold on to youth. Not me. I was 33; I admired age. Each year brings me more ease and understanding. And I'm finding that, as I age, life gets more difficult and yet I'm enjoying it more. Age has been a rising hot air balloon, giving me a wider perspective. It's getting to know others that allows me to understand myself.
At the DMV, Ruth told me her age: 69. Wow, she's up there, I thought. I was as excited as a freshman who'd just landed a date with a senior—in this case, a senior citizen. If it's acceptable for an old man to date a much younger woman, why is it odd for a young man to date a much older woman? She fascinated me. How does she kiss? What's her passion, her history? What can I learn from her? What's it like to be close to 70?
"You know, I can't find men my age to dance with," she sighed. "They're all fuddy-duddies." Her frisky eyes took me in. "I used to be a rocket," she added wistfully.
"You're still a dancer. Ruth, let's go out sometime."
She leaned over, her ample breasts hovering just above my wanton fingertips. "You're not serious!"
"Yes, I am."
"I can't believe this. I've got slippers older than you."
"Then buy some new ones. Age is just ..."
"An arbitrary measurement?"
"I like your spirit," I said. "Can I give you a call?"
She smiled and with her long, svelte fingers wrote down her number. Wow! On the phone that night, our offbeat philosophies flowed together into an ocean of anticipation. A river ran through me.
"Ruth, I realize this is odd, our age difference and all, but I'm very attracted to you." I said, certain she'd squelch my ridiculous talk.
"I'm attracted to you, too," she giggled.
Goodness gracious! Great balls of fire! We set up a date. I made the mistake of telling a few friends. "Sixty-nine years old? You'll break her hip." "Well, at least she can't get pregnant." "Make sure you whisper in her good ear." I told them I was looking at the bright side: I could take her to a movie and dinner for half-price.
I knocked on her door. We embraced, her breasts pressed against my chest, my bear-like arms locking us in the moment. "Oh boy," she purred. "We'd better go."
The crowd was dancing at Big Al's Corral. We cut a rug, footloose and fancy-free, two misfits fit to be tied. Afterwards, we enjoyed a cozy Italian dinner and shared a bottle of wine. Then it happened: we smooched. Her kiss was full of passion as her tongue skated across my teeth. When we got back to her place, she made tea. Jazz music, her passion, swept through the room. We danced. She sang. My lips caressed her shoulders, her neck. We swooped to the floor. She bruises easily so we moved to the bedroom.
In the next few encounters, I learned more about her. She was an insatiable lover, a nimble dancer, a jazz scat singer, a giving heart, a wounded daughter, a concerned mother, a lonely divorcée, a lost soul, a tender spirit, a fiery sunset.
While we were making out and groping one night, she stopped, looked in my eyes, and said, "What do you want to do?"
I was confused—we were already doing what I wanted to do. Did she want to stop and play Scrabble? Then it occurred to me: she wanted me to talk. Oh no! I got very scared. For years, I was so sexually repressed I never said a word in bed; I'd just make grunting sounds, like "uhh." Women weren't sure if I was having a good time or a cramp. But Ruth wanted to hear what I wanted to do.
I tried expressing what I liked about her: "I love your breasts. I love your big, beautiful, bountiful breasts." It didn't sound sexy at all. I was using alliteration. I sounded like I was in a library. What would I say next? "Oh Ruth, I love your mammary glands." "Oh baby, who's your paternal unit?" I soon learned just to let go.
We lived 3,000 miles apart and saw each other when I was in town about five times a year. After recent divorces, we were both wounded, and as it turned out, each other's stepping stones. After two years of dating, she met a wonderful man her age and we remained friends.
Ruth got me to open up in many ways. I relished knowing how much energy and passion I would be able to have at 70. With her, I learned to feel free and easy, much less anxious. Our time together whetted my romantic appetite and gave me a glorious glimpse into the future, helping me to appreciate getting older. It left me yearning to touch another person's life, and to allow that life to touch mine.