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Society seems fixated on not aging

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Remember when women over the age of 50 were past child-bearing age? And are you old enough to recall those days when 60-year-old men didn't think they had to match their sexual prowess at 30?

Still, the drugs that are working medical miracles are less than miraculous for many.There is the older man who, when sexually dysfunctional, was pleased with the attentions of the woman 20 years his junior. Now, roaring with his new sense of power (thanks to Viagra), he is looking for a "really young woman." And the longtime girlfriend is suing.

Women who put marriage aside in favor of careers are now coming home from the office and deciding it's time to have a baby - with or without a life partner. And, just like Jodie Foster, Rosie O'Donnell and other single women, they are finding ways to become biological or adoptive moms.

We no longer seem to take comfort in aging well. Our thoughts seem to center around not aging at all. Perhaps it's time to read the words of the wonderful writer M.F.K. Fisher who, in her book "Sister Age" (Vintage Books, 1984), wrote, "I like old people when they have aged well. And old houses with an accumulation of sweet honest living in them are good. And the timelessness that only the passing of time itself can give to objects both inside and outside the spirit is a continuing reassurance."

But despite that kind of thinking, there are still the age-obsessed among us, as you will see from this letter:

Dear Lois: What is your philosophy on age differences, whether it be the man who is older or the lady? Do you think there is a hard line where you say you are too old or too young for one another?

- C.S.

Dear C.S.: There is no hard line; there are only hard decisions. I will give you my rules and then add that there are times when they can be broken to the satisfaction of all concerned: Establish an agreement in advance about having or adopting children. Avoid forming an alliance with someone the same age (or younger) than the child of the older person. If you think your love is strong enough to withstand the problems posed by No. 1 and No. 2, follow your heart. I know of stories when the first happy marriage for a woman married many times was to a man many years her junior (the author Colette is one), and there are similar stories about men. So look, C.S., if we've survived all these years without rules, why make them now?