I'm totally comfortable talking about sex and dating. Why do you ask?
I recently turned 50 and am considering putting myself out into the dating world for the first time in nearly six years. Why a six-year reprieve? I'd love to give you a beautifully written metaphor about my having to find my inner voice (which isn't far from the truth), but in all honesty, I've been really busy unloading a ton of old, emotional baggage, namely 55 pounds, a former life working in corporate America, and an outdated relationship. I've transformed but it hasn't always been pretty.
Despite the life of debauchery I lived for many, many years (various amounts of sporadic sex, nights of stupid drug taking, an absence of all social boundaries and basic emotional paranoia), I'm shocked that my looks, sense of irony and overall emotional well-being have somehow grown exponentially. I have no idea how the hell that happened. Well, that's a lie. I've worked my ass off. I'd kiss the ground I walk on but I'm a hypochondriac and I live in New York City.
I have a massive amount of lush, thick silvery hair that most bald men would murder me for and I have great skin. True, I use so much organic moisturizer that if I were pushed against a wall I'd slide right down it, but if it works, it works.
What I'm missing is sexual swagger. And when it comes to dating, one thing a man needs is swagger, especially if he's predominately gay. I write predominately gay because after my 12-year relationship ended with John (totally fake name for my ex) I had a brief (albeit surprising) affair with a woman. It involved secret trips to New Jersey and too much red wine. What happens in Secaucus...
According to the Urban Dictionary, swagger is associated with the following words: cool, swagga, style, fresh, awesome, fly, sexy, confidence, game, boss, dope, swagtastic. All words I never really feel unless I've had a glass of Pinot and I'm wearing really tight jeans and I'm strutting down the streets of New York City with Journey blaring so loudly through my enormous headphones my eardrums nearly bleed. See? Not good.
I'm trying to get my swagger on, I really am. I work out constantly, I fit into 30-inch jeans and I never eat past 7 p.m. I also use Suzanne Somer's FaceMaster. The FaceMaster is a machine that zaps your face with an alarming amount of electrical current in an effort to keep it fresh and taut. Suzanne is my home girl when it comes to being pretty. Wait. I just read that sentence. That's not very swagger-like, is it? Crap. Probably doesn't help either that when I talk to dates on the phone using the FaceMaster I sound like Donald Duck having an epileptic fit.
The bottom line is I've never been comfortable with the open sense of sexual confidence I see so many gay men exude. It makes me painfully aware of my feelings of inadequacy, which is maddening since I'm so confident and successful in every other part of my life.
You're so hot. Totally. I just ... once I finish this organic peanut butter I'll be right with you.
I know some people feel swagger implies arrogance, but I like to think of it as radical self-love. Swagger can sometimes influence narcissism, but most often narcissists don't have swagger so much as a bull's-eye on their forehead where everyone wants to hit them with a cherry pie.
Swagger is intoxicating, thrilling and a heady mix of awareness and availability. There seems to be something in there also about vulnerability and strength and what it means to be a man that scares the crap out a lot of men (myself included). I know I wrestle with my feelings of masculinity and maleness as a gay guy and when I talk to straight guys they feel the exact same way.
So maybe in the end we're all feeling the same thing. Still doesn't negate the fact society as a whole rewards men (straight and gay) who are stoic and emotionally stable (if a little stale) and that's the reason tons of older dudes suffer silently from depression, but that's a discussion for a future post.
You know what? Screw it. I'm happy being single. If I meet someone, super. If not, super. I really do mean that. I'm just super.
But I should probably change out of my fly South Park pajamas before I engage in some dope Skyping with this fresh looking dude on OkCupid who just hit me up. Oh, and I better throw my Hello Kitty blanket over my FaceMaster. I don't want to give him the wrong impression.