The Geezer’s Gaze

September 10, 2014

For three days this past week I have subjected my sun-damaged face to a chemical peel with a new, jaw-droppingly expensive product called Picato. Then yesterday I emerged into the light of day.

All went well until my wife and I entered Costco in Kingston. Most people I had met to that point had basically ignored me or met my eyes and passed on. But several men of about my age stared. Right at me, eye contact and all, trying to figure out what was wrong with my face. The jarring disparity between their behaviour and that of other people I encountered left me wondering: were they staring because they were identifying with my plight or glorying in my apparent illness? Maybe they were also worried about their faces and bodies deteriorating. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn any more, and stare if they want to stare.

This was my first encounter with what feminists used to call the male gaze. It wasn’t pretty. I’d have to agree with their accusations of entitlement and objectivization. My few square inches of reddened skin really didn’t deserve to be viewed as an ugly bit of landscape, but that’s how I felt after these brief encounters.

In sharp contrast to the geezer gaze was that of younger women. They had no reaction beyond polite eye contact. At first I thought they were remarkably controlled and kind, but as I think about it, maybe they didn’t see beyond the gray hair and beard. Maybe I have moved into that age group where I am now invisible to pre-menopausal women.

What if the fellow geezers were actually the kind ones? At least they acknowledged my existence.

Anyway, I have discovered a new narcotic: Grey’s Anatomy, Seasons 1-3. Those episodes were better than codeine at making time pass in a smooth, mildly pleasurable manner. The shows are of consistent quality, just clever enough to hold one’s attention, occupy 42 minutes, and provide the kind of emotional “ups” Huxley raved about in his drug-addled Brave New World.

Grey’s is available for download in almost unlimited quantities as well, so after surviving two trans-continental flights on it, I went on a 3-day Grey’s holiday in bed away from light, without glasses, while the Picata chewed away at the sun spots. Grey’s Anatomy, streamed online without commercials, is Huxley’s Soma.


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