By Susan Hoffman, special to Corona del Mar Today
“Anyone here have an interest in OASIS having speed dating or if you know of anybody interested, please raise your hand,” asked OASIS Health and Wellness Supervisor Leslie Hardy following the recent screening of the documentary film “Age Of Love” at the OASIS Senior Center.
This may be a bit of an eye-opener, but there are some singles well into their golden years who still go on dates. Just because a person has gray hair and wrinkles doesn’t mean that their desires are gone, which was the point of the film.
“Age Of Love” follows 30 seniors from Rochester, N.Y. who sign up for a first-of-its-kind speed dating event exclusively for 70- to 90-year-olds.
The film helps to raise awareness about what it’s like to grow older without a partner by pursuing intimate confessions from the speed daters. The knowledge that was gained as a result of the in depth interviews helped shed a light on the stigma attached to age-related physical appearance that seniors face when they set out to look for new beginnings.
The people interviewed were comprised from a medley of assorted backgrounds and diverse personalities, sometimes comical, sometimes touching.
For instance it was funny when Lou, the 75-year-old bodybuilder, flexed his muscles and talked about weightlifting competitions but grew serious when he described his feelings about not giving up on life.
“I think you miss something if you don’t have love in your life,” he said. “It gives you a new lease on life to have someone by your side.”
The audience roared when Donna poured her beer into her “Grandma” mug and settled down in front of the computer to surf online dating sites.
“It’s fun to turn on the computer and see that I’ve got mail from eight different guys,” she said. “I’m not looking for some hot sexy guy. All I want in life is for someone to love whose going to love me back. Like when I’m doing the dishes, I want a guy to nuzzle my neck and give me a hug.”
Linda, who was self conscious about her appearance, worried about the wrinkles on her face and neck and her flabby arms.
“I’m disappointed others can’t see the person inside,” she said. “I don’t feel 70 inside. The years have gone by, love is still out there. I just have to keep my eyes open and see what happens. My dream is to find my soul mate, someone to share with.”
The speed-dating event was held at a local restaurant. The daters wore name tags and sat across from one another at numbered tables where they had a brief interaction until the bell timer rang after 5 minutes signaling them to move to the next table.
Addie, an adventurous attractive blonde, was on a mission to find a man who could keep up with her. Most of the prospective matches just gaped at her when she said that for fun she jumped out of a plane, traveled to exotic places and worked out five days a week at the gym.
“It’s lonely, losing the love of your life,” she said. :I wanted to be physical with someone…I’m still alive and want to be needed, to be part of the world, people get into a persona of being old. For me, no marriage, no sleepovers, or live ins. I’ll never grow old, as long as I’m out there on the dance floor, having fun.”
Matt, dependent on oxygen, had been alone for five years but felt virile. He talked about his perfect date watching the sunset. At 79, he said he felt like he was still 63 or 64.
“I can’t breathe, can’t hear, but my attitude hasn’t changed,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a 24-year-old model. I’ve dated women older and some good lookin’.”
The common thread was that they all wanted to experience love, and excitement.
As for the response from the OASIS audience…judging by the show of hands, there was definitely an interest in a speed dating adventure, with the stipulation of lowering the age to 55.
“By screening the ‘Age of Love,’ we were able to engage our seniors in a discussion about companionship and love in turn sparking a conversation about future programming ideas at the OASIS,” said OASIS Recreation Supervisor Jennifer Sisoev. “The screening’s attendance of 100-plus proves that the desire for love never fades.”