My recent sojourn to Cape Cod didn’t coincide with Bear Week in Provincetown . . . though we overlapped a little. The last couple of days of my beach resort town vacation, mixed in among the tourist families and the twinkish gay boys with a weekly rental to their names were men of a decidedly more hefty and hirsute sort. By the time I left on Saturday morning, the patio of Joe’s Coffee on Commercial Street was overflowing with bearded men whose chest hair was bursting out of their XXL tank tops.
And I certainly heard about Bear Week, the entire time I was there. You should see this place during Bear Week!, every merchant told me, with a knowing shake of the head. They would whip up visions of streets packed from side to side by partying bears, and of two-hour waits at the more popular restaurants, and of entire supermarkets gutted of everything, even health food, after swarms of hairy men descended upon them like ravenous vacationing locusts.
I’m not crazy about crowds, personally, so getting out before all that happened was fine with me. Also, why attend Bear Week when it was all I heard about from my real-life friends when it happened?
Not to mention the delicious and nearly constant stream of drama I get to witness on social media, afterward. The big saga I got to witness this year involved a very active and body-conscious muscle bear and his circle of friends blocking and defriending anyone who dared to suggest that Bear Week in Provincetown can be clique-ish and exclusionary. Not in MY experience, they sniffed as they clicked on the delete buttons, and then proceeded to gripe about the offenders in their various social media feeds. “Tedious insecure people!” said one of them. “Extreme introverts!” said another. “Obviously they have body insecurities that border on mental illness,” said another, dismissively.
Now, if you think about it, a bunch of similar people of the same social circles blocking others and then agreeing among themselves they were right to do so is pretty much the dictionary definition of being clique-ish and exclusionary. Somehow the irony is escaping them, however. I’ve commented several times that for a group that had its roots in pushing for an acceptance of more body types, ages, and types of masculinity than were popular in gay iconography twenty-five to thirty-five years ago, its self-identifying members can sometimes be even more clannish and restrictive than twinks and circuit boys. The extreme intolerance of dissent within their own ranks that I sometimes witness just kind of reinforces that.
And what is achieved, exactly, by vilifying those who dare to express an opinion they don’t wish to hear? Does feeling excluded automatically make someone an extreme introvert or someone with borderline mental illness? Can’t someone simply be disgruntled—and maybe even somewhat right to feel so—without being classified under some DSM-5 diagnosis?
There are people out there, certainly, who hang back and don’t make an effort, then crab about it afterward. There are many people who achieve self-fulfilling prophecy by telling themselves (or others) repeatedly that they’re going to have a miserable time at a social event, that no one is going to like them or look at them, and who then give off such a negative vibe that everyone stays clear. The person in question gets the easy vindication of being right, but at the cost of making himself (and everyone else) pretty miserable.
In big gatherings there are often a number of very closed-off, cliquey bears. (There are also cliquey muscle boys, and cliquey twinks, and cliquey nudists, and cliquey orgy hounds. Just depends on the group.) There are also a number of people who are so insecure that they refuse to have anything other than a terrible time. When the latter set up a hue and cry after an event, they’re pooping on the good times everyone else had—and it’s understandable to feel confused or even hostile about it. When the former badmouth and block anyone who dares dissent, though, it not only feeds into the negativity, but reinforces it.
Your experience is not everyone else’s. Your good time is not everyone’s good time, nor is your week of feeling lonely and miserable what everyone else shared. Talk about your experience, certainly. Share it. But do so thoughtfully, and without painting everyone else to be the bad guy. Do it in a way that encourages communication—not shuts it down entirely.
But enough about Bear Week. Let’s get to some questions from my readers. Feel free to ask me yours either via email (there’s an address in the sidebar on my blog), or via formspring.me.
Do you find when composing your blog that the language just flows and it is perfect as written? Or do you find yourself going back and recomposing whole sentences and paragraphs?
I don’t spend a whole ton of time on my journal entries. Although I do take my entries from my personal journal and post them publicly, they are at heart written for my eyes. I have a busy enough life that spending hours and hours on a blog post doesn’t seem like a great investment of time.
So mostly my journal stuff tends to be what I would think of as first draft material. There have been a couple of occasions in which I’ve taken old journal entries and repurposed them as essays; in those cases I’ve had to do some considerable revision.
My general rule of thumb is that I don’t like spending more than an hour writing an entry. Certainly the writing shouldn’t take any longer than the actual sex acts described therein. Since I do a chunk of the writing work in my head beforehand, generally I can stick to this goal. I’ll take a considerable amount of time deciding what approach I want to take to a piece, what the focus should be, and how narrow I intend to keep the aperture of my mental camera (I don’t know how to describe it in any other way), so that when I sit down to write, I know what I want to do.
Adding to the last question—as your write do you discover things about yourself—that is, coming to realizations that you were not fully conscious of?
Absolutely. This is why I keep a journal.
I’ve always joked that journal-keeping is a lot cheaper than therapy would be. Since I know a lot of people who have seen therapists—and I know a lot of therapists, too—I know that I’m not far from the truth. Sitting down on a consistent basis and attempting to face truths about my behavior is exactly what I would want to achieve through therapy. I simply choose to do it through writing instead.
I don’t always come to an epiphany every time I sit down to write. Sometimes I learn things about myself only over the long course of time, or when I examine old entries about similar topics, or individual lovers. As I learn to see the patterns of my life, though, I get more insight into what makes me tick. If I seek change, knowing myself makes it easier.
What I do know is that as I live my life, I leave behind a trail of words. They don’t describe me in uniformly glowing terms, or as some idealized version of myself. If I wanted to be a role model, or leave the impression that I was a better and nobler person than I actually am, I wouldn’t dwell so much on my failures, or my insecurities, or be so frank about my sex life. What those words do is paint a picture of who I’ve been and who I am now, warts and erections and all. Because of my 35-year habit of keeping a journal, I’m not ashamed of that person in the least.
Manual or electric toothbrush?
I couldn't live without my Sonic toothbrush. That thing disintegrates plaque on contact and leaves my gums feeling like they've been massaged by a thousand tiny fingers.
Given the ratio of fakes and flakes on hook-up sites, do you have recommendations or a recommended strategy for bottoms seeking to get laid?
First of all, I have to concede that I'm not usually advertising on hook-up sites as a bottom. A real and successful bottom might be a better person to ask.
There are legions of bottoms on Manhunt and Gaydar and other hook-up sites, however, and they're all competing for a limited number of tops. A bottom needs to stand out in several ways.
At bare minimum, I ask that the bottom:
--Respect my privacy
--Refrain from being a psycho stalker
--Refrain from behaving as if he's entitled to my dick, and
--Not be a pest.
If you can convey your sanity in both your profile and your subsequent communications with the top you want, then he really should respond politely.
But you still have to stand out as a likely prospect, which to me (other tops might have other standards!) means conveying:
--A genuine desire to meet
--A means to make a meeting happen, sooner rather than later
--The promise of a rinsed-out hole
--That you're someone who'll be focused on my cock first, and his own orgasm second, and
--That you're someone who will not allow substances to interfere with the sex.
Then and only then do tops look for the most personal things they want from a bottom. These are even more highly individual traits. For me, they include:
--A hunger for sperm, especially mine
--Guys who share my enjoyment of sub/dom, dad/son, and non-vanilla play
--A great kisser, and
--A very tactile approach to lovemaking.
But that's just me. Other tops are going to have other specific interests.
You've got a limited amount of time to impress a top. The more quickly you can communicate your stability, genuine interest, and specific ways that you suit an individual top's needs, the more likely you are to get his cock. Typing " 'Sup?' " or "Looking?" isn't going to do it.
A couple of other things: With so many bottoms showing ass photos online, no top wants to have to beg and plead to see your photos. If they're locked, unlock them up front. If you don't have them posted in your profile, for the love of god post them—or offer in your initial note to send them through email. And please don’t lock them again immediately. Chances are you’re not running for Congress. You can leave them open for the top to peruse at his leisure.
Show yourself to your best advantage in your profile, your photos, and in your interaction with the top. Make him feel as if he's the one top who can satisfy your needs—definitely don't act as if he's a dildo attached to a pair of hips. Don't make outrageous claims you can't back up. And keep hunting, even when you've been rejected a few times.