Feature

Sweet 80, The singing monk, Shalom's talisman

Thanks to longer life spans, changing attitudes, and the ease of finding love online, more senior citizens are dating than ever before.

Thanks to longer life spans, changing attitudes, and the ease of finding love online, more senior citizens are dating than ever before. Older Americans, in fact, are now the fastest-growing group of couples living together out of wedlock; of the 10.5 million cohabiting couples in 2006, more than 17 percent were over 50, compared with 13.2 percent just six years ago. “It’s like I’m a kid,” said widow Eleanor Robinson, 85, of Maryland, who has been dating 83-year-old John Kunec, a widower. “When I’m with him, I’m caring for him, and when I’m not with him, I’m thinking about him.”

Brother Cesare Bonizzi of the Capuchin Order is a worldly monk indeed. When not in his monastery near Milan, he’s the lead singer for Brother Metal, a heavy-metal band that has just released its second album. Bonizzi first discovered head-banging music about 15 years ago. “I was overwhelmed and amazed by the sheer energy of it,” he said. “I do it to convert people to life, to understand life, to grab hold of life.” Clad in his traditional robes, he belts out lyrics about sex, booze, drugs, and faith. He hopes to send his new album to the pope: “He is a music lover, and metal is music!”

David Shalom was snorkeling off the southern coast of Israel when he spotted a white marble disc. About 8 inches in diameter, it bore the remains of two circles painted around its perforated center. It turned out to be a 2,500-year-old talisman that once adorned the bow of a ship to ward off the evil eye. According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, only four other such good-luck charms have been found in the world. “I didn’t think it was something so important,” said Shalom, “but I’m very happy that it is.”

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