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LOVE WITH THE PROPER SEPTUAGENARIAN

When Marie Kelso moved to Sun City five years ago, she was not interested in meeting a man. She was eighty then, and met one anyway.

It happened at a pinochle game. He used the direct approach. "Are you married?" he asked. When she said no, he took her out to dinner.

"I went with him till he died," Marie says. Since then, Marie has met two other men, and buried them both. This both points up the unique problems of romance in a retirement community, and qualifies her as an expert to discuss the eternal problem of finding a decent man, at which she has been extraordinarily lucky.

The biggest difference between meeting men in Sun City and meeting men elsewhere is that Sun Citians do not have to resort to the personals columns. There are no equivalents to the "Handsome gentleman seeks slender, attractive SWF." The Daily News-Sun won't even run ads like that. "Somehow," says Lisa Marocco, an account executive there, "they manage much better than I do." They manage by meeting men the natural way, by going out and doing things.

Like dancing.
"Ritter's Chalet is a good place," Marie Kelso says, referring to the bar-restaurant that features live music. "I used to go there two or three times a week when I was in my seventies. The King's Inn is a nice place."

The natural way also includes dances at the recreation centers, although Marie cautions that they can attract a rather staid bunch. "Too old-acting," was her term. Marie also suggests going to church, but in a tentative tone of voice that suggests she hasn't tasted religion that much. There are also craft classes, where you can do ceramics and paint dishes. "It's nice," Marie says, "but what do you do after you get 'em?" You could have lunch at the Senior Citizens Center, but that attracts a crowd in search of low prices. "I don't go for this slouchy dressing," Marie says, elaborating her objections to that venue.

It all depends on what you want. You could try grocery stores, she suggests helpfully. Sun Citians have found love there. How about golfing? How about bowling? Sun Citians have found love at the coffee shop. Sun Citians have even found mates in the hospice where their present spouses were awaiting eternity.

"My daughter used to say, `Anyplace we go, you find somebody,'" Marie says. "I'm not pushy, but I will talk to anybody." Her parting advice: "You can't sit home. You just have to go out and let people know you're there." One other point. Some things never change. Even the older men have a problem with, you guessed it, commitment. "I think they hold back a little," Marie says.

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