Sept. 14, 2007, AARP Convention, Boston: Senior love at first click was Tom’s panel. Greta meets Maya Angelo
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
Last week, my partner Greta and I traveled to Boston to attend AARP's Life@50+, an expo and lifestyle event. AARP gets bigger and more powerful as boomers cross the age-50 threshold. AARP's membership grew in the last year from 37 million to 39 million. More than 27,000 people attended the gathering, bringing an estimated $24 million into the Boston economy.
And much of that money is spent at Boston's restaurants. We had two special dinners out. On our first night, we dined at the Atlantic Fish Company (www.atlanticfishco.com) on Boylston Street in the Back Bay section of Boston The seafood was so good, we finished our doggie bag for breakfast.
On another night, Greta and I bought a roundtrip subway ticket for two--called "CharlieCard"-and rode from near our hotel in Copley Square to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston's most active restaurant and socializing area. The CharlieCard is named after the Kingston Trio's "M.T.A." song about the Metropolitan Transit Authority, where passenger Charlie didn't have a nickel to get off the train so he rode forever through the streets of Boston.
We shared a cut of prime rib at Durgin Park Durgin Park website, a historic restaurant that has been there for decades. They advertise: "Your grandfather and perhaps your great grandfather dined with us." It has four levels of dining rooms and taverns.
Is senior single life in New England different? One woman, J. Marie, said, "I'm from Salem (Mass). Maybe you'll see how DIFFERENT over 50's are out here: stuck in their ways, not open like people where you live. That is another reason it is SO hard to find people to form love relationships. Plus our weather is cold in winter, so many stay indoors unless they are skiers, and at our age, falling can be a challenge."
Bob Newhart, who just turned 78, gave an entertaining one-hour speech. Afterwards, at a news conference, I asked him if he had any advice for the older generation. He said, "I've been married for 43 years. One of the things that has helped keep us together is laughter. Laughter makes marriages and relationships last."
Patricia Schlutz, author of the New York Times best-selling book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die, described many of her favorite travel destinations. "Although they are all my favorites, Italy is the most special," Schultz said, singling out Rome and Tuscany. She feels travel fulfills and enriches one's life and urged us older folks to get traveling while we still can.
All presidential candidates were invited to address the expo, but only Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton accepted. Both spoke--at different times of course--for 45 minutes.
On the final day, we went to a session that featured two incredible women-Maya Angelou and Whoopi Goldberg-sitting next to each other on stools, having a simple conversation about life. I felt Whoopi demonstrated respect and admiration for Maya by deferring to Maya and allowing her to do most of the speaking. And yet Whoopi's eye expressions had the audience in stitches.
Later, we met Maya Angelou and Greta gave her a copy of my new book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” Notice in the photo below, that Maya is holding the book in her hand.
In the afternoon, I was on an Internet dating panel titled "Love at First Click." People were turned away at the door because there were not enough seats.
When it comes to ratios of single women vs. single men, not much is different in Boston compared to the rest of the country. There were 186 people in the room and only 12 were men, putting the ratio of women to men at close to 16-to-1. And one of the 12 guys read The Wall Street Journal a good share of the time.
Frankly, the panel turned into too much of a session where people in the audience talked about all the bad things that have happened to them in dating. Internet dating suggestions took a back seat.
The theme that seemed to permeate during the three-day expo was an emphasis on the importance of laughter, attitude, trying new experiences and having fun as people age.
On Saturday night, Rod Stewart performed for this over 50, 60 and mainly 70 crowd with his incredibly talented 8-piece band. He is the ultimate entertainer; Greta said he's better now than 40 years ago. He continually moves, dances and swings his hips, while interacting with his band. He performs with such high energy and personality.
His last song, "Forever Young," which brought every senior in the place to their feet to dance, tied together the expo's laughter theme that most of us returned to our homes with vowing to implement in our lives.
Next September, the AARP expo is in Washington, D.C. It's a great event for new ideas, thinking and making new friends.
Greta gives Maya Angelo copy of Tom’s book: How 50 Couples Found Love After 50