Normally, I like to wear things that are comfortable. I shop at the local thrift store, though sometimes I buy jeans from places like Sears or J.C. Penny. A lot of my wardrobe is souvenir t-shirts from places I've been or things I've done. I have short hair, and I don't wear jewelry. And lately, my friends have been telling me I look gay.

To me this seems strange. I am not gay. I have nothing against gay people, of course. I'm just not one.

My mother tells me that the things I wear are "too masculine" looking, and that I should be careful not to fit into the gay stereotypical look.

You need to wear more jewelry, they tell me, maybe wear some tighter shirts or a little makeup. This irritates me. I've been wearing the same clothes I've always worn, and now all of a sudden, I'm gay-looking. Should I suffer to wear paint on my face and uncomfortable clothing just to appeal to someone else's idea of what's "gay"?

It's irritating how they get so worried about gayness. Your lesbian factor is a little too high, Damian -- better put on a bracelet or a necklace. Better wear a v-neck shirt and blue eyeshadow. I mean, what do they think is going to happen to me if I look gay? At least I won't have horny assholes grabbing my butt and whistling loudly when I walk by.

All this sexual image crap makes me wonder if the benefits of an asexual society might be greater than the detriments. I mean, we'd probably miss the thrill of romance and love and lust if we divided like cells to reproduce. But think of all the pain that would be avoided and all the technological and intellectual advances that could be made if sex didn't exist.

The bane-and-butter of my existance. The rub here is that if a girl thinks I'm gay (as they frequently do), they automatically trust me and we form deep relationships -- but then I can't get any tail from them. So it's the toss up betwean satisfying my needs for emotional connection or doing the mattress mambo. Not to mention being hit on by some one the sweetest guys ever, and I don't have the heart to tell them that I don't play for that team.

Though I do often wonder that is, exactly, a gay look? Is there some small artifact that pushes one over to the 'gay' side? If so, what is it? Is my hair too short? Too long? Do I wiggle my butt too much when I walk? Is it because I like show-tunes?

Man, if I could just figure out the essence of what makes someone look gay and bottle it, I'd make a fortune. The Man who sells Gay.

My Girlfriend would love that.

Can I ask a question without you taking it the wrong way? was one of the first things she said to me. The first was, 'can I borrow some cheese,' but that's neither here nor there.

Well, since you prefaced it that way, probably not. I countered.

No, it's just that... well, are you gay?

Laughter, in my head. Amused laughter. Nothing bitter in its ring - no tired notes in its echo. How the fuck am I exactly supposed to take that? You question my sexuality; my masculinity doesn't satisfy your conditions for a heterosexual male. No, I understand. How could I possibly take it the wrong way? I'm sure you ask every guy you meet exactly which gender he enjoys fucking.

I do not fit into your agoraphobic definitions.

No I reply, only giving her a slight laugh that says, 'you aren't the first person to wonder.' Why do you ask?

I just enjoy making her squirm. I know she won't answer, and I already know the answer to my own question. The purely physical is enough for some people to wonder. What do 5'11', 145 lbs, and feminine features (fuck!! i just thought I was cute!) add up to? Depends on who's adding it up I guess. I rather enjoy not fitting into a box. I like surprising people; I like the fact that you just might be able to figure me out in one lifetime.

I wasn't always so enlightened.

What's the worst part about being an alcoholic? It isn't the hangovers, it isn't the withdrawal, and it isn't the poor health. Alcoholism is a disease (and for godssake don't let that term become an excuse). It preys on your mind. It leeches any feelings of self-worth right out of your head. You're depressed physically because even when you can abstain for a period of time, sobriety feels like swimming through a lukewarm tub of shit. When the mind starts to fire again, the depression drops precipitously, which in turn drowns the self with guilt and shame. Make no mistake; this is not teenage angst depression. This is the kind of depression that seasons the flavor of gunmetal in your mouth.

Long is the way
And hard,
that out of Hell leads up to light.1

For me at least, alcohol was the elixir of youth. You lose a lot of weight because although alcohol contains a lot of calories, serious alcoholics don't eat. You seem to stop aging too. I couldn't tell you why. Maybe my body was so possessed with the fight against a lethal poison that it found no time for anything else. At 23, I couldn't buy a pack of cigarettes without being carded, to say nothing of booze. And that goddamn shaking as I approached a register. I knew that they would question my age, but to me it was as though they were questioning my inherent decency and right to be a human-being on this planet. It seemed to me that I never passed muster in their eyes - in anyone's eyes.

Despair blooms in the knowledge of the fact that everyone else agrees with your self-loathing. They corroborate your fear that you are the most loathsome waste of organic matter on this rock.

At the moment I am noding. I've come out the other side a little bit wiser about life. I rejoice in the things that set me apart from the world. They are my strengths; they are not my weaknesses.

You have to wonder what a girl is driving at when she asks you about your sexuality. What possible motivation could she have for asking such a question? Really, guys have the monopoly on homophobia, and she was all woman. Apparently it wasn't a loaded question at all. She wasn't trying to say anything about me, she was just trying to ascertain her chances, much to my pleasure. Sex can be a wonderful way to get to know someone.

You know, you were the most emotional fuck that I've ever had. she said to me the next day.

I tried to understand how that could be considering it was really just a one-night-stand, regardless of whether we slept together again.

Oh? I said through a smile. Maybe you've just never fucked a man before.

1John Milton, Paradise Lost

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