Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Twenty-Eight: Presentation

There's a current saying that runs, "Sexual orientation is who you want to go to bed with; gender orientation is who you want to go to bed as."

I like the saying. It gives me space to work.

Of course the initial answers here are obvious. I want to go to bed with lovely young girls who meet certain  preferences. I want to go to bed with them as a gentleman of a certain age. All very hetero, really.  There may be silk scarves and blindfolds and masks and candle wax and riding whips--- may be ---but so much of it is very vanilla.

Of course, there are other levels to analyse. As a gentleman of a certain age... There are a number of things inside that phrase. There's the act of presentation, of letting a young companion know that any affair with me involves that presentation of self. There's "gentleman", too. Not a word used much these days, but one that means a lot to me. It's a word I was brought up to believe in, and it's a presentation that's essential to what I hope to be and what I've always tried to be. It has its own assumptions about class and gender, place and generation. I'm aware of all those things, but I'll stay with the word and the ideas behind it.

"Of a certain age"--- there's that, too. I can hardly avoid it, after all. I'm not twenty-five, and I'll never be mistaken for twenty-five. But d'un certain age has implications that aren't just about age.  It implies a particular age range, but it also implies something about how one presents that age. It connects to "roué", to the assumptions behind that word.  "Of a certain age"...but not I hope merely old. It should imply experience, a past, stories, a life.

A few nights ago, a very lovely young companion of twenty-two looked at me over her glass and explained that she and I were both from the same region, and we appreciated the idea of being a gentleman.  She explained, too, that knowing that I was older--- and the actual number was irrelevant ---meant that I had interests and experiences and attitudes that were worth exploring. I knew, she said, how to be a gentleman, and I'd learned it back when it meant something.  After all, she said, it was only a gentleman who could ask her to yield herself up.

Did I kiss her and agree? Of course.  This is what I am: a gentleman of a certain age. This is how I present myself. This is the self that I've constructed, and the one that fits me, that I'm comfortable with. When I'm involved with someone,  I present myself as a version of something I believe in, something that allows me to be part of the narratives I live through.

This is what I am. This is how I present myself. This is how I live.  I can't be anything else.

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