Never too late: Watch out, or love may find you...
Whee! Matchmaker has been doing a little dance ever since getting the responses from this week's challengers. Why, you ask? A few weeks ago a woman called about her friend– a 77-year-old British widow named Betty.
Betty, an energetic active volunteer locally, travels the country in her RV. Matchmaker didn't have any guys in the 70- to 80-year-old range, but she's never shied from a challenge.
Almost as soon as word got out, Hook art columnist Laura Parsons' father responded! Frank, a retired university administrator, lives in Lexington where he's on multiple boards, plays poker regularly, and hangs out with pals.
These two adventurous souls took the Challenge and proved that age is just a number.
Frank and Betty dined at OXO at 215 Water Street.
How did you prepare for the date?
Frank: I studied the information about my date and rehearsed how I might cope with one situation or another.
Betty: I did not have much time to plan, other than talking to my friends, and I received a lot of advice.
Were you 1st or 2nd to arrive?
Frank: I made certain I was the first to arrive, for I wanted to arrange safe-keeping for a gift for Betty. I was able to do this and was in my chair when she arrived.
Betty: Although I arrived right on time, Frank was already waiting.
Were you nervous?
Frank: It wasn't really nervousness. But a concern does seem to come over me when I venture into unexplored territory.
Betty: Yes, very. Never having had a blind date before, I had no idea I would be this nervous.
When did you calm down?
Frank: After being assured by my daughter that I looked okay.
Betty: Frank seemed very calm and right away made me feel comfortable.
Frank: She's a small woman, nicely proportioned, lovely hair. She took my hand in a firm grasp. From that moment, I was drawn to her youthful features, the warmth of her smile, and her dancing, bright eyes.
Betty: The beard sold me. I soon realized I was in the company of a Southern gentleman.
Would you say this person was your type ?
Frank: I don't really think of anyone in particular as being "my type." Betty reminded me of the appealing characteristics of my late wife.
Betty: He was relaxed and made me feel at ease. I wouldn't use the word "type," but we had a lot in common.
What was your date wearing?
Frank: She was wearing an attractive, elegant dark-toned pantsuit with traces of orange. I was so captivated by her eyes, her smile, and the rich conversation that it became irrelevant how she was dressed.
Betty: A light jacket and tie.
What did you order?
Frank: We chose a very nice Chardonnay. For appetizers, I had seared scallops while Betty selected a soft-shelled crab. She chose the filet of salmon and I had trout for our entrees.
For dessert we shared a medley of cherry-flavored things: chocolate-coated bing cherries, a cherry jelly to be spread upon cherry cookies.
Betty: The presentation of the food was very good, and the food was delicious. The service was excellent. The staff were very patient with us as we were so busy talking we took a long time to order.
And how about the conversation?
Frank: She talked about growing up in England during the War, meeting her husband, coming to America, enjoying the multiple career paths he followed.
I talked about my childhood, my two trips to the Far East in 1946 and l951, all expenses paid by Uncle Sam, and the start of a 45-year career in college administration.
Did you have a lot in common?
Frank: Yes, a sharing of the most intimate kind... the loss of dearly beloved spouses.
What did you find out that was interesting about this person?
Frank: I discovered that this "shy English bride" has evolved into an active senior citizen who loves adventure in a small RV that she takes to the road, often with her 11-year-old grandson, in search of something new and different. I found myself wondering how much of the required energy I could muster to keep up with her.
Betty: His childhood, military service, career, and especially his involvement in community projects.
Was there anything you found out that you really liked?
Frank: I was aware of her volunteer work in recent years. I was touched by her commitment to making a difference in others' lives.
Betty: The fact that he agreed to participate in the B.D. Challenge, and especially to meet an "older woman," as well as his being involved in many community projects after retiring.
Was there anything you really disliked?
Frank: Heavens, no!
Was there "chemistry" between you? Interesting body language?
Frank: There was good chemistry. As we talked, we found ourselves leaning forward so as not to miss a word the other was saying.
Betty: [no response]
How were your date's table manners?
Frank: They were impeccable.
Betty: That's a funny question at our age. Of course he had good table manners.
Did anything particularly interesting happen?
Frank: I think the most unusual happening was the unexpected presence of her friends at a nearby table.
Betty: This event was the topic among my friends, and they threatened to find out where we would be so they could happen to drop in. When I walked into the restaurant, the first thing I saw was one of the couples sitting right at the next table.
How did dinner end? Did you decide to go somewhere afterwards?
Frank: Please... consider our ages, the time of night, and the fact we both had miles to drive. We laughed about how good it was to know we were not under the same pressures as some of the younger participants in the BDC. The "end game" of our chess match is not the same as it might be for many younger couples getting to know each other.
Betty: The evening must have gone by very quickly, as we were the last ones left. I bet the staff were wondering how they were going to get us to leave.
What was the VERY end like?
Frank: I had a gift for her, a Maine Weather Stick about 10 to 12 inches long. When the weather is going to be good, the twig curves upward; when inclement weather is coming, it droops. My date was quite impressed, I would say.
Betty: Frank insisted on picking up the bill for the wine and gratuity. I accepted graciously. He also had a neat surprise gift for me. He walked me to my car and opened the door for me to get in. (Young men take note!)
A hug? A kiss?
Frank: We forewarned each other that we were huggers and did so.
Betty: A lady doesn't tell.
Did you have fun?
Frank: My goodness, can't you tell by now!
Betty: Yes. I enjoy experiencing new challenges, and I think this one topped the list.
Would you see this person again?
Frank: Yes. I called her to tell her again how much I enjoyed her company and the evening.
Betty: Frank already asked, and I accepted.
Overall date experience?
Frank: There could not have been a more pleasant way to spend an evening with a new friend.
Betty: As it is over 50 years since I was dating, I don't have any memories I can compare. But I would think we probably got more fun from the event than many of your 20-somethings do.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the date?
Frank: On the values that flow from my age, health, and overall realistic expectations, this date was definitely a 10, perhaps clear off the chart.
Betty: I think we both deserve a 10. I am very happy I was given this opportunity .
Okay, you cynics out there. If your hardened hearts didn't soften a little after reading this charming tale, Matchmaker can say only this: there's no help for you!