“Gray Love: Stories About Dating and New Relationships After 60,” edited by Nan Bauer-Maglin and Daniel E. Hood
c.2023, Rutgers University Press $24.95 303 pages
It was supposed to be a nice night out.
But you drove around and around looking for the restaurant and once you found it, you learned that you needed reservations. Practically before the evening started, you sensed that your food could be as cold as your date. As in “Gray Love,” edited by Nan Bauer-Maglin and Daniel E. Hood, looking for love wasn’t like this when you were younger.
You thought you’d be happy alone.
After the divorce, the funeral, the last break-up, you didn’t think a little you-time was a bad idea. And it wasn’t – but love, someone to go to the movies with or dine with or snuggle with, seems more and more appealing now. Today, though, as the forty-two essays in this book confirm and as you’ve learned, that’s easier said than done.
You want a partner, someone your age, but you fear becoming a caretaker. You like doing your own thing, but having someone around to do it with would be nice. You have company but you are “without intimacy.” Or you don’t want a full-time someone but it’s scary to think about “falling off a ladder alone.”
So you go online because, well, people don’t meet like they used to. That’s when you learn that dating sites are generally ripe with people who lie about their ages, who seem clingy or who want things you can’t give, “the Uncertain, the Angry… the Unattractive,” and – let’s be honest – jerks. Unlike real life circa 1973 or 1993, there’s nobody to vouch for singles online.
You wonder, “What would I wear?” You learn about scams the hard way, while tales of love at way-up-there-ages are inspirational. Experimenting with same-sex, different-sex, different race isn’t off the table, but nobody’s asked – or you did, and it was wonderful and why didn’t you do that before? Love is love. You date the wrong people, you date the right people, you’re exhausted and disappointed. And sometimes, even for awhile, you’re someone’s “‘sweetie.'”
According to a study quoted in “Gray Love,” about twenty-five percent of American adults live alone. If you’re one of them and open to a relationship, you need this book.
Just know that this is not a how-to manual. Editors Nan Bauer-Maglin and Daniel E. Hood don’t offer advice in their introduction, and most of their storytellers didn’t Ann-Landers their way into this book. Instead, you’ll read tales of dating and mating gone happily right and very, very wrong, told in ways that will make you laugh, sigh, and know that you’re not alone in your late-life search for love. The mixture here is diverse and wide: if one tale makes you want to swear off dating forever, the next one offers Happily Ever After.
Be aware that a few of the tales inside “Gray Love” flirt with the explicit and others might ruffle a feather or two. Still, it could be great to share it with a millennial or older GenZ’er, If you see this book on a bookshelf, take it out.