17 endangered plant and animal species, not counting middle-aged single Christian men. Maybe there are lots of them out there, but it appears that they're in hiding.
Those that aren't in hiding tend to down-age. There's a large single adult ministry in town that recently did away with age groups. Word on the street is they did it because they couldn't keep the 50-year-old men out of the 30s class. I believe it because 50-something guys were around when I was in my 30s, too. These guys will insist that they "really identify more with the 30s group." Yeah, right. Here's a news flash, guys. That 30s group doesn't really identify with you.
Over the last year, I've had a couple of conversations about the formula that is supposed to identify the youngest age you could "appropriately" date. You divide your age in half and add 9 (or 7, depending on the formula.) The most recent conversation on this topic was with a 32-year-old explaining why a 20-year-old was too young for him to date. He pointed out that she didn't meet the half-your-age-plus-9 rule, which would make 25 the youngest age socially acceptable for him.
I immediately said, as I always do when this half-your-age-plus-whatever business comes up, "You know, that rule doesn't work for women." Even as the words came out of my mouth, I thought of the shortage of middle-aged single men and for just an instant, delusions of cougardom danced in my head.(Yeah, as if I were cougar material.)
But even before I did the math, my delusions began to evaporate. For the record, 34 is my bottom number if the +9 rule prevails.
I'm more controlled by conversation than math in this area. I don't think it's asking too much for a guy to have his own firsthand memory of the moon landing. That makes about 5 years difference the most I could ever go, assuming such an opportunity were to ever present itself.
It's not that I want to have conversations about the moon landing, mind you. Although, now that I've brought the topic up, the guy in question would need to believe the moon landing actually took place. No nutty conspiracy theorists for me. Go right ahead, call me picky.
I still wondered about that 34-year-old. I started to look up the Beloit Mindset List for the year a 34-year-old would have started college. That's the list that tells the rest of us how old we are based on how much a college freshman doesn't know. But the list didn't begin until 1998, 4 years after the 34-year-old would have been a freshman. So let's see, a 34-year-old would have been born in 1976... Yikes! How can someone born in 1976 even be over 18, much less in his mid-30s?
A guy born in 1976 most likely doesn't remember the Iran hostage crisis, Jonestown, the Reagan shooting, or a Supreme Court made up entirely of men. He doesn't know what it was like to have just 3 TV stations, or for that matter, black and white TV.
I can accept not having an answer to "Where were you when you heard that John Kennedy had been shot?" but John Lennon? The average person born in 1976 couldn't answer that one either because they were only 4 when he died. He never heard Huntley and Brinkley say goodnight to one another at the end of the newscast, and he didn't hear Carol Burnett sing "I'm so glad we had this time together" as she tugged on her ear. He's probably totally baffled by the appeal of Mary Tyler Moore.
He wouldn't know what it was like to live in a country where races were segregated in almost every area of life, so the racial unrest of my childhood would be a mystery to him.
Most likely, he would not be able to remember a time when it was uncommon for unmarried couples to live together openly, so moral issues that are black and white to me, might be much more vague to him.
The irony, of course, it that we all know that there are lots of men my age who wouldn't think twice about dating a 34-year-old woman, which is why down-aging comes so easily to them. Granted, conversation isn't necessarily a top priority on a man's list, but at some point, you want to know you have enough in common to carry on a conversation.
Here is perhaps a more sobering thought for men and women alike about this half + 9 nonsense. How old is the person who uses the formula to come up with 50 as the youngest socially acceptable age to date?
Now you know how the 30-somethings feel.