Friday, September 16, 2005

Old Man

I've been invited to a bunch of parties in the next month or so.

One of my many friends named Greg is having a party tonight to celebrate his 30th birthday. Yet another Gregg is celebrating his 40th birthday in a big way a couple of weeks from now. Of course, a non-Greg, yours truly, celebrates his 51st birthday at the end of October.

A rooftop party with all your pals is a swell way to celebrate 30. Renting a bar or club and inviting the multitudes might be dandy for your 40th birthday. I spent my 50th at Keen's Chophouse with a few good friends, a mutton chop and several excellent Martinis.

More than ever, I've been hearing folks bemoan that 40 is the end of gay life. You're old, you may as well get fat, give up the gym and stay home with your cat. It's a sad state of affairs. I've always told Tim that I wasn't going to go down without a fight. Or at least until some child told me to hang it up and act my age. Go home, grandpa.

It's unfortunate that age and it's sometimes attendant wisdom is so widely disparaged in our community. I'm wondering if this is a function of the fact that an entire generation of gay men died out, and there's been few examples of the what it's possible to be in middle age. I certainly don't remember the situation being this dreary and mean when I was in my teens and twenties. There seemed to be no end of fully grown handsome men of varying ages running around for the taking. And take I did.

I must admit I was one of those youngsters who liked "older men". My first partner was 14 years older than me. I had friends who were more than a bit older than that. They mentored me and made my entrance into gay life a bit less rocky, introducing me to a long standing culture, now almost vanished from our city.

Now, we're exposed to bloggers who post pictures of patrons at local haunts, captioned something to the effect of: Drunk and Old. The disdain with which one is greeted in certain bars in this city is palpable. The word troll is bandied about with abandon, apparently referring to anyone over the age of 37. Wise men in their 40's have trained themselves not to initiate conversation with said youngsters in fear of being labeled as such.

There are many things to be said for being in your twenties. Skin quality is lovely at that age. You have a great deal of stamina, if not a matching amount of technique. There's much to be said for youthful exuberance and idealism.

At some point last year I was asked to join Friendster by an acquaintance. I figured what the hell and acquiesced. My wise boyfriend, when asked, said:

"No, thank you. It reminds me of one of my mother's Catholic High School sororities".

In point of fact he was right.

I amassed a small group of said Friendsters. It all seemed like innocent fun. I still like being chosen to participate, a fact that stems from a childhood of being excluded and/or selected last for many activities. I was a bit crestfallen, upon research, to realize I was possibly the oldest Friendster in creation. Still, it seemed harmless.

At some point, a young man of 24 sent me a note, saying that we'd never met, but we definitely should. I found him quite attractive and replied, explaining that his note had made a perfectly awful day a bit brighter. I hoped to run into him at some point. He suggested the Eagle, the following Sunday. Slow as I am, I then realized that people were using Friendster to hook up. It hadn't occurred to me. I'm like that. Duh. I answered ambiguously, and we remained Friendsters for the better part of the next year, with no further contact.

Flash forward to a Sunday in June; a block party on West 28th Street, an homage to a San Francisco street fair that occurs every fall. I'm having a perfectly fine time. I've seen lots of friends and and I'm making new ones. My friend M. comments that my Mojo seems to be in overdrive. I'm extremely popular. Yay.

I'm outside the Eagle, leaning against a car when I spy the young Friendster in question not more than 8 feet away from me. I have a moment to study him. I'm thinking, do I introduce myself? It's been some time since we communicated. I'm cut short as our eyes lock for a millisecond. He knows exactly who I am, and turns away to his group of equally young friends. Ah, well.

The next day I log on to Friendster and see exactly what I knew I'd find. He's deleted me and blocked access to his page as well.

For days I wondered if this was the visitation I'd feared. That some young man would send me packing out to pasture. That I was "too old to cut the mustard" as the (very) old record goes. That I should invest in a wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts and elastic waisted jeans. That I should stop listening to bands like Rilo Kiley and Mates of State and Pedro the Lion. That I should just not bother ever showing up at the Eagle. Was it time to hang up the old jock?

Then I thought: Nah!

Like it or not, I will be old and in your face for as long as I possibly can.

And my final benediction to all those young men coming up now:

May you be blessed with long, long lives.


Blogger David said...

Bless your twinkling heart. I'm one of the "turning 40 this year" set myself. While I don't repudiate my age, I defy it simply by living a healthy life. As for all the bright young things, they certainly deserve each other. Friendster boy is an ass.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I passed 40 a while ago. I have my health, all my teeth, I don't dribble food as I eat, hair does NOT growout of my ears if it knows what's good for it. I also have a very active sex life and occasionally get hit on by younger men. When I was 25 I figured out that men weren't truly interesting until they were at least in their mid-30s and that turned out to be 100% true.

I get so tired of the ageism in SOME parts of the gay "community." Let's not forget, however, that the club boys who think gay life ends on the last day of their 30th year are not the whole reality. Gay life is a feast of men and they come in all varieties--and ages.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

the friendster boy was, as they say here in london, a twat.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

"Being afraid of what your friends think" is really one of the worst situations you can find yourself in in life. That's where the Friendster guy lives ... People tend to move into that neighborhood early in life and, once they do, they never leave.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Indeed, the friendster dude is a twat (or as I say "a twitling") I just turned 45 a couple of month's back and it ain't all THAT bad! A LOT of hot men in their 40's and older out there. The idiots who think that 30 is over the hill, well, they'll be there too one day if they don't kill themselves first.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

gawdammit, Mark. i wish i'd read this post before i got to the Dugout tonight, otherwise i wudna bent yer ear on this same topic.

sorry big guy.

12:18 AM  
Blogger seymour said...

Hey Mark,
it was my best friends 40th this weekend. We woke him on Saturday morning, bundled him into a car, and took him out of the city. 40 minutes later 7 of us were inside a plane heading abouve the clouds, with burly men harnessed to our backs. We jumped at 14, 000 feet.
Wow! There is something unique about throwing yourself to the wind, so to speak! Especially if you can share it with mates.
His words " Best birthday ever - how can I forget this one" He has the dvd as a birthday card.

ps Mate, friendster boy can get out of the long queue of more than willing suitors. Im still here!

2:55 AM  
Anonymous mark said...

I'm turning 40 soon and to me, it's just when things are getting started. :)

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I was rather obsessed with this subject after I turned 35. Luckily I'm usually repulsed by packs of guys in their twenties (although not always).

Any 20-year-old can be attractive, but aging well takes skill and is much more worthy of attention.

Those snotty 20-somethings will be 30 in the blink of an eye, and then they won't know what to do with themselves. We should pity them.

3:49 PM  

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