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Pure As the Driven Slush (Personal Journal)
to all the boys I've lusted after before... October 14th, Two Thousand One: Last night, we went to see Mike Scott and The Waterboys at First Avenue. This is now the third time I have seen him/them live, and there is more than one reason for this.

The esoteric, grownuppish reason is that he's an unbelievable musician, lyricist and performer. He has incredible presence live. The feeling of a thick bass pounding through the soles of my feet, while my head is made dizzy by strains of untamed Celtic fiddle, my body full of a lush male voice which ranges from the gentlest ballad to outright raunch -- these things are unrivaled by most others. I grew up with music as my first love -- both in listening and performing -- and my favorite escape. More than anything else, the right music, especially when I am completely surrounded by it, and can feel it resound in every muscle and bone, makes me primitive, takes me out of my brain and into my sensory self.

The other reason is that this man, Mike Scott, is one of the most beautiful men I have ever laid my eyes on (and you've no idea how much it saddens me not to be able to say I have laid my hands on). The first time I saw him live, my ex very generously (and in truly good spirit) wiped the drool off of my cheek as I watched him, and handed me an empty cup should I have more salivating to do. It isn't just physical: genius, especially artistic genius, is my biggest aphrodisiac. I've thought for years that Scott really is our modern-day Yeats, and I'm always astounded by his talent and the sincerity and ease he seems to have with it.

But it is also physical and sexual, and in thinking about it this morning, I realized that I can trace the chronology of this sort of attraction -- really, what it is in men that drives me utterly wild -- all the way back to my childhood.

I took a trip to the vapid annals of one of the worst chronicles of mainstream culture, People Magazine, because I knew they did as showing of who they found to be most beautiful in the world every year. Now, given -- this is a pretty limited group, since apparently one has to be a celebrity to also be most beautiful. But in looking at the men (Heather & Her Women is another entry), I found myself crinkling my nose at every one of them (you know the crew, Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Mel Gibson, some football-player-or-another, ad nauseum), tapping off on my fingers as I went: "No, no, oh sweet Jesus no, oh get real, no, no..."
In fact, I found myself making this face, familiar to likely every American reared in the last 30 years or so. That's right: what is found generally attractive when it comes to men in western culture turns me into Mr. Yuk.
Bo-ring. Out with these clean-scrubbed, homogenized folks. Bring on the lithe, gangly-limbed, pale-faced, scruffy-haired, big-eyed, wide-lipped, strutting, slouching boys. They often seem to hail from England or Ireland, but that isn't a qualification, though the accent sure doesn't hurt. Bring me the boys who are rough around the edges, but sweet as sugar inside, the boys who paint or play guitar or write with a powerful voice but speak low and softly. Hand over those luscious specimens who are almost what'd be called "pretty boys," if they shaved a little more often, or cut their hair now and then, or didn't know they were bloody perfect in all their gorgeous disorder. Bring me these boys first thing in the morning, when they wake, their eyes full of sleep and their hair a rat's nest. Bring them before they've showered, not after. Bring them with holes in the knees of their jeans and sweaters from the Salvation Army. Bring them to me when they smell a little like last night's beer or tobacco, a little hungover and a little dazed. Always keep them a little hungry, a little seeking, a little dissatisfied, a little restless. Let them stay both innocent and cynical; idealistic but impatient. And deliver them all to me. I'll take VERY good care of them, I promise.

It doesn't matter if they're 18 or 40, these boys and men all at once just get better with time. They get sweeter in the middle and sharper on the outside and every year on them makes my knees a little weaker, my thighs a little warmer and my appetite a little larger.

Inevitably, they usually cut the straggly hair, or nature does away with a lot of it on her own. Inevitably, their art gets more subtle, and their speaking voice just the weest bit louder. Inevitably, they aren't as sweet on the inside as they seemed, or as swaggering on the outside. And that's part of the beauty of the thing.
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I grew up not only with musicians in our family -- especially by my father, who had his own brief glimpse of musical fame once, and hung out regularly with some of the better-known San Francisco crew in the 60's -- regarded as gods, but with images of scruffy boys with guitars all around me, in my ears and in my eyes. And, though I really am just now realizing this, my father, who has never figured out why women find him the least bit appealing, had his own stake in my tastes. My father was, and still is, as may not be a big surprise, gangly-limbed and slouching, rough on the edges and sweet as sugar inside. I get my wide mouth (called "Mick Jagger Lips" by some of my nastier schoolmates as a child, who clearly didn't realize I took it as a compliment, not an insult), my wild hair and the sharper bits of my features from my paternal side. It is certainly where my walk came from.

I grew into mad, sweaty crushes on Roger Daltrey, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Tim Buckley -- and most revered -- Mick Jagger: all boys with loud guitars and rough exteriors, who embraced their sexuality and let us all (gods bless them) enjoy it. I have no shame in confessing that some of my first masturbatory sessions took place with one hand down my own pants and the other inside the little zipper on the cover of Sticky Fingers. I've not a clue if the irony was lost on me, I'd bet it was. My first real-life crushes and adventures in romance were with pouting, gangly boys, though most of them are gangly before puberty hits anyhow. Perhaps this may explain why I was so seemingly precocious when it came to dating and coupling with boys: how couldn't I be when I was so surrounded by the epitome of my male desire? Truth be told, despite being bisexual, this is probably why most of my partners have been male: this, archetype, if you will, is really what I find most arousing, and it seems to come in XX-flavor most often. In terms of my own reaction and fixation, this archetype may be male-gendered, period.

It all flips forward, my history with these boys, almost like a parody of what I find appealing, especially since I rarely saw the commonality of all my partners in the moment. While I often have a hard time remembering all of my partners and affairs through my teens and twenties, or their names, I have no trouble whatsoever remembering ANY of the names of the man-boys who fell into this category of what I worship in men the most (I think). Really, check me out: Michael, Jimmy, Steven, Billy, Tim, Blake, Paul, Aidan, Terry, Courtney (oh, Beautiful Courtney of The Hair and The Boots and the French Accent, you made me sick as a dog, but you were one of the best Christmas presents I ever got) Matthew, two Daves, Aaron, Christian, James, Jez, Frank, Rob, Jamie, Eddie, Jim, Cal, Joe, Michael, B, Dan and... well, B. Again, several times. And still. Meow. I'll have you know I just rattled those off in less than two minutes, a feat that if you aren't impressed by, shows that you don't know me very well yet to know how truly impressive that is, given my history. And for those of you still out there among us, I adore you all. I did then, and I still do know, even though a few of you were outright assholes. You still make me weak remembering, even knowing how shitty some of you turned out to be. Bet your sweet ass I'd take you all up again, even in hindsight.

I don't intend to generalize or get too clichéd, but from my personal experience I must say that how a man plays an instrument is often highly indicative of how they execute themselves in the bedroom (or the kitchen, or pressed up against a van in an alley, or... well, wherever they can, sugar). And those boys -- those boys whose hands fly over the strings of a guitar or a bass or a fiddle or a cello -- see, I'm getting all caught up in myself again (I kid you not, it's getting very warm over here, and it's October in Minnesota). You've no inkling how terribly difficult it is getting to write this, especially because one of these boys is just in the other room, all mine whenever I want him. The point is, I get beside myself watching them because I know what they're showing me, physically, mentally, emotionally, in those beautiful, strong but delicate faces and bodies that house those beautiful, strong but delicate souls, hearts and minds.

It should also be no great surprise that I ended up with one of these in something that lasted far longer than a fleeting set of evenings. In fact, it's likely safe to say that anything less wouldn't hold my sexual interest for very long. And when I think about possibly rearing children in the future, in my heart of hearts I know I'm wishing that any boys I have fit this mold: that I could watch them grow into these black swans and smile to myself knowing that there will be boys and girls out there just like me who'll have trouble speaking coherently in their presence, and will, several times, emphatically thank the mother who bore them while wiping the sweat from their upper lip.
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If I write any more of this right now, it's going to be Sticky Fingers all over again, I swear. So, I'll leave this (for now) with a thank you note to Mike Scott. Thank you for an evening where I could feel incredible sound pouring through my body, moving in a crowd sharing that wild sonic caress. Thank you for an evening of your astounding poetry, of your rich guitar, of your rough but gentle voice, of your subtle but effusive spirit. And gods bless you, man, for giving me the truly delectable treat of having you in my eyes and my feet while I danced and pressed against my very own wide-lipped, big-eyed, sharp-cheeked, gangly-limbed Pan, and got to take him home and thank him right-properly for giving me something to feast my eyes and hands on every day.

Bring 'em all in, bring'em all in, bring 'em all in,
bring 'em all in, bring 'em all into my heart
Bring 'em all in, bring 'em all in, bring 'em all in
bring 'em all in, bring 'em all into my heart

Bring the little fishes
bring the sharks
bring 'em from the brightness
bring 'em from the dark

Bring 'em from the caverns
bring 'em from the heights
bring 'em from the shadows
stand 'em in the light

Bring 'em out of purdah
bring 'em out of store
bring 'em out of hiding
lay them at my door
Bring the unforgiven
bring the unredeemed
bring the lost, the nameless
let 'em all be seen
bring 'em out of exile
bring 'em out of sleep
bring 'em to the portal
lay them at my feet

Bring 'em all in, bring 'em all in, bring 'em all in,
bring 'em all in, bring 'em all into my heart
Bring 'em all in, bring 'em all in, bring 'em all in
bring 'em all in, bring 'em all in to my heart

Mike Scott, Minton House, Findhorn April 1994

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