Stiff Competition

Remember what it was like to be 20? When your only goals were to eat, sleep, drink, and get laid? (And to work just enough to cover the expenses of the aforementioned.)

Me neither, but sometimes I fantasize.

This morning, for example, I'm hard at work on my G3 - lounging on my porch swing, and watching the neighborhood come to life.

Today's first entry into the land of the living is one of my neighbors from three or four doors down. He's headed intently for the park, cellphone in one hand, cigarette in another - with a look of devout concentration on his face. He's wearing (starting from head to toe): a cowboy hat, a wifebeater tank-top, sweats, and flip-flops.

Now THAT is what I call a "look."

I went back to work, long before he disappeared out of sight. I've never been a really "neighborly" sort. I kinda keep to myself.

That's why it came as something of a surprise when a guy down the block told one of our interns that he lived near her boss. She then asked him what his impression was (probably thinking she'd get some noncommital answer), but his succinct response, after brief reflection was, according to our intern, "Yeah. I'd do her."

The uniform response among my social circle was, "aww, that is SO sweet."

It just made me feel old And nostalgic for a simpler day.

I mean, c'mon, how long's it been since you divided the world into two camps like that: people you'd do, and people you would not.

Wrestling in the 30+ age-class almost inevitably means dealing with an array of issues too exhausting to even contemplate: kids (who wants 'em/who doesn't?); custody (who has it/who doesn't?); substance abuse (treated/untreated/denied?); sexual orientation (has everybody agreed on a team? And are they committed to that team, or are they going to switch sides on you, halfway through the game?); parents (love 'em/hate 'em/ailing-dead-or dying?); professions (comparable levels of commitment and satisfaction and success are all key, or somebody's going to get "resentful," which is a synonym for "impotent").

While I'm not remotely interested in Sweet Young Thangs, older men have grown equally tiresome. Whereas I once (in my 20s) found their endless array of stories fascinating, I now find myself nodding off. What I once thought of as "depth," I now recognize as "baggage." What once seemed like "Byronic tragic melancholy," can now be swiftly diagnosed as untreated clinical depression, probably accompanied by a propensity for alcoholism and screwing around.

Hmmm. Did I share too much?

Then I really came face to face with my own mortality.

Last week, my head (or a version of it) could be seen plastered on punk-band flyers throughout the downtown area.

Underneath, I was identified, in an artful "scrawl" by my first name only.

Of course, that was fine. (Madonna... Cher.. etc. Now I just have to record a soundtrack and develop a huge homosexual following.)

Mostly though, it made me feel old: publicly skewered by a punk band half my age.

One of my coworkers sent out a press release labeled, "Coming soon: to a pole near you."(That's one thing I love about this place - the respect and awe I inspire.)

Oh, I didn't appreciate the swastika on my forehad, but it's not like this was exactly "actionable."

Because, as my pornographic email will attest, it wouldn't be the first time someone's "used" my "image" in an "unauthorized" manner.

All things considered, though, I think I've earned a midlife crisis/second childhood.

I came to this conclusion when one of my 20-year-old neighbors asked me, with great incredulity, "Why do you need more than one boyfriend?"

(They're in a position to observe a certain amount of comin's and goin's at the compound, so to speak.)

It's an easy question.

The same reason I need more than pair of shoes: not everything goes with every occasion.

Sometimes you need a Manolo Blahnik, and sometimes a Jimmy Choo. Other times: Birkenstocks or Timberlands. Just like sometimes you need an impeccably dressed attorney in Brooks Brothers, and sometimes you need a bass player in a wardrobe supplied exclusively by the Salvation Army.

Certain ethics do apply, and, if you're going to deal in volume, you have to reconcile yourself to a certain level of chasteness (or frequent blood tests).

Fortunately, with 12 years of Catholic School under my (chastity) belt-complete with short black-watch-plaid skirts and kneesocks - I am thoroughly familiar with the word "celibacy" (also: "tease"). I'm also a firm believer in serial monogamy.

Until that point, it really all comes down to "disclosure," courtesy, and manners. Because it's all fun and games till somebody loses an eye.

For example, I was giving a guy I know a (perfectly good-natured) hard time last week about some of his "dates," and I got this snippy protest against my perceived attempt to rope him into "exclusivity..." Huh??

Obviously, he had me confused with Our Blessed Virgin. Not sure why.

'Cause on OUR first REAL date, I'd introduced him to at least half of "the varsity lineup" (guys I could/would/have dated). Did he think they were all hanging around for my sparkling banter? Please. I should be so fascinating.

They all know that at the end of the evening there's only going to be ONE guy left standing on my porch - and they have been known to wait each other out till dawn to see who it's going to be.

Hell, sometimes I go to bed and leave them to figure it out. They almost always give up before breakfast.