NOTE: OOOPS! Somehow, I published an earlier, incomplete, and slightly idiotic version of this column. THIS is what I intended to print, and I hope you like it.
Much love, Victoria
Most of you know I started jumping out of planes last year. Christopher, my son, is now a tandem master, coach, and all around top-notch skydiver, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s really more fun than should be allowed, and has introduced me to a hilarious crowd of bawdy boundary pushers. Among them are a segment of Divorced Baby Boomer Men, and I’ve gotten into some pretty interesting talks.
I have to be careful here with identity disguise, because the community of expert skydivers is so small, they’re pretty recognizable. Let’s call this one “Brian”. Brian is 47, an utterly brilliant skydiver, leader in the field, and organizer. Brian has been married once, and divorced after a handful of years.
“It was too much work, Victoria. If it’s the right one, it should be easy.”
“What does that even mean, Brian? What should be easy? What part?”
” Oh, hell, I don’t know. I just picture our eyes meeting across a room, and we just fall into it.”
Fortunately, these guys are genuinely punchable. I punched Brian on the shoulder, and told him he must be kidding.
Another is an engineer in real life, and skydives as an expert hobbyist.
“This is how relationships work, Victoria,” he told me in the middle of his divorce. “Find someone you hate, then buy her a house.” Gracious, how cynical.
It’s a funny thing, Visitors. It’s as if this generation of men has checked out of the “Nothing worth having is easy” consensus.
Divorced Baby Boomer men, of all stripes, seemed to be terrified of this one. This is just a brain-dead one to me, Visitors, because they are so accomplished. At least the ones I hang out with are. Pilots, athletes, businessmen, professors (so many professors) have at least one, perhaps two, broken marriages under their belts.
On the one hand, I get it. Women, if we’re honest, we can be a pretty emasculating bunch. Once we really get to know a man, to the point where we’re calling him ‘our’ man, ‘our’ boyfriend, ‘our’ husband, partner, any form of committed relationship, generally we’ve gotten to know our guy pretty well.
The Divorced Boomers I know have had been knifed pretty well. Remember Maynard, the firefighter in the previous column? Say what you will about bodybuilders, but bodybuilding is Maynard’s ‘thing’. It’s his hobby, what he does when he’s not fighting fires or being a divorced dad. Credit where credit is is due, the man looks like a block of granite, competes and has won prizes.
Obviously, ideas of self worth and masculinity are tied up in the mind of the male bodybuilder. To be knifed by TWO extramarital affairs must have been quite a blow. Completely human to be gunshy.
But on the other hand, is this the first serious setback you’ve ever had, gentleman? Somehow I doubt it. I’d venture to guess you’ve had failed businesses, don’t get along with someone you should, or have had one of many setbacks along the way. No one is invincible, and you’re over 50, after all.
So lean in, boys, this is the good stuff. We’re just as fragile as you are. We’ll meet you in that place, and we’ll give you your chance. Yes, most of us are pretty high maintenance, but you know what? So are you! And it’s OK! We’re all old enough, and smart enough, to figure out what a treasure we can be to each other.
What is 50+ anyway? High noon, as far as I’m concerned.