Ben Franklin was an inventor, a statesman and one of America’s greatest Founding Fathers. He was also, apparently, somewhat of an expert on dating older women.
A recently publicized letter shows Franklin giving an unknown young man some insights into romantic pursuits. Franklin, addressing his “dear Friend”, begins with a celebration of marriage’s joys. “It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness…” he advises. “A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good Economy, will be a Fortune sufficient.”
Failing marriage, Franklin then gives his friend why carrying on affairs with older women is a good alternative. For starters, older women are better conversationalists, “Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor’d with Observations.” Furthermore, as women lose their looks with age, Franklin writes that they tend to become more agreeable.
Franklin also notes that women of a certain age can no longer conceive, a good thing because children “irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.” The future Ambassador to France knew what he was talking about: his illegitimate son William Franklin would become the last Colonial Governor of New Jersey and a steadfast British loyalist.
Reason four is that an affair with an older woman was a) less likely to be found out and b) more easily excusable than an affair with a younger one, as “considerate People might be rather inclin’d to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.”
Also, Franklin advises, the experience is pretty much the same (“in the dark all Cats are grey”) whether the woman is old or young so long as one covers “all above with a Basket” and concentrates solely on “what is below the Girdle.”
The last three arguments take a more ethical approach. “The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy,” Franklin says in reason six, whereas reason seven notes an affair with an older women is far more likely to leave her “happy.” Reason eight is a continuation of the point, reading simply “They are so grateful!!”
For obvious reasons, the letter was not included in published collections of Franklin’s writings in the 19th Century.
In Praise of Older Women
Did '60 Minutes' commentator Andy Rooney write an essay 'In Praise of Older Women'?
60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney wrote an essay ‘In Praise of Older Women.’
In Praise of Older Women
As I grow in age, I value women who are over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:
A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” She doesn’t care what you think.
If a woman over 40 doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And it’s usually something more interesting.
A woman over 40 knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of 40 give a damn what you might think about her or what she’s doing.
Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it…
Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated.
Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. They always know.
A woman over 40 looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women or drag queens.
Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.
Older women are forthright and honest. They’ll tell you right off you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don’t ever have to wonder where you stand with her….
Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not always reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman of 40+, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year-old waitress.
Ladies, I apologize for all of us.
Andy Rooney, the curmudgeonly commentator who for many years closed every Sunday broadcast of television’s news magazine with a (typically sardonic) essay about some aspect of everyday life, to the well known for what he hasn’t said as he is for what he really had said. The piece quoted above, an essay “In Praise of Older Women,” is another portion of his “hasn’t said” fame.
This item was not penned by Andy Rooney (who passed away at the age of 92 on 4 November 2011); it is an embellished version of a piece created by Frank Kaiser, a columnist whose articles are published on his web site and syndicated to a variety of newspapers across the U.S.
Baltimore Sun writer Susan Reimer contacted Andy Rooney, who told her:
I asked him if he shared the author’s affection for older women, and he said, “Not particularly.”
In October 2005, in his weekly 60 Minutes commentary, Andy Rooney said this of the piece:
The true author, Frank Kaiser, had this to say about the misattribution:
Frank Kaiser’s original piece read as follows:
One of the perks of dufferdom is an increased capacity to appreciate people. Friends. Spouses. And, for me, women. All women.
When I was 20, I had eyes only for girls my age. Any woman over 30 was ancient, over 40 invisible. Today, at 65, I still appreciate the 20-year-old for her youthful looks, vigor, and (occasional) sweet innocence. But I equally enjoy women of my own age and beyond, and every age in between. I’ve learned that each has its own special wonders, attractions, magic and beauty.
As I grow in age, I value older women most of all. Here are just a few of the reasons senior men sing the praises of older women:
An older woman will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” An older woman doesn’t care what you think.
An older woman knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants, and from whom. By the age of 50, few women are wishy-washy. About anything. Thank God!
An older woman looks great wearing bright red lipstick even in glaring sunlight. This is not true of younger women or drag queens.
And yes, once you get past a wrinkle or two, an older woman is far sexier than her younger counterpart!
Her libido’s stronger.
Her fear of pregnancy gone.
Her appreciation of experienced lovemaking is honed and reciprocal.
And she’s lived long enough to know how to please a man in ways her daughter could never dream of. (Young men, you have something to look forward to!)
Older women are forthright and honest. They’ll tell you right off that you are a jerk if you’re acting like one. A young woman will say nothing, caring what you might think of her. An older woman doesn’t give a damn.
An older, single woman usually has had her fill of “meaningful relationships” and “commitment.” Can’t relate? Can’t commit? She could care less. The last thing she needs in her life is another dopey, clingy, whiny, dependent lover!
Older women are dignified. They seldom contemplate having a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.
Most older women cook well. They care about cleanliness. They’re generous with praise, often undeserved.
An older woman has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A young woman with a man often will ignore even her best friend because she doesn’t trust the guy with other women. The older woman couldn’t care less.
Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to an older woman. They always just know.
Yes, we geezers praise older women for a multitude of reasons. These are but a few. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coifed babe of 70 there’s a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year-old waitress.
Ladies, I apologize for us. That men are genetically inferior is no secret. Count your blessings that we die off at a far younger age, leaving you the best part of your lives to enjoy and appreciate the exquisite woman you’ve become. Without the distraction of some demanding old fart clinging and whining his way into your serenity.
Another celebrated encomium to older women was penned by a famous American statesman over earlier, when Benjamin Franklin wrote the piece known to us as “Old Mistresses’ Apologue”:
June 25. 1745
My dear Friend,
I know of no Medicine fit to diminish the violent natural Inclinations you mention; and if I did, I think I should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness. Your Reasons against entring into it at present, appear to me not well-founded. The circumstantial Advantages you have in View by postponing it, are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with that of the Thing itself, the being married and settled. It is the Man and Woman united that make the compleat human Being. Separate, she wants his Force of Body and Strength of Reason; he, her Softness, Sensibility and acute Discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the World. A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good Economy, will be a Fortune sufficient.
But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these:
1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor’d with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable.
2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.
3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.
4. Because thro’ more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin’d to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.
5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.
6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy.
7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy.
8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!
Thus much for my Paradox. But still I advise you to marry directly; being sincerely Your affectionate Friend.
23 January 2014
Fact Checker:David Mikkelson
Published:23 January 2014