Tell me what you want. What you really, really want.
Mike answers: To know what I want – what I really, really want – and to be guided by that knowledge.
What are you doing Sunday, baby?
Mike answers: Preparing for the arrival of K’s family – for on Christmas Day, after a couple of years of ducking out of the occasion altogether, we shall be playing hosts to them for the first time. I like the way that we have varied our approach to the holiday season over the years, never settling into a fixed pattern. It gives us the freedom to opt in when it feels right to opt in, and to feel comfortable about lying low when that’s all we want to do.
I bet we all get right pissed on the Sunday night, though. Pacing? What’s that?
Do ya think I’m sexy?
Mike answers: Do I think I’m sexy? Hmm, tricky. I have occasionally had the s-word said to me – but usually to fairly specific ends, and at a time and a place when certain people (and why am I even being gender/orientation non-specific about this, I mean GAY MEN of course) will say most anything to achieve those ends. So we can count them out for starters. The mercenary little scallywags.
There again, there was that one time in Finland, in the summer of 1994, when that awfully good-looking chap picked me up at a gay disco on a boat, and whisked me away to a wooden cabin on the edge of a pine forest, way out of town – and as we tumbled amongst the freshly-laundered linen while the soft magenta fingers of dawn stole through the shutters, he leant his face close into mine and, with that same disarming, shining-eyed, sincerity that had so won me over, breathed these words:
“But you’re not sexy.”
A harsh judgement, but then I’m not sure that I’ve ever really pulled off Sexy to any great effect. The sexy people – the truly sexy people – are the ones who are comfortable within their own skins, with an understated yet unmistakable confidence which allows them to forget about themselves and to concentrate on you. Well, that was never me. Back in my glory days – those ten years or so when my physical attributes were at their peak (and I’ll admit to not being at the back of the queue looks-wise, which must have helped) – my strongest suits were flirting, and teasing, and exuding a sense of fun that could sometimes rub off on others. But these were milder, lighter, more diversionary powers, fit only for their limited and transitory purpose. Under the right sort of lighting, and in the right sort of outfits, and provided that it’s-ten-to-two-you’ll-do desperation hadn’t set in, I could generally approximate a certain template of urban gay male foxiness. But true sexiness required a cooler eye and a steadier hand – and I knew the limits of my range, my scope and my aspirations. Flirting, teasing and mucking around suited me just fine.
As for these days – these days when I don’t even bother putting lenses in for an evening out, and when I’d rather be chatting in the corner than making an exhibition of myself on raised surfaces – sexiness barely enters into it. As Molly Parkin once put it, the post-sexy experience feels rather like being unchained from a lunatic – and I don’t miss that needy old tart one little bit.
Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with?
(And, oh dear, this was one of the Guardian Guide’s questions from two Saturdays ago.)
Mike answers: It all depends upon your definition of “falling in love”. From my early teens until my early twenties, I suffered my share of unrequited romantic obsessions – but with the benefit of hindsight, I’m not sure that any of them counted as being “in love”. Love’s a vibration, man. You send it out, and it returns to you. Loving someone without their reciprocation – or, hell, even their knowledge – is something else entirely. So I’m answering the question in the negative.
Is there something I should know?
Mike answers: My thanks to Clare Boob Pencil, who points out that I have a piece of spinach stuck in my teeth. Lately, I have been fighting a losing battle with recalcitrant foodstuffs, to the extent where my hygienist has – just two hours ago – fitted my problem cavity with a periodontal chip. Before doing so, she was obliged to extract several goodly chunks of semi-masticated bacon from my lunchtime sandwich – which then she held up in front of me for inspection.
What does one say at times like these?
“Ah yes, the Atlas Deli, awfully good place. I expect it’s locally sourced.”
“Ooh, can I keep that? We’re having bubble and squeak tonight.”
(I tried to go for a lovably roguish, devil-may-care, what-can-you-do shrug, of the Hugh Grant rom-com variety – but being flat on my back at the time, I fear it lost a little in the execution.)
Where’s your head at?
Mike answers: Actually, my head has been fairly scarlet over the last couple of days – as I hadn’t realised that The Guardian‘s Saturday “The Guide” section has just started a new feature, in which well-known people are asked a series of questions in the form of song titles. (Indeed, “Where’s your head at?” was even one of this week’s questions.)
The unfortunate consequence is that people will be thinking that I’ve ripped the idea off the newspaper, when – but of course! – I was first on the block with it, years and years ago actually actually I think you’ll find.
Apart from that, my head is feeling somewhat done in by the demands of the season, as is customary.