Mirror, mirror …

BTL Staff
By | 2011-01-27T09:00:00-04:00 January 27th, 2011|Opinions|

I popped into a bar and, for the life of me, couldn’t tell who was gay. The same thing happened at church, where presumably the guys kneeling (there were a few) are also gay.
One of my pleasures of living just off campus is starting my day by counting the gay men I encounter. Strictly by chance of course.
At my age it’s called sublimation. (I never get lucky. Just looked at curiously, if at all. Mostly ignored.)
Before the onset of my “problem,” (if indeed it is such) I tallied 500, and that was before lunch. Mind you, my addition took place on the Friday following New Year’s, which may account for a holiday blow tickler mood. Theirs and mine.
Actually 500’s a bit much. Wishful thinking I’m sure. More like 250. Well, maybe 50. Probably ten.
My “problem” started just after a rather odd encounter. Odd, because that Saturday night I popped into a bar and, for the life of me, couldn’t tell who was gay. The same thing happened at church, where presumably the guys kneeling (there were a few) are also gay.
It occurs to me that perhaps the bar crowd – all in their look-at-me-first, cruise-me-only, mid 20s – were having gaydar recognition problems too. What else to account for the fact that everyone looked right through me, and, curiously, pretended I wasn’t even on the premises. Strange indeed.
Clearly my gaydar isn’t functioning. I’m beginning to wonder if the problem might somehow be related to a neurological condition known as prosopagnosia. Face blindness. Persons with this condition cannot recognize anybody’s face, including their own, even when looking in the mirror.
Let me quote for my at-face-value, skeptical PG readers from “Medical Mysteries” (Ann Reynolds and Kenneth Wapner; Hypernion Press 2009, $14.99). The collection is subtitled, “From the bizarre to the deadly … the cases that have baffled doctors.”
” … the disorder was first identified in 1947 by a German neurologist who identified three people with brain lesions who had prosopagnosia.” Such rare individuals are often considered to be stuck up. Friends encountered, say passing in the street, are ignored. Not seen. The simple truth is these friends just aren’t recognized by the prosopagnalien, unintentional social misfit.
Prosopagnaliens depend upon other clues for jogging recognition: voice, hair style, clothing. (I’m not quite sure how they cope establishing ID in a naked encounter. There’s so much variation in size of one’s extremities. Male and female. And what do prosopagnalians do in the dark? Probably grope about for answers.)
My clue that my own gaydar malfunctioning might just be related to prosopagnosia I’ll admit is tenuous, based on nothing more perhaps than mispronunciation of the third syllable in the category description. (Maybe it’s ‘pag’ and not ‘fag,’ but it’s damn close.)
Another condition I’m sure is distressing (I’d envy having about, well, let’s say, two or three hours of it anyway, even though this condition is found only in women) is the seemingly nonstop urge for having – and achieving – multiple orgasms. The condition is detailed under the book heading, “Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome.”
Case in point. A Mrs. Heather: “I would be masturbating morning, afternoon and night … I had to buy a vibrator because you get tired … And I would be crying when I was masturbating because, I mean, nobody wants to do that all day long.” (Ten times a week actually suffices for me. Without AAA batteries. Or tears. Never on Sunday.)
A parallel occurs in thousands of men reports Dr. Irwin Goldstein, clinical professor of surgery at University of California at San Diego. He’s quoted – ideal gay cocktail banter: “Idiopathic recurrent prolonged penile erection would be the equivalent of persistent sexual arousal.” (Mind you, that’s without Viagra, tight jeans, or jewelry.)
Oh, well. The great thing about being over the hill is: a) you’ve presumably had fun tumbling down, and b) you still – somewhat reluctantly – recognize your face in the mirror. Wrinkles and all.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.