They were never my lovers, but. . .

Bachelors III in New York

Bachelors III in New York

When Derek Sanderson, Jim Colclough, and Joe Namath opened Bachelors III in Boston, they hired young women from Northeastern University to be dancers at the club. One of them became an acquaintance of mine. That is, a few years later her mother and I became BFF.

Her daughter began dancing at Bachelors III, and my friend charged right into the city to see what kind of place the night club was and what kind of dancing her daughter was doing. She was no “stage mom” urging her daughter on; she was Mama Bear protecting her young. Even Joe Namath wouldn’t have dared cross her.

I never asked her daughter what she thought of her mom hanging around, but eventually the bachelors decided my friend—as long as she was there all the time—would make a good hostess. She was tall and elegant and as beautiful as her daughter. Long after the daughter left, my friend was still there as hostess. She was an accountant, and eventually they had her keeping the books of the money-losing concern. She worked for Joe and friends until the club closed in not-so-glorious circumstances.

BFF material?

BFF material?

Not long after that she became one of an elite group of “older women” from the churches where I was organist who were my BFFs. They were never my lovers, of course, but we were thick as thieves. I was about 35 when Mama Bear and I met, and she was about 60. We hung out together while my partner and her husband did whatever they were doing (not together—they were not BFFs). We’d sit in her living room and drink vodka martinis and talk for hours—don’t ask me about what—like a couple of school girls.

One day she told me she had had no feelings about turning 30. She had celebrated her 40th birthday with the biggest party of her life; she had paid no attention to her 50th. Her husband took her to dinner for her 60th, and she went right on with her life. But her 70th! Why was I planning this big surprise party for her? The only surprise was her freaking out at being 70.

I get it.

Eight years ago I was living in Dallas and turned 60. I had several parties, the last of which was the first big party I threw after my partner (not the same one—I was a serial monogamist) died. I thought it was great fun to be turning 60—I, the guy who had been surprised still to be alive at 30, 40, and 50.

I’m getting my freaking out at turning 70 over with a couple of years early. I’m not really freaking out, but I do think about it (probably more than I should). After I passed 40 and 50, I sort of expected to hit 70 someday, but I didn’t expect it to happen as soon as it’s apparently going to.

When my dad died, he was 97, as I commented on yesterday. When he was 68, he was just beginning a new career, and he worked until he was about 80. I loved watching him get old. Until my mom died, he was lively and interested in both his interior world and the world around him. We talked about books we had both read and about politics and about all manner of things. One of the books we both read and loved was Barbara Tuchman’s The First Salute, which she wrote when she was 76.

One of the last books I gave him was Bishop John Shelby Spong’s A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born (which Spong wrote in 2002 when he was 71). My dad, the dedicated Baptist minister, read it even though it made him sad that a bishop would write such a book. He also read a bit of May Sarton’s At Seventy which I had carried with me on a trip to California to read on the plane. He was curious about her and loved the fact that she was writing and publishing her memoirs after she was 70.

So what I’m saying—if my morning hypergraphic wanderings have a point today—is that I’m looking forward to not freaking out at 70. I will retire (I’ve agreed with SMU) when I’m 69. I’m not living in the future. I’m right here, right now, today.

My friend the Bachelor III bookkeeper showed no signs that being 70 bothered her. She went right on singing and dancing and loving her life.

Today, if I didn’t have these final papers to finish grading, I’d be off to Mexico City. Popocatepetl is fixin’ to blow, and I could cross one item off my bucket list.

My best friend forever?

My best friend forever?

2 Responses to They were never my lovers, but. . .

  1. Bob Colleary says:

    Where was Bachelors 3 in Boston?

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