Sunday, July 21, 2013

Seventy-Seven: Practicalities

I found an article on line the other day that drew a distinction in male lives.

Males, the author argued, drove themselves in any relationship to be needed because they couldn't imagine ever being wanted. Males, he wrote, were unable to imagine that they could be desired--- especially for anything physical ---and could only imagine that they've have value to a lover for the practical, concrete things they could offer, whether that was financial support or fixing a mechanical problem. The argument veered off to talk about a society in which the male body is regarded as largely undesirable, in which beauty and desire are linked with the female body. It veered off to talk about how uncomfortable males feel about being thought physically, as opposed to functionally, desirable, about how men agonize over being useful.

There's something there. I'm male and hetero, and I can't imagine how a male body could excite desire. I know it must happen, but I know that in some distant, abstract way. I certainly can't think of ever being physically desired or desirable. When girls have paid me compliments or whispered endearments to me in bed, they've never said anything about my looks or body or physical accomplishments. I'm glad about that in a way. I wouldn't know how to accept a compliment like that. I wouldn't believe anything a girl said to me about that, and I'd be instantly suspicious and on guard. I'd assume it was a lie, and wonder what she was hoping to manipulate me into doing. I'd be angry, too. Not just at the lie, but at being thought naive enough to believe her.

The compliments I've received over the years were always about being useful. I've been complimented on knowing about books and films and ideas, on being able to bring my young companions into stories and other worlds, on being able to create worlds for them. If a girl tells me that I've offered up ways for her to become passionate about ideas and books, or if she says that I've been a good way to access games and dreams that she'd have been afraid to try otherwise, I'll believe her. She's paying me compliments on things I can believe about myself. And she's making me feel useful.  I can remember saying to lovers that I wanted exactly that, to be someone they thought useful. Part of that is the nature of the exchange built into the relationship: youth and beauty exchanged for knowledge and experience. There's been passion in those affairs, but the passion I've evoked in young companions has been a passion for knowledge, certainly not any kind of physical passion for me. I know that over the years, I've accepted that and encouraged it. I wouldn't know how to do things any other way.

The author of the article did get this much right. There is a deep male unease at being found physically desirable, and no clear male guidelines for knowing how to respond to being wanted. Being useful is so much easier, and has much simpler metrics. I have spent my life finding ways to be useful to lovers and young companions. I tell myself that what I have to offer a girl is conceptual, and has nothing to do with my body, or even really with my personality. I know how to offer up things to a young companion that can provide delight or experience or learning, but in the end those things have nothing to do with me. I'm the curator, not the artist. Nothing that I offer up grows out of my flesh. I wouldn't know what to say to a girl who told me she wanted something from me that was purely or even mostly physical.

Down all the years, I have understood the terms of the exchange. I can create worlds and games and scenarios, I can offer up ideas and books and visions. Whatever I do in the flesh for my lovers is only and ever subsidiary to concepts.  I'd have no idea what to do if I had to respond to physical desire or to expectations that I be something worth looking at or being seen.

This may be something that grows out of a society where beauty is defined as female and where male value is based on the ability to do concrete, often financial things. It may be an in-built danger in roué-hood, part of the risk in having young companions. It may be born out of my own personal fears. It is there, though. I know how to be useful in certain ways, and I know how to use those things in some tactical way. I can imagine and accept compliments based on things I know or do. I have no ability at all to accept being complimented on anything that I am. I certainly don't find the idea of being wanted or desired physically anything that I can deal with, and I'd have no idea how to live up to any expectations based on those things. Being a roué is about concepts and things abstract. I have no idea how to have value based on anything else.

1 comment:

ms.gylcerides wilde ride said...

I do think you underestimate your looks.