In quest of the unobtainable

Today’s reflection in Lavender Light made me squirm. It talked about the incessant pursuit of relationships that are not sustainable, with people who are not obtainable.


I have pursued a bevy of people, young men in far off places, muscular, Muslim, who appear to be attracted to an older man (and who’s devotion I lap up like a hungry hummingbird at a feeder) but who turn out to only want what I seem to offer on a financial level.

The notable exceptions being Firman and Achraf; but their distance and access serves as an barrier to an active, real-time living relationship. The age difference, as well as the cultural difference, is quite a hurdle too. I seemed to have to translate everything beyond just the definition of words. With Achraf, his English breaks down in ongoing conversation. He’s conversant enough in text mode; but beyond that he becomes quite tongue tied.

Why don’t I pursue relationships with peers? I pondered that this morning and realized that I feel inferior, weaker, unable to compete, less than. The key word is “inferior”. Why I feel this way, I’m not sure why. Is it stemming from my grade school days when I felt lost and incompetent on the play ground? I didn’t feel I could compete with the other boys in sports and there was no one else (save for George Dugal or Dennis O’Connor) to hang out with and we didn’t do anything. I would much rather have played with the girls, come to think of it.

Same held true in high school. I detested the sports we had to play. I was “assigned” to a basketball team. I hated every minute of it. I didn’t like tennis either. If Pat Maxon’s memories are correct, I usually had my nose buried in a book, or I hid in the darkroom. Interacting with others was something I was loathe to do in high school  and on into college. I had to take a mandatory PE class at Phoenix College and, red-faced, had to ask someone about jock straps. Going into the locker and shower room was a first at the age of 19.

Why do I pursue the young and the beautiful? Well, for starters they ARE young and beautiful. I can be the big brother, uncle, wise counselor that I seem well suited for. I never acted in that way for my brothers. I had one age mate in high school, Bob Cole, whose cavalier cynicism and intellect drew me to him. I looked like him, physically, but he was much more confident, hip and worldly. Must have been his Las Vegas upbringing. I was close to Marv Southard. Marv is close to a lot of people. But we had an intellectual kindred connection. I liked his family, they were accepting, middle class and adult. Very much unlike the upper poor class menagerie I was trying to escape from.

In college and graduate school, I gravitated to the thinkers, the intellectuals, the ones who read New Yorker and went to museums and plays. We were soft men, unlike other mid-west men who played sports, worked on cars and hunted. I tried hunting with one cousin, Mark, using his mother’s shotgun as we tramped the woods north of Hibbing looking for partridge. But I really connected with Paul DeMillo, Chris and Sophie’s middle son. He’d studied architecture in Italy and the University of Minnesota, he was witty, smart and had a variety of interests. We hit it off immediately. I liked him and he seemed to like me.

Hmm, I guess it’s that not having a sports connection with the boys from grade school that’s set me up for a life long inferiority complex. A adolescent memory just came to me. I was in high school (or 8th grade) and it was a Sunday afternoon  I was in the back yard  in the dirt, paving roads with my hand and playing with the little ones city traffic: we would take our toy cars and run then along the roads we made with our hands in the dirt, smoothing out driveways for our houses. Dad was showing someone inside his new addition to the house and they were in the back window of the family room. Suddenly I heard him yell ” Daniel, What are you doing? Git out of that dirt. You’re too old to be playing with those kids.” Mortified, I stood up, brushed the dirt from my hands and walked off.

So, I don’t have a strong track record for developing peer relationships. Even with those I do, I’m the poor cousin, the hanger-on, the one on the side who’s listening and making an observation every so often, but doesn’t feel an intimate part of the core.

And there you have it.


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