Cupid’s arrow is on target
If it’s true that love is like a dance of life, one South Lake Tahoe couple exemplifies living proof.
Arline Gordon, 69 (but doesn’t look a day over 49), and Don Welton, 71, have come a long way from their first encounter two years ago in February, a fateful spin on the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center dance floor to big band music.
“I don’t usually look at the person when I’m dancing. But he said I was smiling,” she said. “I think you can tell how well you’ll get along with someone by how you dance together.”
He agreed. He reflected on that sometimes awkward period and place in life when the pressure of meeting someone after a previous marriage bears down in social situations.
“It’s really tough. Dancing really breaks the ice. It did for us,” Welton said, adding he was attracted to her sparkling eyes.
So breaking the ice without cooling the reception, Welton, who was 69-years-old at the time lied about his age – knocking off three years of age in the process.
“I said to myself, ‘if she knew how old I was, she wouldn’t give me the time of day,’ ” he said.
But Gordon was especially impressed when she was allowed to do her own thing on the dance floor.
“I wasn’t looking for a relationship (at the time). But we seemed to dance comfortably. We kind of tuned in to each other,” Gordon said. She said she was “so sure it wasn’t going to work, (but) he sneaks up on you.”
Gordon even acknowledged that early on she offered to find a mate to watch football games and to play bridge with him.
Divorced, he was looking to settle down. Widowed, she was looking around – with no motivation of having strings attached.
She said she had plenty of experience in setting other people up. Beyond staging several events for single people, Gordon has worked as a professional matchmaker in San Diego for seven years. Her company was called Creative Introductions.
The company has matched up many people, including a rabbi and a social worker who now, with twin children, stay in touch with Gordon.
Gordon has active roots of her own, forming the first Single Adults of Lake Tahoe in 1970. Their tag line was “salty singles put spice in your life.”
But it was family roots that prompted her return to Lake Tahoe in 1996.
Welton and Gordon had five children from previous marriages. They’ve also had several similar experiences including varied professional backgrounds that they’ve found makes their relationship comfortable and compatible.
This time, the housemates and loving friends have decided to forego the conventional commitment.
“It’s more and more typical these days,” said Chris Butler, public affairs manager for the Seniors Coalition based in Springvale, Va. “I think, in terms of the culture, we’re finding in seniors, there’s no reason they would be different than anyone else.”
Many seniors choosing to forego marriage is simply reflective of the cultural changes in society in general, Butler explained.
When they cohabitated last April, Gordon and Welton discovered their furniture even blended well together – demonstrating similar tastes.
“Our relationship started as if we’ve been a married couple for a long time,” Gordon said. “I think being comfortable together is more important and being supportive of each other,” she added, referring to those times when health issues have cropped up.
What do they love about each other?
“After being through several relationships, I decided to look for a warm, loving, spiritual and affectionate woman. And that’s what she is,” the casino night auditor and former engineer said.
“I appreciate him so much, I just want to give him a hug,” the editor and former teacher said. “He calms me down. I guess I’m more intense.”
“Oh yeah,” he said, with the timing of a comedian.
Like the give and take in dance, the duo, who feels they complement each other, has experienced the ups and downs of dating and hooking up.
There were a few times in their courtship when he shied away from her because he wanted to get married and she didn’t.
It didn’t take long though before her jealousy fed her concern that she would lose her catch.
“I called him. I didn’t want to be done with him,” she said, recalling a pivotal point of commitment when she relinquished playing the field.
Like so many couples, they have their different coping styles.
Unlike Gordon, Welton doesn’t necessarily bring the past experiences of his previous relationships to his current one.
Rather, the Barton Hospice volunteer has learned a lot from the family members dealing with loss. Their experiences help Welton appreciate life more and make every day count.
The two decorated their home for Valentine’s Day, a holiday spurred in ancient Rome when boys drew girls names from a love urn on Feb. 14.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.