An old friend of mine came to town for a visit recently, and I wound up spending my Saturday night at six different bars. We drank, we danced, we pointed out cute guys from across the room, and I didn’t make it home until 4:00 a.m. I had a good time, but painting the town with one of my single friends always leaves me with a mixed bag of emotions.
Initially, it’s all great fun—getting dressed up, getting out of the house, and patting myself on the back for still being younger than the majority of the guys around me. Eventually though, the joy of people watching and being seen wears off. I discretely begin checking my watch, and I wonder how much longer I have to wait before I can suggest going home without the usual chorus of sighs and accusations of party pooping. But before I can leave, one of my single friends has to make out with a hot stranger, leaving me to fend for myself while a shirtless man old enough to be my father attempts to seduce me by gyrating and pointing in my direction. The shirtless man usually resembles George Lopez, but with dead eyes and a chest covered in stubble that burns as it grazes my upper arm.
None of this is really a problem. The problem comes the next day when I reflect on my wild night out. I begin to feel sorry for my single friends, then I immediately feel guilty for being so judgmental. Part of me knows they don’t need my pity, and it’s certainly not unusual for gay guys in their late 20s and early 30s to stay out late every weekend. Yet, I have to wonder, when does all of this go from being funny and entertaining to being pathetic and disturbing? When are we officially too old to be taking guys back our places and then dropping them off at their dorms the next morning? When is it no longer cute to giggle and call yourself a lush as you sign off on a bar tab that represents 5% of your net weekly income? And most importantly, when do we go from being hot, slightly older men to creepy grandpas on the prowl?
Maybe I’m just a holier-than-though prude—the one who settled down early because he was too concerned about straight standards of propriety and age-appropriate behavior that don’t apply in the gay world. Maybe I’m jealous or compensating or projecting or (insert appropriate self-help book term here). Maybe this is what the gay rights movement is all about—the freedom to adopt a Chinese baby girl and move to the suburbs or to keep the condo in the gayborhood, wear your Prada shoes, and show off your trophy teenage boyfriend and moderate alcoholism with pride. I support my friends’ rights to have their Manhunt and their cosmos and their anonymous bathhouse threesomes. But I also support my right to be completely grossed out by it as soon as they start losing their hair or getting Uncle-Fester-sized bags under their eyes.
We might moisturize every day, but we can’t all be Demi Moore. And even if I we could, I think we’d still have to accept what Demi already knows to be true: at a certain point, an age-appropriate Saturday night includes a DVD from Netflix, a bucket of popcorn, and a bag of delicious Viactiv calcium-enriched chocolate chews for strong, healthy bones.