In California, people often look almost eerily young, and I’ve always wondered what their secret is. Plastic surgery? Raw food? Energy work
? Or do they all have ageing portraits of themselves
in the attic? Whatever the reason, people here tend to age in California years. To calculate someone’s age in California years, according to the formula I have devised, you divide their real age by 1.3. Thus a forty-year-old who has lived all his life in California will look as if he’s in his early thirties. I came to California four years ago, when I was twenty-six. If you factor in those four California years, I’m actually about twenty-nine (which explains why I still like to go out dancing all night).
My friend Mindy, a glamorous creature with an enviable wardrobe and perfect skin, turned fifty this weekend, which makes her about thirty-eight in California years. On Saturday, I went to her birthday party, which was like a cross between Burning Man and The L-Word
. Beautiful women rubbed shoulders with fire eaters, a magician, a candy girl, and a fortune teller. A towering transvestite in pancake make-up handed out miniature latkes with smoked salmon, while a woman in a belly-dancer outfit proffered a sulky boa constrictor.
At the end, guests were given boxes of cookies containing fortunes composed by Mindy. The first one I opened read: “The polish on your toes should never be darker than the polish on your fingernails.” I sat down on a couch and eagerly began disemboweling the rest, as if one might contain the secret to eternal youth.
Then a man leaned over and said, “I have to ask, is that dress vintage?”
“No,” I said. I was wearing an extremely colorful mini-dress that I had chosen because I did not feel very colorful myself.
“Well, it’s fantastic,” said the man warmly. “Honey, you have the tightest look of any woman in the room. I’ve been watching you and you upstaged every woman here, except for the fire-eating woman, and that’s because she was on the stage. Everything is perfect, your accessories, your hair...”
As he continued in this vein, a wave of euphoria washed over me. I felt as if my entire body had been dipped in warm honey. It was a revelation. Who needs mood elevators when you can be flattered by an attractive, well-dressed gay man?
This one was a master at the art of giving compliments, knowing, as so few straight men do, that it’s more important to be specific than to be effusive, that “Your hair is always so shiny” is better than “You look fantastic.” He finished, “And you’ve got just the right amount of make-up, not too much and not too little.”
Mindy was sitting on the couch nearby. “I love
your friends,” I raved.
“They’re great, aren’t they?” Mindy said, smiling. As I looked at her luminous skin, I wondered if any of the cookie fortunes read: "Never be without a gay entourage."