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by Frank Kaiser
Recently, I asked Suddenly Senior readers if women's standards with men decrease as they age. The questionnaire is in the form of a joke..

.Standards (age 22):

    1. Handsome
    2. Charming
    3. Financially successful
    4. A caring listener
    5. Witty
    6. In good shape
    7. Dresses with style
    8. Appreciates finer things
    9. Full of thoughtful surprises
    10. An imaginative, romantic lover

Revised Standards (age 32):

    1. Nice looking (prefer hair on his head)
    2. Opens car doors, holds chairs
    3. Has enough money for a nice dinner
    4. Listens more than talks
    5. Laughs at my jokes
    6. Carries bags of groceries with ease
    7. Owns at least one tie
    8. Appreciates a good home-cooked meal
    9. Remembers birthdays and anniversaries
    10. Seeks romance at least once a week

Re-revised Standards (age 42):

    1. Not too ugly (bald head OK)
    2. Doesn't drive off until I'm in the car
    3. Works steady — splurges on dinner out occasionally
    4. Nods head when I'm talking
    5. Usually remembers punch lines of jokes
    6. Is in good enough shape to rearrange the furniture
    7. Wears a shirt that covers his stomach
    8. Knows not to buy champagne with screw-top lids
    9. Remembers to put the toilet seat down
    10. Shaves most weekends

Re-re-revised Standards (age 52):

    1. Keeps hair in nose and ears trimmed
    2. Doesn't belch or scratch in public
    3. Doesn't borrow money too often
    4. Doesn't nod off to sleep when I'm venting
    5. Doesn't retell the same joke too many times
    6. Is in good enough shape to get off couch on weekends
    7. Usually wears matching socks and fresh underwear
    8. Appreciates a good TV dinner
    9. Remembers my name on occasion
    10. Shaves some weekends

Re-re-re-revised (age 62):

    1. Doesn't scare small children
    2. Remembers where bathroom is
    3. Doesn't require much money for upkeep
    4. Only snores lightly when asleep
    5. Remembers why he's laughing !
    6. Is in good enough shape to stand up by himself
    7. Usually wears clothes
    8. Likes soft foods
    9. Remembers where he left his teeth
    10. Remembers that it's the weekend

Re-re-re-re-revised (age 72):

    1. Breathing
    2. Doesn't miss the toilet

To my surprise, many women readers agreed, however reluctantly. Typical was Barb at hotmail.com who said, "Some older women don't wish to be alone. A warm body, breathing, is better for them than none at all."

Others couldn't disagree more. As Beatrice L. of Long Beach pointed out, "Let's face it, men don't have much to offer anyway. They're about as necessary as bicycles to fish. Isn't that what Gloria Steinem said? I'm 77. Old-fashioned love and occasional sex are what do it for me."

Said reader, Linda Sisk, "Standards do not decrease. Expectations change as a woman (or man) becomes more confident in who they are. My list: Honesty - not a game player. Mutual respect - doesn't measure me as "a woman," therefore unworthy. Trusts me to take care of myself. Supports my personal choices. These have not changed over the years. But my ability to express and hold to them for the mutual good has. Such standards create a foundation that does not collapse with age."

Mary at aol.com agreed, putting it this way: "When we finally reach some maturity, our priorities change. With a new sense of self we become more realistic, maybe about what is really important. For me, the caring and sharing is most important."

Mimi in New York said, "You don't have to be male or female to want to be heard and understood — that's what we all want."

A wonderful lady in Arizona wrote, "Speaking as a single woman, I don't think our standards ever really change. But as we get older the market gets smaller and the flaws become more noticeable. It becomes a value judgment as to what we are willing to adjust to."

Barbara C. of Portland summed up for the majority, responding: "I think I'm now a little more discerning about the quality of the company I keep. One thing I know for sure is that I enjoy my own company. If I'm going to invite a man into my life, his presence had better be at least as interesting and enjoyable as my own company, or why waste the time? Life is too short to put up with disagreeable companions."

To close, I offer one man's view of the question. G. D. 'Moe' Greenwood of East Tenn. wrote:

"Your quiz about what women want
Will always be mute, or passé,
You see ANY list, if true right now
Will change from day to day.

"They aren't about to codify
The things they want in men
Because some of us would 'learn the code'
Know what to do . . . and when.

"And God forbid it came to that
We actually do what they wish.
They wouldn't be able to complain at all
Life could be as smooth as 'cream in a dish'.

So don't expect to find results
That draw conclusions on married life.
Where would be the 'fun' of it
If a man could actually please his wife?"

© 2001 — Frank Kaiser

Next week: "Looking for Mr. Oldbar," romance wanted ads for the senior set.

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