Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Boy Code

I'm a highly compartmentalized guy, and I'm not good at making a fast shift from the physical to a more cognitive way of interacting. That's why I never really expect to have a serious conversation where I roll. The atmosphere there isn't conducive to honesty. One has to watch one's words, because the boy code is in full force.

You know the boy code. No crying. No sincerity past a certain point. No vulnerability. No honesty. Well I'm fine with that, most of it. It was who I was into my twenties. But I'm twice that age now, and I outgrew it in the '80s. I'm very secure as to who and how I am. Very private, but I'm fine with that too. If I thought it was safe, I'd be more open. It isn't safe. And I bleed easily.

Some months ago by now, two fellas started swimming at a local college pool. Hot summer day, one of them puts sun screen on the other one's back. And then made the mistake of letting that fact slip. Well, you've never heard of any faggier thing than that, right? Imagine, touching another man's back with lotion. Totally gay. So of course it's mentioned several times each week. I mean, who wouldn't mention it? It's so interesting.

Then tonight, one fella, in a moment of fraternal and jocular affection, greeted another fella by kissing him on the forehead. Paydirt! Now the lotion guy has some ammo to use on the forehead guy. Which is gayer? Lotion sounds pretty sensuous, and kissing might involve tongues. It's a toss up. But I think the guy who was kissed -- that would make him the "bottom", right? The "catcher"?

Not long after this fascinating debate, lotion guy handed me a phone -- a call from someone who was injured and just wanted to touch bases with me. Hard to hear, so I moved into the lav -- coming out, bottom guy commented on how gay it was to be talking with a guy in a bathroom. And I said, by way of response, "Hey, I got laid Saturday. With a girl." --"Really?" --"Congratulations!" And of course I immediately had to deny it. "No, I just felt pressured, with all this gay talk."

Well there is someone, and she wants intercourse with me. It was Monday, though. I can't say I'm not increasingly tempted. She's been explicit about this for several years now, off and on. There are degrees of physicality we might allow ourselves. After I've been with her, I'm always glad I didn't cross that line. Call me mad. It's a balance between compromise and principle. I will not be judged in this. I feel affection but not love, tenderness but no commitment. And I have a loathing at the thought of just using someone. Which is what this would be.

More than you wanted to know about me? Hey, you don't have to read these things. You know how I am.

The boy code, among older boys, requires unlimited talk about fornication. I've never gone into such details. Never in my life. Such functions are just private, to me. Two people drawn together out of their isolation by their mutual physical needs and a capacity to satisfy them -- I've just summarized 98% of all literature. The other two percent has to do with finding lost treasure. The ratio flips, you see, with age.

BJJ is a sport where a man very frequently finds his face in another man's crotch. That takes some getting used to. By now it's like shaking hands, to me. I'm over it. Why aren't these guys? The boy code, of course, displaced but obvious. It requires one to magnify one's own masculinity by degrading other men. I'm not into degrading people. Again, I've outgrown that. I don't want to use, and I don't want to degrade. Cuz I know what that's like. It took me twenty plus years to start to get over it. You see the tattered shreds of it still, here in these pages.

I don't know that I've been explicit about it before. I think eidetically -- in pictures. If I'm not careful, I see and feel what people say. It's not just words to me. I'm there. That's why empathy and compassion come easily to me. Easily, but at a high price. So I have to guard myself. I don't ever watch horror movies -- that sort of thing. It's not a good way to be, around people who are invested in verbal one-upsmanship. That's why I've pretty much given up on the idea that I might indulge in some socializing at the fabled Starbucks. I fear I've had a sample of the quality of discussion, and I'm just not interested. I've got enough nightmare images in my head.

There is no changing the world, or the people in it. We don't change anything. We have some influence, like the distant stars on the fate of newborn babes -- intangible and understood only by inference. Whatever alchemical transformations might occur within our souls, they transpire through means that are utterly incomprehensible. Some children thrive, some whither, all under the same sun. But we do, each of us, emit our own light, and we are responsible for its character. I would be, if I had the courage, an expanding point of golden radiance, to shed warmth and blessings on all who looked my way. I do have the capacity. But I'm just not that strong, not that brave. Instead I burn cold as ice, and try to shed not darkness but silence. It seems the boy code grips me still, in reaction. Well, I won't be judged in this, either.

Someone went out of his way today to thank me for some small favor. We do what we can. It's usually hardly anything. But even small things seem great, in such a dark world. Even ice grows old, and crumbles. Even when the sun is always low. That has to be enough, when there is nothing more. I call it hope.



brent said...

Presence is intimacy, for the boy code that is. It is in any other code as well. The problem with the boy code is that they are cavemen trying to driscribe a sunset. They don't have the words so they recoil into crude humor. You have to be able to translate. I figured that you being a language expert would pick up on this. So what are you saying by not going to Starbucks? I imagine you do pretty well maintaining your integrity while entering in with their conversations to a degree. Time and presence is how these men express intimacy.

Jack H said...

It approaches to the painful. And I doubt my additional presence could have any more meaning or effect than the hours I spend there daily. Please don't over-estimate me. I'm practically insane.

Not everything needs to be a ministry, surely?


brent said...

It's not about ministry but about relationship.

I don't get it. You are insane only in a practical sense? Don't under-estimate yourself either.