By J. Corbett Holmes
The desert breeze carried the sugary scent of cotton candy across the yard, while fireworks from the popcorn cart popped in and out of the conversations that took place around me — as I sat quietly in my lawn chair waiting for the movie to begin.
After setting a few items on the blanket, He knelt and began adjusting and arranging His movie watching bed atop the slice of lawn before me. Now at eye-level, once He was done, He stopped long enough to catch me watching and smiled. Something unexplainable occurred: a sort of psychological tremor. Like I’d stuck my brain in an electrical socket.
“Hi,” He said.
“Hey,” I responded with hesitation.
It was only two words. Exchanged in a twilit backyard. Within a matter of five seconds — before He turned around and spread His body across the blanket near my feet. A minute later two other men joined Him. Affable banter was swapped before He eventually brought His head to rest on a sweatshirt-swathed backpack near my feet.
What followed were trumpets blaring while a pair of red-gloved hands draped in charm bracelets introduced a kaleidoscope of jewels that whirled movie credits across the twilit yard, the desert breeze pulling the screen to and fro with a fierceness that only heightened my sensations. Then, yet again, I was pulled in by the madcap allure of “Auntie Mame” and her bootleg gin-soaked parties.
“Ito!… Oh Ito!… show this woman to the kitchen and get her started on the glasses!”
“Oh Missy Dennis. This not dish-washing lady!”
“Oh. Well, then I must have invited you. Oh, won’t you have a drink …”
“ … Everybody knows! Thirty days have September … April, June … oh, my, my, my, my my … Daaaaarrrrling! I’mmmm your Auntie Mame!”
For the next hour and a half, while Auntie Mame flitted about drinking and redecorating, He remained sprawled just beyond my flip-flops giggling occasionally with His friends, passing the candy boxes back and forth between them.
From time-to-time I would consider Him from that fantastical, secret place one’s mind can sometimes visit; where the storyline, perfumed by pheromones, is rife with luscious possibility — allowing one to effortlessly construct an extensive existence … with a complete stranger.
“Live! Live! Live!” proclaimed Auntie Mame’s newest undertaking as he swung his sword across the screen. “Life’s a banquet and some poor suckers are starving to death!”
And with that the pair made their way up the winding staircase toward adventure.
It was 10 o’clock in somebody’s backyard. The lights never came up. Clapping brought with it movement: a whirlwind of men gathering lawn chairs and bidding adieu. And I lost Him in the hustle and bustle of boys.
Or so I thought.
Several days later technology tapped in: a text appeared on my I-phone from my friend Steven: “His name is Joseph…herez his #…call him!”
I could feel Auntie Mame prodding me to go for it. To live, live, live!
But, in a world of technology-based socializing, how do you call up a complete stranger out of nowhere … and not seem like a creepy stalker? But I still had the aroma of pheromones zapping at my memory.
Then I did something I’ve never done: I married tech with my traditional: I sent him a text instead of calling.
A little tech-talk was exchanged along with a few references to Auntie Mame — eventually concluding with a plan to meet for coffee.
A week later, when coffee time came, so did a feeling of social awkwardness. Was it middle age? Perhaps the involvedness of the pheromone zap? Or had the normalcy of cyber-dating dulled my senses when it came to information sharing face-to-face? All I had was my jolt and a few texts.
As life would have it, while scrolling through a trend site, an article about baby boomers and technology appeared on my computer screen. According to trend-forecaster WGSN:
It’s clear that all consumers, from baby boomers to generation Z, are becoming more dependent, emotionally and practically, on their digital devices.
Although many of this cohort (the boomers) are still new to and even at times wary of technology, their generation has helped redefine every life stage previous to their current one, from teen culture to middle age, so it’s unlikely that the opportunities of a connected senior lifestyle will pass them by.
The boomer generation isn’t just big — it’s made up of people who think and act differently from previous generations. This is the most active senior generation in history, and as a cohort they are associated with their rejection or redefinition of traditional values. Businesses are being forced to rethink how they market and make products for older people. By force of numbers alone, they almost certainly will redefine old age, just as they’ve made their mark on teen culture, young adult life and middle age.
The article went on to discuss tech turnoffs for boomers, why tech companies need us, and I learned that, although I’m akin with “tech world pioneers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, technology is not my native language; I’m a digital immigrant.” Who knew?
For social interaction, technology has (now generally) trumped the traditional ways in which I meet other gay men. At my fingertips, I have a vast array of venues: Scruff, Grinder, Silverdaddies, OK Cupid, Match.com, Meet.com, Man4Man … the list goes on and on; something and some form of social for everyone. They all allow me (if I wanted) to shop pages of photos and profiles — safely scrolling amid the comforts of home; avoiding the risk of (face-to-face) embarrassment or rejection. And, these tech zones provide much more information than one might get, say, seated next to the same person at a backyard movie screening.
But, personal information (which can sometimes be subjective) aside, does tech-connecting supply the most vital information?
What would Auntie Mame say?
She would say, “Knowledge is power, dear boy!”
And I would concur.
However … as we live, live, live, consuming life’s technology-infused banquet, is a chat room better than live and in person? Can a cyber byte hold the same allure as the pheromone-infused possibility of a bite from Adam’s apple — when he’s standing right in front of you?
As a newly defined “digital immigrant,” although I love my apple laptop, I’m just glad I can still feel the jolt of pheromones at work in the garden … shaking me to my core.
Some poor fools are starving.
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