Gay 'n Gray
|by John D. Siegfried|
A friend recently sent me an essay by Patrick O'Connor titled "Desperately Needed: A New Word for Gerontophil." In his tounge-in-cheek approach O'Connor bemoans the fact that in the gay lexicon there's no word or phrase that describes men who like older men or have sex with older men equivalent to the term chubby-chaser, which describes men who want sex with fat men. Chubby-chaser is descriptively alliterative (like "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers...") and meets H.L Mencken's demand to be "ingenious and amusing."
Gerontophil is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition as "Loving or favoring old people esp. old men; desiring sexual relations with old people." That hardly cuts it. Ingenious and amusing it's not. It sounds rather closely related to Tyrannosaurus Rex or some other prehistoric phenomenon. O'Connor ends his discourse imploring his readers to find a "wonderful new word for gerontophil." I took that as a personal challenge. "Should be a snap," I thought. After all, I enjoy playing around with words and it would be great to have on my tombstone, "He coined the word ______, meaning those who love old men."
But it hasn't been the easy task I envisioned. In fact for the past month or so I've asked all my educated, intelligent, erudite friendsboth of themto assist me but without success. We've had several entries in the close-but-no-cigar category, but no clear winners. Nevertheless, let me share my attempt at lexicographic creativity. If there wasn't a word like lexico-whatever before, there is now.
Wrinkle rubber is a possibility and it does have a certain ring to it. But there are problems. Rubber might be interpreted as condom rather than the act of rubbing and gently massaging. If some one came up to me in a bar, smiled, and said, "I'm a wrinkle rubber," I'd probably want to deck himthat's if he asked on a day when the arthritis in my shoulder wasn't too bad. The term infers that I have wrinkles when what I see in the mirror is facial skin that's 99.44% pure (thank you Ivory) and smooth. Of course, my glasses aren't on when I look in the mirror. Whatever lines are apparent I consider to be "lines of credit," not wrinkles.
I'd shun that bar beggar unless he clarified that he wasn't referring to wrinkles on my face but on other parts of my body. Then I'd probably ask if he'd like to see them all because some parts of me are more wrinkled than others and some of my wrinkles do disappear with rubbing.
Another possibility is senior stalker. It has alliteration but it sounds like an episode of Law and Order and for some reason most seniors don't like to be called seniors. Perhaps that's because the definition (and life expectancy) keeps changing. Today's senior is tomorrow's middle age. Well, maybe late middle age. Okaytomorrow's late, late middle age. If you move to mature gentleman stalker you lose the alliteration and end up with a mouthful of mush. Forget that one.
Of the various terms that my friends and I considered, geezer groper seemed the best candidate to replace gerontophil. It's descriptive, alliterative, rolls off the tongue and comes close to Mencken's criteria of "ingenious and amusing." There is, however, the possibility of misspelling and if the term comes out as geezer grouper, what you have is an old fish. I'm not sure how my lesbian friends would respond to that. Actually, geezer groping does describe what goes on in lots of older men's' bars and the bigger the crowd the better the groping.
In my younger years I'd probably not want to be affiliated with a geezer groper at the bar, but I'm old enough now to have no shame and if a guy approached me saying, "I'm a geezer groper, I'd probably tell him to start groping.
When I re-read the original essay Desperately Needed: to determine where I should send these clever creations, I was appalled. A tiny footnote at the bottom of the page acknowledges the source of the essay as Chiron Rising #58October/November 1993a fifteen year old publication. The organization Chiron Rising, which fostered interest and interaction between younger and older gay men has been defunct for several years. Now I have no where to share these inspired insights, these phony phrases, but with you, dear reader.
My disappointment, however, was partially assuaged with the recognition that if I have the good fortune that Patrick O'Connor or anyone is reading this article fifteen years after publication, I'll be delighted to have the line on my tombstone stating, "Here lies the creator of geezer groper" replaced with a simple smiley face.
John Siegfried, a former Rehoboth resident who now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, maintains strong ties to our community and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 08 June 27, 2008