Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Memories from the Ace Phase

One little dodge I use to be able to read and share so many links is that, before going offline, I cache or print as many web pages as possible to read at home. Last night was a bonanza--every single thing I cached stayed in the browser, no tiresome cookies to fill up the screen with the news flash that the computer was offline. One comment on two links seemed too long for the Link Log, all the more when I came online and found a third link on this here's what I have to say about having been temporarily asexual.

Asexuality is…usually temporary.  But valid. People need to know that, whether young people have secret passionate crushes on people they know better than to get closer to than ten yards, or don’t, trying to nudge them toward more active heterosexuality just to prove that they’re not homosexual is rude.

A few more memories from the Ace Phase:

1. “But Joe likes you.” (Maybe if he told me that, consistently, I might like him as a friend enough to put up with…a few kisses anyway. Since you told me that, I don't even believe it's true, suspect Joe is setting up some kind of prank, and think of him as an enemy rather than a friend.)

2. “You can’t have lived in that body for that long and not…” I had, whether the pushy person believed it or not; I might have thought about sex before mononucleosis (actually I had, quite a lot, but only as an idle speculation since I didn’t lust after older men and didn’t want to get serious about any fellow teenagers)but I didn’t for a few years after.

3. “You can’t seriously expect me to believe that you were with him and…” I was a model, among other gigs, and I had a few dates with a guy who was in TV commercials, and he'd also had mono and neither of us cared much about sex. During part of that time I also shared a house (not a room) with a guy who told people we were engaged, behind my back, but actually he’d barely survived a car accident, with extensive nerve damage, and didn't care much about sex either. Much later I had a few dates with a People magazine cover bachelor, and I was no longer asexual, but "The Sexiest Man Alive" was; I understood. They were friends, I’ll always wish them well wherever they may be, and none of them was what I’d call repulsive—or even handsome-in-the-way-a-relative-is-and-therefore-sort-of-repulsive-at-close-range. Just asexual, at that time. (I've heard that all of them have married women by now.) I was cool with that. I don't care what the uptight, uncool, envious people thought about it.

For those who can’t understand asexuality any other way, may I suggest trying to imagine that your own sexual appetite has been completely satiated, and at that moment, up comes the least attractive person you can imagine, whining “What about me?” Right.

And no, contrary to folklore, when people phase in or out of asexuality during their lifetimes, the resting size of certain body parts does not change. Responsiveness changes. Resting size is constant. Even if that size is a bit out of proportion to the rest of the body; that, all by itself, means nothing about the person’s sexual identity. (Sexual identities change, anyway, sometimes in minutes, as in the well-known T-shirt slogan, "I can go from zero to [rude word of choice for an obnoxious person] in -- seconds.")

I’ve not reverted all the way to ace, myself, although when all the decent men I see are relatives, for months on end, I feel close to it. I’m heterosexual, monogamous, and going through widowhood all over again before the wedding because my Significant Other has been ill. Given opportunities, some of my elders have hinted that we may not be completely postsexual before age eighty or ninety, but after about age fifty the hormone cycle does slow down. A long way down. If we don’t get all the way back to “Eww, who wants to kiss a yucky boy/girl,” we do get back to week after week when we’d really rather cuddle up with a good book, or pursue a good working project.

Still, once in a while…I’ve seen people in their eighties do all kinds of things the young probably don't want to think about anyone that old even remembering. Sometimes people who go through “ace phases” when we’re young are just running through our lifetime supply of hormones at a slower pace. Aces may eventually become Aces-of-Hearts after all. Just don’t annoy us with your stupidity by poking at us and trying to predict what may or may not happen in the next fifty years. (Due to the shifting female hormone cycle it has never been hard for me to remember my Ace Phase, brief though it was.)

That said…I don’t even like to think about “missing a meniscus,” which sounds as if it hurts even when you’re not moving the knee, but this is a…nostalgic sight. I really am, and have always been, turned on by doing useful work with the man in my life. The long-term boyfriend, the late lamented husband, the current Significant Other, and yes, that’s also what made it possible for me to like the troll I later met in cyberspace using the name “Craig.” Half my life ago I didn’t have a real crush on Craig and was still more ace than het, and he wasn't exactly "hot stuff" either, but for a year or two I did honestly find things to like about him…because we moved furniture together.

Anyway. If you are or have been ace (I'd say post-mono, post-injury, PCOS-related, etc., count if these things zapped your interest in sex for a year or longer, at any age above eighteen), the web site linked below would like to hear from you. I took it because a correspondent wanted to boost the numbers. I currently consider myself aging more than asexual, but I do want people to know: It's real. It happens. To models. And actors. And celebrities (as it might be because they're stressed out by being celebrities). And all sorts of Bright Young Things. And some of us relate well, during or after our ace phases, to people who self-identify as homosexual (some of whom, especially if female, aren't all that interested in sex either actually); and some of us are solidly heterosexual, but for whatever reason we just don't want to do anything about it, as of today. 

Maybe someone who's self-identified as ace and refusing to give his/her/its/their parents grandchildren, this year, will be interested in things that might lead to grandchildren next year. What those parents can do to help that happen--I mean, the way they want it to happen, with the permanent marriage and the healthy grandchildren and all--is stop pushing. Everybody does not have to go through the misery of a heavy high school romance that can't legally be consummated, the horrors of an abortion following drunken beach sex on spring break, or the all-prevailing yuckness of getting divorced because you married somebody like Craig to prove that you and he were "normal" and you realized that, if that was "normal," normal wasn't worth the trouble. Some of us can actually sit on the sidelines, learn from our friends' mistakes, and choose to be sophisticated virgins when we get married just once until death doth us part. Even if we have body shapes Hollywood has conditioned you to associate with fictional characters who act like sex maniacs. I have, and had, and did. So relax already.

Other people are ace for life--sometimes as the result of healthy genes, as well as unhealthy genes that produce obvious illness, or the fear of having inherited a disaster gene that seems to have kept the poet Charlotte Mew celibate for life. This web site recently discussed Edward Gorey and linked to a biography that identified him as ace. Dare Wright was another artist/author who comes to mind as a classic example of a rare but healthy genetic pattern associated with asexual blonde women: she didn't seem to age, didn't date, didn't seem to want to date, was a model as well as a photographer (and thus earned money playing with dolls and bicycles) into old age, and picked up young men who didn't see her as a grandmother-figure...around age eighty. There are worse things than being a rich, famous, quirky, never-married and baby-free artist.

Enough of the sermon. People over fifty are usually quite tactful about postsexuality in the over-fifty crowd; it's the young they verbally and sometimes physically harass with their tacky, disgusting crotch-sniffing displays, which I remember as quite an effective way of giving me the idea "People who take any interest in sex or marriage get to be like that--ugh." So, if you are or were one of those young people, others may appreciate your weighing in:

Ocracoke in the Fifties by [Wright, Dare]