Home is where the heart is

| 14 Sep 2016 | 05:03

Graying New York


My apartment is now home to three senior citizens on medication; me, my partner John, and our cat Simone. Recently, Simone was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and takes two pills a day. There are lots and lots of pills in our apartment, all taken at different times of the day. So now we not only have to remember when to take our own medication, we have to remember when to give Simone hers. Pills, pills everywhere. Such is senior life.

Every summer John takes me to Eisenhower Park on Long Island to the batting range. I am the only granny there, and I try to go when the cages and benches are free. I don’t mind being an eccentric old lady, but I don’t particularly want an audience for this activity. I played softball when I was young, before it was “in” for girls to be athletic. And even today, I find conventional exercise excruciatingly boring and avoid gyms like the plague, but love my weekly pingpong game and still enjoy my yearly test of my batting skills. So on Labor Day weekend, there I was swinging away, hitting nearly every one of the 20 balls I paid $6 for and feeling good about myself. As we walked away from the batting cages, a young man in his 20s approached me and said, “Good hitting.” I was mortified that he’d been watching and said, “I’m a bit embarrassed to be the only old lady out here.” He replied, “Don’t be embarrassed, be proud.” And suddenly I felt as though the whole of Yankee Stadium had stood up and cheered for me. I thanked the young man and walked away feeling … proud. A fan club! How about that.

A good friend of mine was about to be scammed on a web dating site. I say about to be because after she talked to me and some other friends, the red flags were obvious. The man contacted her, started writing long and detailed emails about himself and his life, and indicated that he was interested in a deep and meaningful relationship. My own bells were ringing: Too soon, too much too soon.” They were emailing and speaking on the phone several times a day, and of course my friend was excited. But when I and others expressed skepticism (unwillingly, as I didn’t want to be wrong and I didn’t want to be a downer), my friend began to do research about these scammers, and the profile was just too perfect for comfort. Too serious too soon; an accent that didn’t match his so-called place of upbringing; lots of unanswered questions, lots of lovely flattery, and finally, a trip to a foreign country for some business. My friend spoke to a Verizon representative who asked her questions that were right on target for scammers, and his phone turned out to be a throw-away flip top. The Verizon rep said that this was very common and that she should block her numbers. “Liz” chose not to hang on and wait until he asked for money; she just listened to the rep and had her numbers blocked. I might have waited and chewed him out, but she wanted no part of that.

“Liz” is sadder but wiser. It turns out that dating websites do give out information about what to be careful about with on-line dating. Some of the other red flags are excuses not to meet in person, talking about traumas in their present life, having no photos (though some scammers use phony pictures of very good looking people) and giving a bio full of extraordinary accomplishments. Both men and women can be scammers. There’s no shortness of evil in either sex. The key is to listen to your gut instinct. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For those who have met wonderful men on dating websites, including myself, I just want to say that it’s possible and that the scammers ruin it for everyone. May the fleas of a thousand camels be inflicted on these creeps.

A new, age-friendly New York City website is coming soon from The New York Academy of Medicine with updated resources for New Yorkers to make New York a great place to grow older and inspire age-friendly practices in other cities around the world. Check out info@nyam.org.