DEAR READERS: "Never Fitter," the 40-something guy who wrote in defence of his perfect, fit body deserving a woman of 25-35, inspired an avalanche of emotional mail from Readerland, from men and women, young and older. Here is a sampling:
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: It's a pity we can't tattoo the foreheads of Never Fitter and his ilk with the words "Preening Narcissist" as a warning to other women. I know his kind -- incapable of having a meaningful relationship with anything other than his mirror. Never Fitter has a common delusion: that it's possible to "stay young" by exercising obsessively. It isn't. Sooner or later, something will start to give away Never's true age -- vision loss, hearing loss, arthritis, or superficial things like veiny hands, sagging ears, or wrinkly elbows. I give him another 10 years, max, before the 25- to 35-year-old women he prefers start to find him unacceptably old. It's probably started already, despite his boasts to the contrary.
It's great to be fit. Hurrah for the people who are. But it's even better to be comfortable in one's own skin and to be leading a life that consists of more than the frantic pursuit of the ultimate unattainable goal of eternal youth. -- Disgusted, Winnipeg
Dear Disgusted: Never Fitter doesn't need a tattoo. His obsession with his physical beauty and with very young women will tell the story to anyone who bothers to check him out, beyond the gym where he is King Fitness.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: As a 22-year-old female, I completely agree with where Never Fitter is coming from. Why is it shallow to want someone who cares about their body enough to keep it in good condition? If he's looking for fitness-model quality then I can see how that is a little harder to attain, but someone who works out and looks after themselves should be the social norm. I think the whole "accepting people no matter the size and shape" is dangerous, because it has been misinterpreted these days. You have people, excessively overweight, who think they are just '"curvy," and that is typically not the case. I hope Never Fitter finds what he's looking for, and if he gets along with a younger woman, why should that be a problem if it's a mutual enjoyment? -- Body is a Temple, Wpg.
Dear Body Is Temple: Some relationships between people 20-30 years younger work beautifully, especially if the older person remains fit and young at heart and never loses their marbles. It's the snotty attitude of this guy that's gotten most people upset and wishing him ill.
Dear Readers: (This letter is directly addressed to Mr. Never Fitter from a man who's older) I would suggest that you take a closer look at your reflection in your Neverland mirror to see what you really are. No one really cares how fit you may be except your doctor and the undertaker. Your perceived irresistibleness is painfully pathetic, and your high opinion of yourself is embarrassing and nauseating. Moreover, as a man in my mid-50s, I exhort you to find playmates your own age. Sorry to break it to you, but you are aging. You look ridiculous at the beach and in the bars trying to chase down girls who are young enough to be your daughter. Creepy! -- I Feel Shame for Him, Winnipeg
Dear Feel Shame: It's interesting to get an irate letter from a mid-50s guy on this topic. One can't help but wonder if the Never Fitters of the world have been chasing down your daughters. One has to be vigilant. I have handsome 20-something sons and am on the alert, popgun in hand, for those fit and hungry cougars.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Some day this bonehead might learn that true beauty is on the inside, not the outside. Wanting a woman (or man) purely on looks and physical attributes is like buying a house because you like the landscaping and paint! -- Clearsighted, Winnipeg
Dear Clearsighted: Agreed, but some people never take a look at the house if it doesn't have curb appeal, so there's something to be said for dressing it up, though it doesn't have to look new to be warm and appealing.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6