They rent the meeting room in the back of a diner in downtown Manhattan, where they’d previously occupied a booth in the busy front section. The men pay for this private room to prove to themselves that they’re moving ahead, they’re doers. It’s their first grant expense.
They also enjoyed seeing the face of this manager, who used to stare at them when they entered the diner, smile and nod to them when they asked about renting space.
“I have a great idea,” says Kenny. “A long time ago when I took acting classes, we’d be given a conflict situation to discuss. We’d break into different groups to write down our feelings and shape them into a very short play about people trying to deal with that conflict. The class would vote on how well each group’s play revealed the thoughts and emotions people would have in such a crisis. We called them our Feeling and Thought plays.
“We should do this acting exercise now. What if one of us lost a wife? Horrible. But we can imagine that and discuss the thoughts and emotions we think we’d have about going out to meet someone new, or if we’d be too nervous to try. We can write down our responses. We also can interview friends and speak to people at senior centers about different issues. This way we can prepare a script. But, and this is important, we also want ideas from our wives. And I’m going to repeat what Steve has said: We need to involve our wives in preparing the script and to act alongside us.”
Myron answers, “We’ll obviously act for free, and I realize we also wouldn’t have to pay our wives to act, and I understand our need to hold down costs. But, just as a starter, the film will deal with issues like sex. The data shows most retirees believe sex is important. People over sixty and even seventy say they have sex two, three times a month. Do we believe that survey? I’m not asking any of you to reply. But being friends, how honestly can we and our wives openly discuss personal issues in the film?”
“Myron, you’re in charge of the film’s budget,” Kenny argues, “you’ll have free female as well as male actors and script writers–“
”Kenny,” interrupts Bob, “I wonder if your motivation to use our wives, instead of searching to hire inexpensive but professional actresses, is that you’ll be the only experienced actor in the film and have the best chance of getting noticed. If critics for educational videos actually look at our film.”
“I disagree, Bob,” says Steven. “If our cast is four real couples, it’s a selling point that could get the film publicity. Reality shows are in. I’m not a film critic, obviously—but as a social worker, we’re always wanting to use real life examples to teach.”
Bob shrugs. “Our film won’t be much of a success, if viewers see our wives or any of us as reluctant actors, looking away from the camera or having to be in shadows. I’m not directing a film that’s a failure from the start. So I guess we’re split two-two on asking our wives. Kenny and Steven for and Myron and I against.”
“People say when they see older couples alone in restaurants,” insists Steven, “they often aren’t talking. Like they’ve by now talked themselves out. We used to discuss that in social work counseling for older couples. I think being in the cast with our wives, having to talk together about the film, will help our own relationships.”
“How’s this?” Bob replies. “If Myron agrees, we’ll tell our wives we need female actors in the movie. Don’t emphasize, of course, that one reason is they’ll work for free. Describe all the possible scenes for the video, including physical relationships, which probably just means exchanging kisses. But still, tell them. And if our wives reject us–well, there are plenty of retired women who are frustrated actors who’ll work for free or at a minimal cost. Although will we as couples then have even less to say to each other in the restaurant?”
Bob sits back in his chair, watching his senior friends wondering about their own and teaching about relationships. Then Myron says, “O.K., let’s ask our wives.”
(To be continued…visit this page often for information on publication date of novel)