From what I can tell that phrase was coined back in 1974 when the national speed limit was reduced to 55 miles per hour by the U.S. government. I was 17 then and just about to experience my first date.
The lucky fellow was 18, the son of a preacher, and the object of my adolescent dreams. We had long been an “item” in our church youth group, but he had only now reached the age of permission for dating from his father.
There were awkward moments, just as there nearly always are with firsts in anything. Awkward was not knowing where we were going and realizing I was the only overdressed teenager standing in line at the Ponderosa Steakhouse for a ¼” ribeye. Awkward was realizing it doesn’t take all that long to eat dinner at Ponderosa and having no plans beyond that.
There were fun points, too, though. We finished off our high-class evening at Dairy Queen, downing strawberry milkshakes. And we were alone for the very first time with the freedom of a car to take us wherever we determined to go.
Fast-forward 38 years. My dating list isn’t long, but there were a few: Mark, Bruce, Mark again, Paul, Mark again (yes, I hear you snickering), Robby, Tom, John, another Mark – who would be my date for the next 24 years.
Then, at 50 years of age, I am suddenly eligible for dating again. A bit wiser, a bit wizened, a bit awkward still. I boldly brave the old world that has become new again. I discover online matchmaker sites and a number of dates, even if no romance. No preacher’s son this time, but I did find a date at church.
Yet here I am at double nickels.
Life and dating are different at 55. Or is it just that I am different? I look in the mirror and ponder this question.
The woman in the mirror gazes at me knowingly and with a sense of deep appreciation. She captures my imagination as she tilts her head slightly, smiles slyly, and with a gleam of adventure and fun in her eyes invites me out on a date.
I hesitate, then smile broadly and accept her offer. Quickly, I write it down in my calendar. Then I go back and frame it in a heart – perhaps an emphasis of some meaning yet to be discovered.
February 14th, 2012 – Date with myself. Let the romance begin!