Single, over 40, at a black-tie-optional event. Newly widowed, I hesitantly step into the singles scene, watching them: thin fellows of impeccable taste gliding through the ballroom, past the dance floor, glancing at the bar, continuing on. I waylay one of them, but this intrusion is dealt with gently, with the finest manners. A few moments of polite conversation, the hint of a smile, and the perfect gentleman is on his way again, endlessly circling the high-ceilinged ballroom. I admire these men; they know their place, floating through the night with dignity -- tuxedoed phantoms, singles-scene Flying Dutchmen.

Catherine Maire

Silver Spring

I live alone in a retirement community and am lonely. I badly need a girlfriend, but no luck! The first said she would not get romantic. The second said she would not come to a man's apartment. The third would not kiss me, and the fourth said she would be busy all next week. Twenty years ago, it was different. I had no trouble with females. Could it be that I am rejected because I am 94?

Richard P. Sargeant

Arlington

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