The Measure of a Man


Home from our first two screening at Sundance Film Festival this year. This is my 14th festival and my 13th seeing it with my Utah family which I kept in my long-overdue divorce about 200 years ago. Nobody even talks about how I came into the family anymore. That’s the way I like it. He gave me bruises inside and out but I’d pay double to have the humans I got in the deal. Jen is like a sister to me and Max is the closest thing to a son I’ll likely ever have. Max and I have been working out together. I love being able to teach him something I actually know about.  In a lot of arenas I feel like a fraud. I really do know my way around the body and some barbells.
In my computer are about ten blogs I’ve started over the past couple of weeks. They’re dismal and depressing and I abandoned them midstream without discarding them. I want you to read my blogs and I don’t want to take you lower in low times. Here, let me smile for you. Better, yes?
Now that that’s taken care of, let me tell you why I’m feeling a little—what is it? I feel—

I don’t know how to say it and when I don’t know how to say it you know it’s hard to say.
Today I had lunch with a dude I see each time I come to Salt Lake. We met on Scruff (gay dating/hook-up app for scruffier guys). He’s a construction worker and a CrossFitter and married to a woman (they have an arrangement). He’s what we used to call “straight acting” before somebody pointed out how “problematic” the term is now that we’re all “woke.” You can’t say “acts like a girl” or “acts like a boy” anymore without getting berated by a Sensitivity Crusader. I mean I don’t want to talk too much shit about them because for at least some of them I think it comes from a good place. I’m Queer after all and I like the steps society has made to make us feel more like we were actually citizens with equality. We ain’t there yet but thank God we’re not where we were. As a writer and a patriot, it frightens me when we start taking words away from people. The first thing you do if you want to subject a population is take or limit their language. For the Warrior Poet, the word is the sword.
It’s more than “PC.” I actually get annoyed when people start complaining about “political correctness” (one of the worst names for a sociological phenomenon I’ve heard in my life; it’s more about sociology than politics) all that notwithstanding it’s usually self-defined “Conservatives” who complain about what’s called “political correctness” and it doesn’t take a second to shut them down. Just say to them, “So you’re good with white people calling black people ‘niggers?’” “Oh no, of course not!” because they all know the world now sees them for the racists they are.  It doesn’t hurt to be a bit sensitive to people who’ve been hurt. You tell ‘em, “Well you see that’s what the poorly named ‘political correctness’ is. It’s adjusting our language and/or behavior in acknowledgement (and hopefully some desire to correct) an historical system of oppression that is real.” By now they will have taken their shoes off to do the math and you can “peace out” for your next latté or Chardonnay. Fuckin’ Liberals. Fuckin’ Conservatives! All of it means so little anymore. There are so many Liberals who aren’t liberal and most Conservatives wouldn’t recognize Conservatism if it was knocking on their door and asking them where the money goes.
What am I trying not to talk about? Oh. The dude.
This guy is a line-drive triple play for the kind of guy that turns me on. No one would guess he’s gay (that’s where you get accused of homophobia), construction worker (blue collar body), Crossfitter (motivated to be better and able to suffer the slings and arrows of people who can’t do it and had rather criticize…)
What am I trying not to talk about?
So the guy, his name is Jordan, and I met up like usual today and after lunch we were going to get naked and bang around a bit. (He’s great in the sack but is not up for more than a “friends with benefits” thing because he has a wife. I think I said that already. Anyway, they have an “arrangement.”) But something wasn’t working. Something on my body wasn’t working. My thought: “Oh my God, the surgery broke my dick. I’ll never have sex again.”

I’ve not had an orgasm since before my heart ablation which was now eight days ago. That is so unlike me. There was a day in the past month when I had seven in one day. I like the way it feels. It makes me feel better. The Dopamine/Oxytocin/Vasopressin/Norepinephrine cocktail are the best antidepressant I know and the “internal medicine cabinet” is no farther away than my cock.

But I just had surgery. And I wasn’t about to have anybody messing around inches from where they stuck a long, wiry wire in my body (one in the throat, the other in the groin). I didn’t want anybody yanking around down there including me. The bruise was as big as a dinner plate and although it’s almost gone now, my hair will take a bit to grow back and I feel all fucked up without it. Who knew I equated my body hair so much with my manhood. Don’t judge. They shaved my torso (normally very furry), my back (normally very furry) and worst of all, my junk (normally very furry). I haven’t seen my dick look like this since I was 10. Okay, it’s a little bigger now but still.
I told my fuck buddy all about the surgery and the shaving before we met for lunch and he wasn’t bugged by it at all. I was. He likes me with or without fur although after we talked about it for a while, he admitted he really likes the hair. “You’re just as sexy without it,” he said. He wants to see me again before I leave.
Why couldn’t I get a hard on?! I mean it’s been eight fucking days!  My balls are actually beginning to hurt. I suggested that maybe I should just rub one out before we meet again and he was totally against the idea. “No way, bro. Don’t waste an eight day load. I want it. So I promised. And I will see him again.
What do I do with all this? I am a man. I am not my ability to get my dick hard or the fur on my body. I am a man because of what’s in my (recently struggling, soon-to-be-100%) heart.
That’s where my work lies. I have spiritual/emotional work to do around my cock and sexuality.
We live in a culture that wants to punish men.  We got here from a few thousand years of a gender dynamic that was horrible for women. I get it. Nevertheless, man-hating does nothing for women, it’s anti-Feminist. Men are good. Some men behave badly. Some don’t. Good women know this. Women deserve men’s support, trust, willingness to live in equality, and acknowledgement of the historical system of oppression. Men do not deserve to be punished for being men. I would never want anyone to do that to Max so I have to work for the change we need.
Gay people are still shamed for their sexuality. It manifests in all sorts of ways. No matter how much “work” you do on the issue, we still live in a wildly homophobic culture and The Alphabet People (LGBTQIA?LMNOP) are shamed for the ways they want to have sex and the people they want to have it with.
Odd that being shaved should have such an effect on me. My virility and humanity and manhood should not lie in my hair. My name’s Jeff not Samson. I like my hard-on. I like how good at sex I am.
Today sent me home with my tail between my legs. That fits so incongruently into my idea of who I am. I’m going to have to work this out.
When Max was a little boy and we would go into public restrooms, I would remind him in a loud voice so all the other dads could hear, “Remember to wash your hands before you pee. You put your nice clean penis in clean underwear and you’ve been out there touching every nasty thing in the world.” You could see it resonate with the other dads. No one ever posited it to them like that. Men are taught that our penises are dirty and bad and we are going to use them to do dirty and bad things to others. Women and girls are taught this too about males. All of us are taught this. No more. It’s stops with me.

Thanks for letting me get all that off my chest and out of my crotch. I don’t know of many people who, like me, lack the good judgment not to blog about not being able to pop wood when you wanted to and how much that came as a punch in the gut.
I’m not out of the game yet and after some further writing and contemplation about what all this means (perhaps some prayer), I’m sure I’ll be back in the saddle soon and with a better understanding of what makes me a man.
I’ll keep you posted.

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