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Would you take dating advice from this man? Benjamin Franklin tells it like it is.

Posted in Life & Love, Relationships, and Women's issues

franklinA friend e-mailed me this piece the other day because he thought it would be an interesting inclusion on campari&sofa. We used to date a while ago and he said points 1, 2, 3 and 8, particularly reminded him of me. And closed his note saying he strongly suspected number 4 would have been a distinct possibility had he tested me. I loved it.

Wrongly attributed to CBS News Anchor Andy Rooney, the article was actually written in 2002 by columnist and Suddenly Senior blogger, Frank Kaiser. In it he extols the virtues of dating a woman over forty:

  1. A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, “What are you thinking?”. She doesn’t care what you think.
  2. 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 more interesting.
  3. Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant.
  4. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.
  5. Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated.
  6. Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40.
  7. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.
  8. Older women are forthright and honest. They’ll tell you right off if 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 reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 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 those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”, here’s an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

That’s the only part I would really argue with – little sausages seldom even cross our minds. And not all men are pigs.

Deborah Franklin, married to ben for 44 years.
Deborah Franklin, married to Ben for 44 years.

Because I doubted Rooney had written the piece (he was a renowned grump), and because I like to be accurate – I did a bit of research. This turned up the Kaiser authorship but also another, older piece – written on June 25, 1745 (which may have been Kaiser’s starting place). The best part of all was the name of the author: Benjamin Franklin. In addition to his taming of electricity – it seems Ben was also an environmentalist, creator of subscription libraries and fire insurance, anti corruption activist, inventor of swim fins and bi-focals and .. oh yes – he was a diplomat and worked on the American Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson.

Franklin, a keen observer of  people who served as an agony aunt at least twice in his career. He wrote this letter to a Friend who was debating whether to marry. In the missive – Franklin assures his nervous chum that marriage is the right way to go. But, if his friend insists on persuing casual liasons 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. And 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.

    A girdle from 1745.
    A girdle from 1745.
  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 Womanhappy.
  8. 8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!
Grateful Women
Grateful Women

Yep – some of them make the modern feminist in me hiss. Then I remembered this was by a man for a man, and written in a galaxy far, far away a long, long time ago. But lot of it makes pragmatic sense. And the phrase “In the dark all Cats are grey”, used in that context, by this august chap: made me laugh out loud.

He is not wrong.


Little post-scriptum from camparigirl: even if sofagirl is trying not to make a big deal about this day, I am a stickler for birthdays, so I would like to acknowledge my best friend’s birthday by promising to drink a Campari to her health, pretending to still be on a sofa in Rome. If you enjoy her wits, her writing and her sense of humour, I hope you will join in me in doing the same, wherever you might be, pretending to be on the couch with us! Happy Birthday!

(All images in the public domain. And Ben created the equal grey cats. Read all of his Old Mistresses Apogee here )

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  1. silvia

    Veeeryyy funny!!!!

    June 20, 2013
  2. Thank you for giving me yet another reason to love Ben Franklin. Have a wonderful birthday Sofagirl.

    June 8, 2013
  3. alan


    June 3, 2013
  4. Hah – I wondered how everyone knew it was my birthday. Thanks Wah – and I will have a campari as well this evening. May we all celebrate many more birthdays together!

    June 3, 2013
  5. An enjoyable post, as always. Happy Birthday! 40 is a good age to be.

    June 3, 2013
  6. I have to argue that some of us under-40’s hold these traits as well. Particularly number 2 & 8 (&4 if I had a gun and good reason!)

    June 3, 2013
  7. “covering all above with a Basket”….fantastic!
    Happy Birthday to SofaGirl then!
    Nice day to both of you.

    June 3, 2013
  8. I’m a huge fan of BF and some of his aphorisms are still spot on. At the moment, vis a vis the ‘War on Terror’ and some of the knee-jerk legislation that has been enacted in the UK, my favourite BF quote is:’They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’

    Shengri kuaile! 生日快乐! (Happy birthday)

    June 3, 2013
  9. Haha! Love Ben`s eighth rule! I`m wondering how he came to be the recipient of such wisdom though.

    June 3, 2013

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