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  WINDY CITY TIMES

GUEST COLUMN I Don't Mind Your Asking
by Michael A. Horvich
2018-01-17

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This question, again, was asked of me recently. Good naturedly, with love, and with sincere caring ... but always unexpected. It caused me, in my explanation, to once again have to articulate my feelings and I decided to share them with you here, even though somewhat personal. How is that for a set up?

The question usually runs like this: Have you started dating again? Are you going to be dating? Are you looking for a partner? And with lower implications: Are you going to get a roommate?

The answer runs like this. "While I do not rule out all possibilities, NO, NO, NO and NO!" With a smile but emphatically. The question always takes me by surprise, if only because it is the last thing I want, desire, or even think about ( unless asked ).

I have had the LOVE OF MY LIFE. After 12 years of living with Dementia/Alzheimer's, Gregory died approximately 18 months ago and is still a large part of my life, especially after 41 years. Why would I want another partner? life mate? lover? roommate? Just because I am a widow ( prefer that word to widower ). Why would people automatically think I am on the lookout for the next relationship or a roommate?

Relationships take a lot of work. I often referred to Gregory and my "union" as one based on "The 49/51% Controlling Interest Principal." The give and takes, negotiations, conversations, and arguments that are involved in any relationship are difficult. The ones that are part of a love relationship can at times seem close to impossible.

While the 41 years of our relationship were not always pieces of cake ( I especially love Devil's Food with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting ), on the side of being in a relationship ( 51% ) always won out when compared to spending a life without one ( 49%. )

But often the race is a close one and the work involved in maintaining a successful relationship is ongoing and not always easy. Roles should be subject to change on a moment's notice ( another quote Gregory and I often used ), respect ( including self-respect ) is a key factor, compassion is always the rule, and giving up part of oneself is a necessity in any successful love relationship.

For Gregory and me, having stepped outside of societal norms by declaring and accepting our homosexuality, we often times had to set out our own norms, expectations, and milestones along with the accompanying millstones.

Up front let me state, YES, I am a gay man and therefore find other men sexually desirable. Like most gay men, I guess I am always checking out those around me and would not turn down a sexual advance if the occasion arose. But just because I am a widow does NOT mean I am looking for a new relationship!

I enjoy my solitude. I love having the condo to myself ... to keep clean or to mess up as I choose. The cats, Emma and Gigi, greeting me when I arrive home, their mad chasing each other at least three times a day, and their warm purring when snuggling in at night will NEVER replace my Gregory, but they provide more than enough "human contact" and a fair amount of responsibility.

My friends and family fill my time comfortably and are there when I need support, for example picking up a few groceries for me if I am ill. They are there to help meet my "nurturing quotient" as I support them. Calls and e-mails are exchanged, meals in and meals out are shared, events are jointly attended, movies and theater are shared. More than enough comfort for me.

I am never lonely, except when my emotions choose to visit, unexpectedly, with their life lessons and my grief for Gregory's having died takes over. But after some tears and some introspection I come out the other side feeling OK again, if not stronger!

I need to add, in relation to relationships: Who would want to look at me, a 72-year-old man who has seen a few? Yes I am vibrant, yes I am well groomed and dress well, yes I am attractive, yes I am experienced and interesting, yes I am financially comfortable ... but I am no longer ( if I am to be honest with myself ) fuel for sexual conquest.

When younger, every man passed was a potential sexual partner. Every waiter or clerk was a potential adventure. Every glance, every brush of knee in a movie theater or on the bus, was a possible sign that the other one was interested. Most "signs" didn't pay off, but in those days, that was one of the only ways of "Homosexual Communication." When most things were still underground with very few places to go where you could be your "Gay Young Self," except maybe one of the few then existing gay bars, this is where the potential action was.

Also, I need to add, I "came out" when I was 18. I was young and was attracted to other young men my age. For me, and I believe for lots of us, that youth culture still holds sway even though one grows older.

So here I am, now 72 and by force of habit ( and fantasy ) I still prefer younger men. In looking for a relationship, as an invisible 72-year-old at whom no one glances or is attracted to anymore—what are my chances for finding a relationship?

With Gregory, we were young, with youthful bodies and desires. Over 41 years we grew old together and our love grew stronger together ( even though the losses of the Dementia/Alzheimer's ) without having to depend of the excitement and lust of youth.

Older men do not interest me and younger men do not notice me. For those older men in their 50s, 60s and 70s, I say "No thank you." For those younger men who would like a "daddy" ( not necessarily a sugar daddy with money ), I say "No thank you," that turns me off. For those younger men who would charge me for their services, I say "No thank you," that turns me off as well.

So as for finding a new lover, "NO!" Besides the slim chances, Gregory is resting in peace ... so the 51%-49% issue is resolved in favor of not being in a relationship. The 49% wins out.

I enjoy my solitude and privacy, I enjoy the condo to myself ( in or out of order. ) I come and go as I please. I eat when and what I please. I have no major day-to-day responsibilities to anyone but myself ( and my kitties ). I wake up when ready and go to sleep when ready and take a nap when I choose.

I buy what I want to buy and usually can afford to do so. I choose where I want to travel, stay as long as I want, meet new acquaintances or old ones on the way. I do not need a roommate for company or to share the expenses, I am fortunate!

In summary, as a 72 year old man—who might still like a sexual tryst or two—who would have me ... not that I would NOT want to be had!

After a 30-year teaching career, Michael Horvich has been retired for 20+ years but has been more than active as an educator, writer, poet, photographer, blogger, artist, jeweler, book binder, lecturer, actor, supernumerary, museum curator, and a 12-year dementia/Alzheimer's caregiver partner for his life-partner Gregory Maire ( RIP. ) Visit www.horvich.com .


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