(Photo: But how does an aging blogger really feel about high-end, designer footwear?)
It’s a sad commentary on my social life when the highlight of the past week comes from sitting on the front patio of hoary Uptown gay bar Big Chicks on dollar burger night, doing Gweilo impressions of contact sheets from AsianPoses.com.
On a Monday.
Jefferson Ramrod had convened the posse to mourn the passing of his 35th year, and having only ever been to the birdhouse once in my six-and-a-half years here in Authentic City, I joined in. As I sat there posing with Diva Filipina, Elisa Picchu, and World Famous Choriza, I swear I sensed the early internal tremors of spinsterhood.
Sad truth is in two weeks, Yours Truly begins the last year of his thirties. Now that I’ve become the target age I was dating back in my teens, it’s getting harder to imagine actually settling down with one of my contemporaries. They all seem so set in their ways.
I have to say that. Otherwise I would just call them old, and being of the same age as my contemporaries, I’d rather implicate myself as a stick-in-the-mud rather than a corpse-in-the-box. Or–God forbid–a daddy figure.
At my age, that’s getting harder to avoid. Every year since 35, some fevered 21-year-old guy throws himself at me, usually in mid-summer. Up to now, I’ve had the good sense to throw him back. But when you’re pushing middle-age, you have to re-examine your priorities. Is a lack of generationally engaging conversation really that important when the sex is as good as you remember it to be when you were his age?
Oh, the staying power I wish I could have bottled (don’t go there) if only I had enjoyed sex as much at 18 as at 38. But when my peak evenings start revolving around aping sad kittens and ironic koalas from the annals of bad animé, could it be that my prime is passed?
Last week, in desperation, I asked this of my Twitter followers:
The public replies I got back were heartening:
A couple of headlines in Gapers Block today tell me I shouldn’t have been surprised at the collective response. Apparently, I’m living in the seventh most sexually active and fifth most sexually satisfied city in America. That at least explains International Mister Leather, but it doesn’t do me much good.
Maybe being single at my age is my own fault. Somewhere, somehow, amid the growing aches, pains, and midriff of adulthood, I’ve come to treasure blogging my bylines by the smirky murmur of Roseanne on TV Land over shaking my ass to the din of a Boystown 80s night.
And if that’s not the definition of old, this buried lead is: I am officially a middle-aged shoe whore.
My style-forward mid-decade partner, Super Photo Boy, instilled in me a passion for all things mid-century. Over the past couple of years, that’s come to include a love of retro footwear. Finding an almost-complete frequent-customer card from Akira for Men on Wednesday turned out to be the perfect antidote to my die-alone Monday night blues.
I originally discovered the men’s shoe shop of Wicker Park’s multi-outlet hipster clothing empire in the wake of my own 35th birthday. It was like coming out of the closet for the second time. Until then, I hadn’t known the pleasure of slipping my feet into designer kicks with no discernible mass-market stripe down the side–and that 95% of Chicago didn’t own, either. (Leave it to a blogger to get his jollies from standing unique from the crowd.)
As my years of being a Payless shoe shopper abruptly came to a close, here is a good approximation of how I felt:
(Video: Expert spin on Disneyland’s Mad Tea Party prepared me for a recent visit to the Chicago Tribune newsroom. Click the HQ button for a higher-quality video. RSS subscribers, click here to view the video on CHICAGO CARLESS.)
I frequented Akira for 18 months until the New Depression started to settle in and well-remunerated client work to filter out. Late last year, it was all I could do to open my wallet and gaze with maudlin eyes at my moribund frequent-customer card. Just one pair away from a $30 gift certificate–if only I could reconcile losing my electricity to gain footwear satisfaction.
No such inconvenient compromises were necessary last week: a couple of unexpected client calls since Monday had already fiscally primed my pedal pump. When I remembered my languishing Akira card, I knew relief had finally found me.
“Where have you been?” was all the recognition I needed from my regular shoe clerk.
“It’s been too long,” I replied. “Look at the DSW crap I’m wearing and the cool you’re wearing. Find me cool!”
Half an hour later he had me purchasing non-archival Cousy Los straight out of the PF Flyer shipment crate. After a required one-day waiting period to use my resulting gift card, I had myself buying sole-vented French-import G1 Lo Cut Spring Courts.
Concentrating on strategies of harnessing fashion to evade advancing age, actually having the opportunity to end the week with a date caught me unawares. Me and the latest Mr. New Who step out tomorrow. But I’m keeping it all in perspective. Experience shows we may not even live in the same time zone two years from now.
But I’m pretty sure what I’ll find lying in the bottom of my closet come 2011. Perhaps an archival reissue vintage-grade Sportshu. Though probably not the last-legged Ben Shermans I begged my cobbler to glue back together one last time on Thursday.
Ah well. Middle-age be damned. Keep your libidinous sex drive and the men who come with it, and leave behind a continuously playing 45 of Eleanor Rigby. I don’t care anymore.
Just step away from my Sebagos and nobody gets hurt.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.