The Warren Beatty Complex
Remember Warren Beatty? No, not the aging producer of today, but the Warren Beatty of the 60’s, (rent “Splendor in the Grass” to see what I’m talking about), the boyish, incredibly handsome actor who flicked from one beautiful woman to another, never considering any long term relationship until Father Time began to take its toll on his once hunky looks, and he decided to get legally hitched to the attractive but not all that beautiful Annette Benning and sire some kids. The rumor that he was actually gay I don’t think was ever substantiated, but whatever his true motives for marrying the first and, so far, only time in his life when he was well into his fifties, it seemed he had decided to “sow his oats” until he had exploited every last drop of his to-die-for looks and overt sexuality before taking himself off the market.
Ditto, by the way, for George Clooney.
There’s also a theory among some sociologists that beautiful women will fuck their youth away with super-masculine men, but when that biological clock for having kids starts ticking down, they choose the nerdy, pseudo-effeminate nurturing type. My gay neighbors told me they were the butchest guys among a sea of heteros at a birthday party for the son of a straight couple they knew.
Well, as a gay man on the north side of 50, I seem to see what I call the Warren Beatty Complex in a lot of gay male pairings. Sure, you’ll have your share of thirty-something, forty something dynamic duos that may last a few years before threesomes no longer work to revitalize the romance; but when it comes to something more permanent, more and more what, at least, I’m witnessing is the still pretty-but-beginning-to get-haggard guy settling down with some much older and grayer Plain Paul. The ones where you ask yourself, “what the fuck does he see in him?”
When sugar daddyism isn’t in the equation, it’s either the mirror and former pretty man’s psyche telling him he can no longer live up to his once wild reputation as a heartbreaker; or he’s decided voluntarily to hang up his jockstrap, at least publicly, and spend Friday nights at home watching TV with his designated partner, tired of having to be endlessly “on,” looking for some stability in his life, and finally waking up to the fact that a gym bunny lover isn’t necessarily the secret to happiness. And probably is as fleeting as confetti on New Year’s.
These guys I classify as the lucky ones, the ones who’ve played and played and played, and just when the needle in that long playing record gets stuck, “find” someone as a companion/lover for their – should I dare say it? – old age.
But I think for many gay guys, pretty or not, the scenario is not all that rosy. Waiting for Mr. Right, or I should say, Mr. Perfect, often an illusion colored by our own sub-culture’s perpetually adolescent fantasies, they, in the process, pass up decent guys who could really care for them for some empty-headed humps who can’t even spell the word commitment. Then, one day – in their late forties or late fifties – or for the well preserved among us – in their sixties – they wake up and realize Time has run out and they are no longer partner – or bedroom – material.
They’re the guys you see hovering around the bars and sex clubs, thin and brittle, or swollen and triple-chinned, but with a shadow of past sexiness lingering in their faces, still trying to play a young man’s game, still thinking they look hot in their leather harness, blotting out reality with too many rounds of two-for-ones.
They’re the guys on the hook-up sites who, at an admitted 55, say they are still seeking an “LTR.” Or are still waiting for “Mr. Right.”
Is it that Beatty had his epiphany before it was too late?