Thou Lingering Star (March 7, 2001)

Last week Ellen Hartwell of Fort Bragg asked: “How can a lively, cognizant, compassionate ‘older’ woman find a suitable lover/companion in this post-modern morass of still intelligent pauncherinos… innocently devoted to watching ball games?…”

Good question, Ellen, and I personally have no idea. 

But I do know that once at a surprise party for a friend diagnosed with rickets a woman in black sable pants approached me and said, “I like my nuts hot, and lightly salted.” “Naff off,” I told her in no uncertain terms, not because her uncouth remark offended me, but because — gosh darn it! — I was tired, tired of myself, tired of showing up at the same tired parties listening to tired people talk about wine and the last time they had a really good porkchop served up on a small mountain of applesauce. Tired of drama-queen phony sexiness. Tired of getting cajoled and bullied by friends into going out to talk to strangers in plaid skirts and brown polo shirts about television shows, oil spills, and the migration patterns of sorority chicks who put out. Tired of standing self-consciously by the celery sticks and getting drunk from fear and grain alcohol then throwing up and washing my mouth out with veriberri™ soap in the upstairs lavatory while a school of swarthy Mediterraneans in self-imposed bathroom exile snorts coke off a Lakeside album cover and complains about the lack of direct flights from Dubai to St. Louis. This is civilization? Is this what’s left of Locke’s social contract? 

Yeah, that’s what I mean. That’s what the pursuit of love, or at least companionship, does to you. It gnaws at your nervous system, covers you in scabs of doubt and self-loathing, and finally forces you to drink a gallon of rum punch and puke two quarts of it up on the mohair rug in the guest bedroom, where you retired to sleep off the rest of your drunk, knowing full well that you’d sleep off the rest of your life if you could, comfortable in this private lair, the secluded cage of bedsheets and burnt wick, so tantalizingly close to the lascivious secrets of the walk-in closet, the sexy smell of shoe leather and the ripening disdain of long winter coats, the thick fabrics and buttons made of bone… those were your last thoughts as you pulled your pants down and let your manhood taste freedom, and then the door crashing open and the hostess screaming and your friends dragging you feet first into the back of the pick-up truck where you were transported back to HQ, only to awaken at dawn in the rose bushes, covered with fertilizer and happy knowing that’s one more house you’ll never see the inside of again.

Being a man whose television is wired with every cable channel invented by god, I’ve fallen out of touch with the pick-up scene. Sure, I used to knock’em dead with my sexy interpretation of the Zodiac (e.g., “Oh, you’re a Libra, the scales, and how your beauty weighs heavy on my mind!”), but back then there was no such thing as three-pointers in college or high school hoops. These days, on a budget and crunched for time, I prefer strictly professional transactions, such as “you rub my butt for 20 minutes and I’ll give you $35 and a seat upgrade on any Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland to Las Vegas.” It’s less complicated, and frees you from those awkward moments of pretending to like one another’s friends, the monotonous dinner parties arguing over how much garnish to put on the radish platter, and then suffering in silence as her friends endlessly recite their dead-end career paths, the boss’s timeshare in Cabo, the new Brad Pitt movie, the best sushi counter in Santa Barbara, and all the while you’re swigging red wine and dropping valiums like butterscotch candies the day after Halloween. 

Of course you pass out; that’s what makes you you. But then there’s the tortuous, evil three-hour drive home. An ungodly quiet, as venomous thoughts wrap your consciousness in a toxic fog of exhaustion and rage, and all you want to do is flee to Budapest to open a shop that sells tea cozies, but still you’re haunted by the ghastly effects of memory, the sad surreal ritual of being introduced to her social-climbing relatives who looked you over like a cold omelet before giving your puckered arse a few wolfish sniffs and turning their proud Protestant shoulders on you. Before you could say “Calgon take me away” you were shunted off to a corner with another outcast, an elderly aunt with the spittle problem who in 25 minutes methodically downed four dozen deviled eggs and a pint of Boddington’s. The conversation that ensued was with yourself, as in: What did I do in a previous life to deserve this? Was I a German? Did I think lustful thoughts about the pastor’s wife as she strangled the swollen glands of the dairy cow with those monstrous, pious hands? 

This certainly isn’t the reality Judy Garland promised in “The Wizard of Oz.” But who has time for relationships anymore? My therapist said that the relationship I need to work on most is the one with myself; so we discuss various self-esteem and boundary issues. Like when someone accidentally walks on my front lawn I don’t immediately crank off a couple of shots from the Turkish Mauser my grandfather gave me; it’s a good gun, the kind of gun Hemingway would have owned, a man’s weapon, with a bolt-action to deliver each bullet into the chamber, and not one of these sissy automatic rifles that punks and cowards use these days. In the old days, when a man killed a lion, it was a man killing a lion with a good, true shot, and not emptying a clip of hollowpoints into the yellowed mane of the jungle king. 

Speaking of hunting, my advice to you, Ellen, is not to lose faith. Go out as often as possible, toss back a few brandies, walk in the park, but always, always carry a gun. And don’t be afraid to use it. There are too many sickos out there, and if a warning shot scares away any would-be loverboy, it’s better to find out sooner than later, for love isn’t for the faint of heart. To help you find a moment’s respite from the inferno of life, here are a few tips on locations that to consider. 

Good Places to Meet Men

Embarcadero Automotive (on the corner of Broadway and Sansome, San Francisco). You want to know what turns a man on? Engines, engines and fan belts. I like to stop in once in a while myself and browse the inventory, if you know what I mean. I’m hetero (though please don’t tell anyone!), and this is a good spot to check out girls as well as women. Girls dropping their fey little hatchback Saabs off for an “oil change,” and women shopping for a well-engineered piece of European muscle to take their minds off of the road and back into the gutter where they belong (and right next to me, sweet piston thighs!). It’s a high traffic area, lots of visitors, lots of strong men desirous of a tune up. And in case you’re in the market for a car, and not just sex in the backseat of a car, this is the place I go to pursue my own Swedish version of the American Dream. They’re the best in Northern California. 

Chicago

It’s a lot bigger than it looks on the map. There’s the South Side, downtown, and Michigan Avenue. I recommend getting a Camaro and cruising. That’s what I did one Saturday night, and now I know why Al Capone lived there.

All-You-Can-Eat Lunch Buffets/Clear Lake

You want a man with an appetite that won’t quit, a man with a gullet and molars to match. I heard Fjord’s in Ukiah is closed, but try Clearlake; they have some nice buffets over there, plus high quality crank. As a matter of fact, I hear that the Clear Lake City Council is putting a sign up at the city limits that says: “Welcome to Clear Lake, Home of the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet and the Best Crank North of Nogales.” 

The Marine Corps

It’s true that nearly nine out of ten Marines are gay (the only armed service branch with a higher percentage of homosexuals is the Navy Seals, though the 101st Airborne Division isn’t far behind, if you’ll pardon the expression); but the other ten percent are buff and rough and tough in love, baby! Just drop by the commissary and say you’re looking for Old Glory. Before you know it, some crewcut Texan will be dropping by to give you twenty! 

Bad Places to Meet Men

Starbucks, The Vatican, the Candlestick parking lot before 49er games, Mendocino, The Mendocino Art Center, Little River, Bill Clinton’s house, the Little River Inn, the men’s bathroom at the Little River Inn, the annual KZYX semi-clothed orgy, and Arizona (which should be given to the Palestinians in exchange for keeping the current citizens from ever leaving). 


Good luck, Ellen. And if you don’t find love, I hope you at least find yourself in a bar sometimes rooting for the Giants this summer. I know that’s where I’ll be, two stools from the door, sipping a beer and wondering about the one who got away.

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