By Anthony Paull
I want to talk to Dan Savage. I’d like to tell him, yes, it does get better, but it also gets complicated.
I’m acting a little crazy lately. I can’t help it. I’m a writer, and I can’t afford meds so I take extra vitamins and work out a lot. I thought it would help, but it only causes me further expenses. Like last week, I pulled my abdominal muscle trying to do a backwards sit-up and ended up in the ER because I convinced myself I had appendicitis. Diagnosed with a bad diet, I was later informed by my dad that I wasn’t really ill. I was just faking it to get groped by a doctor.
“Please. He examined my stomach,” I replied.
“That’s plain sick. He could have jerked you off. He charged enough.”
Welcome to my life. My father wants me to be a slut because then I’ll lead a more interesting existence. Nobody wants to hear about a boyfriend who loves me. How boring! Dad wants me foaming from the mouth, bopping a doctor on the exam table.
“Why do you think he put you in a backless nightgown…to show off that ass,” he told me.
“Thanks, but I’m not desperate,” I attested.
“Who are you kidding?” At the store, he watches me sort through various antacids. “Why do you think you’re doing back flips at the gym? You’re trying to keep your man. I know those games.”
Games? I’m not playing games. I’m at the gym to stay fit. Everyone’s doing it. Is that bad? Apparently yes, I’m not allowed to exercise. I have to rest my stomach. Oh, and according to the doctor, I can’t consume liquor, caffeine or sweets either. Instead, I must maintain a high-protein diet. You know chicken, fish, the occasional load in my face. But then again, I suppose that I can’t have sex either because I’m not fit enough to do back-flips in bed.
I want to talk to Dan Savage. I’d like to tell him, yes, it does get better, but it also gets complicated. He left that part out. That as an adult, instead of being bullied by peers, you get bullied by television and magazines that program your stupid brain into thinking you always need to lose five more pounds to be attractive; that never changes.
Well, it does a little.
I mean, it gets harder to lose five pounds, and eventually, you just give up.
Maybe that’s the “better” part. You stop caring.
Instead of playing leapfrog at the gym, you happily drown in a pound of Twinkies and tell everyone to suck it. That’s what I’m doing today, except I’m out of sweets and I’m not sucking anything at all. Well, I am kind of sucking in my stomach.
That’s when my friend Donald calls, asking me to go on a walk. I agree, and we head downtown, where he talks of having similar problems. Though instead of exercising to feel attractive, he ditched a long-term boyfriend and has been having sex with random people.
However, the plan is backfiring. He enjoys the sex, but it’s never enough. It’s like that five pounds. Once you’ve experienced true love, it’s hard to lose yourself in a one-night man.
Therefore, Donald recently looked to a friendship that had the potential of being upgraded to the next level. In the past, they were merely college mates, but Donald had always felt they could be more, that he could be the one.
For the reunion, Donald planned a dreamy camping trip in The Rocky Mountains, but forgot one important thing – he doesn’t like camping or mountains. But he does like it in the butt, so that kept him quiet for the first 10 minutes of the trip. The next 48 hours were dreadful, though. The illusion ended when his fantasy man began to tell him to shut up and listen to nature whenever Donald began to reflect on their past.
“Well, what did you want him to tell you?” I asked.
“I don’t know…that I’m beautiful.”
“You flew a 1,000 miles to hear that?”
I guess I would, though I don’t admit it. Instead, I tell him to turn on the radio and listen to some pop singer tell him instead. You’re beautiful. Why is it hard to say it? Why is it harder to accept? Often, I hear friends say, it doesn’t matter if you say I’m beautiful because you have to. But when does it matter? When some random guy is trying to get in your pants? Or when you lose those five pounds you didn’t need to lose in the first place?
A friend recently introduced me to writer Masaru Emoto, who claims that positive changes can occur to water crystals just by attaching positive words to them. An ordinary water crystal told “you are beautiful” flowers into an intricate snowflake. Perhaps that’s why a grown man, made up of 66-percent water, would fly 1,000 miles to hear it – because we all long to bloom.
So tonight, when I rest, I say it over and over. I’m beautiful. The gym won’t say it, neither will the magazines or TV. They’d rather I buy their products for a boost; they’d rather brush me off if I’m not airbrushed. As an adult, it’s good to realize that. Still, I fear for the kids, because some won’t make it. And for those that do, life won’t get better until we do something to change it.