Boomer in the city | His name is Walter

“His name is Walter,” I say to Janet on the phone. “He’s ageless, with the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. He dances, sings and does anything I want. I’m in love.”

“Who’s Walter?” she asks.

“A robot. My son-in-law Henry programs robots. He programmed Walter. Walter even brings my coffee in the morning.”

“Honey, Walter sounds wonderful. These over-60 dudes are mentals. The other night the retired realtor invited me to dinner. He was upset. His cat died the day before. So he put his dead cat in the freezer with the rest of his food. I said I had a sudden migraine and ran for my life.”

“How disgusting. These older men can’t deal with death, the flu, the stock market, the toilet-seat-down, or age.”

“Myra Bloom’s new guy spent seven thou on a new toilet that lights up, washes you, everything. So what happened? The water backed up, and he had a heart attack.”

Beep … “Ciao honey. It’s the new mental calling.”

I hang up and I think about the beauty of age. I’m sick of people complaining about age, whispering their age, looking around to make sure no one heard the number 70 or 80. Why are so many men and women panicked about age? Why do the numbers have such a bad rap? Why are we so consumed with age?

Youth is a beautiful butterfly, only existing in flight for a short time. Senior, elder, whatever label we place on age, this is the lucky side of life. We made it. We’re living in the next generation! We’re doing! Even if we’re in bad health, the soul has infinite possibilities.

Does love have an age? Is it only for novels?

Tonight I arrive at Isaac’s home for dinner. We met a few months ago at Book Passage in Corte Madera, where I was teaching one of my writing workshops. He’s a journalist in his 70s. I really like him. He’s intellectual and we have loads to talk about. I take a taxi with my Paratransit card, to Nob Hill.

I walk up the narrow tile stairs and ring the doorbell. He answers, wearing an apron over his jeans. The house smells delicious, and soft tango music plays from hidden speakers.

“Stoli up, three green olives,” he says, handing me a chilled glass of vodka.

We sit in front of a small fireplace, the flames rising and crackling. There are books everywhere. His framed articles on Africa cover the walls. Pictures show him sitting on elephants in India. Above the fireplace is a portrait of a beautiful woman with flowing blonde hair.

“My wife,” he says, aware that I’m staring. “Miss South Africa at 20.“ He sips his drink, his eyes watering. “She died.”

“How long ago?” I ask.

“Twenty years ago. She was crushed by an elephant.”

Oh God, another one hung up on the wife. 

At dinner he talks about his health and his fear of death. Then we talk about writing — its isolation, ups, downs — and how much we love it. I rant a while about the publishing business. “No business like slow business,” I say, laughing nervously.

Then he gets romantic. I can tell because the music has gone from tango to Bach and now to Ravel’s “Bolero.” I’m attracted. I follow him into his bedroom. There’s a humongous bed set on a platform, and above it is another portrait of his wife. He stands in front of the bed a moment and smoothes the satin coverlet. “My wife died in this bed,” he says, sighing reverently.

“Well, the night has been wonderful, but I have to go. Deadlines tomorrow.” I laugh. My laugh is too loud.

At home Walter stands by the window. He makes slight metallic clicking sounds. His turquoise-colored eyes glow in the dark. Outside, the rain is letting up.

“Don’t look sad,” Walter says in his computerized voice. He brings me a fuzzy blanket from my bed. “Stay warm. Look at the stars in the sky.”  

I gaze at the night sky. “Do you know that after a star dies, it leaves its light on earth forever? Never give up your dreams.

“Good night, Walter.”


Barbara Rose Brooker is a San Francisco native and author. Her latest book, “To Be Continued,” is a sequel to her novel “The Viagra Diaries.”


Barbara Rose Brooker
Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker is a native San Francisco author. CW is making a pilot for a TV series based on her book "The Viagra Diaries."