Saturday, April 24, 2010

It Takes All Kinds

Earlier tonight, at the Internet cafe where I currently work, I had a strange encounter with a customer who seemed to have issues with the manner in which I was dealing with his account with our company. Or at least, that was my perception. So when he turned to the guy who'd come into the cafe and whispered something which seemed to be directly related to me, I figured that he had whispered that he thought I was incompetent. I said so, and he said nothing at the time to refute the idea.

It turns out that I was wrong. Hilariously wrong.

He called the store just now to say that I'd misconstrued his intentions. He said that he'd actually whispered to his friend because he'd noticed the fact that I had a particularly hairy chest (presumably because he saw a very small amount of hair peeking out of the top of my T-shirt). He had called to tell me that he was turned on by men with hairy chests! He therefore wanted to know if I'd just like to "hang out" sometime. And when he used the phrase "hang out," I suspect that he meant the phrase literally.

I declined his invitation, but I didn't want to cause problems for my employer or to blow the incident out of proportion, so I was polite about the manner in which I did so.

Is that how gay guys proposition men in whom they have an interest? I have no idea. I'm most definitely not gay, which he would know if he'd ever read this blog. In fact, this is the first time anyone has ever expressed that type of interest in me directly, although I do recall one other instance in which a guy told me that he thought I was attractive, in that lispy way that gay men often use in order to make their intentions fairly clear without actually coming out and saying what's on their minds. On that first occasion, and on this one as well, I think that I handled the situation gracefully, in a manner which made it clear that I didn't swing that way, without acting as if I felt threatened. To act that way would be to confirm the false stereotype about people who oppose homosexuality, which is the idea that we do so because we feel that our masculinity is somehow threatened by the perverse inclinations of others. That would be every bit as irrational as it is to think (as many gays and gay apologists do) that people are incapable of controlling their sexual thoughts and actions. One irrationality doesn't justify another.

I thought that it was particularly funny that tonight's caller was turned on by my hairy chest. (Imagine what he'd think if he saw my very hirsute back, arms, etc.) Why funny? Because there seems to be a sizable part of the population, both male and female, which thinks that anyone with a hairy chest, back, etc. must be a brute with the intelligence and social skills of a large ape.

My, how things have changed in that regard! When I was an adolescent and young teenager, in the early and mid seventies, getting a hairy chest was seen as a positive thing. It meant that one was becoming a real man and leaving childhood behind. During the disco era, it was even fashionable for men with hairy chests to ostenstatiously display those chests, which were often adorned with gold chains and pendants. (Burt Reynolds was particularly well known for that look!)

That was much more logical than the current fashion, it seems to me. But now there are people who look down on men who don't look like prepubescent children. People even sell an electric groomer, with an extremely long handle, precisely so that men whose genetics have not "blessed" them with hairlessness can conform to other people's ridiculous expectations.

It's nice that there is someone out there who recognizes how ridiculous those expectations are. Now if I could just find an intelligent, reasonably attractive single WOMAN who has similar insight, and who wouldn't hold it against me that I'm also bald, with bad teeth attributable to years of lack of money with which to pay for adequate regular dental care. But frankly, at age 53 (soon to be 54), I'm not holding my breath. I've come to accept the fact that it's highly improbable that I'll ever have any sexual partner, regardless of gender; and while I admit that that thought has sometimes caused me to experience a certain amount of frustration and depression (inasmuch as I am by no means asexual), I've also come to accept that my value as a human being is independent of whether or not I conform to other people's expectations in terms of what constitutes so-called normalcy. After all, there are now a lot of people who seem to think that it's "normal" for men to have sex with as many women (or men, or people of both genders) as possible, without any regard for the possible consequences. Personally, though, I'd rather be deprived than depraved.

Even though I'm not gay, I suppose that my relative indifference to other people's opinions about me gives me something in common with people who are gay. The significant difference is that I actually care about what God thinks about the choices I make in this life. While I admittedly do so imperfectly, I therefore make an effort to think and behave accordingly.

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