My own private... Idaho?




Watched My Own Private Idaho again. And I found myself thinking about more than just the luscious beauty of a younger Keanu Reeves (I prefer the Matrix Keanu better, mind you) but thinking about when I was the guy's in the film's age. Funny, how the world of the glamorously homeless and sexually voracious seemed to be so mysterious and tantalizing when I was sixteen. I remember coming from school (Catholic, of course) and doing homework and having something to eat. And then going out to the street. To get together with other kids (we were basically kids) who would get together every evening to talk about men and clothes and going out.
It all seemed a game, a fun romp. But it was much more than that. It was a whole new way to see the world and to tap into the underbelly of a city who seemed to be in a constant stupor provoked by the changes in it s basic makeup that piled up day after day. The guys turning tricks to pay for the after-Saturday-night dance, the older guys who warned us against the policemen and their devious and lusty ways, the gender-bending guys and girls who fought conventionality in the middle of downtown while laughing their asses off. And the men. Plentiful, pliable, available and willing. I can't really remember how many men I had at that point. Between sixteen and twenty there were plenty. Not as many as some of my friends, who would have a new one every few weeks (or days) but enough to make me wonder if that did not spoil me.
It was exciting, though. Getting to know 'the life' and the guys who did not have to go to school and who could sleep with whomever they wanted at any time. They did not have schedules or homework or chores. They apparently only lived to come out at night and go dancing and do as many guys as they could possibly do.
But it was all a front, of course. There were the desperate four-in-the-morning tricks needed to pay the next week's rent I learned about later. The horrible childhood stories of neglect and abuse, the thefts, the backstabbing (literal and figurative), the fights, the sordid side to the beautiful faces and bodies. But there was that wild freedom that seemed to permeate every minute of those nights that I guess has stayed with me all these years. That desire to do as you please, that marked scorn for conventionality, that giving the finger to the establishment and that enjoyment of your own sui-generis attitude about sex and life.
Watching the Van Sant movie brought all that up. I can imagine what the movie may have meant for a cookie-cutter-dwelling, church-going hyperhomogenized teen living in early 90's middle America. I found it disturbingly familiar and somehow quaint. But not everybody has had my life, I guess.
It's kind of scary to think how protected some people go through life and how unaware they are of the world around them. Even scarier is their desire to keep things that way and their stubborn denial to accept and explore the 'otherness' of others. I guess it's better for them to be blissfully ignorant than painfully aware that the world is not what they want it to be.

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