May 12, 2008

My moment, such as it was

For a brief time, back in my early 20s, I exuded a vibe. I've spent my life trying not to exude anything ... but for some reason--maybe it was the mullet (which I hereby retroactively declare ironic), maybe the roundish glasses, maybe just the naivete ... but for a couple of years, I could attract middle-aged men like steaks on the grill. I'm secure talking about this, because a friend of mine once described me as the straightest man he knew ... and I kind took offense at it. I don't think he meant anything bad by it though.

Okay, so it was only two middle-aged men that I know of, and one was a total stranger ... a guy on the subway in DC. He was very polite, took no for an answer with a shrug and a smile, and I was left feeling ... should I admit this? ... a little flattered. He looked vaguely academic as I recall.

That was the second time. The first was when a professor in my major--my other major, that is--invited me over to his place to watch Un chien andalou. So I went. It was an ... interesting movie. And an interesting night. The wine was pleasant, and naive as I was, I didn't think anything of the fact that my professor was serving alcohol to a minor. Maybe it should have occurred to me that in that town and at that time, straight men didn't drink wine, but I thought professors were maybe just more urbane than the rest of us.

Well, needless to say, the wine went to my head, but not so much that I didn't think it was weird that he offered to read my palm. By that time the movie was over, and I thought it prudent to make make good my departure.

The whole thing must have been pretty awkward for him. He might have been afraid I would tell the story on campus. For the rest of that semester, things were pretty strained in class. By next semester all was back to normal, and when he loaned me a bunch of really excellent albums, including Leonard Cohen (which I was too young to get) and Phil Ochs (which was perfect when I was that age), I knew it wasn't grooming per se. Well, it was, but the general academic kind.

I never thought too much about this until in a graduate class many years later we watched Death in Venice. You see, this professor bore a more than passing resemblance to Dirk Bogarde as Aschenbach in that film. And perhaps I was his unattainable Tadzio.

Maybe that's why he insisted that I wear the sailor suit?


Michael said...

1) I did not mean anything bad when I called you the straightest man I knew. On the other hand, I have never really had a lot of gay friends, except the guys I've slept with, and at least one of those was "straight," so what do I know?

2) I like The Hidden Fortress The Haunting and Cohen's "Hallelujah"-- have you heard k.d lang's take on that?

3) I don't post a list of upcoming flicks on my classic movie blog because I never know for sure until I actually watch the film if I'm going to write it up. But I will try to work your advice in somehow.

4) I think Jennifer Hooper McCarty was a model posing as a metallurgist.

JB said...

Wow, Mike ... you've been saving up!

1. I was only offended until you explained. I guess my being momentarily offended helped make your point?

2. I haven't, but I'll look for it. Has everybody covered that song?

3. The movies I pass on always look more interesting after you've talked to them. Program my Tivo for me!

4. Don't bust my bubble.

JB said...

About them. Talked about them. Sheesh.