This column first appeared in BTL in April 2014, when Charles was 77. He's now 83 years young.
At my advanced age I've come to realize I really don't exist. With the exception of the IRS, my creditors, my column's faithful baker's dozen fans, my friends, I'm a nobody, and an old nobody at that. Sigh. It happens.
Of the 7 billion persons on this over-crowded, truculent planet, how many care that I'm but one more bug in the trained flea circus of life?
Everyone knows, of course, that in Gay US of A oldsters (anyone over 39) are space ghosts, keening but seldom seen. If you don't believe me, ask yourself how many folks do you know of who are willing to admit to being 39? Or willing to associate with persons alleged to be of antsy age?
We seniors are last season's limp linguine. And, horror of horrors, us GOPs (gay old potboilers) have weak knees, fixed opinions, sleep apnea, bladder leakage and not infrequently read newspapers. Youngsters don't.
I suppose that's kinda good. Being eternally pretty is a great burden on society. And God knows the hardest years to be eternally pretty are between 39 and 50. (I got to 45 and came unglued.) After that it's why the heck bother.
Why diet? Do yoga! Stop drinking? Give up smoking! Sleep eight hours. Nobody cares one way or t'other. Do the honorable thing. Just go to pot. (But legally.)
Yes, Captain Invisible. Shazam! You're over the hill. Stop dyeing your hair. Don't bother with transplants (top or bottom). Forget personal trainers. Leave the Viagra, yohimbe and horny goat weed alone. Your salad days are over. It's chunky canned noodle soup from here on in.
You think I'm kidding. I'm not. For Lent recently I thought I'd peek into one of Chicago's popular gay spots — Faucet's. (Or, some such leaky place.) Just to see how the young plumbers plumb, and bingo! I got stopped before I could put one pleated trowser inside the door.
DOOR GUY: "Got ID?" TROWSER: "You're kidding. Man, I'm into Social Security. Why in the world do I need to prove it? I'm harmless – reasonably." DOOR GUY: "Sorry, don't croak. I don't make rules. I enforce them. It's too crowded inside anyway! Nothing' to see." TROWSER: "Or be seen by."
I coulda made a scene — I'm a sequin karate belter, but not wanting to besmirch the honor of our line-backing Go Bluers — or Go Blowers — I held my piece, er, peace.
The evening wasn't a zero. Not far from Faucet's there's a nice, scenic go-go bistro, The Lucky Shoe Horn. It thoughtfully caters to us mature types — plus or minus a few decades — with a nonstop bevy of proverbial "barefoot boys with cheeks of tan."
I know it's a tad déclassé, but for a token of financial support — a dollar or two to help ensure, er, insure, the collective family jewels — said interpreters of the liberal dance arts are quite willing to prove 7 billion inhabitants of this wacky planet wrong. I actually do exist. (However, briefly.)