Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky

It's a little bit surprising that at this stage in my life I still find myself part of conversations where gay men talk about their "type" as if this offered any useful or valid insight into the nature of attraction after the initial coming-out process (when the notion that some men are attracted to some things and other men are attracted to other things can seem like an epiphany). There are many problems I have with the notion of "type" as it's generally used. My favorite commentary on this particular simplistic banality is the t-shirt slogan suggested by jcoldrey, for people to wear to bear events: I'm Fat, I Have a Beard, What Do You Mean "No"?

This notion of type has come up twice recently, in both cases where guys decided it was important to let me know that I am not their type.

In the first case it was somebody I have the occasional bar-conversation with and sometimes (always at his instigation) things get a little flirty. As it happens this is somebody who is quite comic in his unyielding self-obsession; he considers himself to be the only topic suitable for discussion, or at least it's the only one I've ever heard him discuss. But he's entertaining about it and these are isolated encounters; I have no interest in, say, inviting him over for dinner. The other week, apropos of little, he decided to announce to me that I am not his type. "Did I ask?" I said, but he didn't hear because he was off talking about his type. I guess he just wanted to be sure that I wouldn't be disappointed or something. Ok. And I also know he's more of an asshole than I thought, which is probably a more useful thing for me to know than the fact that I'm not his "type".

That was just an idiot being idiotic, but more complex and thus more baffling is the second case. I've been having lengthier conversations with an oddly intriguing guy I've been seeing around for a while, and the other week things moved into the seriously flirty zone. This week came what I sometimes call the "confessional", when somebody you think you haven't known for long tells you something very nice using the construct of "I've been noticing you for a long time" and recounts having seen you in some specific place and gets you all red-faced and embarrassed. I'm always legitimately flattered and I'm always legitimately surprised, but actually this happens to me a lot. In this case the "long time" turns out to go back over 15 years, to casual conversations in a store where this guy worked where evidently I made an impression. (He described the coat I used to wear, and a couple of the brief conversations we had, and his flattering assessment of me from long ago.)

But part of the confessional was the disclaimer that I'm not his type, which was absolutely meant as a compliment in the sense that despite me not falling into a particular category of attraction he wanted to meet me and know me better (and perhaps more -- that was definitely in the subtext). Which I take in the spirit it was intended, absolutely. But really, what's with this "type" thing here?
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