As a shorter guy, I accepted it would take longer to be called “a man.” At first, I thought it would definitely happen by 30. Nope.
Well after that, I had certain friends who would call me out if made reference to attractive guys as “cute boys.”
“Men,” my friends would correct. “You’re dating men now.”
“You call me boy,” I’d point out.
“But you’re still such a cute little boy,” they’d say, tousling my hair.
When I eventually became an editor at a newspaper I thought that, with a title of such responsibility, I would be called man. Alas, I merely became “that boy who edits that gay paper.”
Years later, I felt pretty certain I had earned the title of man: I’d moved across the country with my husband, we had separated, and I had ended up on my own in Portland. I was certain that being in the process of getting a divorce must carry with it some indisputable degree of maturity.
Then, one weekend, a couple I know was hosting a wine party that they called Wine on Our Deck, charmingly abbreviated as W.O.O.D. As I owed them a favor, I offered to help set up, serve wine, etc. And once again the word reared its ugly head. Throughout the evening I was referred to as “boy” this and “boy” that: even “charming boy” and “sweet boy”. As it also happened to be my birthday weekend, the couple sweetly presented me with a lovely box of handmade truffles. All I could think was: candy — what a fitting gift to give “the boy”.
When my housemate later found me crying at the kitchen table, he asked what was wrong. “Boy, boy, boy, all night!” I wailed, crying like a child over the actually-very-thoughtful $40 chocolates. He offered to confiscate the sweets for the sake of my manhood.
As I calmed down, I started thinking: Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia were still golden “girls”, despite the fact that they were over 50. Didn’t I want to age like them? And for that matter, would I exchange the less-than-manly intimacy I exchanged with my gay friends — the greeting with kisses, the referring to one another as honey or sweetie or darling. I could accept those as terms of affection. So why not “boy”?
Just this morning, a woman pulled up to where I was waiting for the bus. She rolled down her window in the misty Portland afternoon. “Such a cute boy!” she said “Where do you go to college? Can I drop you somewhere?” I didn’t take her up on the offer, but even a gay “boy” like myself can’t deny the pleasure of being hit on by a potential Mrs. Robinson in a BMW.
Last modified: March 8, 2018