Notes on Crack

I am 64 and I have a boyfriend. The absurdity of this situation is not lost on me. First of all, how the hell did I get to be 64? One night I'm exiting the dance floor, all hot and sweaty, heading for the coat-check just before "last call" and in no time at all I wake up a senior citizen. How does this happen? Now that I'm single for the first time in 24 years, it might be wise to simply stay the course. But opportunities present themselves and one must follow where they lead.
Handicappers of senior gay dating would give me the same odds of success as a Jessica Simpson Oscar nod. But I live in Palm Springs, California -- the gayest city in America. The median age of Palm Springs residents is 50. You can't cross the street without running into roaming herds of same-sex couples scurrying into restaurants just before the early bird special times out. But this local phenomenon is accompanied by a host of alternatives you don't find in Peoria. There are weekly gay sex parties at several clothing optional resorts, masseurs who specialize in happy endings and make house calls, and an endless stream of weekenders seeking to express their tactile appreciation for the male form in its many manifestations.

My boyfriend (we'll call him Algernon) is a young lad just shy of 60. He's decided we should be the sort of couple who puts the "sex" in sexagenarian. Algernon is fond of personal grooming. This is something I respect and admire. He flosses several times a day and brushes his teeth both morning and night. And Algernon has a really good smell. It's a fresh scent, the subtle residue of soaps and shampoos he uses daily. I like this. Last month he introduced me to the newest addition to his grooming regimen: the trench and tackle. Let me be clear; it is not something I suggested or requested. In fact, a "trench and tackle" is something I'd never heard of. It is a special service currently performed for $50 in the back room of a Palm Springs hair salon. It involves waxing the hair from the top of the butt crack all the way down past the perineum, then up the front of the groin to the shaft of the penis. Although "trench and tackle" is the official menu description, John -- the esthetician -- refers to it colloquially as a "crack and sack." I think of it as sort of a scorched-earth Brazilian.

John is a bearded, long-haired gay man of 50 who bears a striking resemblance to Rasputin. His work ensemble consists of a baggy t-shirt and a green and blue Tartan plaid kilt which sways elegantly above his combat boots. I am told John is very chatty when he works. I would have asked what John talks about as he's ripping the hair off Algernon's scrotum, but I didn't want to push my luck. Besides, Algernon has established the game is on and I now need to do my part. Trying to think outside the box, I Google "sex toys," and my one-click-shopping source, Amazon, comes up as the fifth vendor in my search reply. A devotee of the devil-you-know school of thought, I click the Amazon link.

I discover there are 312,245 products available from Amazon in the "sex toy" category -- a subset of Amazon's "health and wellness" division. In addition to a plethora of dildos and vibrators, there are specialty items that make the crack-and-sack seem mundane. Amazon offers a one-pound jar of Boy Butter lube for $14.05, or $13.35 per pound if you agree to accept automatic monthly shipments. This might work for us, but only if we could also use Boy Butter to fry chicken. The "Three Bumps for Your Rump" butt plug could be amusing for anyone who wants to sit on a matte black version of the Chrysler Building. And the impressive "Enormous Evan" 10-inch dildo is cleverly mounted on a suction cup base, suggesting an agile but lonely buyer who has surrendered all hope of getting back his security deposit.

Amazon offers nipple clamps, ball gags, restraints, whips, riding crops, and paddles for the SM/bondage crowd. The plethora of choices is mind-boggling. Flipping through 400 pages of sex toys is exhausting and somewhat mind-numbing. Yet I find it hard to stop clicking the "Next" tab. The experience is something like playing a slot machine or running across Bob Mackie on QVC, hawking his horrible bedazzled denim jackets. You don't want to look, but you can't look away. When I run across the "Doc Johnson Smooth 18-inch Double Headed Dildo," I am unable to resist the siren song of 44 customer reviews.

"1984 Great Dane" reports the product "would be better if we could find something with these dimensions which is harness compatible. But for now, it will do." A more enthusiastic "Richard" proclaims, "the smoothness makes it go in so easy and in no time at all I had this thing buried deep in my backside and only stopped because the only thing left to hold onto was the head at the other end. I would like to try one that is a bit larger around." At this point I'm feeling like a rank amateur but one final review stops me cold. "Victor" reports "my wife was born with two vaginas (yes it really happens) and anyway this turned out to be the perfect gift, double the pleasure double the fun to both vaginas at the same time." After the prompt, "Did you find this review helpful?" I click on "yes." Yes, because it made me log off.

One of the great pleasures of living your entire adult life as an openly gay man is the freedom of expression it offers. Gay relationships, forced until recently to define themselves outside the bonds of marriage, didn't have to adhere to any rules. Yet sexagenarian gay men who maintain an interest in sex are often seen as suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome. It's funny how no one says that about Jack Nicholson. And does anyone accuse Jane Fonda of suffering from Wendy syndrome? At the age of 76, Fonda recently announced she is having the best sex of her life. Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

Although we have never discussed this, I suspect Algernon and I share a certain personal history -- one that is not unusual for gay men of our generation. I believe we spent most of our lives vacillating between a desire to be the best little boy in the world, or the whore of Babylon. For now, we soldier on. Time will soon put an end to the struggle, but we have not yet come to the unraveling. And until we do, as far as that crack is concerned -- I'm on it.