Splash and Starvation

by John Corvino

For Labor Day weekend I'll be making my annual trek to Austin, Texas for "Splash Day," a big gay party on a lake. I always look forward to Splash, though not as much as I look forward to what comes right after it:

Permission to eat ice-cream again.

You see, like most gay men who attend, I prepare for Splash by increasing my gym time and decreasing my carb intake to Olympic-prep levels. At restaurants, when waiters try to deliver a bread basket, I scream as if I've seen a roach. I order salads and then assiduously pick out the croutons. Ask me if I'd like to see a dessert menu, and I'll look at you as if you'd suggested bringing plutonium to the table.

I know this is silly for all kinds of reasons. Even when I was single and "on the prowl," I was never particularly attracted to gym bunnies. Neither did I notice a positive correlation between being in top shape and having great sex. On the contrary: carb deprivation makes me cranky, and cranky isn't sexy.

The fact is, the hottest experiences I've ever had have been with ordinary guys while I was in ordinary shape (not counting my husband: an extraordinary guy in every sense of the term). And I'm no longer on the prowl. So why do I care about an extra quarter-inch on my waistline?

Let's be honest: it's not about health. One can be perfectly healthy without having washboard abs. Besides, I haven't had washboard abs since I was six years old--which is about the last time I looked good in a speedo--and I'm not going to achieve them now without liposuction or starving myself to the point where I look gaunt. It's just not in the cards genetically.

So is it all about appearance? Maybe, but three weeks of being a food nazi won't measurably improve how I look. Besides, at 5'8" and 150 pounds, with a 31-inch waist, I look pretty good for my age.

Speaking of age: I'm thankful that at nearly 40 I'm blessed with a youthful countenance. Readers sometimes inquire about the author photo that accompanies my column. It's recent, I swear. What's my secret? Intravenous Botox.

No, seriously: there's no secret. Like my stubborn love-handles, my boyish looks are mostly thanks to genetics. Beyond that, I don't smoke, I eat well, I get decent rest, and I don't dwell on things that depress me (with the possible exception of my love handles).

I also exercise moderately. By "moderately," I mean I lift weights a few times a week and occasionally take a brisk walk (but not so brisk that I can't stop when a neighbor offers me a cocktail). You won't see me running unless I'm being chased.

I'm grateful for living in a city (Detroit) where gay men don't feel pressure to be model-pretty. I once turned down a job in Los Angeles partly because I didn't like the body-image pressure there. In Detroit gay men are actually allowed to eat cookies on occasion. (Mmmmmm...cookies.) Except in the three weeks prior to vacation, apparently.

See you all at Splash. I'll be the cranky one eagerly awaiting his next ice cream.

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