Thursday, July 10, 2014

I'M LATE

I hear many gay men talking about being late bloomers. High school? No way. Twenty-two, twenty-six.

How about forty-nine?

On Monday evening, I drove to West Hollywood to join the gay Frontrunners group for a run on Santa Monica Boulevard into Beverly Hills. It’s a small group—on this particular night a mere half dozen of us and none of the people I knew from last year. A tall, pretty young guy immediately started to chat me up.

What?!

This is not supposed to happen in West Hollywood.

Tall, pretty, young gays pretend old fags like me do not exist. It’s the WeHo way. Nondescript telephone poles are more interesting. As we were waved over to the rest of the teeny group, I realized he was just chatty in general. He immediately introduced me to the others, repeating everything I’d told him about myself. I’ve never had my own spokesperson. Not sure I liked it.

Once we began the run, I expected everyone to spread out. Without the familiar faces from last year, I prepared to run solo. Not a problem. It’s fun to roam through the 90210 zip code, even without a helpful Star Map.

The tall, pretty, young gay guy ran by my side. “Feel free to run ahead,” he said. “I’m by far the slowest.” His words reminded me of my own self-promotion in my early twenties. Perhaps it was sympathy more than flattery that made me keep his pace. The other four weren’t exactly making a break.

Was I interested? No. Was he? Of course not. He mentioned his boyfriend a few blocks into the run. I was simply intrigued that he gave me the time of day.

Eventually, I could sense him struggling to keep up. “Go on ahead,” he said. And so I did. I passed the others and fell into a better pace. A stoplight held me and the others caught up. With the green, I pulled away again, but another tall, pretty, young gay guy picked up his pace to join me.

What the—?!

Is the First Monday now Golden Oldies Day in West Hollywood? Must have missed the flyer on one of those fascinating telephone poles. Still, we ran side by side, chatting about my summer stay and his move from Kansas City. Typical of a young guy, he spoke at length about a recent falling out with his one L.A.-based girl friend from Kansas and talked with pie-eyed enthusiasm about his impressions of West Hollywood.

Anything in common? Of course not. Besides, I am not looking. I’d like to think there is something promising back in Vancouver. The fact that I registered at all with another young gay proved astonishing.

As we reached the iconic fountain at Santa Monica and Wilshire, I said goodbye. Everyone else planned to turn back, but I wanted a longer run. I set off toward Sunset Boulevard. On my own, I took in the palm trees that lined the road and the well-manicured gardens of succulents and bougainvillea. But then it registered that a black open-top Jeep was driving unusually slowly beside me. A young, tanned muscular college student in a baseball cap pivoted his head and stared at me. He looked ahead, looked back, looked ahead, looked back. As a rule, I am clueless about cruising, but this was blatant. A Mercedes approached with aggressive-driver urgency. Jeep dude drove on and I jogged on.

Late bloomer, indeed. Guys like this did not notice me in my twenties, my thirties or, up until now, my forties. Maybe it is the sense that I consider myself to be unavailable that is suddenly getting me noticed. I doubt that. I’ve had years of being in relationships (long, long ago) and I was always easy to ignore. It was effortless.

I am much more confident, sure. My protective wall is thinner—balsa wood instead of concrete. I even appear to be in great shape (though more on that in an upcoming blog post).

I suppose I should appreciate this blip without overanalyzing it. Perhaps I just needed another dose of California sun to finally bloom. Despite slathering up with sunblock, a few rays seem to be sinking in.

Forty-nine and hitting my stride. At last.

6 comments:

Rick Modien said...

So cute. As always, I LOVE your writing.

RG, can you accept you're giving off something you haven't in probably a long time, because of your recent experience with Tim?

I can't tell you exactly what it is. Confidence? Maybe. But how about a peacefulness about who you are? Self-satisfaction, in a good way, of course? The realization you are truly a special man (I hope you know I mean that in all sincerity)?

And age has nothing to do with it. It's about the vibe you're giving off, and you can do that at any age.

Enjoy the attention. You've earned it.

Have fun.

Rural Gay said...

Hey Rick. Thanks, as always, for reading and for posting a comment. The feedback about the writing is particularly appreciated. I feel like I'm trying to find my voice again. I need to reconnect with being amused by what the world has to offer. That's a big reason why I keep returning to Los Angeles.

Rick Modien said...

RG, you have no reason to feel insecure about your writing EVER. You never lost your voice, so there's nothing to find.

I'm always delighted to read your posts, no matter the subject, and your sense of humor always comes across.

Cheers.

Rural Gay said...

Thanks so much, Rick. The humor is what I've struggled with most. Glad a trace of it continues to surface.

oskyldig said...

I think, as you seem to have indicated an impossibility, that since you're no longer worried about being noticed because you're already noticed by someone else, likely contributes to your aura and confidence. It's just unfortunate that you discover it now, and not before when it would have made you happier.

Either that, or people wanting something they can't have just makes it all the more enticing. Glad that you're happy. :)

Rural Gay said...

Hi, oskyldig. Yes, it does seem somewhat tragic that confidence and recognition are coming relatively late. And this may just be a blip, something revealed in a set of Tarot cards (or a regular deck stuffed with Jokers). Still, I'll take it!