Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DADDY COMPLEX?


During the month of March, my posts focus on crushes. A few I should never admit, but one must be daring as a writer—even while being frivolous!

By all accounts, I came out too late. I blame Texas but, really, I am an incredibly shy and self-conscious being. Things might have gone more smoothly had I been precociously gay. Things might have made more sense as I navigated the gay social order in my early years. I am told that there was a time (late ‘70s?) when gay men walked around with different –colored handkerchiefs in their jean pockets. I imagine that every color of the rainbow flag was represented, each hue defining a different gay identity.

Sigh. Diversity. I thought it was enough to realize I was gay. But there were niches. Leather. Drag. Guys that never wanted to disco with Vinnie Barbarino.

Of all the categories, the one that has always made me the most uncomfortable was The Daddies. To each his own, but referring to oneself as a daddy or a daddy chaser brings incest to mind. While I know any Maury Show paternity test would come up negative, I cannot understand why guys would want to assume the role with their partner. Full confession: I don’t know what daddies and their seekers do. Show up on the soccer field and berate a missed goal? Block off the world with a newspaper and smoke a pipe? Repeatedly take apart the lawn mower in the garage? Oops, it seems I may have my own daddy issues.

There wasn’t much in my childhood to make me pine for another father figure. Fortunately, most TV dads on television oozed zero sex appeal. Dick Van Patten on “Eight Is Enough”. Mr. C. on “Happy Days”. Curmudgeonly at best. But there have been a couple who crossed the line.

The first to truly catch my eye was Charles Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie”: Michael Landon. That hair! That solid body! That face! He made rugged look pretty. Just once, I wanted to trip up teary eyed Laura Ingalls Wilder as she ran down the grassy hill so that I could be the one caught up in Michael’s arms. Hold me tight, daddy!

Mean and creepy, but a little bit exciting.

Later, I tuned in to a show whose star had a nails-on-chalkboard voice. No, I was never a fan of Fran Drescher or the writing of “The Nanny” but I would have gladly offered my services to Papa (Maxwell) Sheffield.  As a child minder, of course. And maybe something extra. I always felt he deserved someone warmer and (slightly) more masculine than either Fran Fine or self-centered C.C. Babcock.  As grating as Drescher’s voice was, I kept the volume up just to hear Charles Shaughnessy’s soft English accent. Talk to me, daddy!  

Before I view myself with too much disgust, I don’t think the father role accounted for any of the appeal. Both men may have portrayed dads, but the attraction was really about the hair. As far as I can tell, in gay terms, I am neither a daddy nor a daddy chaser.

 I wonder what the hankie color was for hair fetishists.  

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