I’m Not Your Daddy!
Dave R writes...expert advice tells us to be honest in our profiles because you’ll be found out in reality anyway but what happens when nobody reads further than the first line and you’re taken for something you’re not?
Ever since I was young and wet behind the ears, I’ve always fallen for men of my own age or older and despite the rapid advance of the so-called golden years, (it had to be a yuppie, real-estate shark who came up with that term; probably to describe the residents of his ‘Shady Pines’ retirement complex) that still applies.
I still surf the Net and have a few active profiles although it’s more to fill the time and satisfy my curiosity than a serious attempt to hook up. It takes me about half an hour every couple of days, to surf through the various sites and see what’s what. Okay, I confess, it’s also to see who’s clicked on my profile and who’s showing any sort of interest. Needy, moi? Not really; the body may be unwilling these days but the mind is still the horny, twenty-something of yesteryear, looking for a bit of gay affirmation!
I’m completely honest in those profiles. I give my real age; display photos that are less than two years old (that’ll have to change soon...your looks deteriorate in dog years after a certain age) and show links to all the HIV sites I work on. The DD-free and UB2 brigade still send me messages, though mainly because the idiots don’t ever read past the first line of a profile. (I can’t help it if people have the attention spans of gnats). So all in all, it’s a case of what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG if you must have the acronym) and people can then make their minds up.
My personal text states clearly that I’m not interested in anything ‘right now’, or even in the near future and most importantly tells the reader that I’m not interested in anyone under 40. Even that limit will have to go up soon, ‘cos even the 40-plussers see me as prehistoric these days. I’m really not interested in kids (by which I mean 18 to 40) but I might as well have written it in Serbo-Croat for the amount of good it does!
Just this morning, on one site there were four messages. The first was from a Ghanaian, with yet another over-blown verse attached, about the virtues of everlasting love. Straight in the waste bin for that one and all its clones (preferably without opening). I’m not going to be scammed by the Nigerian mafia into sending money, or providing an air ticket to the Netherlands. The second was from a 19 year old Rumanian – same result and for the same reasons. The third was a 23 year old Dutch kid, who clearly has a poor understanding of English (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt). He got an ear bending in his own language about the advantages of reading profiles properly. That was an exception; most of those also clog up the trash bin. The fourth was an Englishman; 34 years old, who opened with: “Hi Daddy...Grrrrrr!” Yes, six ‘r’s no less and that was the sum total of the message! It also went the way of all the rest but I was unnecessarily pissed off for the umpteenth time! I felt like sending him the download link for ‘Annie, I’m not your Daddy’ by Kid Creole but life’s just too short.
Okay, any attention is maybe better than none but when three quarters of all the messages you receive are from people a million miles from your interest group, it gets a bit tiring. It’s not so much the fact that these kids just don’t read the small print; it’s the fact that I’ve become a ‘daddy’ and I hate it with a vengeance. I’d put that in the profile in capital letters, three times underlined if I thought for a minute it would do any good but it wouldn’t. So what gives with these kids? Why do they waste my time and theirs with hopeless messages?
Of course, when I was that age there was no internet or social networking; we had to admire from afar, or get picked up in less than salubrious places by the guys we wanted. I can’t remember ever having any sort of semi-incestuous father complex that translated to sexual desire, though. I liked older guys but mainly because they were less flighty, knew what they were doing and were more attractive to me than a pimply-faced competitor from my own peer group. The idea that anybody was a daddy-substitute would have made me pretty uncomfortable, just at the thought.
So why do so many modern, young men see us as ‘daddies’ (or worse, grandpas)? I know some young guys are genuinely into much older but they’re just not in proportion to the number of ‘grrrs’ and ‘woofs’ I get from kids barely out of diapers. I don’t buy into the incest thing either; I just think it’s yet another label which the gay social media has invented to fit us into some hierarchical gay cubby hole or something. I confess, I always had a bit of a yearning to be a Bear but that was because I was tall and lanky and anything but beefy. The fact that I get messages referring to me as a ‘daddy bear’ (with or without the ‘Grrr’) probably has more relation to my expanding stomach and the fact that I have a goatee than my fitting into their bear fantasies. It’s nothing new of course; gay men have always slotted each other into sub groups of sub tribes and the use of most of the furry examples of the animal world has provided abundant tags for homo(sexual) sapiens.
I blame the Clones in the 70’s and 80’s myself. That irrational need to present yourself as mega masculine and butch as hell set a trend that Bears, Wolves, Cubs and Otters follow gladly today. But let’s be honest here; aren’t many ‘Bears’ really actually unhealthily overweight (sorry guys; I know that can be attractive too)? A name for my group, (tall and skinny...giraffes, or storks?) never really emerged from the pack to give us validation, no matter how much facial and body hair we had. Maybe that’s it; I just could never get my gay scouting badge so I could fit in! But ‘Daddy’, really! Could it be any more demeaning?
That is, of course, unless you’re attracted to guys thirty years younger than yourself - and many of my generation are; perhaps even a majority. Then being addressed as ‘daddy’ means that the younger person is attracted to you...so let the games begin. So maybe I’m being unfair to all the older guys who are happy to see themselves as ‘daddies’ - but put the prefix, ‘sugar’ in front of it then I wonder if they’re just as flattered. Let’s face it, in these testing financial times, a ‘sugar daddy’ may be a very attractive option for a younger man struggling to make ends meet. However, putting on my grandma hat here; just so long as both sides know what they’re getting into and what the ground rules are from the start, where’s the harm?
In my case though, I’m clearly in denial about my own mortality and cringe at being referred to as a ‘daddy’ by people I’m actually old enough to be a daddy to their fathers! Not that it’s of earth-shattering importance; in the great wonder of things, it’s absolutely not. I have a thing about labels anyway, so maybe I should just chill and let it happen. After all, if someone’s clicked on your profile and taken the trouble to write a message (even if it is just two meaningless words) maybe that is better than being totally ignored. The problem is, I know deep down they’re not writing to me; they’re writing to a label, a photo taken in flattering light and a fantasy that they think I fit into. It’s just too shallow for words but hey, if I can’t stand the heat; I should probably click on all my profiles and delete!
Actually, do you want to know the definition of the impossible dream? It’s the HIV positive guy, with complications and daily discomfort, living alone and looking for a little physical togetherness and affection now and then, from a sympathetic buddy. Try putting that in your profile and smoking it! You leave yourself open to yet another tag...loser! and a pathetic, needy one at that. Now really; unwanted sharing or not; did I say it was me? When all is said and done, it’s probably better to be a ‘daddy’ than a reject. I know I’m not the only one though; there are many, many thousands of us but sex and the single, geriatric HIV-plusser is a topic for another post. So, if I’m honest, the whole truth probably doesn’t go into my profiles; mainly because I still have enough dignity to know that the internet is no place for baring your soul. I know...I can hear you all muttering, “Oh stop whining and do something about it.” Maybe I will; maybe I’ll find what I need in Shady Pines!
However, to really make my day; all I want is a pop-up message from Franco Nero (oh wait a minute, he might be dead by now!), Sam Elliott, or Tom Selleck and a time machine...now is that too much to ask?