Mar 1, 2015

Spring 2012: The Night I Became a Creepy Old Guy

When I was living in the gay neighborhoods of California, New York, and Florida, cruising occurred in three distinct life stages, each with its own bars, cruising sites, protocols, and expectations.

1. Twink/Cute Young Thing

 From coming out to age 30, though some guys who came out later became honorary twinks.

After growing up in a constant hum of heterosexist brainwashing, being told over and over that same-sex desire does not exist, the twink went crazy, trying to cram as many masculine experiences as possible into his schedule.  He cruised constantly, in bars, on the street, on Grindr.

His mantra was: So many men, so little time!


2. Regular Guy

30s to mid-40s, though some guys graduated from Twinkdom early, and some stayed late.

Most Regular Guys had permanent partners, with shared apartments and dinners with their parents.  They might still cruise, but only to find someone to share.








3. Daddy/Bear

Mid-40s up, though guys with the right physique might come directly from Twink the moment they reached age 30 (or admitted to it.)

The Daddy or Bear was usually partnered, but cruised extensively anyway, with or without his partner (usually without).   Increasingly aware of his mortality, he wanted to cram as many masculine experiences as possible into his life, repeating the mantra of his youth: so many men, so little time!

While cruising, you were allowed to approach guys in your age group or higher. If you liked someone of a lower age group, you had to wait for him to approach you.

If you approached a younger guy, or even tried to make eye contact first, you were placed in Category 4:

4. Creepy Old Guy

The Creepy Old Guy was unaware of the protocols, or didn't care.  He approached anyone, from Twinks to Daddies, but concentrated on Twinks, as if he was living a second childhood.  He groped without checking for the appropriate body language, made obnoxiously sexual come-ons, and refused to be dissuaded by either Attitude or a firm "no."









I became a Creepy Old Guy quite suddenly, one night in 2012, at the River Street Club in Albany, New York. It was occupied primarily by guys in the Daddy/Bear category, with a sprinkling of Regular Guys but no Twinks.

Until Peter came in (I never got his real name): a twink, short, muscular, with a slightly hairy chest and a Bratwurst+ beneath the belt.  Later I discovered that he was 23 years old, a student at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, a few blocks away.

He came into the gym as I was working out.  You were supposed to pretend not to look, but I couldn't help sneaking a peak as I waited for him to finish with the bench press.

Maybe too long a peak.  He finished his set and rushed away.

I ran into him a bit later in the sauna.  There were protocols in place about who wanted to be touched; Peter wanted to be touched. But when I tried, he roughly pushed me away and left.

Everyone stared; I had forgotten that I was two age categories older than Peter!  I had committed a major faux pas.

My friend chuckled.  "Congratulations -- you just became a Creepy Old Guy!"

Later, I saw Peter in the maze, in a clench with another guy.  Surely he wouldn't mind if I just stood there and watched!  But when he looked up and saw me, he said something -- too low for me to hear -- then grabbed his partner's hand and rushed away.

Burning with embarrassment over being a Creepy Old Guy, I hung out in the shadows for awhile, and then decided to go to the hot tub, where people chatted without any sexual expectation.  Peter was there!

I had had enough. I jumped into the hot tub and sat next to him.  "I'm a member of this club, and I'm going to use the hot tub," I announced.

He pretended not to see me.

"You don't need to rush rudely away. I promise I won't commit the horrible sin of looking at you."

He stared. "What's your problem, man?"

"Well, I was a little offended when you cut your workout short just because I happened to be in the room."

"I was done, man!  I just wanted to pump up a little, to show off my pecs!"

Hot with rage, I continued. "And what about in the sauna.  You gave every sign of being open, but not when I got there!  No, don't let the Creepy Old Guy near you!"

"I was trying to relax!" Peter exclaimed.  "Any law that says you have to do things whenever some guy wants you to?"

"Well -- what about when you were in the maze, and I wasn't even good enough to watch you and the love of your life?"

"I don't like guys watching me!  Neither of us had a room, and I thought we could get some privacy in the maze.  Anything wrong with that?"

"Um..well...sorry.  My mistake."  I was mortified.  I pulled myself up out of the hot tub to slink away.  Then Peter stood, too.

"Look -- I've never been to this sort of place before.  Sorry if I didn't play by the rules."  He reached out and touched my chest.  "You seem like a nice guy.  Do you have a room?"