Friday, November 09, 2012

"Dirty Old Men"

One of my major complaints against life is that it gives us so very much to start with, and then, once we are totally used to it, begins taking things away.

I made the mistake the other day of, upon stumbling on an on-line ad for a “personals” column, checking it out in a moment of mental masochism. It was one of those "Meet People" pop-up ads on Yahoo, and all I needed to do was check “ ‘M’ seeking ‘M’” and put in my zip code. I knew the instant I did it that the result would only be total frustration and self pity, and sure enough…there on my screen appeared John, 27, and Bill, 22, and Jimmy, 25, all accompanied by photos of good looking, smiling young men who gave brief descriptions of themselves and what they were seeking by placing themselves on the list. I looked at each one of them, and my chest ached knowing that I still want exactly what they want, yet none of them would (or, honestly, could be expected to) give me a second glance.

Dirty old men are a cruel joke in our culture. How dare someone over 40 or 50 or 60 (and we will not even think about anyone older than that) think they have any right to be romantically loved, and held? Even trying to form a mental image of such a thing is somehow revolting, rather like picturing your parents having sex. These guys had their chance. The door has closed on them: by what right do they feel sorrow or resentment for no longer being welcome in a world in which they were, not all that long ago, one of the gang; popular, sought after, cruised, smiled at, approached, touched?

I know that is just the way life is. I also know there are eighty-seven quintillion billion stars in the universe, yet I am totally incapable of understanding or making sense of either fact.

The ability to love is one of the many gifts given each of us at birth. Some of us use it well, others squander it. But at no point in life, be we 20 or 90, does someone come along and say “all right, you don’t need it anymore: give it back.”

I don’t often quote my poetry in these blogs, but this subject reminded me of one that I find particularly significant, and I hope you’ll indulge me. It’s addressed primarily to gay men, but it can apply equally to anyone:
Tell Me, Friend
Tell me, friend: how old are you?
(Twenty-one? Thirty-two?)
What do you think of men like me?
(Forty-five? Sixty-three?)

Remember, please, that those “old farts”
have faces older than their hearts.
Before you scorn them, be aware
that there’s a young man trapped in there.
It costs you nothing to be kind;
look past the body to the mind
And think too on this irony:
as I was you, you will be me.

Well, that’s enough reflexivity for one blog. But don’t be surprised if the same topic comes up again at some point.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I remember feeling completely depressed the day I turned 25 because it meant I was halfway to 50. What an ass! The thing is, though, I look at these young twenty somethings and realize I don't want to be them. Experience has made me who I am today and they completely lack that. They're still (mostly) empty shells finding their way and that's not my world anymore. I'm at peace with it.

I've earned my body's flaws. I've earned these hairs that are changing color. Not thrilled with the long eyebrows I have to cut of those ear hairs that pop up overnight, but I've earned them and the wrinkles to the sides of my eyes.

We did our time at 20 and it's my duty to do my time at 40 because whatever I don't accomplish now will have to be done when I'm 50...and that may make me crabby.