A very cute teller at my bank is cruising me. Sometimes he tells me he likes my outfit. He always remembers my name.
It's probably his first job since graduating. He looks happy and hopeful. But his amorous attentions send up red flags.
At a guess, he's 15 years my junior. So when his big eyes look over the counter into mine, the horror that strikes my heart is that this isn't level-playing-field flirting. He's a twink (i.e., young and hot), and I'm, what, an aging twink? A sugar daddy? Or, given my financial circumstances, a NutraSweet daddy?
Is there a script for making the transition from twink to grown man nearing middle age?
Michel Foucault, writing about the malleability of sexual relations among men in ancient Greece, highlighted some similarities with modern society. Back then, one was either an erastes (ancient Greek for sugar daddy) or an eromenos (ancient Greek for twink). In Aristotle's Greece, for example, the philosopher's appetite for a cute young eromenos had to be met with some "push-back."
An eromenos didn't just give it up for the sake of some sage advice and a walk around the lyceum. He needed to be convinced of the merits of accepting his erastes's proffered affections and potential mentoring, lest he be deemed an easy Aphrodite.
Once the deal was set, the couple could enjoy the relationship until the youth grew a beard, at which time it would be dishonourable for him to continue in such a passive role (what's known in the vernacular as a "bottom").
He assumed his new role of erastes: married a woman, found his own bottom to mentor and never worried if his toga started to fit him a little snuggly round the middle.
In modern times, the transition doesn't always go so smoothly. Unless you're a regular at the Black Eagle.
Who knew that Nature was such a fickle bitch? As I plummet toward mid-life, the gifts I took for granted are now part of a daily maintenance routine. The new gifts that come with age, like perspective, wisdom and acid reflux, are like a hangover on Pride Sunday: you deal with it, but you remember better days.
I've remained an apparent eromenos by having an older boyfriend and through exercise, diet and a pharmacopeia of cosmetics. Nevertheless, my beard is a little full for this game.
In gay culture, youth is in demand more than a Church Street hotel room during Pride Weekend. Men in their sunset years party until sunrise with the young and hung.
Shopping, an Olympic sport for many gay men, becomes an ordeal. After a certain age, it feels inappropriate to enter certain stores unaccompanied by a fresh-faced straw man (or straw twink). There's no denying your age when the sales associate is leaner than a cut of grass-fed filet mignon and just as appetizing, and the saccharine smell of perfume and cologne for sale sends you into histamine hyper-drive.
Adding insult to sensory overload, the child worker addresses you as "sir." I can think of only two gay men who wouldn't be bothered by this, and I'm neither Elton John nor IanMcKellen.
My body is betraying me, so I hope to transcend the biological. The best way to do this is through fashion. It's clothing that transforms "odious" into "odalisque." Think about it: were it not for her head scarf and fan, La Grande Odalisque would just be another fat-assed naked woman lying on a couch.
The 19th-century dandy, much like his 21st-century cousin the gay man, needed a way to overcome his marginalization in a society that considered business casual avant-garde. He chose the cut of his coat to distinguish himself from the bourgeois masses. He had to be sublime; the dandy transformed himself into a work of art.
So when my young bank teller makes eyes at me and tells me he likes my outfit, we transcend our age difference via an aesthetic experience. Sugar daddy shifts to sugar dandy when the young and not-so-young find common ground in a shared appreciation of the ageless beauty of fashion.