The Planet of the Wanton Geriatrics

Life can be cruel at times.  Life can be filled with contradictions.  Contradictions that become paradoxes in our day-to-day lives and as the years progress  leave us wondering,  what the hell happened?   The cruelty part is that there is no going back, no modifying the order of things or adjusting priorities.    Despite all good wishes and inspiring messages to the contrary, in pure existential terms we are left at the end of a cycle in possession of our triumphs and losses, our insights and misgivings.    Life in hindsight becomes a mathematical puzzle of sorts, but with escalating complexity as our perception of events and their outcome is constantly mutating, leaving us to readjust the pieces as time goes on.

There are different versions of assessment and readjustment, each filled with mixtures of satisfaction and regret.   I am not talking about the macro stuff here, the atrocities and eco-disasters, the flagrant disorders of the world.  Catastrophe is relatively easy to assess and reconcile on the macro level than the universal eventualities that sooner or later enter our lives.   Aging is one such area where the large, universal picture eventually makes a very lasting acquaintance.  With aging comes its usual accessories, health issues, frailty,  culminating in an intimate howdy do with our own mortality.    Such concerns are all out there, until that one day when you look in the mirror and start to think, “do I know you?”

But like it or not, we have all been programmed to deal with aging and mortality.  For the most part we think happy thoughts.  You turn on the TV and there is some saccharine commercial to remind you of all the tender moments you experience with friends and family in your approaching dotage.   We get the Lion King Circle of Life Routine , and we are encouraged that our brief blip on the radar screen may be filled with meaning and purpose.    We take heart in the acts of familial succession  and the belief we will reincarnate as we have before.    We project in the back of our thickening skulls that upon our return we will access the lush life, refusing to believe that in past lives and the ones beyond it we were meager peasants whose greatest triumph was now getting trampled by the noble’s horses.

Without all this concern for mortality and the afterlife there would not be much of a market for religion and corny movies.  All those Hallmark Cards and Kodak Moments may be selling at a discount on the dusty back bin of the  Dollar Store.   Mortality is perplexing.   It gives us food for thought and a sense of spirit and a glimmer of eternity.   It keeps us in line.  Or it doesn’t.    But few ever scoff at the notion that somehow, in some way, I am paying the price for my deeds and misdeeds.

But honestly, this is all the easy stuff.   Life and death; there’s nothing to it.  Whether you are stuffed in a hole or return again to repeat the same mistakes or make different ones, this concern is really a piece of cake.   Because at the end of the day your beliefs may give you comfort, offer solace at that heavy trafficked intersection of doubt and faith.   But the morning after, whatever you believe becomes moot.  Unless you hit the jackpot by guessing correctly on the Eternity Betting Pool  and then your journey to the other side rests comfortably on auto-pilot.

What isn’t easy is sex.   Sex is fraught with cruel paradox as if the great creator did some custom body work on Adam and Eve as if for the purpose of a practical joke.   Doesn’t really matter if it is Adam and Eve, Adam and Adam, or Eve and Eve, or any combination therein, the fact that each group is victimized by biology and its staggered time frame for sexual desire.    It is no secret that men are more interested in sex at an early age, their late teens and twenties.  Men have sexual thoughts about once every twelve seconds, barring distractions like earthquakes and fires.   And even then….  Women on the other hand may have sex at an early age but according to one study in the British Medical Journal that was also reported in Time Magazine, that for women that full blown libidinous activity doesn’t kick in until their late twenties.   The article reported that women are not having more passionate sexual fantasies between 27 and 45 but they are actually having more sex than women 18 to 26.   Sounds hard to believe, but, hey, its Time Magazine and the British Medical Journal, after all.  Who would know these things if they didn’t?

The theory is associated with evolution.  In a nut shell, in her younger years, a woman didn’t have to work so hard at sex to become pregnant.  It was only a matter of time.  Fewer times.   But over time and with aging having children was a greater challenge and as women had children at an older age, the sex fantasies and desire kicked in to accommodate the advancing years.

Here is the passage from Time Magazine

Here’s how their theory works:

“Our female ancestors grew accustomed to watching many of their children — perhaps as many as half — die of various diseases, starvation, warfare and so on before being able to have kids of their own. This trauma left a psychological imprint to bear as many children as possible. Becoming pregnant is much easier for women and girls in their teens and early 20s — so much easier that they need not spend much time having sex.”

I believe there is more involved that physical evolution.   Reportedly, in women, the libido takes a breather, while for men it keeps right on going.    Boomer women especially, having been programmed to behave themselves in order to appear decent and marry the right sort of fellow, became sexually active a little later than the younger women of today.    Boomer women had to keep their legs crossed if they were going to be the good girl.  For extra money, the only call girling they did was to call their parents and beg for a larger allowance.   Or they worked in the college cafeteria or took a job as a waitress.  Alright, so come college they met a boy and the boy was nice…and they started to fool around.

It is only later in life that Boomer women start to smarten up and ease off the guilt that was fire forged and ice hardened by concerned but fearful parents.   Time is passing, and opportunity is dwindling.  Before you end up having heart-to-hearts with a pet iguana there is time for a virtual fling.   Some women, to avoid labeling and scrutiny even move to different and distant places.   Santa Fe in the years I lived there was fraught with single Boomer women on the prowl.  The difficulty was there were so few men, and the men who were single or available made the Peter Pan Syndrome appear the lexicon for ancient and sage-like wisdom.  Like I say, life can be cruel and full of paradox.   Even the married women aged 27 to 47 have more sex than younger or older women.  Sexual peak and all that.  As for the fantasies, let’s say more than a few do not involve their present partner.

But then, as the report contends,  after that hot and heavy decade or three of sexual desire, replete with fantasies and late night longing, the warranty on the libido begins to lapse.   The Cougar business notwithstanding, the  hunger is  more for the lascivious display at Yogurt Land than the sexual encounter.   The report, or the study, as with any other study, has its flaws.  Older women may be divorced or widowed, or are less inclined to gab it up at gray haired mixers.  I don’t know.

And there are the men.  Their trajectory is dramatically different.  They start off strong and then start to flag as they approach or enter middle age.   It is a mixed bag of reasons.   This is not to say men of this age have allowed women to corner the market on sexual fantasy and romantic pursuit.   But it just ain’t the same.   Suffice it to say they are far more interested in 3-D than a D-Cup.  Unless the D-Cup is actually on the 3-D Television, and then the may go off on his lonesome to remember old times.

But then something kicks in and as men get older they get horny again.   Go figure.  Just when you thought it was safe to crawl back between the sheets.   Back a few years in history,  a man confronted the dreaded reality that the brain may still be filled with desire, but the penis has downshifted to a lower gear.     Lust over limpness, if you will.  So in was once upon a time the awkward but somewhat natural order of things, both spouses acclimate to the new conditions of age and erosion and spend more time showing their friends more pictures of their grandkids or that wing ding at Lake Havasu.

An equilibrium of sorts had been established.  But along comes Viagra.  Men become randy old fools and, according to the report, women tend to other matters.  Statistically,  67% of the men between sixty-five and seventy-four were sexually active.   Only forty percent of the women in same age group were sexually active.   A third of the men in the age range of 75 to 85 said they had sex within the last twelve months.  Only 17% of the women in the same age group can make the same claim.  Frankly I am impressed by the men, not so much that they had sex but at that age they can still remember they had it.   As for the women, as noted before, the report did not take into consideration some easily identifiable extenuating factors.

Alright, so what has this been doing to senior America?  And you believed their main concern was losing their Medicare.  Unh uh.   Aged boners are messing up the fire drill.   Older men are zipping up the Sansabelts and jumping the reservation.   At an age when their physical activity may be a a vigorous workout on the treadmill, they are sowing sin in Sun City.   Talk about an alliance among the willing.   They are jumping off their electro carts and cruising the streets for desperate hookers in a down economy.     According to an article in the Daily Beast, they are bringing back sexually transmitted diseases to hearth and home.    Imagine this doctor’s surprise when an eighty-year-old guy shows up with the clap.   They are leaving their wives,  and they are cheating on their wives.  Or, worse, they are forcing themselves on their wives.

The result is mixed.  According to the article, some women are enthused.  But most are not.   They thought this part of their lives were over and now the long retired  Jumping Jack Flash has nothing but time on his hands and a chubby.    Many women find such entreaties annoying.   But then, if they don’t for a few bucks or a couple hours distraction someone else will.  So leave it to good old American know how to produce a female version of Viagra.   The intent was to utilize  Boehringer Ingelheim’s  flibanserin, a drug for premenopausal women, as the new boost for women who report a lack of sexual desire.  Let’s follow the credo, even if there isn’t a market, create one.   Lots of high hopes.   But in two different studies the drug failed to show any increase in sex drive.  The elusive search continues.

Like I noted, there are exceptions to all of this and there are certainly extenuating factors.   But there is still no denying that life is cruel and full of paradox.   Not only as Elmore James once declared does he love her, but she loves him and so forth…but the sexual trajectories of men and women are so different their sexual encounters are torn asunder by bad timing and nature’s doctrine.   It’s hard enough to find love, and then when you do it’s sexual manifestation can become a total pain in the ass.  Perhaps in the end, our desire for satisfaction had disrupted the natural order of things.   At this time of life, Bill Maher joked, “maybe people shouldn’t be having sex.  It has to hurt,” he said. ” It hurts just to stand up.”

For me the bottom line is like all challenges, time will eventually sort this one out.  Or not.   And maybe those who resort to prayer, asking the Lord or the Goddess or the Universe, whatever, to sort out the rights and wrongs, to give them things, bring peace and prosperity, should beseech that same supreme being  that it would really be nice to rethink the math on the cycles of human sexuality.  Life is hard enough.

Economic Meltdown, When You Finally Get the Memo

The economic meltdown came so fast and so furiously, most of us weren’t sure how to even reaction.   With the markets plummeting, housing prices on a steep decline and people getting laid off left and right, we were left with mixtures of anger and grief.  To at least some degree, life as we knew it was over.

What I mean by this is that most of us having been living over our heads for years.   We all believed we deserved certainly luxuries, everything from the pricey wines to the trendy wardrobes.   Men were having their shirts custom made, and women just had to have the bag of the season.  Designer, shoes, suits, shirts, dining out,  lavish vacations, were no longer anything special but just another part of our regimen.

We made money and then we borrowed more.   We bought houses that were way over our heads, automobiles that offered status but at a very high cost.  We leased cars we couldn’t afford.   We took lavish vacations, ate out in cutsey restaurants.  We bought gourmet food and fine wine.   We were massaged on a regular basis.  We went nightclubbing and sat around over expensive vodka and a bowl of caviar, playing with our electronic gadgets.  We actually thought that none of it would end.

And then it did.   Now it’s time to tell ourselves and our families that life as we knew it has at least temporarily been put on hold.   The level of disbelief is considerable.  Husbands and wives are fighting.  The childen, spoiled from years and indulgence, simply can’t believe they have to cool it with the designer jeans and trips to the maill.   As for the gourmet foods, it’s the big box store for most of us.   Restaurants?   Yes, some of the top of the line steak joints are still doing well, as are the lower priced coffee shop.   As for that cute little storefront bistro. let’s just say it’s rare that you need reservations.

So after all those years of indulgence, the bottom has now fallen out of the economy.   It’s a bitter pill to swallow.   A sad but unique experience.   Ironic that it comes at such a price.

When Grandma Had a Job It Was More Necessity Than a Career Decision

Can Having Children Early Help Women’s Careers Later On?

  • womencadwaladerThere’s a page-one WaPo story on young professionals in their 20s and early 30s who decide to buck demographic trends and have children. It’s the third in an ongoing series about the choices young professionals make. We posted on the last story in this series — about a third-year law student who could not decide between taking a law firm job or pursuing a non profit position or fellowship.
  • This time around, we have Erin Foley Lewis, a 28-year-old associate at Cadwalader. Foley Lewis (Wake Forest, Harvard Law) talks about how having an early start on having children might help her career. Go Demon Deacons!
  • “By the time I’m at a point in my career where I am going to be making partner, my kids are going to be old enough to be playing on their own and sleeping on their own,” said Lewis, who recently had twins. “If I had waited until 33 to have children, I’d have newborns at the time I would be up for partner.”
  • O Loyal Law Blog readers, what do you make of this? Does having kids relatively early make work/life balance easier for women to achieve later on?
  • For the entire article go to The Wall Street Journal.
I read this article with great interest. It does pose some interesting questions. My wife had her child in her early thirties so that she could best establish her career. She also derived a sense of fulfillment she may not have received had she born children earlier in life.
Since we both came from blue collar families where the children are born early, we both felt our mothers believed their lives were less realized than they may have been if they had waited. Since that was an age and a society where women, if they harbored any ambitions they usually were discrete about them. Social pressures about working were fairly intense and most husbands in that group were not all that happy about their lives being out in the work world.
Yet, what is so odd, is that both my grandmothers worked. This was not a career choice, one based on gut wrenching analysis of their career tracks and their potential. Their decision to work was based out of necessity. One was the “Ma” in the Ma and Pa store, and the other was a divorcee in an era when people often viewed divorced women with suspicion and pathos. But nevertheless, they both worked for the better part of their lives.
In fact, both of their mothers worked. One was actually a huckster in the good old days along the Eastern waterfront, and the other taught music. Again, there was no group help support groups or any encouragement. You just did it.
My one grandmother, the Ma of the Ma and Pa store, was a successful business woman. It was a fur store, at a time when custom fur coats were desirable, expensive and a long way from being socially taboo. She bore two children, my father and my uncle, and everyday went downstairs from the upstairs living quarters and presided over the business while her husband, my grandfather, oversaw the workers in the shop. Since she was most certainly alive and working during the mid to end of the last century, she was most supportive of the women’s rights movement. But she was also mildly bemused by the anguish and the unrest people displayed over the right and ability for women to join the work force. For her it was merely a fact of life. Both grandmothers were too aware of Rosie the Riveter and other working female icons to ever dream the working woman was out of place in society.
My other grandmother worked in a warehouse. She was a clerk who put in her thirty five years, saved her money and retired in relative comfort. She had one daughter, while in her twenties, my mother, and continued working with scant time off. It is doubtful whether having the child negatively impacted her career. For her it was just a job and not a career track. Her advancements were government as much by the union back then as the were by her achievements.
So I grew up taking for granted that women worked. Oddly, my own mother didn’t work during her motherhood years, but later opened her own shop and worked that for a good twenty years. It was just what you did. You had the kids when you could have them, adjusted your life and then went on with working for a living.
As the saying illustrates, “What goes around comes around.” So here we are, after the mid-century icons of the “Leave it to Beaver Mom” have gone by the wayside and the realities, once again, are necessitating both parents work to make a living. The difference is now, with child care centers and access to nannies and hired help, it is easier for a woman to have children and go on with her career. Not easy, but easier.
As the Co-Founder of Corra, a pre-employment background checking company, I encounter a great man women in the human resource departments of anything from small Mom and Pop outfits to the larger corporations. Their work and careers issue varying degrees of happiness. Most have kids, many are ambitious, and most realize above all there is a reason they have joined the work force. Not after an anguishing decision. But because they had to.

True.com back in the news about online dating background checks

David Crary of Associated Press wrote an article about the recent New Jersey legislation requiring online dating sites to disclose whether they perform background checks and discusses True.com and Match.com’s response.   Predictably, True.com was “elated” by the legislation (which provides them with an opportunity to trumpet their usage of background checks).  Match, on the other hand, said they were “disappointed” in the legislation.  

“Match.com is disappointed New Jersey has enacted a flawed and unconstitutional law and we will explore opportunities to challenge it,” a company statement said. 

Strangely enough, the law doesn’t require background checks, just that company disclose whether they are performed. 

As we have discussed before, all background checks are not created equal.  Running names through a criminal database is helpful but is far from complete.  The real problem with online dating is identity verification.  What steps are these companies using to verify a user’s identity?  They should need to run the minimum of a social security trace or possibly a motor vehicle records search to confirm identity.  This can also create more problems, as some states have stricter requirement for accessing DMV records and have different turn around times.  Other users as well could provide stolen SSN numbers to defeat the system.   Perhaps the best way is make all the background check conducted totally transparent to all users.  Perhaps the user should be allowed to choose how complete of a background is run on himself.   Perhaps the market forces will define the standard. 

 background checks, online dating, background check legislation, true.com, match.com