Thursday, May 18, 2006

Time Marches On

When I was 23 and barely out of the closet, gay bars seemed to be the most logical place to meet other gay men. Not having spent college or law school in any significantly gay environment, the only place I could think of that would provide a venue wherein strangers wouldn't judge you for your inclinations (hell, they'd embrace you (sometimes literally) for it) was the gay bar.

At 23, though, I remember getting weird vibes sometimes. In fact, there were certain bars I couldn't go to because of the lecherous, eerie feeling you got when you walked in. I'm referring to bars that seemed to cater to "older" clientele.

At 23, the last thing I wanted was to be noticed by a 40-something man. It was skeevy, icky. Sometimes just leery looks in their eyes was enough to make you feel unclean. If I was going to be hit on, or even leered at, I wanted the guy to be somewhat close to my age. I wanted him to be young.

And it scared me when the only attention I'd ever receive was from the distinctly older crowd.

As karma is often a bitch (even when you don't know what it's paying you back for), I've recently come to notice that I have joined the ranks of the older crowd I used to avoid. To be fair, I never used to think 30 was "old" old. But others do and did, and now I'm one of "them."

Recently, my friend Bill and I were enjoying some gorgeous weather sitting in an outdoor patio area having pretentious (overpriced) beers and calamari when a group of four young men sat down at the table next to us. And by young men, I do mean young -- probably no more than 23 or so each.

And I found myself thinking to how totally cute the one to my immediate left was.

And that's when it hit me: If I say a single word to these boys -- for whatever reason -- I will instantly come across as the Scary Old Guy. To be sure, by no means do I look geriatric, but let's face it, I don't look 22 anymore. (And thank heavens for that. Getting carded gets old. (No pun intended.))

If I had said anything to them, they, like the 23-year-old version of me, would have felt weirded out. They, like 23-year-old me, would have politely tried to steer themselves away from any conversations by only quickly answering any question I had asked and not soliciting or encouraging further exchanges. They, like 23-year-old me, later in the night after securing a safe distance, would comment to their friends about the creepy guy who dared to try to talk to them (read: hit on them) on the patio.

I'm proud of who I am and who I've become over the years. I'm comfortable in my skin (well, metaphorically at least). And I am blessed (or cursed) with the ability to find people all kinds of "types" attractive without limiting my range of options to "tall blond twinks" (for example) the way so many other gay men do. And I can find men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s hot.

I don't know those kids who sat down next to me that night. Heck, I may have even given them a bad rap by assuming they would do what I think they would. But the point of this post isn't them, it's me. (It's ALWAYS all about ME.)

I guess a better appreciation of others is another one of those things that comes along ... with age.


Steve said...

When I was that young (Really! I was. Shut up!) there was this one bar we would NEVER go to because of the 'older' guys... who were, maybe 30. I'm not one to reveal my age, and I've had a nice life so far, but I do have some advice I'd like for some 20-somethings to take note of: Don't piss those years away--make the most of them. I did make the most of them, but at the same time, it's almost as if I woke up one day and went, 'Holy Shit! I'm _____ years old. Where the f**k did all the time go?!?'

anne said...

Oh no! Steve ruined my argument... I was about to say that no one in their twenties thinks of someone in their thirties as old. Damn... (you're in your early thirties, aren't you? If that?)
Also. I may have broken your blog. There's something fishy going on with the side-bar.

Dennis! said...

Anne -- I was wondering who to blame for that! Now I know it was your fault. Shall I also now credit you for having fixed it?

Steve -- I did not make all that much of my 20s. But then again, I'm generally a loser anyway.