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No Country for Old Broads

March 27, 2010

Vickery Eckhoff

What I Learned on the Red Carpet from Javier Bardem

I’d just passed a significant birthday when a 24-year-old colleague suggested the unthinkable: “What you need is a nice, 60-ish retired math professor,” she declared, sipping a latte. “You’re a tall blonde WASP. You should be dating Americans, not those Latin lovers you go for.”

My kittenish pride was wounded. Swarthy men were my specialty: How could I forget the dashing Chilean I’d lived with for six years after grad school; the Spanish producer with eyes the color of robin’s eggs; the Uruguayan guitarist I met backstage at Carnegie Hall; the bohemian Colombian designer at a recent writing job; and my greatest love of all, an Italian motorcyclist and photographer I’d tearfully given up after seven years, just two weeks shy of turning 40? He baked me cakes and wrote love poems. But I wanted marriage; he didn’t.

Getting him out of my system was difficult: two Milanese, a Roman and one Sicilian later, I still hadn’t found anyone as warm, adventurous or good in the kitchen, so I decided to give Italy a rest. Shortly thereafter, I met an Argentine videographer in Wholesale Liquidators who asked me, within months, to be his fourth wife. I declined. Read more

Chap. 4, The McSpinster’s Guide to Love

March 25, 2010

Vickery Eckhoff

Dear Fellow Spinster:

I apologize for what I am about to say, specifically about my Sunday School teacher, Miss Cummings, and also my dad’s older sister, Lenore. What did they do? Frighten me half to death, that’s what. My mother tried convincing me that they were God’s perfect children, that I needed to love them, see them as God did, but it was hard. Sure they were sweet, but they were single women in a married world. That’s how it was with old maids. There was always a defect there, some flaw that made them unpopular with the opposite sex and scary to children.

Like most girls born in the fifties, my sisters and I were raised to be wives: We had the right moral instruction, good education, proper training in etiquette and ballroom dancing and stylish clothes from New York City department stores. Even the toys I got for Christmas provided perfect training for future wedded bliss: an E-Z Bake oven, a little Hostess Buffet and miniature percolator that made real coffee. Read more