Writing about girlie stuff. How writing about woe-is-me love failures came about and why, after 23 years, I still write about finding love after 50.
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
Note from Tom: This article first appeared in 2008. It was updated in November, 2016.
A man who recently started reading this newsletter (2008) is curious. He wants to know why I write about girlie stuff. Girlie stuff? Wow, those are fighting words. I was ready to give him a blast of Artic air but realized his question provided an opportunity to explain to him--and others who don't know--how writing about this so-called girlie stuff started, how it expanded into a second career, and why I continue writing about it, now, in 2016, after 23 years.
The man wrote, "Why do you write about girlie stuff? Shouldn't men our age be out playing tennis or golf instead?"
I love questions that open doors to column ideas, which his did. And how appropriate for this week, which marks the start of the 15th year (2008) of writing about finding love after 50, to have a lead in like that?
Some of you who've subscribed to this newsletter for years know the story of how I got into the business of writing about mid-life love. But, over the last couple of years, we've had many new subscribers who've been curious about the same thing.
On Xmas Eve, 1993, when I was 53, my wife of six years, without revealing her intentions, cleaned out the house, took what furniture and belongings she wanted, and moved out of my life.
Before you get out your crying towels, let me say in retrospect that she did me a great favor, although at the time I did not see it that way.
After she left, I put my golf clubs and tennis racquet in the closet, replacing them with pen and notepad. You see, I was really pissed at her and needed to organize my thoughts on paper and formulate a plan of action. Writing about the experience was cathartic.
After the divorce-she had pre-planned that also-I started dating, thinking it would be a breeze. After all, I was certain that I had so much to offer women that there would be a queue of single ones at the door of Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point, California, deli, waiting, not for a sandwich, but to ask me on a date.
When no lines formed and women rejected my advances, I'd run home to my journal and whine in it about how hard and unfair dating after age 50 was for this poor single man.
The journal grew, filled with woe-is-me love failures. I wrote about boring dates, bad dates, blind dates, getting stood up and spending too much money on women. After the journal exceeded 100 pages, I took it to my local newspaper and said I could write a story about how this single man was being so mistreated by women.
At the time, the Dana Point News, my hometown newspaper, had two women editors. After perusing my material, they felt that the single women of south Orange County, California, would be so unsympathetic with my pathetic whining that the paper had a smash-hit on their hands. A column, "Middle Aged and Dating Again," was born. Soon, it was running in a syndicate of ten newspapers.
Over the years, I didn't take the tennis racquet or golf clubs out of the closet; I was having too much fun writing, making speeches and appearances. Very few men write about finding love and romance, even fewer about finding it in the later years. And since women are curious about the male point-of-view, they read my stuff, (but don't always agree.)
In 14 years (remember, this was 2008), the number of newspaper articles and newsletters written exceeds 1,300. I keep writing because people tell me that the articles help them get through the older years when dating is so difficult. Many have said that my advice led them to love.
Again and again, I've been reminded that opportunity arises from adversity. In September, I'll be returning to the AARP national Life@50 Expo for my fifth appearance. I've authored three books and have been interviewed by Matt Lauer on Today and Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.
I've shared the opportunity arises from adversity message with thousands of wounded singles who've had relationships turn sour.
And, I've still got my deli in Dana Point (Tutor and Spunky's Deli). Why? Because it gives me a life purpose and keeps me thinking young. Besides, I love to eat. Lots of our subscribers have stopped in; it's a thrill for me to meet them.
What have I learned about finding love after 50? That one should never give up hope of finding it.
Ten years ago tonight, I had a first date with a woman named Greta, who, three days prior, had ordered a fresh carrot juice in the deli. When I saw her sitting at a table across from our counter, waiting for her juice, without hesitation, I walked around the counter and asked her to dinner. We've been together since.
Tonight we are having dinner at the same restaurant--a place called the Claim Jumper--where we ate that night. We plan to sit on the same two barstools and both order Kendall Jackson chardonnay as we did then.
As for those golf clubs and tennis racquets, well, they're still in the closet and that's where they'll stay. I've got another book to write, another newsletter to publish and another sandwich to make-you know, "girlie stuff."
November, 2016 update: Now, I have written 3,500 newspaper articles and newsletters. Greta and I are into our 19th year together. We live in Dana Point, California. I still haven’t gotten out the golf clubs and tennis racquet—there is just too much to do. I now do Stand Up Paddle Boarding 4-5 days a week in Dana Point Harbor.
And, the Finding Love After 50 website is being updated to include at least 1,200 of those the articles I’ve written. Check it out.