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Monthly Archives: July 2007

As we know, it takes all kinds. The reason that’s a cliche is because it’s true. And in my limited-but-ever-growing experience as a human, I’m beginning to see that certain things — other cliches, mostly — that I had been aware of as cliche, but not aware of as truisms (we’ll try to split the difference, yes?) are, in fact, real. And when I say “real,” I mean “true,” to which you may add “truism” or “beautiful,” or whatever. You may, in addition, add “untrue,” “false,” “dishonest,” or “deceitful.” (Later on, after you’ve finished reading this, you may also want to add “insecure,” “cloying,” “overreaching,” “annoying” or “bullshit.”) The cliche I’m sort of surprised to be noticing as “real” is one that I have, for a long time, made light of, the way one might make fun of Batman for not really being able to fly. It’s always been fun to take pot-shots at beautiful women who can’t seem to escape the allure of homely old men. It’s funny because it’s the most physically apparent expression of dissonance you can imagine. I mean this, because the more layers you peel off of something, oftentimes, the easier it is to explain it, to get to the root of it. But in a very literal sense, if you’ve got a case where a 24-year-old woman of apparent beauty finds herself in, um, volved with some old guy, the peeling off of layers doesn’t so much alleviate as horribly fail to account for the dissonance with which you began. I should clarify that, in raising the cliche of the young woman and the old man, I am not talking about the “trophy wife” thing. That’s just a bore. Old man needs companionship, young woman needs money, etc. It’s transactional, it represents opportunity taken. In a way, the Trophy Wife Scenario represents the pinnacle of Capitalist society’s achievements. We have found a way to conquer mortality through love and money. In the Trophy Wife Scenario, there’s no need for Death, except as a punctuation mark that fairly well validates the entire exercise. “Congratulations, Old Man, you crossed the finish line! Well done, geezer.” See? A bore. I’m so much more interested now in the not-quite-at-Death’s-door man, say in his late 50’s, and the late-20’s beauty he can somehow attract. Here’s where it gets interesting: Whereas the old man of the Trophy Wife Scenario looks at himself and says, “I am a loose-fitting, saggy, pitiful Old Man, but I still have the desires of a younger man,” this 50-something man — the one I’m thinking of, at least — is completely delusional.He looks at himself and says, “I am a hip cat. I am a young man. I am not old. I will not get old. I will stay young.”And he builds Hearst Castle using the means at his disposal. Instead of a private zoo, a leather jacket. Instead of a fleet of safari vehicles, one sports car (or hybrid, or German luxury car, or fill in the goddam blank). He goes out to places where he would never be invited – places for people twenty or thirty years younger. He tries not to seem old. And it seems to be working. Especially when he sees, from across the room, the beautiful woman, not quite a girl, not quite able to mask her confusion at his wolf-like stare combined with his narrow, osteoporetic shoulders under a shiny black leather jacket. And maybe a goatee. Yes. A goatee. Why a goatee? <a href=”https://therestofus.wordpress.com/2007/07/29/the-goatee/”>Here’s why</a>. Let’s cut to the chase, avoiding a boring retelling of the completely inane conversation that must precede their inevitable hook-up. Actually, let’s at least pay tribute to the awkwardness of their need to appear willing to address the necessity of at least basic personal-information-exchange without hitting any detail that would address age or position in society. (i.e., “I got my first job the same year you were conceived, and I am older than your parents,” or “I just graduated college, so I guess that makes me the same age as your daughter.”) Cutting to the chase, then, the part that I want to dwell on is the part, referenced by the title of this post. We know there are insecure horny old men. Whooptishit. That’s not news, or interesting.But young beautiful women with father issues! That’s the cliche I’ve always poked at and never given the real, thoughtful attention it absolutely deserves. Because even while the man with sloping shoulders and a drool in his eye seems worldly in a sad, lonely, pathetic way, and might have the value-add of being the same age as your daddy (i.e. Which of them is your daddy??), your daddy, one hopes, is not an arrested adolescent with a not-so-new Porsche. But at least Mr. Old and Nasty brings you the derision of your peers. That way, you can continue to tell yourself (correctly, by the way) that nobody understands the real you. Nobody, that is, except daddy Porsche. So that’s what it takes. I always wondered what it took. 

The Goatee is the timeless affect of young men as they develop the ability to grow facial hair in a more regimented way than unexplained shadows and blotches on cheeks and upper lips. The Goatee is always in style for the adolescent, but grows and fades in popularity among slightly older men along with fashions like skinniness and the mullet. As a fashion, it has been associated with blue collar workers, country music, German intellectuals and professional athletes. In the instance of faux academics, it has achieved placement on the gaunt and striving face of no less an exemplar than Eric Alterman. And it is through Eric Alterman that The Goatee is now best examined. The lupine, but otherwise meaningless, accoutrement there bespeaks insecurity and self-loathing. Significantly, in Alterman’s case, the self-loathing is oftentimes not as intense as the just-plain-loathing that he engenders. But that’s really for another day. The Goatee is a pretense. A lie that Alterman tells himself and his probably-captive audience. The lie: “I am cool. You like me. You think I’m mature and enlightened.” What makes it a lie is that nobody — not Alterman, not the people he’s looking at, not even God — believes it to be true.