Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"The Older Gentleman"

Me with an "Older Gentleman" in a Toccoa, Georgia antique store last summer

Yesterday my boss called me with a question about a guest's reservation.  He said the guest said she made her reservation with "the older gentleman."  Um.....I think that would be be since the other front desk clerks are two women (Lisa and Monica) and Robert, who is 28 years old.  I...AM...THE...OLDER...GENTLEMAN.

Me (on the right in the green) with the other "Older Gentleman" who used to work at the hotel

Well folks, this is still taking some getting used to.  It wasn't so bad when Lisa's predecessor worked at the hotel.  His name was "Bob" also but he was actually a few years (four) younger than me but because he had the white hair, when a guest referred to "the older gentleman", we all knew they were probably referring to Bob.

However, Bob left the hotel a few years go so now I have assumed the mantle of "the older gentleman."  How do I feel about it.  Bemused actually.  At one time, when I was  younger, I guess I would have been put off by being referred to as "the older gentleman."

Right now I'm reading a book about a gay couple in Provincetown, Mass in the 1990's.  I was interested in this book because I vacationed often in Provincetown in the 70's and early 80's.  The time period of this book takes place in the early 90's, past my prime time.  For you see folks when you're gay like me, your expiration date runs out pretty fast.  Mine ran out when I was 37 years old.  That was in 1978.

I remember exactly when it ran out too.  I was standing in the 247 Bar in Philly one summer Saturday night.  Two a.m. rolled around and the bartender flashed the lights on and off three times and yelled out "last call!"  And as any self-respecting gay man knows, if you're still in a gay bar when they flash those lights and yell "last call!", you know your time is up.  As they say, stick a fork in him, he's done.

I remember clearly what I thought.  "What am I doing here?"  I thrill of meeting someone new had long since gone.  I was going to the bars on the weekend out of habit,  a habit of fifteen or so years.  I just remember I was so tired that night and all I wanted to do was go to bed....alone.  I couldn't be bothered with the whole rigmorale of taking someone home, going through the motions and getting them out.  Oh no, I was done with that.   Besides, I was never the one for the whole acrobatics of sex anyway.  I'm a romantic.  I always enjoyed just being with someone than I did hopping in the sack.  If I was a woman I guess I would be called frigid.  Whatever.

Anyway, I gave IT up that Saturday night on that hot summer night in July of 1978.  I stopped going to the bars.  Oh sure, over the years I've been to a few bars since then but only as an observer.  Sure, I still attracted some attention but as I said before (and B.B. King also said) "The thrill was gone."  

I find this book I'm reading about the trio of gay protagonists in Provincetown so fascinating.  The narrator is thirty years old.  He is bemoaning the fact that he is "so old."  He feels he cannot attract the younger guys any more.  He's afraid he will be like his first boyfriend who is "really old" at 37 years old!  Thirty-seven?  My God, that's a mere child.  Are you kidding me?

Oh how I remember when I was that age.  I thought the same thing too.  In fact, the first man I was intimate with was 29 years old to my 21 years.  I thought he was SO OLD.  Oh sure, I was terribly attracted to him but I did think HE WAS OLD.  Oh the folly of youth.  What was it that Noel Coward said?  "Youth is wasted on the young?"  So true, so true.

I remember when I was in my early twenties and I would see these OLD gay guys hanging out at the bar.  In fact some of them had their own bars which we (my young friends and I) called "wrinkle bars."  Ah ha. Guess what?  I'm there!  And another "guess what?"  I don't care.

I often wondered how those old gay guys could live with themselves, being SO OLD.  Now I know, IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER.  It really doesn't.

I've given a lot of thought to why I feel this way.  Maybe it is because of a loss of testosterone as I got older.  Maybe it is a realization there is more to life than jumping in the sack and doing the sexual acrobatics (which I rarely got full satisfaction from by the way).  Oh, don't misunderstand me.  Every now and then a really good-looking guy will check into the hotel and I have to catch my breath before I can speak to him.  All my bodily functions still work.  I still get stimulated.  A friendly smile and some attention from a handsome man still gets my blood rushing.  But as far as doing anything about it, well, that probably isn't going to happen.  But no great regrets though.  I had my time and I do enjoy looking.  I'm just glad I'm not like a longtime acquaintance of mine who still haunts the beach in Rehoboth for the anonymous  sex. God am I glad I'm not a pitiful figure like him.

So when I get these reference "I was talking to the older gentleman last night", I am always bemused.  Hey, I'm glad I made it this far.  I love life and appreciate every day I am on this earth.  In fact, I appreciate and get more out of life at now than I ever did when I was just another pretty face in the bar.

Back when I was another pretty face in the bars - 1967


anne marie in philly said...

"Go ahead, let me know someone is reading this blog." - bwhahahahaha!

we are not OLDER, we are DISTINGUISHED. and we know more than those 20-somethings will ever know.

Ron said...

Anne Marie,

I can't do anything about being an "older gentleman" so I might as well embrace it, which is exactly what I am doing. Of course I know I am drummed out of the Gay Corps but so what? I really don't care at this time of my life. Maybe when I was younger it mattered. It doesn't now. Other things are much more important like getting read to go to work today.

Have a great day!


Ur-spo said...

Another name for this is "Sage Elder"

Ron said...

Oldie Goldie, Dr. Spo. Officially and OLD MAN. Run everyone!

Amanda said...

I don't know if I should write this here or on Facebook. I saw the woman wearing the Rehoboth sweatshirt this morning. She and her husband are from Washington DC and they go to Rehoboth every summer. They know Lewes and love it. I told them about your blog so they might check it out. They were very nice; I didn't ask them what they are doing in Manhattan Beach, but maybe visiting some friends or family.

Ron said...


Lewes is indeed a lovely place. Only three miles up the road (Route 1) from Rehoboth Beach but a world away. Rehoboth Beach is boardwalk, summer, tacky t-shirt crazy. Lewes is more quaint and laid back, just like me.