You might well ask what I know about dating since I’ve been out of circulation for 35 years, but, hey, I have women friends. We talk. And terminology is one of my specialties. To begin with, should we even persist in referring to it as “dating” when the daters are over 60? I mean, seriously, by the time we go past 60 we don’t have time to mess around; we know how to cut to the chase. Dating is spending time with someone to find out if you share similar interests, if you laugh at one another’s jokes (or at least get them), if the grandchildren are well-behaved, if at least one of you can see at night to drive, and if your meds are compatible. This can be accomplished quickly and then we are no longer talking about dating but have graduated to a relationship. Once we reach this point, then how to refer to this person-of-interest? That’s the crux of the matter, the question that got me going here.
One of my closest women friends met a man online a few months ago and so far he’s more than passing muster. He has a roaring green light. The critical question that my friend asked me recently when we got together was, “What should I call him? How to introduce him?” Because “boyfriend” sounds ridiculous. You just don’t refer to a mature man, over 60, retired from a long and illustrious college teaching career, with children and grandchildren, as a “boy” in any way, shape, or form. “Man-friend?” Ugh. We tossed out “significant other” as too politically correct, self-conscious, uptight, and text-bookish. “Partner” sounds like my friend has met someone to go square dancing with. She was also concerned that “partner” makes it sound as if she’s in a same-sex relationship, and of course there’s nothing wrong with a same-sex relationship, but in this case that’s misleading because she’s seeing a guy.
We commenced to use our vast reserves of creativity to come up with terms to consider. Paramour. Consort (or, in more formal situations, Royal Consort). Suitor (too 18th Century). Escort. Lover (too much information). Milkman (wait, no one has milk delivered anymore). Mate (too anthropological). Latin Instructor. Gardener. Pool Boy (oops, no, not a boy of any type). Soulmate (sounds like a Chess move; anyway, too pretentious and New-Age-y). Squeeze (as in a sponge?) or Main Squeeze (as in a very big sponge?). Chauffeur. Hanky-panky Companion (OK, that’s a stretch). Late-night Collaborator. Playmate (this begs the question “What are you wearing?”). Romantic Interest (works if trapped in a Henry James novel perhaps). Associate (buying real estate together?). Novio (can’t fool me, that’s just “boyfriend” in Spanish). Admirer (has potential). Guy, as in “My Guy,” but the Temptations might have that one copyrighted. Florist. Flame (sounds dangerous). Honey, Sweetie, Tootsie? So many terms of endearment to choose from and none of them a comfortable fit. I don’t have this dilemma to contend with because I can refer to Ron as my DJ. Or baby-daddy. Or my husband. I suppose my friend could refer to her guy as her Potential Husband (with his permission of course).
After brainstorming terminology for quite some time, I mentioned that my 30-something daughter often refers to the man in her life as her “boo.” That’s cute, but a bit ghetto, and definitely not a good fit when the boo is over 60. (Unless he’s a little scary, I guess. Then you would say BOO!) However, she also refers to him as her Beau. I think we have a winner. My friend loves that one. I cautioned her to beware of putting an “x” on the word because Beau is French and, in French, Beaux is plural, and therefore implies that my friend is involved with a ménage. The 60-something who has the energy for a ménage is rare, and, in my opinion, deserving of careful scrutiny. If someone over 60 is genuinely involved with more than one beau then I would imagine they are not accomplishing much else in their life. Not impressive.
My friend met her beau (that term definitely goes down easy) at an online dating site. I have two other 60-something friends who met a great guy online (they each met their own great guy, not the same one, not a ménage so don’t get excited) and embarked on a relationship via that route. This makes me think that there should be an entire set of terminology for relationships that originated through online dating or other online, electronic, or digital communications. Maybe these should be called computer-initiated relationships or meet-and-tweets. This adds a new dimension to dating terminology (woo-hoo, my specialty). A person could call someone they’re seeing whom they met through online dating their Cyber-link, Virtual Hunk or Electronic Gal (depending on gender), Keyboard Pal (as opposed to Pen Pal, which is so last century), Screen Savior, Bed-Byte, E-Male (obvious one), or Google-ee. The possibilities for newly minted terminology are endless. Perhaps I will invent terminology that will soon appear in the cyber-sphere; perhaps I will be credited with starting a meme or two. If my terminology catches on then it will become permanology. My terminology may make you wince, but I assure you I am well-meming.
Alrighty then. Calling it quits and winding up this blog. Tonight is Rosh Hashanah. May you have a sweet year, a good year, a year full of joy and wonder. Thanks again for reading me. You’re a terrific blog-ee.