Are Bodacious Baby Boomers Ever Too Old for Real Romance?

Are bodacious baby boomers ever too old for real romance? Do you ever find yourself thinking about how old you truly are in bodacious years? Do you assume the good things in life are over, so it’s time to settle down in that recliner and accept your fate?  Do you follow it up with a reality check of your bodaciousness? Bodacious baby boomers never just roll over and play dead, not even for a biscuit.

I once read a piece by a famous female journalist lamenting that men no longer tracked her when she entered a room. Those heads stopped automatically turning as she walked by because she was over forty. Wow. It’s been a long time since I was forty. In that time, I’ve learned some important lessons.

There’s more to turning heads than good looks and a “cute chassis”. The older I get, the more selective I have become in seeking to turn heads. Do I want just anyone lusting after me? What about the old geezer who sits at his computer every day, viewing his online collection of porn? What about the guy in the sedan next to me at the stop light, whose been cheating on his wife for their entire married life? What about the goof ball who looks at everything in a skirt while you see his fantasies playing out on his face? (I want to play poker with this Stud Muffin — he’s got a big “tell” and that’s a sure win for me! Ca-ching!)

After decades of attracting attention from an unfiltered assortment of members of the opposite sex, I’ve gotten to the point where quantity isn’t as important as quality. Maybe it’s because I see a lot when I work out at the gym. One of my favorite activities while I’m exercising is people-watching. I get to see romances blossom and flourish, sometimes to burn bright, sometimes only to fizzle. I see lust, physical attraction, a whole lot of flirting, and once in a blue moon, a real love story. I see the married, the “in-a-committed-relationship”, and the unmarried doing the hormone-driven dance of physical excitement that can start a blaze.

Sometimes I get a front row seat for really interesting vignettes, like the couple who just about did the horizontal mambo on the gym floor for all to see. She, the queen of enthusiastic fitness instructors, demonstrated her ability to stretch in front of the handsome new prospect. (I don’t remember ever being THAT flexible — it made me wonder if there was a trapeze suspended from the mirrored ceiling in her bedroom.) He, ever aware of his good looks, made a point of demonstrating his own prowess for her, sweating up a storm as he pumped his muscles. Theirs was a performance worthy of a gold medal for gymnastics. You couldn’t miss the sparks sizzle between the pair as they hungrily devoured each other with their eyes, wanting each other so much they looked like they would spontaneously combust. You could tell that the moment they left the gym together, there would be a lot of groping and grabbing, gasping and groaning. It was purely physical, driven by heaving-bosom-encrusted, all-out, no-holds-barred lust. Put them in period costume and they could pose for the cover of “Night of the Sword Fighter’s Endless Delight” by I. M. Horny. No mystery there. No intrigue. A love match this was not.

Just the other day, I saw them again at the gym. Alas, the magic has vaporized. The chemical formula that made them too hot to handle all those months ago somehow got altered. Now they’re just like any other good-looking couple with no shared interests. I watched him shrug her off like she was an IRS agent at the neighborhood rummage sale in search of unreported capital gains. She hovered around him like an overly-persistent, determinedly-insistent bill collector, reminding him he was in arrears for all the “personal training” she gave him. She wasn’t about to let him “cheat” on her with an elliptical machine!

That’s the trouble with lust. It’s is not real passion. Real passion comes from the heart and the head, not just the groin. Lust blows with the wind and follows the air current. It fizzles and dies as appearances and circumstances change. It’s not that picky about what triggers it. It wants what it wants. That’s sex, usually after some kind of a chase. Lose the chase and lust wanes. Lose the sex and lust dies.

Real passion is often a head game. Something said in passing that lingers in your thoughts as you go about your day. A smile. A look in the eyes. A discovery. A challenge. It transcends lust with a Hailey’s comet of a tail trailing the skies, saying “Here I am, baby!”. It gets your attention like nothing else. Why? Passion attracts, with all that fire and heat. It makes you wonder what the other person is thinking, feeling, wanting, needing, even when you don’t want to ask. Real passion sticks with you. It’s what makes you say that you can never just be friends if you split up, because you just can’t imagine losing what makes the relationship so special. And if you can’t have the relationship, you don’t really want to settle for second best, because you know it’s not the same. A passionate relationship is never ordinary.

Want to know if you’re a bodacious baby boomer? Ask yourself if you can live without passion in your life. If you can still look forward to discovering something wonderful in another human being, if you can still imagine having your breath taken away by a glance across the table or a tender touch, you’re never really old. When there’s a fire in the heart, a flame in the head, the furnace is still working. Stoke the fire, control the burn, and you’ve got some great heat to keep you warm when life gets cold. If you’ve got it, take good care if it. If you don’t have it, get out there and start looking for it. Be bold. Be brazen. Be bodacious, baby!

Bodacious Baby Boomer Style Guide

If you’ve got a preconceived notion that all bodacious baby boomers come from the South, sport big hair (male or female), rhinestone-Bedazzled tee shirts (women), NASCAR tee shirts (men), and over sized sunglasses, lose that thought. The truth is some of us are Northerners, born and bred, conservative dressers, and hair-impaired. In fact, I know a number of bodacious male baby boomers with receding hairlines and some really bodacious women, like myself, who are not known for our prowess with hair.

Oh, don’t feel sorry for me. As much as I would love to have big hair (and I would), the truth is I don’t know how to take care of it. I’ve had just about every haircut under the sun, and no matter how carefully the hairdresser styles it, the minute I leave the shop, it turns into MY hair. Curls take a turn for the worse. Hairspray? Can’t use it because of allergies, not to mention I hate the feel and texture of stiff-as-a-board hair. Makes me feel like a politician’s wife.

Hair is such an important part of one’s personality. It goes with the face that we share with the world. It can say, “Look at me! I’m gorgeous!” or it can say, “Wow, did I have a tough week!” You never want to walk down the street and have a friend stop you to say, “You look like I feel.” Oh, no. That’s never a good thing.

So, what is bodacious baby boomer style and how do you get it? First, know yourself. What makes you happy, from the inside out? You have to overcome that little voice inside your head that tells you to conform to the world. If you’ve ever seen a depressed person sporting a lot of maroon, you know what I’m talking about. Dreary is as dreary does. Do you want to drag your wagon because you’re weighed down by “I’m supposed to do it this way because I’m old…” or do you want to put an engine on that wagon and go for a ride? Don’t hold back and neutralize yourself into oblivion — use color wisely. Color tells people about your personality, your energy, your mood. A flash of color sends a signal to the brain, saying “I’m on fire, baby! There’s more to me than meets the eye!” Bodacious baby boomers aren’t wild, crazy people out of control. We have a purpose, a direction, a goal. Life is going to be good because we’re working to make it good. Surround yourself with the tools to make that happen. Let color pick you up and get you moving. Color is a reflection of what you feel inside. Use it wisely and it tells the world you feel good about yourself. Use it like a toddler with a pack of magic markers on a white wall and you get a mess.

You can be a conservative dresser and still tell the world you’re a bodacious baby boomer. Even if you wear a suit every day, you can crank it up a notch without losing professional respect. There’s nothing that says your only choices are “uptight Harry” or “Jimmy Buffet wannabe on a hard three-day binge in Margaritaville”. There’s something in between three-piece stiff and casual Friday attire. Nothing says you can’t sport a colorful cravat with that dark suit. Or a pair of colorful pumps and blouse with that skirt suit. Be true to bodacious self and accessorize. Get your whimsy on. Find a fun pair of cuff links that remind you you’re going golfing on the weekend. Find a blouse with a subtle tropical theme to remind you about that cruise you’re taking in six months. Send yourself the message that you’re expecting life to shoot you some good shots, because that’s when you’ll track that ball and actually catch it. If you believe the winning shots are out of range for you, you won’t jump high enough to grab them. You have to catch the ball and play it to score.

I learned that lesson in my thirties, when I used to play tennis with a retired champ. He beat me regularly because I didn’t understand the strategy he used. He knew he couldn’t outrun me. He didn’t try. Instead, he hit the ball all over my side of the court, wearing me down. He won by making me do all the work because he could anticipate my moves and stay one step ahead of me. His experience and knowledge actually let him play a better game until I finally caught on. I stopped reacting and started acting. When you let other people dictate what you do and how you do it, you follow their lead. When you take charge of your own life, you point yourself in the direction you want to go and you make things happen. Use your life experience, your wisdom, and your energy to live a bodacious baby boomer lifestyle.

Bodacious people aren’t the loud crowd at the local Hooters, making raunchy jokes about cleavage and carpenter’s crack. Bawdy is not bodacious. Bawdiness is, well…bawdy. Bodaciousness is crackling energy that exudes an air of bold confidence, determination, and pride. Fanny Flagg, one of the most original of the bodacious baby boomers, knows that you reach the age where time is short and life is unfair. You awaken to the realization that you just have to stop worrying about what other people think and be who you are. When you’ve taken enough of a mental beating in the bull ring, you just have to take that bull by the horns, flip him on his backside, and tell him to go pound sand. Fanny had the wisdom to let her character, Evelyn Couch, say it best in her wonderful book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: “Face it, girls. I’m older and I have more insurance.”

Bodacious baby boomers aren’t affixed to any particular race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, political party, or socioeconomic group. We’re old enough to understand that life is complicated and what’s good for one bodacious baby boomer may not fit another. We appreciate when bodaciousness awakens the timid from their quiet, unassuming, unimaginative sleep and they spring to life. Trust me when I say this. The game ain’t over till it’s over, and the sooner you learn that, the better the chances you can hit that home run before the last inning.

I saw a makeover show on an almost-bodacious baby boomer recently. The under-50 stylists decided to redo “Mama” top to bottom, after seeing her dress like her daughter, mini skirts and all. Trouble is they took away “Mama’s” big hair, the hair she kept telling them she loved. Right after it was dispatched to the salon room floor like the winter coat of a ewe in sheering season, “Mama” had a complete meltdown and never recovered. Not only did it spoil the rest of the show, she immediately went out shopping for hair extensions. “Mama” went right back to her old style because they never saw her hunger to be bodacious. That haircut she got was…ordinary…boring…dull. The stylists were so busy trying to prevent her from competing with her daughter for men, they totally missed the mark. When you help “Mama” feel good about herself from the inside out, she feels sexy and vibrant. When you chop off her hair and stick her in matronly clothes, the little girl in her rebels. Bodacious Baby Boomer Psychology 101.

That’s the difference between stylists trying to force “Mama” to dress like their interpretation of “Mama” and a bodacious baby boomer stylist like Tim Gunn, who looks to dress the woman behind “Mama”. Tim understands that clothes make the man or woman, but only if the wearer feels good in them. He would have had the good sense to take it slow and ease her into her new look in flattering ways, gently, kindly. He would have understood that emotional attachment to the big hair and worked around it, strand by strand. Tim has the good sense to appreciate that a transformation doesn’t just happen on the outside.

And bodacious baby boomers are all about transformation. We often hear about mid-life crises that people have. The truth is a mid-life crisis can trigger some positive transformations, but only when bodacious baby boomers understand and appreciate that power. You don’t have to go out and buy leather pants and a Jag to be bodacious. You don’t need to replace a bald head with plugs or get Botox. It’s okay to be what you are and how old you are, provided you keep yourself young at heart and nurture your inner child. Bodacious baby boomer style is all about living an active, vibrant life even as the wrinkles start coming.

Think about it. You can park your carcass in that overstuffed recliner and watch reruns of “Married with Children” for another couple of decades or you can decide to take control of your future and have a good life. When you look in the mirror, are you going to let those crow’s feet tell you what you’re going to do for the next twenty or thirty years and how you’re going to do it? Or are you going to say, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Don’t put yourself on a dinky little life raft, afloat in the Big Sea of Life without a paddle. Build yourself a seaworthy vessel from the inside out and take the helm of your ship. Embrace the bodacious voyage, Captain! That what bodacious baby boomer style is all about.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Go for the Soft Middle!

In my nearly sixty years of living, there is one important lesson I have learned. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, go for the soft middle.

The truth is we sometimes forget about the soft middle, because we’re so busy focusing on that rock and the hard place beside it. We see the obstacles, but not the opportunities.

Maybe it’s that the rock and the hard place are so overwhelming in size, shape, and unmovable, unyielding form. All we can think about is the big “How?”. How are we going to climb over that boulder? How are we going to maneuver past that hard place?

Sometimes we think we need to do things the tough way, like Wheaties eaters facing a triathlon challenge. Just because there is a mountain ahead, that doesn’t mean you have to climb it to achieve something worthwhile. The journey is really what counts.

What do you want your journey to be about? Climbing a mountain to prove you can? Or are you trying to get over the mountain to the other side, where your dream lives?

When you’re a bodacious baby boomer, you focus on the journey. It becomes even more important than the barricades on the road to achievement. Suddenly, you understand you have to ask yourself the important question. “If I’m between a rock and a hard place and I make the effort to get past them, what is the value of being on the other side?” When you understand your need to be there, that is your motivation to find the soft middle, where you can squeeze yourself past the rock and the hard place. You know you belong on the other side. You understand the need, the desire, the passion to make your dream come true, to reach your destiny, and you won’t let fate hold you back.

Sometimes experience is the best teacher. It forces us to re-imagine our quest to get past that rock and that hard place. What if we create battles for ourselves that distract us from the important things in life? What if we waste our precious lives seeking answers where there are none to be found? Maybe Don Quixote’s impossible dream was actually possible, but he just didn’t see it for what it was. Maybe it’s less about overcoming the obstacles in life and more about recognizing that sometimes the obstacles don’t really serve us. Winning isn’t about getting past that brick wall. It’s about getting past that brick wall to where we belong.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good challenge. There is nothing I enjoy more than being rewarded for making a truly good effort. But I want that effort to get me where I want to be. Where there is a will, there is a way, but there must also be a “why”. Why am I doing this? What do I want to get from the experience? Know that and you know why you cannot quit, why you must get past that rock and the hard place. That’s when you find your way through the soft middle.

The Successful Search for an Extraordinary Dining Experience

Call me bodacious, but when I go out to dinner, I want an extraordinary dining experience. I want my taste buds to wake up to the aroma of spices and flavors that rise up to my nose and shake my brain awake. I want to have a love affair with someone else’s cooking. I want to feel slightly guilty that I could never make something that delicious and curious enough about how it’s done to want to try to replicate it.

I’m not thrilled by the chain restaurant experience. Gigantic portions, generic interiors, and gooey desserts big enough to serve the population of Alaska don’t get me excited. To me, less is more when it comes to genuinely good food. I want to taste the fresh herbs in the grub, not listen to Herb’s conversation at the next table, talking about the grubs destroying his lawn.

Tonight I had an amazing dining experience. It was so good, it was a conversation-stopper. When you realize you are loving every bite, even as you discuss interesting topics, you share more than conversation. That’s when dinner goes from being ordinary to being extraordinary.

A real dining experience has several important components. A perfectly good chef can be undone if all the restaurant offers is good food. There’s more to eating than just plunking the plates down.

When the wait staff admires the dishes they serve as much as I do, the food speaks for itself. I want a waiter who looks over once in a while, who notices where I’m at in the meal, and checks on me from time to time. I don’t want to be rushed and I don’t want to wait forever in between courses. Tonight, I sat at a table for two hours in a busy restaurant, crowded with diners, and those two hours flew by. The wait staff was busy, but organized and unobtrusive. They worked together, helping each other out. That’s the secret of a really good restaurant.

I’m a huge bloody Mary fan. There is nothing I enjoy better than a bloody Mary that knocks my socks off. Horseradish? Bring it on. Hot sauce? Kick it up a notch. Sure, there are some pretty good bar mixes that punch a wallop. But a fresh bloody Mary from scratch? Impressive. Most bartenders throw in a celery stick and a wedge of lemon or lime. Occasionally, you get a shrimp dangling from the glass if you’re lucky. Once in a while, you might get an ordinary bar olive on a plastic sword. Tonight I was served some really spicy olives in a bloody Mary that sent my senses reeling and I found myself admiring the uniqueness of the drink. That’s memorable.

If you remember the episode when Elaine ordered the “big salad” on Seinfeld, you probably understand my love affair with lettuce. There is something wonderful about a well-built salad. The type of lettuce sets the tone. Butter, bibb, baby field greens — bring it on. I’m always open to a new kind of salad experience. Cousin Jimmy introduced me to the romaine and cucumber salad dressed simply with lemon juice, a smidgen of sugar, and olive oil. I discovered the beauty of strawberries and baby spinach dressed with raspberry vinaigrette one heavenly summer day. I’ve been known to make salads out of just about every vegetable and fruit I can get my hands on. Tonight, the rich dark greens and slices of cucumber were dressed with a fresh bleu cheese dressing that was light and refreshing. No heavy mayonaise base here. The taste was simple and clean on the palate.

When it comes the main course. I love to be wowed, not by reputation or public aura, but by the actual food. I once had a fling with a filet mignon with Béarnaise sauce in a little outdoor cafe in Geneva. Sitting under the shade of the umbrella on a lovely summer day, there and then I succumbed to the most succulent piece of beef I ever ate, dressed in a liquid ambrosia that mingled with the meat juices — it made me a believer of heaven on earth. Unpretentious in its presentation, exquisitely prepared by an obviously experienced hand, it was a gift from the gods. More than thirty years later, the memory of its taste still lingers in on the tip of my tongue.

Tonight, I was blessed with a paella that could bring a girl to tears. When it’s done adequately, paella is a tasty dish. When it’s done right, it’s amazing. My sweet mussels bodaciously danced with tender chicken and spicy sausage served over luscious rice that absorbed all the flavors of that lovely sauce. Every bite was a flavor explosion in my mouth.

That’s the real beauty of an extraordinary dining experience. It remains with you long after you say “uncle” and put down that cutlery. It lingers with you after delicately dab your chin with your napkin and ask for a doggie bag. (You never want to gorge on an extraordinary meal — too much of a good thing can spoil the mood. I always like to leave myself wanting more.)

A good restaurant meal might make you feel pleasantly content. A great restaurant meal makes you feel alive. It’s like watching an ordinary dancer go through the motions of moving across a stage and watching someone like Gene Kelly use dance to express his joy in “Singing in the Rain”. Every time I see Gene swing himself around that lamp post, I want to join him. I want splash through the puddles and leap through the air, all for the glorious experience of being hap-hap-happy again.

An extraordinary dining experience is transforming. It’s like a really good, deep, wet kiss from the right person. Magic. Is it because we are so bodacious that we appreciate these treasured moments in life, or are we bodacious because we have the capacity to embrace a great experience when we have one? All I know is that I’m glad I’m bodacious enough to want an extraordinary dining experience and lucky enough to have had this one.

When We Get Older, We Just Get “More So”

I once heard an elderly Yankee explain the effect of personality on age in a rather unique way. She said when we get older, we just get “more so”.

Wise? Lucky you. You have something to look forward to when you’re in your eighties. Funny? Invite me to your next dinner party. I’ll bring a dessert. Ornery? Count me out, unless you want me to kick your non-bodacious heinie. Stubborn? This can go either way. If you’re focused on the positive, I’m with you. If it’s going to be a “bitch and brawl” fest, fuhgedaboudit!

Think about it. Who were you as a child? Who are you now? Can you see where you are headed?

So very often, we forget that personality grows with us. Children have their own little quirks and traits, sometimes endearing, sometimes irritating. Perseverance often shows up in childhood in the kid who stays out until dark, shooting those baskets and perfecting the three-point shot, or the budding genius who builds a model of the next rocket ship to the moon with a couple of sets of Legos. A future artist will spend hours alone and scrunch up countless sheets of paper in the quest for one really decent drawing. From the persnickety to the pesky, from the superhero to the snarky among us, our personalities emerge in our youth and drag us through adulthood.

Ever meet a lawyer who didn’t like to argue? That’s a kid who spoke up in school and offered up opposing points of view to the teacher who never yielded to any form of dissent.

Ever meet a chef who wasn’t organized and focused on detail? That’s the kid who figured out that cooking is all about science, math, and formulas, but when you add really fresh ingredients and artistic inspiration, you get a masterpiece.

Ever meet a teacher who didn’t start out life being bossy with peers? (Mea culpa.) Same kid everyone relied on to solve problems, settle conflicts, and fix what was broken — as adults, we don’t want to do all the work, so we give you the tools to do it yourself.

Ever meet a nerd who suddenly turned into a handsome prince and became instantly cool? Me neither. We only begin to appreciate nerds when we mature and after they’ve had a style makeover.

Which is why you should never put stock in the high school football player or the National Merit scholar without a full examination of the personality traits. That same kid who quarterbacked your high school team may have given you his best back in the Sixties or Seventies. That was it. He’s got nothing now. And the National Merit scholar? Well, I’ve known quite a few of them and I learned one thing. A high school award does not a lifetime achievement make. When you rest on your laurels and accept your life as a fait accompli, you limit yourself. Bodacious baby boomers never live in the past because we’re too busy pursuing what is good in life. When we look back on high school, those are never the best years of our lives. They’re just a starting point for a lifelong journey.

Which brings us to the most important personality traits of a bodacious baby boomer:

Inquisitive — The world is your oyster and you love the sea, seafood, shell-collecting, and pearls; you want to enjoy every bite of the chunk of life you bit off.

Adventurous — The grass can look greener on the other side of the fence, but you’re smart enough to know that sometimes what’s in your backyard playground can be better — you’re from the “if I build it, they will come….” school and bodacious enough to believe in yourself.

Curious — How do things work and why do they work that way — knowledge is power and power is bodacious, baby!

Passionate — If all your senses and faculties aren’t engaged, you’re in neutral — life is always better when you shift your transmission into gear and get going.

Humorous — Laughter is the foundation of all good living — it feels good, is contagious in a positive way, and connects us to what really matters. I say let’s par-tay!

Creative — Back our bodacious bums into a corner and watch us figure out how to escape — we’ll outhink, outflank, and outmaneuver the jerks, doofuses, and bullies of the world because we can think inside AND outside the box.

Compassionate — It’s hard to be bodacious and not be connected to other people — we may not tolerate fools and idiots well, but we enjoy people because we understand that love and smarts actually make the world go round.

Are you really a bodacious baby boomer? Chances are you showed signs of being bodacious as a child. Did you have secret passions, known only to your dolls or pet frog? Did you ever thirst for knowledge, even as you were told to mind your own beeswax? Did you have trouble keeping your school clothes from getting dirty because you couldn’t stop yourself from poking your nose under that rock at the bus stop? I don’t think it’s ever possible to suddenly become bodacious. You have to be born with that bodacious gene, even if you’ve repressed it through your life.

You know you’re a bodacious baby boomer if you’re old enough to remember the song, “High Hopes”, and appreciate that little ant’s chutzpah in moving that rubber tree plant.

Bodaciousness is a drive that directs you to appreciate the best in life, be it people, food, experiences, or learning. You can’t be bodacious and be boring. Bodacious people are full of life. There’s a little voice inside us all that says, “Things can always get better. Why are you settling for less? Get your bodacious fanny moving and make it happen!”

That means we bodacious baby boomers have something to look forward to in life, because we expect to just get “more so” as we get older. I say, “Bring it on!”