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Life After Medicare

By James Utt
By James Utt

There was always a number that seemed old. When I got to that number, I would always revise it upwards, but one number seemed it could not be bumped up and that number was 65. That was the time of life where you entered your two-minute drill, trying to slow down Father Time’s clock. I shot by that age three years ago. It just seemed like last month when I went to the Social Security office to file my paperwork. Remember when you were in elementary school and it seemed an eternity between Monday and Friday? Time does speed up as we get older, doesn’t it?

The writer Mark Jacobson, one year younger than me, has said, “Plenty of my parts are out of warranty, or close.” Having to “double pump” often to get out of my car, I feel his point. Here is a partial list of what has turned me from a young Pete Sampras into someone who, and listen carefully you millennials, is busy gobbling up your Medicare funds: atrial fibrillation, pulmonary embolisms, torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, medial epicondylitis, and a torn meniscus. The sound of hitting a tennis ball on the sweet spot of my racquet is a distant memory.

Then there are the cosmetic changes. Less hair on your head and more in your ears and nose. We men often lose hair on our lower legs from decades of wearing tight socks, especially those mid-ankle athletic socks popular in the 1980s. One of my legion of doctors told me that men’s ears and noses continue to grow as they age. And most unfair of all, according to Men’s Health magazine, a certain part of our anatomy declines in size as we age. Great. The “Golden Years.”

Unfortunately, very unfortunately, I outlived my wonderful, kind and beautiful wife of 39 years.

Widowerhood at my age seems to leave two choices. One, become the secular monk that is content to look back on their life as an excellent bottle of wine, enjoyed to the last drop. Or, after a suitable and necessary period of grieving, go about the daunting experience of dating. Is “dating” the right term to use for people in their 60s? Do we “share time together?” Do we “hook up?”

After a year and a half, I decided not to go the way of the secular monk, but I did not know how to begin dating after such a long hiatus. I knew as a man I had an unfair advantage. In our culture, it is more acceptable for a man to date a younger woman than it is for an older woman to date a younger man. But how much younger? I searched in vain “Dating for Older Dummies.”

A friend suggested an on line dating service for people of a certain age. In other words, people who have been getting into Regal Theaters at reduced rates for a while now. I began the sign in process but chickened out, stopping before I uploaded a photo of myself or filled out a profile. But the service now had my email and I have been getting pictures sent to me of mature women I know nothing about. For all I know they could be Donald Trump supporters. I am urged to give them “a nudge,” whatever that means.

I guess I want to meet someone the old way. Through a friend, in a class, on the tennis court if health ever returns. I could wait until my fame as a writer becomes so magnetic that women would be drawn to me. Yeah, and I could win Wimbledon next year, too.

It could be worse, though. I could have been born 100 years ago. In 1900, only 4 percent of the US population was over 65. Today it is 13 percent and in our fair town, it is 18 percent. So, as my dear mother would say, “Stop your bitching and get back to pitching.”

All things considered, I am lucky, darn lucky, to be alive and able to spend my autumn years in Laguna Beach. Susi Q. Center is on Third Street, right?


James Utt is a retired social science teacher who has lived in Laguna Beach since 2001. He would like to win the Penn Faulkner Award someday. He would also like to beat Roger Federer in a five set match.

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  1. Other than the rather unfortunate title (Medicare, since it covers an individual from retirement to death, literally has no “life” after it) this is another thoughtful and well written column by Jim Utt. I was surprised, given his card carrying Luddite status, that he ventured into online dating at all, but that surprise was mitigated by his brave resignation to remain true to his heart and find friendship, companionship and maybe even love the old fashioned way.

  2. Again, another sincerely written, thoughtful column from James Utt. So pleased I can read his writings on line, as we do not get your excellent news journal in Corona Del Mar. I still subscribe to the LA Times, purely for the fact that we can receive the Daily Pilot, local news I believe has the most influences on our lives.

  3. Jim’s continued ability to combine humor and pathos into his columns makes for enjoyable reading. However, Jim forgot that many men experience hair traveling south from their scalp to their back. Who says that God doesn’t have a sense of humor?


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