Rosie Borsay worked very hard to make the Laguna Woods Book Reading a very successful event October 22. She was able to reserve a room at Clubhouse 3 that easily accommodated the 26 guests who showed up even before we had finished arranging the cheese, crackers and cookies on beautiful silver platters and uncorked the wine.
I could tell by the laughs and smiles I was getting from my earliest remarks about senior sex being the last taboo of fiction and film and my mission to enlighten young people with hopeful news about growing old, that I was going to enjoy the afternoon as much as my audience. I sailed on about my elderly swain seeing me in a new light … a red one.
I closed my opening with a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “To all I would say how mistaken they are when they think they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.”
Another Part of the River, Carlota’s Gardener, and Date Night were the stories I chose to read with a fresh passion and verve inspired by the very enthusiastic audience who offered their appreciation for telling stories they could relate to.
Rosie knew most of the people personally. There were a few unfamiliar faces who saw the announcement on the door and dropped in as well as my young friend, Sofia who was there with some of her older dog park friends.
I had met a few of Rosie’s friends and had heard some whispered reports about the romantic entanglements that seem to abound in a senior community like Laguna Woods. I jokingly warned that any stories I heard might appear in my next book. This seemed to have a catalytic effect on the group gathering around me.
Attractive well-dressed women were eager to share their stories which weren’t lighthearted and romantic. One very articulate woman let me know how popular she had been in New York in her fifties and how disheartened and careful she has to be a few decades later in Southern California, living in what is advertised as a paradise for seniors. “The men in the woods who are a privileged minority, can be very dangerous and cruel,” one lovely lady said giving more details than I wanted to hear.
“The spread of sexually transmitted diseases is on the rise,” I was told by another one of the women waiting to have her book signed. She went on with figures and percentages and dark tales.
I was sorry I hadn’t set aside time for them to share their experiences with each other. They talked about meeting again to do just that. Maybe I’ll return with a pad and paper and recorder and write a book about the “Dark Side of Paradise.” After the arts ,crafts, photography class, pickle ball, line and zumba dancing, mah jong and bingo … what’s really happening in this community could rival Peyton Place and the desperate housewives a few miles away in the same Orange County.