Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BANGKOK AFTER DARK: THINGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A GRUMPY (AND DIRTY) OLD MAN

They say youth is wasted on the young. So, I'm afraid, is Bangkok when the clock strikes midnight. Everywhere I look, I see perfect skin, perfect hair and perfect bodies, barely touched by the passage of time.

Damn the passage of time! Not only does it constantly remind us of our mortality and destructibility, but it's constantly coming up with new ways to make us feel, well, old.

When I look in the mirror, I see the same face I've been looking at for my entire life, though I'm aware it's mostly because I've looked at it every day of my life. Aging is sort of like weight loss. It's easier to notice on a person whom you don't see every day. Luckily for me, I'm told by people who don't see me on a daily basis, that I've held up pretty well, and I'm inclined to believe them. But I haven't forgotten that one of my best friends in Buenos Aires (she's 26) used to date a guy a few years older than me whom she affectionately called "gramps."

One of the great things about meeting people in bars and clubs is that the lighting works in your favor. I get "25,26" a lot when people I meet on the floor under the strobelights try to guess my age. Otherwise, I generally have to settle for early to mid-30s, which, is really nothing to write home -- or blog -- about, but when I consider the alternative, like being called "gramps" or, worse, being mistaken for your son's grandfather, how can I complain?

Actually, that happened to my dad once. When I was born, he was 38 years old, which is relatively young by today's Hollywood baby-daddy standards, but that hasn't always been the case everywhere. I remember going to my 10-year high school reunion and being shocked to catch up with former classmates who already had several kids at 27 or 28. Still, even outside of Hollywood, saying, "I'm a dad again," at 38 is hardly age-inappropriate.

But there was that time back in high school when I was at Dairy Queen with my dad, and we ran into a classmate of mine who worked there. After greeting me, she looked at my dad and her face lit up. "Is this your grandfather?" she asked. So much for black not cracking. I cracked up, she was mortified, and my poor dad, who certainly didn't look old enough to be my grandfather, was not amused.

The youth gone wild (a rear view) in Phuket, Thailand
Now I sort of know how he felt. Last night, I was walking with my friend David down Silom, one of the major highways in Bangkok. It's where people are up at all hours of the night, selling food, selling clothes, selling knick knacks, selling bodies.

"Do you want young boy?" a man asked us. I was shocked because usually they try to sell me ladies -- or lady boys. I swear, sometimes I can't even tell them apart. Later on, a girl who was chatting me up at DJ Station handed me her driver's license to prove that it was her 30th birthday. I must have had one too many Singapore Slings because it took me an entire minute to realize that the photo on her license belonged to a guy. Though she was far more attractive as a boy, I never would have known!

But I digress. Getting back to Silom, David pulled me closer to him and jokingly said, "I already have my young boy."

"I have much younger," the guy replied.

Much younger?! He may as well have called me "gramps."

I'm not sure which I found more insulting. The fact that to him I must have looked like a dirty old man, on the prowl for someone less than half my age, or the fact that he was trying to lure my fake boyfriend away with the promise of young -- younger -- nubile flesh. Though I knew that I'd probably meet several guys less than half my age before the night was over, I certainly wouldn't be looking for one. The older I get, the more they seem to flock to me. It's not like I generally approach them.

David said that it's probably because they see me as being experienced, and they probably assume that I know what I'm doing in life and in bed. I considered this for a while, and then I realized that if he's implying that my level of maturity is noticeable to the naked eye, then for the second time in less than five minutes, someone had basically said that I'm inching my way up and over the hill.

But maybe not. When you're 18 or 19, or even 22 (which seems to be my lucky number these days), 26 or 27 (the age that they generally guess me to be) must seem pretty vintage. If only they knew. I'm like a fine wine -- from 1969, the year that also brought us the Jennifer Aniston Merlot and the Jennifer Lopez Pinot Noir. So I'm in good company.

Still, I've learned to stop letting them in on my dirty little secret, and to always leave before the lights go up.
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