Monday, January 15, 2007
Six weird things about me
1) I pick up pennies from the sidewalk, the streets, at gas stations, in stores, anywhere people drop them and move on. I pick up any coin or paper money I find that obviously has no owner near by. The big one was the windy day I was crossing the parking lot on my way to Sears at the Dedham Mall and two ten dollar bills blew by me. I caught them. Nothing like that ever happened again.
To me it's a kind of game - thrill of the chase, perhaps. Fritz thinks it's a bit strange and, when we're walking together, if he catches sight of a penny I don't see first, he takes great pleasure in pocketing it ostentatiously right in front of me.
2) I have an unlimited capacity for opera. I'm happiest when they top three hours of music, when I can do a matinee and an evening performance on the same day or, like next summer at the Glimmerglass Festival, when I can see five operas in three days.
3) I am not always the neatest person in the world but I have a need for order in life. When things are going seriously wrong or in crisis emotionally, I clean. I jokingly call this getting in touch with my inner Jewish Mother. In the face of chaos, somehow life is made bearable and controllable for me if all the dishes are stacked properly, the rugs are vacuumed, and the laundry is folded and put away.
4) Back when I was tricking, getting my feet (and other body parts) wet in the gay world, I discovered that many men were out to give service orally but wanted - demanded, even – absolutely no reciprocation or interaction of any kind. This completely didn't work for me.
Sexually, I enjoy taking pleasure but I also need to give. The issue wasn't the anonymity or the fact of a one shot hook-up – that was fine if we were working together and getting off on each other. It was just lying there while someone else did all the work that was almost repellent to me. I NEVER felt cheap or dirty after sex except on the two occasions when I fell in with men who were into that, and I soon learned to read ads so as to avoid such experiences in the future.
Sex for me is sharing, joining in the heat, the sensuality, the fun of being with another man, passing the lead back and forth - a full partnership. Years later when Fritz did the Meyers-Briggs personality type indicator for me he explained that part of my personality to me and it all made sense.
5) I think I’m a pretty good team player but I don't react well to being ordered around. I know absolutely where this comes from. My parents insisted on twelve years of Catholic school for me. Being ordered around like an object by a bunch of people who had no idea who I really was - and could have cared less – toughened my independent, rebellious streak. Include me in the planning and use “please” here and there and I'm your man down to the last detail and the final clean-up. Bark orders at me and you can go fuck yourself.
6) I will do whatever it takes to not wear a business suit, ever. In fact, that's one of the reasons I wound up in the profession I'm in. I saw what my father went through to truss himself up everyday into one of those things. I saw the confining discomfort of them, the dry cleaning bills, the trips to the men's store when fashion dictated the width of the lapels change to buy a couple of new suits for virtually the equivalent of a month's salary.
Then there were all the unspoken "rules": you couldn't under any circumstances wear a brown suit (excuse me, warm earth tones are MY colors) -- it had to be blue, grey or black. You had to wear a freshly laundered and STARCHED (oy!) white shirt every day. You had to wear a tie of whatever the fashionable width of the year was, not one centimeter wider or narrower; the tie had to be an ultra-conservative diagonal stripe, club emblem or college shield pattern in subdued colors. When you were finished dressing in all that, you went out into the streets where you looked exactly like every other man who was going to work in New York City.
I didn't get it. I read an article in a women's fashion magazine when I was around ten or eleven (yeah, all the signs were there already) about the "uniform" for men which stated -- I remember the exact words across the years -- "what men lose in individuality, they gain as a group in tone." Why, I wondered, would any man want to ditch his individuality? Was faceless uniformity really a tone? And excuse me, was that tone or clone? (When the gay clone “uniform” came in, I wouldn't have anything to do with that either, although I did have a few things to do with a couple of guys who looked hot wearing it. Or not wearing it).
One reason I was attracted to the arts and to academia is that the dress code was lax to non-existent. Sure, there was fun dress-up, the odd rented tux for a special event (usually with a red or gold tie or a piece of jewelry at the neck of the shirt if I could manage it). I eventually developed my own look based on vests, some of which I made myself, in various interesting ethnic or art fabrics. Or leather. Worn with good trousers and matched with a wide variety of shirts (some also of a non-western cut), I had a wardrobe that was comfortable on me and for me.
The one suit I own is a Polo Ralph Lauren unconstructed cotton searsucker summer suit. It's terrific for outdoor weddings and similar events. With the right shirt and a retro Liberty of London print tie in splashy colors, it's a very cocktails-on-the-croquet-lawn sort of ensemble, and cool and comfortable into the bargain.Fritz and I once kidded around about starting a men's clothing company called "Not Just Gray" or something like that. It would obviously be a niche operation because if you go into a Gap or a other chain men's store, everything's conservative with as little color as possible, and BLAND. And that stuff sells like crazy. Just not to me.
Now if you really want to see a brave gay man who dares to wear color, check out Devious Steve O's January 11th post. Orange is SUCH an under-rated color!
But wait -- that's not all!! If you read this blog in the next two minutes, you get a seventh weird thing about me at no extra charge!
7) I always back into parking spaces in parking lots, particularly crowded ones. This is considered weird by many, many people, most recently Scott over at Bill in Exile, and an op/ed piece on CBS radio. My reason, which nobody else seems to appreciate, is that I think it's vastly safer than heading in and then having to back out with no idea what cars may or may not be approaching from either side, and a poor view of any kids who may be running around behind the car. When you back in, you're backing into a totally empty space and then leaving with a full view because you're at the front of the parking space and front of the car, looking right at everything that's moving around the lot.
I do it differently, but I suspect you've come to expect that.
Are we separated at birth?
BTW I attended an all girl Catholic school from kindergarten to 12th grade and have the same reaction to orders - which has gotten me in more trouble than I care to admit in my previous life in corporate america. as for clothes - after all those years of uniforms - college was an amazing experience - it took me awhile to get my own sense of style - preppy for awhile and then made my own clothes in my first years on my own post college and then went full force Laura Ashley for a few years and now - mainly long skirts and knitted sweaters - hate the confines of a blazer/jacket!
love your posts - always something provocative and interesting!
Either you have attracted a group of pretty wierd readers, or you're not so wierd after all. I concurr with only minor variations on almost all the points.
1) pennies: I do pretty much the same think, but for different reasons. I was taught that failig to pick up money, even a penny, brought bad luck. I suppose that the rational was: If you're so arrogant as to scorn a penny, then the fates will punish you by not granting you any money at all.
2) We have season tickets at la Fenice, the Opéra de la Bastille, Théatre du Champs Elysées and go to Vienna for the Statsoper and the Wiener Festwochen. But I'm even wierder, since my real passion is baroque opera.
3) I can't stand disorder. But we give out a large portion of our income to cleaning ladies.
4) I've always wondered why people for whom sex is not a mutual enterprise don't just simply masturbate. That way they can call all the shots.
5)I don't mind being given orders if I can understand why they are necessary, and if the context is civil and courteous.
6) A business suit is fine, if it's well cut and designed. Armani Sí, Brooks Brothers, No. But actually, I don't wear one for work either, only for meetings where, since it's Italy or Paris, everyone is VERY aware of what everyone is wearing. It's an essential part of the negotiation.
7) Sorry, this one doesn't apply. We live in Venice; docking a boat has different rules.
You see, others can be just as wierd as you, Will.
Kevin--I'm glad to hear we have some corresponding weirdnesses. I've spent a great deal of my life seeking out and working by choice with smart-asses and alternative thinkers. Some of the very BEST people.
Sogalitno--college was liberating, scary and an amazing experience for me, too. After twelve years of being taught to exclude people and to hate on the basis of religion (in fifth grade anti-semitism was actually TAUGHT from the front of the classroom), I realized that I was going to have to rebuild myself literally from the ground up.
Bruce--you mean you can't parallel park a vaporetto?
4. I'm the exact same way. Although I'm not even on the same page as you when it comes to experience, I know that about myself.
6. I don't even own a suit. I live in jeans and t-shirts most of the time.
Thanks for the comment on my blog.