Dear Readers: Every year, I step away from the Ask Amy column for two weeks in order to work on other writing projects.
My two memoirs: “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances,”(2010, Hachette), and “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2018, Hachette) are available from your favorite bookseller or library.
Enjoy this “Best Of” “Battle of the Sexes” column from 2010. I’ll be back with fresh Q and A next week.
Dear Amy: I live within one of the most extremist liberal bastions in the country. Men here are minimized, ordered to the rear and, even more often, told precisely what we should think and do.
I am an active 63-year-old guy and have worked hard to get where I am. I wish to enjoy my life to the fullest by riding motorcycles up and down the coast and sea kayaking in open water.
Fortunately, I often am joined by much younger “Barbie doll” types. I have invited many women my age to join me, but I am hatefully told that I am an old fool to be seen with these much younger women.
Why do I have to live my life at the speed of smell just to satisfy these old, progressive, blue-haired biddies marching toward the end of their lives by becoming bingo captains at their church?
Is acting young and refusing to slow down to please the liberal slug-masters of my community wrong?
— Living My Life
Dear Living: As long as you stereotype people the way you do, you’re going to get stereotyped, too.
You are way too invested in and angry about other people’s opinions about you. In fact, due to the volume and pitch of your protest, I can only assume that on some level you fear you wouldn’t be able to keep up with the social and intellectual challenges of being with a woman in your age group.
But if your delight in the thrill ride that is your existence makes you an “old fool,” then man-up and wear your title with pride.
Dear Amy: I was dating a 45-year-old man. He was married for 20 years, had been legally separated for four years, and divorced now for six months.
He seems to think it is normal for him and his ex-wife to sleep together naked when they visit each other, which they do almost every month. He told me that my objections reflected my narrow American view, and he said their relationship was not sexual.
He is Canadian.
Call me crazy, but that just did not seem to be normal behavior, regardless of cultural differences.
— Not Crazy?
Dear Crazy: Your guy was accusing you of “narrow American values.” So let’s say he’s telling the truth. Perhaps he really is merely resting his eyes while naked. Whatever they are up to, I would say it’s highly irregular.
And — not to put too fine a point on it — Canadians are not known to be wild and crazy libertines, so I’m going to go out on a limb and assert that this behavior would be objectionable to most romantic partners in most countries.
You could assume that he was attempting to “gaslight” you. He wasn’t calling you crazy, he was trying to make you crazy.
Dear Amy: My wife and I recently returned from a 1,700-mile driving vacation. One constant was that female drivers follow too closely. More than 20 times I pulled off the road to let a female driver pass me because I was afraid of a rear-end accident.
Not one time was it a man driving.
I am convinced that women do not understand the physics, dynamics or technologies related to automobile operations. My wife drove for 50 miles, and I was afraid for my life. I constantly asked her to slow down or give the car ahead more room.
After 50 years of marriage, this is the only thing we argue about.
Why won’t she change? She is quite intelligent in most other matters.
Dear Worried: There is no question that following too closely is extremely dangerous because it doesn’t leave a driver enough time to react, but in terms of your gender-based observations, national highway accident statistics show that male drivers are more than twice as likely to die in an auto crash than female drivers.
You and your wife could both benefit from taking a safe driving course. You can check out AARP.org for details.