This fired imaginations all around and, as I remember, Sean Connery and Paul Newman emerged as the most popular fantasy lovers. When my turn came, I shrugged. "I wouldn't want to have sex with a movie star," I said. "Actors are so self-centered in general. I don't find them appealing."
The others looked at each other and rolled their eyes. "But if you HAD to," Ruth insisted. "If you absolutely HAD to have sex with a movie star, who would it be?"
I thought the options over and finally said "Jack Lemmon."
The group erupted with derisive laughter. "Jack Lemmon???" Ruth gasped between convulsions of mirth. "Why in the world would you pick him? He's not sexy at all!"
"Yes, but he looks like he'd be a nice person," I said, a bit defensively. "That means a lot to me: a guy being thoughtful and good to me -- movie star or not."
My dorm mates snickered.
How times change.
Movies stars are less on my mind these days than thoughts about the times ahead. Fantasies about movie star sex -- fueled by youth and the vast expanse of endless possibilities on the horizon -- have given way to reality-fueled fears and fantasies about what future remains and what it may hold.
I talked with my friend Mary -- whom I'm going to visit again next week -- yesterday and she told me the sad news that her husband John has gone downhill alarmingly -- both physically and cognitively -- in the two months since I last saw them.
My dear friend Sister Rita -- whom I will also visit next week -- is fighting cancer.
My friend and neighbor Phyllis is having a very difficult recovery from thyroid surgery two weeks ago. She has lived with cancer for some years now and is a champion at bouncing back. But this surgery -- which did not involve cancer -- has laid her low. She is in pain and has no energy. Her voice is weak and raspy, words coming between gasps. She called me last night and said something I've never heard her utter before: "I feel like I could die. I've never felt so bad before."
And it makes my heart ache for these friends I love so much. And it makes me think about my own future as well.
How many healthy years do I have left? Will there be enough time to write the books I long to write? To do the traveling we still want to do? To enjoy the ordinary, everyday routines of life: exercise, errands, going to the movies and the library and just having great conversations with Bob?
I have fantasies of racing the clock to do and enjoy it all. And a new take on the word "when..." has crept into our conversations. It came up after we cleaned the house today. Leaning against the kitchen counter, suddenly weary from his efforts, Bob said "I suppose there will come a time -- not yet, but someday -- when we will probably hire someone to do our housecleaning."
I nodded, thinking of a time when arthritis and age would preclude the sweeping, mopping and vacuuming we had just finished.
"But I always want to do our own laundry," Bob added. "I can't imagine asking anyone else to wash our clothes, can you?"
"We'll keep on doing the laundry," I agreed.
Unspoken as yet are some fleeting thoughts about the future: will we be able to manage taking care of our home and ourselves for the rest of our lives? Will we outlive all our pets? And, if so, when is too late -- in all fairness -- to adopt another cat? When we finally trade in our 10-year-old car for a new one -- hopefully, not for another few years -- will that car be our last? How will we manage at some future time if neither of us can drive anymore?
And death, which seemed so impossibly far away in youth, has become something we can readily imagine these days. When I think of dying, I hope it will be as my parents, my aunts and my grandmother died -- suddenly, while fully living life. My preference, of course, is that this quick demise will come at a much older age -- like Aunt Molly or my grandmother -- rather than my parents, who were my present age when they died.
Such musings have prompted us to update our wills, health directives and power of attorney documents. There is a list of people to contact, our wishes regarding funeral arrangements and provisions for any surviving pets.
Such thoughts also highlight the wisdom of not putting off what's important -- whether it's writing those books I've always wanted to write or taking those trips to see ailing dear ones or to go on faraway adventures or simply saying "I love you so much!" to those who matter most to me.
Yes, as the years have passed, my fantasies have changed. I haven't thought about Jack Lemmon for ages.
On the other hand, if George Clooney -- who is sexy and seems like a nice guy, too -- made me an offer...well, I could be persuaded.