Sunday, April, 2005

It took a full five minutes to log on to his website, so heavy was the traffic mere seconds after his appearance Wednesday afternoon on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Richard Roe, a few years past 60 and handsomely rugged, with a full head of silver hair and a toned physique, had just put out the mating call to millions of Winfrey's mostly women viewers in 110 countries, and what a call it was: If you are female, fun, fit, unfettered, over 40 and free to travel for at least six months, Roe would like to take you on a whirlwind around-the-world tour, all expenses paid. Object: companionship. You'll need to be baggage-free, personally and professionally, because the trip starts Oct.1 this year and he doesn't know when he'll be bringing you back. Your first stop will be the Amazon jungle, and then it's off for two weeks each in Peru, Chile and Argentina. Africa's after that, then two months in Southeast Asia and, finally, a month or so in Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti. "Only one thing is guaranteed," pitches Roe on his website. "The itinerary is sure to change. I do not typically make reservations in advance, which provides maximum flexibility." In Africa, for instance, he hopes to "return to Egypt to walk around Cairo, visit the nearby pyramids in Giza, and in Luxor walk in King Tut's tomb, as well as marvel at what I consider one of the wonders of the world - the temples at Karnak. And we can go on safari in one of many countries: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa or Namibia." The loose schedule also includes India, Cambodia, the Great Barrier Reef and a layover at a friend's 40,000-acre cattle station in the Australian outback. Roe, who lives in Manhattan Beach, Calif., says the idea of advertising for a travelling companion, and then paying the full freight, came to him on a trip a few years back. Stuck in Tuscany, he was divorced, just 60, alone and tired of being so, when the proverbial lightbulb went off: Senior Bachelor. That's what he decided to name himself, and a website, and he set out to sell both. It's all there, on, the whole back story of Richard Roe. He was born in 1941 in New York, married a niece of Grace Kelly, settled in Philadelphia and worked as a stockbroker. He has three sons (Princess Caroline of Monaco is the godmother of the first), and says his life changed forever when he took the whole family on a world tour in 1978. It was then he discovered the lure of the road, and he liked it so much he scaled back his lifestyle and career, taking up teaching instead, so that he could keep travelling the globe. Then, in 1994, after nearly 30 years, his wife filed for divorce. Devastated, Roe moved to the west coast, where his kids and seven grandchildren live. And he kept travelling. One excursion involved his son Chris, and resulted in a documentary called Pop & Me that was picked up by MGM. But, mostly, he travelled alone. Until the Tuscany epiphany, that is, when "I decided to become the poster boy for promoting romance for older Americans." So that's his story. Now he wants to hear yours, in the form of a three-minute video, a biography, a recent photo and an SASE, presumably for polite rejection purposes. He'll choose the winning contestant - and make no mistake, this is a contest - with the help of his ex-wife and an old girlfriend or two. And if you subscribe to his Senior Bachelor newsletter, you'll get a vote, too. He tells Oprah, in a most charming and sincere manner, that he's not asking for much. He's just looking for one good woman, a non-smoker, and someone who can have fun without drinking too much. (The palace apparently frowns on that sort of thing.) Oh, and you need to be as comfortable bunking at that palace in Monaco - he's a regular guest, don't you know - as you would in a yurt in Mongolia. What does it all mean? Well, aside from the unusual and endearing spectacle of watching a grown man tug at the heart on his sleeve, for all the world to see, Roe's quest is a fascinating case study on the lengths to which lonely people will go to find a mate. And you have to admit it's one heckuva gimmick. Roe's got nothing to lose really, and his website is not only attracting the attention of talk show hosts and newspaper columnists, but more than a few would-be paramours. It's also thick with advertisements, for beauty products, finance and pet companies, and websites for personal ads. So even if you're not interested in his story (and who are you kidding - you've probably already Googled his picture), it does speak to the millions of aging boomers leading lives of quiet dating desperation. By the way, I'm still sitting by the phone waiting for Roe's return call so that I can interview him. Got a couple questions about that video.

Keep up with all the latest news on the Senior Bachelor's quest to find the perfect traveling companion. Find out where to meet the Senior Bachelor in person! Follow the selection and the trip around the world. Learn Richard's travel secrets and tips. Sign up for the special Senior Bachelor Cruise Newsletter… and much, much more!

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