What do you do when, at 67 you find yourself single and alone again? The reasons for this often include, your mate passed away, or perhaps you and/or your mate decided to end a 1-40 year relationship for whatever reasons. At any rate you are now alone in the house, responsible for everything. Assuming that bereavement is an ongoing part of this process, you realize that somehow you have to carry on, however dismal this might seem. This prospect seems rather bleak, given that for 45 years, you have been accustomed to daily predictable conversations with a person you trust and love. If not love then you have grown used to coexisting and conversing with your mate. You now find that talking mostly to the dog has its limitations. Suddenly you are faced with a new and unpredictable future. This is, to say the least, very disquieting, uncomfortable, and oftentimes overwhelming. Who do you now bounce ideas off of? Who do you ask the advice of for making that special spaghetti sauce that you have taken granted for such a long time? You tried to make some and it turned out………just awful—thick, globby and bitter. You tossed it in the garbage and ate at Mc Donald’s. You’re also eating way too much at fast food places. After 8 months you realize that you haven’t had a homemade cake, pie or cookie since….you can’t remember when. Furthermore, where do you go to meet somebody and exactly how do you do that in today’s world? It’s different now! There is the internet and people say they meet on it.
This ongoing column is dedicated to those of us—you and me– in this same boat. This life after “the sinking” has to be more than just marking time, waiting for…what? If you are reading this and find it easy to identify with, please come into the lifeboat and take a seat. In it you might hear of similar trials and tribulations that you have been experiencing. Or maybe it will be different. Maybe you and I are looking for some of the same things. Just maybe together we can create some answers. Sometimes things you read here may strike you funny. Oftentimes they will not, and humor will be hard to see and experience. But I will really work hard to somehow see, and get you to see, a lighter side to this experience. We have to survive this somehow! This will be the ongoing saga of how one man is attempting to cope with the 65 (actually now 68) and single again dilemma. As with most of my columns you can reach me at the e-mail and numbers at the end of the columns. I am open to ideas, feedback, and information that maybe helpful to all of us in the same lifeboat. Maybe between us, we can all get to a safe harbor.
COOKIE MAKING 101
I have found that meeting prospective ladies for a man of my age is not quite as easy as “they” would have you believe. My daughter said, “Why not sign up for some cooking classes? I know you can cook but there will be a greater number of women taking those classes and you might meet someone. You might also try some book clubs.” Yeah, well, maybe I’ll try the cooking classes”, I said! (How much worse could this be than my so-far-0-for-100 batting average at meeting women?) When I was in my 50’s I can remember hearing tales of post-65-aged men being flooded with offers from ladies of similar age, of having a different date every night because of the plethora of available ladies. So went the tales. It may well be that there is an imbalance of women to men, but if you have lived with a very vivacious, smart, athletic woman for 45 years, there is a precedent set that is hard to ignore and tends to greatly narrow the field.
So I signed up for a cookie making class at Maplewood Joint Vocational School. This school and its adult learning classes is such a gem to our community. Not nearly enough adults take advantage of it. Perhaps this would be a venue to meet somebody. I’d get out of the house for an evening which seems to be a lonely time for me and I just might learn something about making cookies. Not that I don’t know how to bake but, truthfully, I haven’t made cookies in about 10 years. Even back then those were some God awful, low-fat cookies that sort of tasted like the cardboard backing of a pad of paper. My daughter’s husband, then new to the family, was graciously, and gratuitously, saying how good they were. “Hey, you’re already in the family. You don’t have to stroke my ego. These are terrible”, I said! So from then on I let my wife continue to make the cookies. Now, no cookies at all!
I arrived about a half hour early for the class which took place in the kitchen of Maplewood Joint Vocational School. I had been there before maybe 30 years ago to take a welding class. (Not in the kitchen!) As I opened the door to the office, the adult class coordinator said “507, room 507, that’s what you want! Perhaps my covered cake pan gave me away. (The instructions said that you needed to bring some kind of pan to take cookies and goodies home in). When I reached the room I noted it was indeed the kitchen/classroom for the school’s cafeteria. These kids here must eat pretty well, I thought to myself. In amongst the pots and the pans and hanging utensils I saw a man unwrapping a bag of caramel candies and placing them in a double boiler. I’m here for the cookies class, I announced. Wonderful, a man for a change (I thought, Carrie, maybe you weren’t wrong!) Just have a seat until the other two class members show up”, he said. OK, not a big class, but what the hey. The other two people turned out to be ladies. Both seemed to be taking the class for reasons like “something different to do than sitting home watching TV”
After the usual spiel about “watch the knives, don’t wipe your nose and go back to cooking, wash your hands frequently, etc., etc., etc., we began our first task, that of making peanut butter cookies (my request). I immediately confirmed that indeed these kids eat very well here at school. The recipe which called for one pound of margarine, was quickly replaced with 4 sticks of butter. “We don’t want to use margarine in cookies. If you melt it down you will find that 90% of margarine is water and only 10% is oil. This makes for tasteless, blah cookies. Use only butter when baking!!!” OK, you’re the boss and obviously a chef, so you must know what you’re doing. The chef, Ed Klasa, is a very pleasant fellow with a droll sense of humor that initially catches you off guard. You keep wondering, “Is he really serious”? But in short order you realize that this man “knows his stuff” and his dry sense of humor is actually entertaining. Over the course of the three hour class he kept you on your toes. He passed out recipes; we began mixing and someone said, “Who measures flour in quarts? It says to put in 1¼ quarts of flour.” “Well”, the chef says, “think about it, how many cups in a pint, and how many pints in a quart? Come on, deduce with me here. OK, that’s 5 cups of flour—gotta keep your mind working,” he says delightedly. Although some obviously did not see the humor in that, I got a kick out of it.
We made very rich peanut butter cookies and snicker doodles, and then some concoction of chocolate, graham crackers, the caramel sauce, and peanut butter. “I ran across this last week and I’m dying to try it. It is no bake –you just pop it into the freezer for a while”, Ed said. Problems did arise later though when we tried to cut it up and the caramel stuck to the aluminum foil like gorilla glue. He laughed and said “OK, that didn’t work. Next time put the caramel on last. Next week I’m going to teach you to make the best Baklava you’ve ever tasted. You should sign up for that class too.” By the end of the class we all took home a large cake pan full of cookies and goodies.
Now, wasn’t this better than sitting home alone and lonely, talking to the dog again? Oh, by the way, I’m making baklava next week!
This ongoing column is dedicated to those of us—post 60’ers– after “the sinking”. If you identify with it, please come into the lifeboat and take a seat. This is the ongoing saga of coping with the post 6o and single again dilemma. I am open to ideas, feedback, and information that maybe helpful to all of us. You can reach me at tel: 330-562-9801 or e-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com