Matt Keenan — Swinging seniors joining the crowd at singles scenes

03/04/2014 5:03 PM

03/04/2014 5:04 PM

Sports Illustrated has a feature called “Signs the Apocalypse Is Among Us.” In February, for example, it cited this as proof: Troy and Kelly Mann of Seattle named their daughter, born on Jan. 28, Cyndee Leigh 12th Mann.

In the last month I’ve seen my own evidence.

It started with a story authored by Zeke Emanuel in The New York Times entitled, “Sex and the Single Senior” and opened with this question: “What is happening in retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes? You might imagine quiet reading, crossword puzzles, bingo, maybe some shuffleboard. Think again. Think about sex — unsafe sex.”

Emanuel noted that retirement homes are not much different from coed dorms: “They cram a lot of similarly aged people together, and when they do, things naturally happen.” OK. Thanks for sharing.

This for our beloved Greatest Generation? They defended freedom, stormed Normandy and now are conquering, well, Norma?

I was prepared to shrug it off until I saw a story about the proliferation of dating sites for the senior set. One of the most popular ones is

www.Over70dating.org

— to which my wife asked rhetorically, “Can’t they find a dot.com domain?” Clearly, these sites are proliferating. The New York Times reported two years ago that “people 55 and older are visiting American dating sites more than any other age group — up 39 percent in the last three years, according to the Internet tracking firm Experian Hitwise.”

There are others using creative terms — seniorfriendfinder.com, youngatheart.com and silversingles.com, for instance. It’s more than sites — chat rooms, for instance, are part of the attraction. I found one blog where a senior lady applauded how she joined a 27-member chat room for one site and was “instantly welcomed to the crowd.” Some 80-year-old joining a chat room? Did I just feel an earth tremor?

Help me here. What happened to the Casserole Brigade — widows stumbling over each other to be the first to bring the chicken tetrazzini to the widower? The food parade that guarantees at least two stops so they can offer support and maybe start a game of duplicate bridge? I know this drill. I saw it with my dad when Mom passed away 12 years ago. Dad got popular. I mean really popular. Church hugs became lasagna, egg rolls and wedge salads. “Wives mourn, and men replace,” my wife says. Cue the eye roll.

But still I was prepared to disregard any notion that we were getting close to an apocalyptic outcome. Until what happened next.

I was driving west on 75th Street between Mission and Roe. There it was. I peered across the passenger seat and saw a man, who was easily in his 70s, steering the wheel while staring at his phone. And then he started to push buttons.

Some old guy driving his Buick LeSabre, on his way to the bird feed store, slip sliding around on snow-covered streets, with his bifocals, hearing aid, walker, while he navigates his Jitterbug Plus?

“What is he doing?” I said to my daughter, who, likewise, was mesmerized at what was unfolding before us. “Playing Candy Crush? Learning how to make thousands working part-time from home?” Other ideas later crossed my mind. Texting: Olga L8R? Come C me? BootE call?

My daughter was aghast as well. “His phone is awful.”

Videos

Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service