Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

If you can’t say something nice, just make sure you’re anonymous

Last Friday my friend Philippa and I co-wrote a piece for the Washington Post’s Solo-ish feature about the pursuit of love in your 40s. The article presented an excerpt of a much longer email conversation the two of us had about how our perspective on finding a partner has evolved with age.

In case you didn’t read it, the article noted that I’m happy with my life and am fortunate to have a loving family and wonderful friends, but I’ve always wanted a partner, someone to share the proverbial foxhole with me. I mentioned a “companionship clock” whose tick I’ve been hearing since my 20s. I also observed that it seems to be gaining volume as I age, not because I fear being alone or aging alone but because I’ve been around long enough to know three things:

  1. I enjoy my favorite experiences just a tiny bit more in the company of the right partner;
  2. the presence of a great partner can ease some of the burdens of aging, like ailing parents and failing health; and
  3. the partnership pool shrinks with age, no matter who you are and no matter whether you, like me, cut a wide age swath when it comes to dating. On that last point, I admitted being concerned about hanging on to my appearance, I acknowledged the possibility that I’ve become invisible to younger men, and I joked about chest wrinkles.

Overall, I offered serious thoughts laced with a dose of obvious humor. Or possibly not so obvious.

When you write an article for an online publication, you hope people will read it. With the fulfillment of that hope, however, comes the possibility that readers will comment on the article and the likelihood that some of the commentary will be nasty. After all, gutless cruelty thrives where anonymity and the internet intersect.

By Friday afternoon, our hopes had been fulfilled and Philippa and I found ourselves awash in possibility and likelihood.

I grouped reader responses into four categories. I’ve given each category a descriptive title in bold that I think summarizes the contents of the comments, followed by a sample of the most popular comments in italics (based on number of “likes” generated) and my response to those comments:

  1. My sentiments exactly!

Interesting read. I’m a single guy in that same boat. Basically happy with my life, but concerned about facing older age alone. The thing is, who wants to buy a used car and have all the hard repair work without getting the good years out of that car, and hence having the GRATITUDE? I’m still in decent shape, but I’m not what I was at 30. If I find a wonderful woman when I’m 55, she’s taking quite a chance partnering with me, and me with her. What if I have cancer or a stroke at 60? If she had 30 good years with me….raised children….saw the good times and bad times through with me, then I’d expect that although it would be tough, she’d do right by me with a heart full of love and compassion. If she’d only been with me for 5 years and I begin really falling apart, there is no “gratitude glue” there to make her want to stay and help me through those difficult times. Gratitude builds over time, and time to generate a history of love and gratitude in the heart of someone else is the very thing I’m running out of. You may say “What kind of shallow women are you dating?” Well….I’m just going on what I’ve seen going on around me in my life. Often, without a very strong bond developed over time, when the going gets tough, the “not so deeply committed” bug-out. Sad to say, but true. (5 likes)

People like this got it. They laughed at the chest wrinkles. They understood we might be happily single but still want companionship and they didn’t read the piece as being about solely about women. (Men certainly don’t fret about their appearance as they age. They use Rogaine purely recreationally.) Perhaps those readers realized that Pips and I wrote from the perspective of two women because, well, we’re women. Cat’s out of the bag, folks.

  1. You two are a disgrace to women. And possibly also feminism. (Assuming there’s a difference, because if I’m being honest, I’ve never really been sure.)
  • This is shameful (7 likes).

I don’t quite know what to say to this one, except to give it an Achievements in Vagueness Award. Not that this person would show up to accept it.

  • I’m sorry, but this is disgusting. You have totally bought into this idea that women over a certain age are likely to lose out in the relationship market. Why would you peddle that crap to your readers? I am a 50-something woman (that’s right! 50-something!) who is extremely happily re-partnered and I met him in my 50s. So have many of my friends – several of whom have remarried or are happily cohabitating well after their 50th birthdays. Some of us look young for our age, some not so much. But is that really what leads to lasting love and companionship and, ugh, your “person”? Because if you’re worried that no-one “hot” will love you when your (seriously?) Asian skin starts to age a bit, you have bigger problems than a lacking love life. Be single, date, look for love, enjoy hot guys, fine. But get a grip! What you need for a successful relationship comes from within, ladies. (7 likes)

First, I am delighted to hear that someone over 50 is still alive. Who knew? Philippa and I thought life ended at 40, possibly sooner. But what is this “from within” place she speaks of? Philippa and I only care about without. As in, we are without a fine-looking dude and that, my friends, is a full-blown crisis. This commenter implies we might encounter a hot men shortage after we’re 50, in which case I just don’t know if we’ll be able to go on. But overall, I really appreciate this commenter’s concern for us, as evidenced by her hope that we get a grip. I’m concerned about her, too, because if the number of exclamation points is any indicator, her grip just might need a little relaxing.

  • You both sound ridiculously superficial. Like your entire chance of finding a partner is based on whether or not you have wrinkles. We live in such an ageist society and drivel like this just perpetuates the idea that it’s all about the superficial (6 likes).

Why would I care what this person thinks? Obviously s/he is ugly.

  • [More from the same person, whom I picture raising a finger and saying, “And ANOTHER thing!”:] I’m glad I’m not dating either one of you, but you wouldn’t be interested in me anyway, what with me being a 51 year old with some gray hair and wrinkles. I guess we can both count our blessings. (6 likes)

He’s right. I would never date someone who’s 51. That’s only 7 years older than I am, and history says my interest isn’t piqued unless you’re 12-18 years my senior, at which point there’s a good chance I’ll marry you. Count your blessings, indeed.

  1. Suck it up and get a dog.

Why does it have to be what all the men want? Can you just live your life & try Match.com or other dating venues? I’m 60, though I have a boyfriend. If I were single, I would not care about finding a partner, I am too busy with my life. I don’t care who is looking at my wrinkles. I do go to the gym regularly so I’m in shape. I’ve met some really nice men at the gym. Get a rescue pet. They are more likely to love you unconditionally than some man. (4 likes)

I love everything about this comment, beginning with “though I have a boyfriend,” (translation: whatever you do, don’t dump me into that bucket of losers who don’t have a significant other!) and ending with “Get a rescue pet.” Though, based on what Philippa wrote in the article about intimacy, I’m a little worried about what kind of relationship this person wants me to have with my pet.

  1. Huh?

Dumbest article I ever read. Actually, I only got half way through. Can I please get my 40 seconds wasted on this back? (1 like) Okay, I admit this was nowhere near the most popular comment based on likes, but it’s my favorite by miles. Sure, pal, contact the Post to get a refund on those 40 seconds. But the ones you spent writing this comment? Those are on you.

I’ve written this whole post with tongue planted firmly in cheek, in part to make the point that some people seemed to take not just me and Philippa but themselves far too seriously. If I could, I’d invite these people to join me for a beer and to say to my face, the face of someone they don’t know at all but purport to, the things they wrote. I don’t mind that they made those comments, I just doubt they would say them to my face. Whereas, if I were sitting opposite them holding a beer, I know I would respond exactly as I did here and laugh, because that’s how you’re supposed to respond to jokes.

And then maybe we would all take ourselves a little less seriously.

The headshot that appeared with the article. Wait a minute, are those crows' feet?!?!?!

The headshot that appeared with the article. Wait a minute, are those crows’ feet?!?!?!

 

Comments

  1. Hey Karen, this is hilarious post! Obviously these trolls can’t take a joke and they need help. Xanax, DC Improv, booze, pot, or a watercolor paint set could all greatly improve their illness.

    And for the record, I would date you, although my wife might have a strong opinion about that.

    Keep ’em coming! This made my Friday morning.

    Ernesto

    • And your awesome, hilarious comment made my Saturday afternoon–thanks, Ernesto! Your wife was wise to pluck you out of the pool, though neither you nor she are helping the shortage of good candidates one bit. Thanks a lot, pal. 🙂

  2. Miz Yank, I laughed, I cried, I felt everything! I read the Post article and was reminded of the line in the movie with George Clooney (another male, not as good looking as me, perhaps, but over 50 like me and having as least as much fun!), Up In The Air. HIs character is trying to talk his sister’s intended out of cold feet and he says, “think of the most fun times you’ve had in your life…were you alone?” It’s rhetorucal, unless you’re one of those confirmed bachelors or bachelorettes with 18 cats, the answer is probably “no.” I thought your banter was a fun way to tease out that issue. Being a 50 plus guy with a son and a divorce back in 1993, from time to time, I’ve thought about the partnership angle. But I think about an exhange with my ornery late octogenarian grandma when I was a much younger man in my mid-40s (2007). She looked at my one time and said, “TNT, when are you going to find a good woman to settle down (as if this complex maneuver just involved shopping at the Quick-E Mart).” And I asked, “Grandma, when are you?!” See, my grandfather died in 1979 when she was my age. Anyway, just to draw the ire from you and Phillippa, I did respond with, “grandma, my next wife hasn’t been born yet.” It was a joke! Calm down! She was 8…and I’m waiting, sickos! I love your poignant humor and I forget who said it, but I know I did, many a truth is spoken in jest! Not necessarily all truths. You just keep up the great writing and let the lovers love, the poets dream and the haters hate. And by the way, it’s easy to see your a feminist, I mean, you’re a working woman, and you’re a Miz.

  3. You, TNT, are an even better catch than George Clooney, i.e. both of you are handsome and ageist, but at least you’re available! Thanks for the insightful and hilarious comment. It’s clear to me that, not only are you a feminist scholar but you Get Us. See you at the Quick E. Mart???

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