Table for Seven

My partner Greta and I in the final week of a 30-day cruise to Mexico, Central America, and South America.

One night at sea, between Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, we had dinner with five other people from the ship. It was "open seating" so we were assigned to a table with others who arrived at the dining room at the same time we did.

Every person we've met so far on board is interesting and has a story to tell. The seven of us were a cross section of the people we've encountered.

Helen is a widow; I'm guessing she's in her late 70s. She resided in Moraga, in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area while married, but then moved to Park City, Utah. And soon, she will be moving to Sun City, in Arizona. She has become very involved in the genealogy on both sides of her family by using the Internet. Meeting a mate is not on her priority list.

And then there was Gary and his wife, early 60s. He was a doctor in the Air Force and his wife was a nurse. Both had been married previously. They met at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley.

They merged their families and now have five adult children scattered throughout the USA. Gary had planned to attend the University of California at Berkeley but changed his mind when he was accepted at Stanford. The new music library building at Berkeley is named after his mother. They live near Travis Air Force Base, about an hour north of the Bay Area and are retired.

Jerry and Carol, mid 70s, were the other couple. He lives in British Columbia and she lives in New Mexico. They are not married but are traveling together. They met the old-fashioned way, by being introduced by mutual friends about a year ago in Las Vegas. Carol spent the summer with Jerry in B.C. and they plan to continue staying together, although she still has her home in New Mexico. Jerry uses a walker to get around the ship.

Rounding out the table were Greta and me. We met 12 ½ years ago when we were in our late 50s. No internet intro for us either. Greta was a special education teacher at R.H. Dana, a school located a few blocks from Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point, California, deli that many of you have visited.

On June 24, 1998, Greta came into the deli and ordered a fresh carrot juice. She took a seat across from the counter while waiting for her juice. I noticed her and walked up to her table.

"Would you like to have dinner with me?" I rather directly asked.

"That would be lovely," she said.

We've been together since. This cruise is our second. Our first was a 10-day trip from Rome through the Greek Isles. We enjoyed it so much we thought we'd take another. A month is a long time to be away from the routines of home.

None of the couples at the table met using the Internet.

Most people on the cruise are married. Co-habitators make up the second category. Singles make up the third. I estimate that ten percent or less are single, and many of them are traveling with family members like mothers and daughters.

Meeting a mate on this cruise would be possible, but the probability would be low.

© 2010, Tom Blake

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Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50. He has appeared twice on the "Today Show" and has written more than 500 columns on dating and relationships. His "Single Again" column appears in The Orange County Register in southern California, is read worldwide and is often featured on msn.com. He is a professional speaker. He spoke at the national AARP convention in San Diego in 2002, and in Chicago. His book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, is a humorous account of his first year of dating after his third divorce. His second book is Finding Love After 50: How to begin, where to go, what to do. His latest book is titled How 50 Couples Found Love after 50. To ask a question or receive Tom's free weekly column on middle-age dating and relationships by e-mail, click on www.findingloveafter50.com or E-Mail.

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