Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad
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What would you do if your eighty-year-old father dragged you into his hell-bent hunt for new love?
A few months after the death of his wife, Joe Morris, an affable, eccentric octogenarian, needs a replacement. If he can get a new hip, he figures, why not a new wife? At first, his skeptical son Bob (whose own love life is a disaster) is appalled. But suspicion quickly turns to enthusiasm as he finds himself trolling the personals, screening prospects, chaperoning, and offering etiquette tips to his needy father. Assisted Loving is a warm, witty, and wacky chronicle of a father, a son, and their year of dating dangerously.
the elaborate washing of his face each night with organic oils and customized ointments. I called it his ritual ablutions. I thought he was a New Age narcissist, totally obsessed with his body. He thought I was unable to love, too judgmental, and crippled by my own cynicism. It broke my heart when he left me. Since there’s nobody else to step in and orchestrate my forty-fifth birthday tonight (my brother’s away with his family), my friend Marisa has taken charge. I’m glad. We are in the town car
smooth, his demeanor breezy. Geographically suitable, Jewish, a retired judge with two sons who have Ivy League degrees. What would he look like? She was picturing if not a Jewish Robert Goulet, then someone Alan King–like, may he rest in peace. “Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night,” this Joe Morris had crooned to her on the phone earlier. It wasn’t her favorite song or musical (she prefers classical music to show tunes and instrumental to vocal), and certainly it wasn’t her idea of suave,
and Dad meet?” “At a bridge game at the community pool.” I might as well be the father in the living room giving her the third degree. “Gracie is one of the top players,” Dad interjects. “But, Bob, why don’t you tell us what you’re working on? You have your Times column this week?” Dance, Bobby! Dance for the nice lady! Make your father proud! Mercifully, the lights go down, and the conversation is finished. Nine is a sophisticated revival of a musical about a narcissistic womanizer having
flight just as I have for dozens of years. The airport crowd is the same—same tan faces of a certain age, same old pastel cardigans, Bermuda shorts, and golf caps on bald heads. Same looks of expectation on snowbird parents waiting for youngsters to get off the plane and make them proud. But something has changed for me. I am not stepping off the plane (among all the young couples and families) as the alienated single adult this weekend. Today I am here with Ira, my princely prize in an alligator
doctors, helping her into the car, sticking around when his impulse was to flee the overwhelming sadness. But in the end, he was inadequate. And while I related to his need to keep enjoying life even as she suffered, I also resented him for it. My big brother, Jeff, resented him even more than I did. Dad wouldn’t help her with her pills. He insisted on being out of the house for hours for bridge games, yet he wouldn’t hire the help that would make our lives easier. He told me she was a lost