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Room For Squares
A New Weekly Column
by Philip Wong on May 24, 2007
If good things really do come to those who wait, then I should be holding court with King Midas instead of counting change with Uncle Scrooge. Itís time to take a new tack. But in the crush of the gay landscape, is there still room for squares? This column will offer answers to that question -- sometimes in jest, often in truth, but always in a cardigan and glasses.
The sting of being in your sexual twenties is that you constantly feel the need to be ready and willing, if not able. Life becomes a social exercise that keeps you always on the go. In order to stay socially viable, you have to keep up to date with trends in music, entertainment, fashion and art. You end up caring less about what you want and more about what you think you should want. How do you even begin to reconcile the two? On the one hand, everywhere you look are couples holding hands and ads for gay.com. On the other, you try to tell yourself that youíre okay with just being single because your attached friends have to deal with so much. But inevitably, the maxim rings true: You will always want what you donít have -- and will spend most of your time trying to get it.
Every time I go out, I have to prepare to throw myself into what is essentially, I feel at times, the farce of socializing. By nature I am awkward when it comes to talking to strangers. When segueing into a conversation where I have to constantly think of what to say next, I lament for those times when as a child I should have been out socializing instead of at home watching ďJemĒ. But those types of social interactions are rare. More often that not, Iím stuck at the end of the night with nothing to show for a good time but an empty gas tank and an even emptier wallet. Times like these make me feel like no one else seems to have this problem.
I donít mean to imply that this feeling of utter futility is strictly unique to me. I mean to proclaim it. In fact, I want to patent it, copyright it and trademark it. You see, I have to believe that Iím the only one who, after a long night of blending with the walls of the Bar and watching the myriad of Olympian gods drift by, is left to drive back to his childhood bedroom a little disheartened and a lot sober. Otherwise, what would I have left to tell me that Iím special, that Iím above all those silly hook-up games? And that when someone does manage to rope me in, that he will have found a singularly remarkable individual?
But who am I kidding? I know that all people, no matter who they are, struggle with the awkwardness of trying to fit in and to be wanted. Call it biology, call it community even, but it is at the end of the day what makes us all essentially the same. Itís the reason why artists as varied as Bob Dylan and Hilary Duff sing about being lovesick. And it enables me to speak with confidence when I say that whether we like it or not, weíre all still chasing the same feeling every time we go out.
I feel this pressure most acutely at night. Daytime activities are lightened by sun and friends. But when the sun goes down and your friends are all off either with their own partners or looking to carry out their own pleasures, the burgeoning need to fulfill your own desires comes out. It can be a debilitating prospect. I mean, few things are as daunting as stepping out into the gay meat market on your own. Every so often I can even hear in my head Deniece Williams singing ďLetís Hear It For The Boy.Ē
But letís face facts. To get anywhere in this world, let alone this city, you need to leave home with much more than an American Express card. Youíll at least need your business cards, car keys, gym membership, an extra pair of shoes, spare eye glasses, and if youíre going to the Mission, a bike. A handshake and a smile simply arenít enough. Whatís worse, if youíve got crooked teeth and dry hands like I do, it becomes even more difficult.
But as superficial as I know we all are, I canít let these superficial things keep me from trying. Somehow I know the need for companionship will help me to overcome these misgivings and potential suitors to overlook these shortcomings. There are after all so many opportunities to meet people in San Francisco that I am bound sooner or later to meet someone, right? Iíve even developed a theory to put into action that goes something like this. The fastest way to get from A to B is to suck it up and cut through the crap; right angles are strictly for squares.
by Philip Wong on May 24, 2007
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