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70 and Sinking

By Steve Cash / Detroit

At the author's Bar Mitzvah: from left, Dave Fine, Julie Fortgang, the author (wearing a boutonniere) and Sheldon Blum (Dec. 18, 1965:)

I am not sure if it is a coincidence or not, but since I turned 70 last May, I find myself looking the mirror quite a bit. Even though I’m trying to remain positive, there is no denying my rapid deterioration. My eyes, once considered attractive, now feature dark, puffy bags that look like I have gone five rounds with former heavy-weight champ Joe Frazier in his prime.

Don't get me wrong–no one would ever have mistaken me for Paul Newman. But I always thought I had some sort of sex appeal. This misconception was initially set in motion by my friend Julie at my Bar Mitzvah. During a Sadie Hawkins dance (girl picks boy) Julie whispered in my ear how cute she thought I was.

Julie was adorable and her proclamation enhanced my self-image tenfold. I was only 13 but her compliment lifted my self-esteem to a new level. It carried me through high school and into my early adult years.

Teen revelers; (counter-clockwise) Julie Fortgang (yellow dress), Jane Shelberg, Renée Soloway, the author (standing), Barry Mallin, Stuart Haber, Steve Gutman, Nate Blum and Reid Pollack

My overblown confidence regarding my looks served me well I dated several gorgeous girls and ended up marrying a beautiful woman. My wife was ten years younger than me when we married, which was very exciting at the time. Now that I’m 70, her youthful appearance only draws negative attention to my hasty decline.

My wife has not been blind to these developments. She noticed these things and planned accordingly. She was way ahead of the Covid curve when, as the result of a lack of interest on her part, she instituted the six-foot distance rule on me long before the virus hit.

My wife was always one up on my doctors too. When I had heart surgery, the doctor laid down some rules to follow for a quick recovery. I was not allowed to eat certain foods and not allowed to lift over 10 pounds. He was firm about no sex for six weeks. This rule proved to be superfluous given the every six-month sex schedule my wife had me on at the time.

Later, when I went into surgery, my wife and I talked about the possibility of me not making it through the operation. Our kids were young and I insisted she remarry if the worst occurred. In a loving and sincere manner, my wife promised that she would never remarry. I was touched and brought to tears until she followed that with “I’ll just live with the guy."

Although I have had many health problems through the years, my wife has a physical constitution second to none. She withstood three pregnancies without once getting sick, although she did complain of nausea during conception.

My wife is also much stronger than I am mentally and far more intelligent. She once labeled me an “idiot savant.” I didn’t know the meaning, so I proceeded to look it up. The definition was a person who has great aptitude in one area but has trouble in other intellectual areas of function. My wife clarified her meaning by saying yes. I was an idiot savant, but she hadn't been able to identify the savant part yet.

As I age, I find myself hanging around people who look a lot older than me, and purposely alienating and fighting with people who are in better shape than me. I use politics and religious differences as an excuse for our estrangement, but the truth is I am jealous that they are better preserved than I am.

I’m no Romeo, but in my younger days I was no slouch in the bedroom. Well, as my looks have faded, I have to admit I’ve lost some of that confidence from long ago. I recently did something I am not proud of . This all started when my wife lost 20 pounds and as a joke I said to her,”if you lose 10 more I might get interested again. To my surprise, she replied, “If I lose 10 more pounds, who needs you?"

Although she was kidding, I couldn't help feeling she was kidding on the emmes, Yiddish slang for kidding for real. This gave me pause. Was I no longer attractive to my wife? Was I no longer able to function?

With my old insecurities back at the forefront, I’m ashamed to admit I contacted a lady of the night and set up a meeting. I was trying to see if I was still desirable, even if it were nothing more then a farce. I’m embarrassed to say I might have gone through with it except for some major confusion When I approached the young lady, she said “$100 for some hot sex.” Being suspicious by nature, I replied, "let me see the $100 first.” When I realized she was expecting me to pay her, I called the whole thing off.

Trying to be a bit philosophical, I have decided to do my best to age gracefully and embrace the inevitable, accept the aging process and feel fortunate for the great times I’ve had, and look forward to the good ones yet to come. I did have one minor setback recently, though. I ran across a picture of Julie on Facebook. Unfortunately, she still looks great.



Steve Cash is originally from Oak Park, Mich. He is a longtime real estate agent who used to do stand-up comedy in L.A. His claim to fame was winning The Gong Show in 1977, and working at the Comedy Store with such greats as David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Michael Keaton. After watching those brilliant comics perform, Steve realized he’d better make a beeline back to Detroit and get back into real estate. Steve has had articles published in a number of publications and enjoys writing and trying to make people laugh.   

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