"You look fabulous!" I gasped when my friend Susan introduced us over dinner at Union in Evanston. "How do you do it?"
Nora shrugged. "I take care of myself - I eat well and I exercise," she said. "Genetics help. And I'm an actress, so I know how to stay thin."
I was eager to get the skinny on the slimming secrets of a professional actress, but Nora's regimen didn't offer up any shortcuts.
"When my pants start feeling tight, I exercise more and eat less."
Right. I sucked in my stomach and changed the subject.
Nora married her college sweetheart when she was 20 and gave birth to the first of two children at age 21. In her 30s she was one of the top commercial actresses in Chicago. Ten years ago, she and her husband split, flinging Nora into the unfamiliar, chaotic world of dating and sex.
Well, not that much sex.
"Here I was at my sexual peak, raring to go, and I couldn't find anyone to sleep with. I was worried I'd never get laid again," she remembers.
At last Nora found a guy that really turned her on: Paul. "We saw each other across the room at a networking event. It was instant attraction. My insides were vibrating."
Paul appeared to be about the same age as Nora, but as they got to know each other, one thing was clear. Paul wanted to have kids; Nora was finished with that. Even though they knew it wouldn't work in the long run, the connection was irresistible.
"We decided to have a love affair," said Nora.
Since they were living in the moment, it didn't matter that Paul was actually 12 years younger than Nora. Their relationship lasted about four months.
"It was a healing, nurturing and exciting experience for both of us."
At 46, Nora left Chicago to pursue her acting career in Los Angeles. That's when she met James - an aspiring writer who bartended at the theater where she performed. James was cute. He was confident. He was definitely interested in Nora. And at 30, he was really, really young.
Too young for Nora, she decided. Her own son was only five years younger. But James was there at the theater every night, watching her on stage, waiting for her after the show, asking her out. Nora refused to date him, but slowly, she got to know him. They became friends.
On the closing night of her play, James took Nora out for dinner. They went back to her place, listened to old record albums and talked and talked. The current between them crackled.
Finally James said, "Stand up. I want to kiss you."
"I thought to myself that night - okay, just one more young man, and that's it."
Check back next time to find out how Nora & James' relationship developed and what love was like with a much younger guy.
*Not her real name.