Running with the Devil

(The following is the official transcript from my last run.)

I can do this.

It’s kind of cold this morning, though. I should have worn pants…

Oh, wait… *stops* *sets Fitbit to Run* Okay, there… Yeah, it’s cold. Maybe I should run inside and put pants on. *stops again* *gazes longingly at the house* But I’ve never run in pants before… I might get a rash. I might get too hot and I won’t be able to take them off… I’ll just go on…

*starts running again*

Why is my knee hurting already? Fuck… I haven’t even gone ten feet…

Maybe it’s arthritis. Or rheumatism. Or multiple epiphyseal dysplasia… Okay, never mind… it doesn’t hurt now. I’m sure it’ll hurt again later, though. Like, I’m sure halfway through, it’ll be so excruciating I’ll just collapse onto the pavement and have to crawl back home because it’s still dark out and the sun doesn’t come up for another hour and no one will see me there, writhing in agony because I blew my knee out.

Or maybe I’ll be run over…

This isn’t so bad, though. I mean, it is, but not as bad as the first time. That fucking sucked. But I can do this… If I ran more often, it would get easier, I know. I’ll run again tomorrow. Or not.

Man, it’s cold.

And dark. Okay, here comes this fucking hill. I can do this.

*starts up hill*

Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life. Fuck my life.

Okay… okay… That wasn’t so bad. Just keep going. I can do this. I’m not going to die. Just keep going…

*checks Fitbit for heart rate*

Holy mother of fuck! 615??? MY HEART RATE IS 615??? How is that even possible? Am I having a stroke?

Wait… Wait… That’s just the time. Oh, thank God… I’m not dying. It’s not a stroke…

*checks Fitbit again*

Okay… 148… that’s more like it. I can live with that. Shit, it’s cold… I’m wearing pants next time, I don’t care. Oh, good… it’s the downhill part. This is easy…

*trips going down the hill, stumbles, manages to stay upright*

What the hell was that? I could have died! Maybe it was a trap… Like the creepy redneck people who put spikes in the road to lure unsuspecting travelers in the mountains to their doom. Like, maybe there’s someone hiding in that box hedge over there, waiting for me or someone else to trip over… whatever that was… then they’ll jump out and rob us or rape us or kill us and dismember us and bury our bodies or something…

*runs faster*

Oh, hell… it’s that other hill…

*starts up hill*

Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.

Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck.

Okay. Okay. That wasn’t so bad.

*checks Fitbit to see how far I’ve run*

This thing must be broken. I know I’ve gone more than a quarter of a mile!

*continues running*

God, that house is ugly. Is that shiplap? I guess shiplap has gone too far when people are putting it on the outside of their houses. And are those shutters mustard yellow? Like, really? They must not know any gay people. Oh, shit… it’s another hill… I can do this, though. I’ll go slow this time…

*starts up hill*

Yeah, no… this sucks just as bad. Who put all these fucking hills here? I hope they died. I hope they died running up one of these verkakte hills!

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!

I hate this so much.

*gets to the top of the hill*

Okay… Okay… That wasn’t so bad. I don’t even want to check my heart rate right now. Oh, and it’s getting lighter. Good. That way if I collapse, I stand a better chance of being seen and rescued.

*runs downhill*

Someone should design a course that is basically all downhill. Like skiing, only for runners. And a lift will pick you up at the bottom and carry you back to the top so you can run back down and feel successful and accomplished.

*passes Middle Eastern market*

You know, I never see any people from the Middle East running. They must be smarter than Americans.

*passes upholstery shop*

God, that chair is ugly. I mean, I’d totally sit in it right now, but I wouldn’t buy it. Who the hell pays for shit like that?

*passes bookstore*

I could have stayed at home in bed and read my book…

*passes gas station*

A Coke would be nice right now… But I left my wallet at home…

*stops running*

Okay, that’s it. I give up. Fuck this shit. I’ll walk the rest of the way…

 

Sissy

I have been called a lot of names in my life. Being gay and from the South, it just comes with the territory.

Faggot. Queer. Butt pirate. “Funny.”

And I have to admit, “queer” was always my favorite, the way it kind of rolled around the mouth of the person saying it, like it had a mind of its own despite how it was being used. I liked how it sounded and I liked what it meant: different; strange; abnormal. Who doesn’t want to be different? I always did, so I wore “queer” like a name tag or a badge. I still refer to myself as queer to this day. I’m here, I’m queer, and if you haven’t gotten used to it by now, well… my identity should be the least of your worries.

Kids at school and neighborhood kids called me these names. Kids call each other names. It’s what kids excel at, really, and for the most part it didn’t really bother me because I, also a kid, called people names. I rarely went to teachers for help because I knew what the response would be (the child psychology version of “Ignore it, because you now how kids are–today it’s you, tomorrow it’ll be someone else.”). Once, in the sixth grade, two older boys decided I was their target du jour and I guess I was having an off day, because I grabbed a folding chair and swung it blindly, connecting with them both, chipping one guy’s tooth and fattening the other guy’s lip, and earning all three of us a trip to the principal’s office. Nothing happened, but they stopped bothering me after that, so… hashtag winning, I guess.

But, yeah, being called “queer” never really bothered me, and while “faggot” is probably the worst thing you can call a gay man, that one never bothered me all that much, either. What complete strangers, or even mild acquaintances, thought of me never really mattered that much. Actually, it still doesn’t.

But there is one word that, to me, is worse than all those other insults combined: sissy.

“Sissy” is the gay insult equivalent to someone saying “Bless your heart,” which everyone knows can mean anything from an actual plea for divine intervention on your behalf to “God, you’re a fucking idiot, please don’t breed.”

“Sissy,” though, is not kind. “Sissy” is hissed at and about you, like a curse. It is what people who are otherwise nice–the preacher’s wife, the schoolteacher, the librarian– will call the man who works at the flower shop, or the guy who cuts hair, or the boy who would rather color than play football or work on cars. “Oh, him. You know he’s a sissy,” they say, their voices a syrupy hiss, but they’re smiling and they’re at church every time the doors are open, so they don’t mean anything hateful by it. Love the sinner, hate the sin and all.

“Sissy” is what your family will call you because they can’t really call you “faggot” or “fudge packer” or “dick sucker,” even though it is pretty clear that some of them would like to. And it’s the thought that counts, right?

My family, both sides, preferred “sissy” when they wanted to insult me, and it worked. I hate the word to this day. I call myself a queer, and I might even call myself a fag from time to time, but you will never, ever hear me call myself a sissy because I don’t hate myself as much as the people who called me that growing up. “Sissy” is the most fervent hatred wrapped in a veneer of charm and it triggers me like no other word in the English language.

“Don’t be such a sissy and go outside and throw the football with your cousins.”

“Why do you always want to stay inside, like a sissy?”

Feh!

Anyway, my point–and I do have one, as Ellen DeGeneres used to say–is National Coming Out Day, which is today, and how far we’ve come since the days where I was being called “sissy” by the people who were supposed to care for me the most. I hear and read stories of parents who are proud of the little boys who, thirty and forty years ago, would have been labeled “sissy” and I am moved. There is a popular meme that even Lynda Carter herself has shared, stating that not all little boys want to grow up and be Superman; some want to grow up and be Wonder Woman. She means me. Well, okay, I didn’t want to grow up and be Wonder Woman, but I wanted to be Wonder Woman-esque. I certainly didn’t want to be Superman or Spiderman or Aquaman. Robin…? Maybe. Anyway, I digress…

National Coming Out Day. We didn’t have it when I was a kid. Or maybe we had it and no one told me about it, or we lived so far away from any organized gay life that even if it did exist, we weren’t entitled to it.

I don’t remember coming out. By that I mean I can’t point to a specific date where I decided to tell everyone I was gay. I think they all knew, anyway, otherwise why the fuck were they all calling me those names? So, no. I never sat everyone down and told them. Later, when I had moved away and found other queer people, when I informed friends that I was gay, I was always laughed at and told “Yeah, dude. I knew.” So, I guess I didn’t have to come out, and I feel lucky. I didn’t then, but I do now, because despite where I was (East Tennessee and Alabama) people knew and apparently accepted that I was gay and I was never beaten or threatened, so… yeah, I would say I was lucky.

But there are others who weren’t, and even now, eighteen years into the 21st century, we still have people who can’t be themselves because of family or community or, sad to say, government. So National Coming Out Day is still very necessary, and if someone wants to tell you that they’re LGBTQ, listen and just know that for them to trust you enough to tell you and not someone else is huge. Thank them and acknowledge them and let them cry on your shoulder, because they’re probably going to want to cry. And maybe you’ll cry, too. We’ll all cry.

Ask them what they want to be called, and I’m not talking pronouns here (that is another discussion altogether), I’m talking how do they identify. Gay? Queer? I doubt anyone will tell you they identify as “Sissy,” but if they tell you they do, accept it and accept them. Help them find some resources to point them in the right direction because coming out is not a destination–it’s actually just the first step in an even bigger journey than the one they took to get to that point. Tell them it will be fun and it won’t be fun. It will be just as easy as it is hard, and there will be days and weeks and months and even years where they’ll wonder what the whole point is. Then tell them that’s part of it. And then let them know that it gets better. And then it gets worse again. And then it gets better again. Tell them that it’s like a musical a lot of the time, only without the singing and dancing, although there will be singing and there will be dancing. Let them know it’s like a soap opera, too, and is both infuriating and a great way to deal with it. And let them know that all of us old queers did everything we would to make it easier for them than we had it, and that was why we did what we did and put up with the things we did, but that we couldn’t fix everything, and we’re sorry.

And help them have a great Coming Out Day.

 

Water, Water, Everywhere…

My fitness ordeal…er… journey continues.

Today marks six months since I started, and everything in my last post still holds true but now I am adding water to my list of gripes. Yes, water.

There was a time not so long ago when I could (and would) easily consume six 20 ounce Cokes in a single day. I got up drinking Cokes and I went to bed drinking Cokes and how I even still have teeth is anyone’s guess. In fact, getting Invisalign is what helped me kick that habit. If you don’t know, you have to remove your Invisalign trays any time you eat or drink anything that isn’t plain water, so having to always take the trays out and put them back in was a.) bothersome, b.) slightly disgusting because of the ropes of saliva that always seemed to cling to them, and c.) painful… so I put the kibosh on that. At first I went to Sprite because it was clear and wouldn’t stain my teeth or my Invisalign trays and I thought I was really winning. But there is as much sugar in Sprite as there is in Coke, so it was still getting trapped in my trays and doing God only knows what kind of damage to my teeth, so I quit Sprite, too.

“I should drink water,” I groaned to anyone who would ask.

“I love water!” they would declare, and I would roll my eyes.

What kind of person loves water? It tastes like nothing, and I would point that out, but they were ready with “I love the taste of water!” And that’s when I knew they were full of shit. If your water has a taste, you need to stop drinking it immediately and get it checked out.

I’ve never liked the taste of water, and that is why I’ve never been very keen on drinking it. As a kid, Kool-Aid was my poison and I liked the tropical punch flavor the best, and I added so much sugar it was basically red syrup. We would have Coke on occasion back then, but they were more expensive than they are now (thank you, high fructose corn syrup!) and usually reserved for such rare occasions as birthday parties or holiday parties at school. Another favorite was sweet tea, and like the syrupy Kool-Aid, I wanted it so thick with sweetness that it had legs the way wine or liquor has legs. My grandfather liked it the same way, so I probably got my sugar gene from him. I’m not complaining. (Side note: one of my favorite “meals” when I was younger was a sleeve of saltines and a glass of sweet tea. Bonus points if I spread butter on the crackers.)

But I’m not as young as I used to be, and I’m not getting any younger and, braces aside, I don’t need to consume that much sugar on a daily basis for a variety of reasons.

So I quit and I started drinking water and, like exercising five to six days a week, I hate it. I hate every fucking drop of water I drink every day, and I have committed myself to drinking a gallon a day. That’s a lot of hate, but I am committed to it.

“Put some lemon in it!” people tell me. These are the same people who always want to know if I feel so much better now that I’m working out and eating properly.

No, Ashley Amber, I don’t want to slice a fucking lemon and put that in my water and pretend it tastes like lemonade. That’s absurd. And lying to yourself and other people and saying that you like lemon in your water is also absurd. We know you’re lying. And your boyfriend is lying when he tells you he likes it, too. He’s just saying that because he wants to have sex with you. I don’t want to have sex with you, so I’ll tell you what water with lemon tastes like: it tastes like water that someone told a story about a lemon to. In fact, if you left the lemon out, it would literally taste the exact same because nothing happens when you put a slice of lemon in your water. Maybe if you took a drink of water then bit into a wedge of lemon and chased that with a gulp of water you’d taste it, but that’s a lot of work and I can tell you now that it’s a lot less fun doing that with water than it is with tequila and switching out the lemon for a lime.

Cucumber is another thing these basic white girls have convinced themselves just transforms water into something else entirely. “It’s so refreshing!” they crow, mispronouncing their vowels because that’s what the Kardashians do. Fuck that noise. It’s a cucumber in your water, and water is already bad enough. You know what will transform water? A packet of tropical punch Kool-Aid and 6 cups of sugar. Anything less than that will just taste like tears of disappointment.

But here I am, slamming back a gallon of it a day because that is what “they” say you should do. “They” are the people in the sky, I suppose. “They” never have names, because if “they” had names, you might hunt “them” down and beat “them” with a bag of lemons and an empty water bottle. I wake up at the crack of dawn and walk to the gym (Hey! Steps!) and I come home and fill my water bottles and I start drinking. I actually drink more than a gallon (135.2 ounces), but it’s easier to say a gallon. My skin is dewy and my complexion is clear and my lips are soft and full and pouty… but I go to the bathroom about fifty times a day (again…steps!)

“It really fills you up!” declares Ashley Amber, but the only thing she’s full of is shit. You’re full for about two minutes, then you go piss it all out. I get half my 20K steps in every day just running back and forth to the bathroom, and I have to plan water intake and driving anywhere because there’s no way I can be en route when the urge to go hits me. It comes fast and it comes hard.

Oh, and all that bullshit “they” always say about drinking water will help maintain a healthy weight? Don’t believe a word of it. You drink and you piss and you’re starving and you eat and your weight stays the same, and it’s always five to ten pounds more than you want it to be. That’s what happens when you drink water.

But I drink it anyway, because what if I’m wrong and “they” are right? What if I drink all this water for exactly the right number of days and wake up one morning and I am a Calvin Klein underwear model? I can’t risk it, so I drink the water.

And now excuse me, but I gotta go take a leak.

The Myth of the Healthy Lifestyle

We all know them: those robotic men and women who are about nothing else in the world than “a healthy lifestyle” and they take advantage of every opportunity to proselytize to anyone within earshot how what they’re eating or drinking is better than anything anyone else is eating or drinking, and how their new yoga/Pilates/meditation regimen is superior to anyone else’s, and how their workout schedule achieves better results than yours ever will, and you should do what they’re doing because if you did, you would–like them– feel so much better!

That’s their catchphrase, and every sentence ends with it. Ever since they stopped drinking soda, they feel so much better! Ever since they stopped eating red meat, they feel so much better! Ever since they started eating unprocessed, hand harvested sea urchin placenta every morning before their workout, they feel so much better!

According to these people, they were basically dead before they started doing whatever it is they’re doing now, be it exercising, dieting, drinking their own urine, or hanging upside down from the rafters in their barn while they sleep at night. They no longer drink mere bottled water, no; now they drink gallons of alkaline water every day and they feel–you guessed it–so much better! They can’t join you for brunch, sorry, because they stopped eating eggs, and they feel so much better! No, they haven’t watched Lost In Space on Netflix, because since they took a sledgehammer to their television, they feel so much better!

It sounds good, too, this constant assertion that they feel so good now that they’ve given up everything that ever tasted good or smelled good or brought them joy. Like all those positive thinking exercises from the 80s and 90s, where you were expected to repeat aloud or write down a goal that you wanted to achieve, and eventually it would reprogram your thinking and the goal would manifest itself in your life somehow. Like, you know, if you stood in front of a mirror and repeated that you would meet Donnie Wahlberg and he would fall in love with you and the two of you would marry enough times, how could it not happen?

Only now, we have social media to remind us daily how much better Beth Anne feels since she stopped drinking water from a bottle and now extracts water from her family’s urine using a simple filtration system that her husband built in the back yard from repurposed barn wood and old socks she couldn’t find the mate to. Or how much better Natalie feels since she wakes up at 2 am and runs 75 miles before she goes into the office. Or how much more energy Craig has since he stopped eating food from supermarkets and now adheres to a strictly bovine diet of grass and fresh hay, with an occasional carrot proffered by a passing child.

And we see this stuff clogging our feeds every day and it starts to really get in our heads. Maybe if I ate the grass in my back yard instead of mowing it, I could have as much energy as Craig has. Maybe if I ran 75 miles a day, my cheekbones would look like Natalie’s. And I have all those orphan socks in that box in the laundry room… maybe I should recycle my urine, too!

Or maybe something less extreme. Maybe I should start small and build up to the conviction of Craig and Beth Anne and Natalie. So, I started working out, and let me be perfectly clear: I do not feel so much better! I started working out on April 2, and I started going to a personal trainer two days a week on April 9. I have lost 17 pounds total and I look fabulous and my cheekbones rival Natalie’s, but I have been in some kind of pain every second of every minute of every hour of every day since April 2. My shins hurt. My calves are sore. My butt hurts. I can’t lift my arms. I’m exhausted all the time. Yet people, when they hear that I have started working out and eating better, light up and immediately ask, “Don’t you just feel so much better?” And when I say, “No, actually, it fucking sucks,” they react as if I just shot their grandmother in front of them.

So, no. I don’t feel so much better since I started working out and eating right. That is a myth. It’s something that someone said might happen, and people now cling to it as if it’s a fact. The same way that ancient people used to watch the sun rise in the morning and climb through the sky and set in the evening, and they wondered what that big ball of fire in the sky could be and someone said it might be a guy in a golden chariot and that sounded like a really cool story and the mental image of that was a lot better than the mental image of a giant ball of hydrogen and other gases hanging in space, so the people locked onto the golden chariot story and it took millennia to change their minds.

The healthy lifestyle is also a myth. Or, rather, the idea that you will feel so much better once you embark upon that path is. You may live longer, and your skin may clear up, and you probably won’t have bags or dark circles under your eyes. Your doctor won’t be such a kvetch when you go in for your checkup, because you will have quit smoking and drinking. Your clothes will fit better, then they’ll start falling off you and you’ll have to buy new ones, and that’s fun and shopping will make you feel better, because that’s what shopping does. But will you physically feel better? No. Will you feel like dancing? No. Will you be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? No.

Because every single, solitary muscle in your body will ache every day of your life and neither acetaminophen nor ibuprofen nor naproxen sodium are strong enough to actually relieve the pain. It will hurt to sit and it will hurt to stand and it will hurt to lie down. Going to the bathroom may result in tears. Showering certainly will.

Then there is the hunger that never really goes away. I eat constantly, but because carbohydrates are now verboten, I’m hungry again by the time I’ve taken the last bite of whatever I’ve eaten. “Eat fiber!” the Craigs and Beth Annes and Natalies instruct me. “It helps you feel full and you’ll feel so much better!” So I increase my intake of fiber and I shit like a goose for two straight days, and I lose a pound or two, and that’s encouraging. But I’m still hungry. So I eat a single serving pizza and finally (FINALLY!) I am full and it’s glorious! Then I weigh myself the next morning and I’ve gained four pounds–even though the pizza weighed only 8 ounces–and my body fat percent has increased 2%. It takes me a week to work that single pizza off, and I regret ever starting this whole health and fitness thing in the first damned place!

But I keep going. I work out or I run daily because I’m STILL waiting to feel so much betterI imagine it will be like an epiphany on a biblical scale: the clouds will part and that God light will beam down and illuminate my face and I will hear a voice say to me that now, now I can start feeling better. Now the pain will disappear and I’ll be able to do a few back flips and at long last, like Craig and Beth Anne and Natalie, I, too, will feel  so much better. And I will go forth and tell other people that they, too, can feel the way I feel if they just do exactly what I do, only I won’t tell them that it takes months, maybe even years, before it gets to that point, no. Because that isn’t how mythology works.

The point of myth is to give an explanation to something that makes no sense to us, or that we couldn’t understand if we were given the facts. Why does my body ache when I exercise? Well, there is science and science says there is the tearing of muscle and lactic acid and the muscles need protein to heal and as they heal themselves, they will be sore, but they will grow and that’s how you get the body of a Calvin Klein underwear model… and all that sounds horrible and bloody and painful. Because it is. But if Craig and Beth Anne and Natalie walked around telling people that, we would all weight 800 pounds and die in our early 30s because no one would work out or eat right.

So we lie and tell people if they do it, they’ll feel so much better! And we all just want to feel better, don’t we? So we keep doing it. Feeling better is just over the horizon, or just around the corner. Just keep doing it. You’ll feel so much better!!

zevunicorn
Me, waiting to feel so much better!

“Daddy” Issues

I’ve gotten old.

As a gay man, I am supposed to dread getting older, and I have had plenty of people tell me as much along the way. When I turned 30, one acquaintance informed me he had “cried for an entire year” when he turned 30. At the time, he was 32. I assumed I was missing something. Actually, I still think I missed something.

I turned 40 and had one of maybe three birthday parties I’ve ever had in my entire life. No one was there to question why I wasn’t in a fetal position in the corner, screaming like Nancy Kerrigan. We were busy doing shots of tequila and eating birthday cake and my boyfriend (who would become my husband) was planning to propose to me (side note: I fucking hate surprises like that, but there we were).

When I was in the sixth grade, my teacher was 32 years old, and we all thought she was just ancient, and as know-it-all kids, we teased her mercilessly about being so old and decrepit and feeble. Like, how did she make it through her day? Did she take Geritol? Eventually she snapped and challenged the worst of her persecutors to a race, which she won. None of us were convinced, though: she was still old.

At that age, I couldn’t imagine being 32 years old. Like, how would it feel? Would it be painful, being so old?

Then I actually turned 30 and I was like, “Oh.” Because it didn’t hurt, and it wasn’t so bad, and I totally understood why my sixth grade teacher got so pissed off about us calling her “old.” Because my life didn’t really start happening until I turned 30, and by the end of my 30s, it was the best it had ever been, and I kind of felt like a putz for being so mean to my teacher.

Then I turned 40 and that wasn’t bad, either. I got married when I was 42, and now I’m 47, and I don’t get the whole problem with getting older in the gay community and on top of that, I really don’t understand how, if we’re supposed to hate getting older so much, why we (and by “we,” I mean gay men in general) do this whole “Daddy” thing where they lose all romantic interest in anyone over the age of 22. Does that not work at cross purposes? It’s like they’ve been miserable since they turned 30, so to feed their misery on a daily basis, they surround themselves with guys in their 20s. Or is it supposed to assuage the misery? Like I said, I don’t get it.

I don’t get it because I am not a “Daddy” and I don’t want to be one, and I know that breaks with hundreds of years of gay tradition, but I don’t care.

When I was in my early 20s, I lived with a man who was 14 years older than I was at the time. We had nothing in common and basically spent 5 years trying to convince one another why the things we liked, that our respective generations thought were important, mattered more. It was exhausting. To this day, I don’t understand the allure of Marilyn Monroe, and I am perfectly fine with that.

In my early 30s, I lived with someone who was 10 years younger than I was and it was pretty much just a rerun of the 5 years I’d spent with the older guy, only worse because this guy wasn’t just young, he was also immature. Yes, there is a distinction, and I could go into it, but I’ll save you, dear reader, the whole geshikte.

The man I married is eight months younger than I am. We are growing old together. We have the same pop culture landmarks, so when I ask if he remembers that movie or that TV show, he does; and when he asks if I liked that band or that song, I probably did. We are polar opposites, but we share many of the same memories of things, and that saves a lot of energy because I don’t have to explain who Jody Watley was, and he doesn’t have to proselytize on the merits of The Goonies (there are none, by the way, but that’s another blog post entirely).

Neither of us are “Daddies,” either. We don’t lust after scrawny boys in their late teens and early 20s in an attempt to make ourselves feel younger. We’re old, and we’re okay with being old, because we have earned it. A lot of gay men from our generation didn’t make it, so I’ll gladly take it over the alternative. When you’ve buried more people than you can remember, being a “Daddy” just doesn’t seem to matter that much. You’re just glad to be alive with something to show for it all. At least, I am.