Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Midwest Searches for Its Soul

I don't know much about America's heartland, or whatever you call that part that's more than a hundred miles from either coast. I don't know much about the west coast either, if it comes right down to it. I lack the mindset (and the flip flops) to live there, but, oh hell, I'm way off topic again, and I just got started. You may notice a certain, shall we say, lack of coherence to this post, but at least there are pictures. Some days, it seems like writing this blog is mainly an excuse to spend a quarter hour every day looking for pictures of hot men. There are worse reasons to blog, I reckon. I wanted pictures of hot farm hands, but I couldn't find any, so please enjoy this assortment of men wearing clothing made of animal skins. The connection to the Midwest is tenuous at best, but the guys are pretty.

Where was I? Midwest, right? It should go without saying, but I'll repeat it anyway: if you want to discover the character of a region, there's no better place to start than with its craigslist m4m missed connections ads: every region is defined by its lame gays. With that self-evident truth in mind, I decided to learn something about lame gays of Minneapolis. I had no idea that I was about to step into a hornet's nest of self-examination, recrimination, and doubt: a veritable battle for the soul of the Twin Cities. Oh, the humanity drama.

The opening salvo:

LTF Chan...this cat and mouse thing is making me nuts - m4m - 40

Reply to: pers-478454498@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-11-14, 7:37AM CST

This deal has been going on for way too long, we check each other out upstairs, in the lockerroom and the mirrors, by the showers, but neither one wants to make the first move so this is mine. chances are you wont see this, but then again you might. if you do let me know, we can figure something out. whatever it is it has to be away from there!

Location: Chanhassen

Innocuous enough, yes? It gives you the notion that the angst smoldering in the souls of the sons of Minnesota is perhaps a bit more profound than the angst of one of the twelve guys who posted about wanting to pump something or other with a guy they're afraid to approach at Results, but it's nothing terribly out of the ordinary.

But soon, there came a reply:

Re: Then stop playing cat and mouse! - m4m

Reply to: pers-478516082@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-11-14, 9:06AM CST

For crying out loud! - You are frustrated with cat-and-mouse so you post a vague ad (seriously, don't you notice how a bizzilion guys check each other out in the lockers and showers?) on Craigs List and call it making the first move?

Dude, this is laughable! You even admit that chances are he won't see your ad.

This is all so tragic. Snap out of it! Have some balls and approach the guy with a simple "Hi, my name is X, I've been meaning to introduce myself because you look like someone I'd like to know."

If he responds affirmatively, go with the flow. If he responds negatively, there is no harm done. Just say "Well, hope you and a good work out, good night."

Why is this simple form of polite exchange seemingly so excruciatingly difficult for Minnesota men? I am not from here but the ways of the locals are baffling at times.

The sentiment expressed in the above reply could easily have come from me. Hell, it has come from me, many times, right here on this site. But I didn't write it, of course: I would never write "bizillion," which, even if it were a word, would be misspelled. If the poster errs -- aside from the understandably rantish nature of his post -- it's in attributing this behavior to guys in Minnesota. My research indicates that lame gays are pretty much the same everywhere, at least in their lameness. But perhaps there is something especially baffling about the Minneapolitans, for it soon becomes apparent that a nerve has been touched:

RE: Cats and Mice and Minnesota Men - m4m - 30

Reply to: pers-478598409@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-11-14, 10:32AM CST

I agree with the respondent poster.

I've traveled all over the world, been to a thousand gay places in a thousand cities. Therefore, I feel quite comfortable saying:

Minneapolis/St. Paul (Minnesota generally), in my humble opinion, is filled with the chilliest, most passive-agressive, I-can-flirt-with-you-across-a-crowded-room-but-I'll-pretend-like-I-don't-know-you-if-you-approach-me, cliquish, gay men in the WORLD.

Have you ever noticed that gay guys move here from wherever, and eventually move away? I can't tell you how many guys I've talked to over the years who have moved here from Colorado, or Arizona, or Atlanta, or New York, or Europe, and last a year or two and then leave because they find it difficult to meet people.

If a gay man approaches me in this state with something like, "Hey, I'm X, I thought I'd say hello," my first reaction is to smile and say, "You're not from here are you?" 99% of the time they're not.

I don't know what it is about Minnesota. I think it's a combination of many things; self-importance, (I'm from here and you're not), self-loathing, a repressed upbringing that blossoms into a kind of arrogant stand-offishness. Plain old boredom and complacency that manifests itself as indifference.

Dunno exactly what it is, and I'm not saying it applies to EVERY LAST homosexual that lives here, but, no doubt, it's not just your imagination, guys.

It exists.

The gay community in this city used to have a very vibrant and active social life. It used to pulse with a certain amount of sparkle and blood and guts and FUN.

As the years have gone by, more and more gay establishments have passed away (Cafe Wyrd, Cafe Zev, The Metro, The Starlight Lounge, Boom, the 90's USED to actually be gay!), and most of the ones that exist today seem to be on their last legs. (Have you been to the Saloon on Friday or Saturday night lately? ---- Pretty dead compared to 10 years ago, no?).

Why? Most likely because of what we're doing right now. Networking without having to leave our little apartments or houses. Typing instead of talking. The internet. Email. Online personals and chatrooms.

The gay scene in whatever city you are in is reflected through the members of its community.

Pathetic reflects pathetic.

Location: downtown minneapolis

I gotta say that I love the above post. He gives a thoughtful analysis of what has since become known as "the Minneapolis Problem," and he use the sort of hyper-extended hyphenated phrase that always brings a tear of joy to my eye. (My right eye, if you're wondering: asymmetrical lachrymosity is a condition that runs in my family.) It's true that he uses a semicolon where he ought to use a colon, but nobody's perfect. I especially love the parting shot. "Pathetic reflects pathetic" reminds me of "abyssus abyssum invocat."

Of course, if we've learned anything from our years on the Internet, it's that the most rational word is seldom the final one. Backed into a corner, the Minneapolis lame gays strike back through their spokesman:

RE: Cats and Mice and Minnesota Men - m4m - 30 - m4m

Reply to: pers-478967140@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-11-14, 4:17PM CST

Well, I completely disagree with you views about Minneapolis and St. Paul.
I left here ten years ago and came back to a warm and friendly reception.

People here are guarded, and rightfully so. Once WE let you in, and you have passed all the tests, you will be very welcomed.
As for other cities, let me inform you that I have lived in Atlanta, Houston, Orlando and San Francisco. None of these cities compares to the quality of life you get in Minneapolis or the quality of people. This city is not only beautiful in it's scenery, but the men are the most beautiful.
Atlanta and Houston were the ugliest cities and San Francisco is pretty on the surface...once you get to know it, it becomes one of the ugliest cities in the world. As for the men, only the tourists are pretty.
We have low crime, clean streets, few gangs and you can actually walk down the street without being harrassed for money.
If you don't like it here, might I suggest you move on.
Many people move here, but the important thing is that those of us that leave are not only proud to be from here, but return!
As for the bars, all cities are experiencing the lack of attendence. The internet has spawned a whole new dating experience that is intriguing. Give it a few years and once you realize that over and over again, the trick you picked up on line does not actually look like his pictures...you get the picture.
As for making friends, try to meet one person. Make him your friend. He will have friends and so on and so on.
Just because you were popular in your former habitat, does not transfer your fame to this city or any other. Trust me I found out!

P.S. don't do any of us wrong...we are very connected and you will get a bad reputation very quickly.

I think that post speaks (badly) for itself, but naturally, other people had to speak to it. Before I get to a response though, I thought I'd just throw this one in:

hey Joe if you see this - m4m - 45

Reply to: pers-479000070@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-11-14, 4:49PM CST

Hey Joe could you give me a call when you get the chance? Thanks, Paul

Location: Minneapolis

Really, Joe: what gives? Call Paul already, will ya?

Back to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress:

RE: RE: Cats and Mice and Minnesota Men - m4m - 30

Reply to: pers-479011676@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-11-14, 5:02PM CST

In response to the response to my response may I just say:

You have just proven my point about the vibe that one gets from gay men in this city.

You say, "Once WE let you in, and you have passed all the tests..."
I say, "Point proven on cliquishness... You've just become of the epitomy of junior high girl, testing your classmates to see if they're good enough for you. Shame on you! Go play four-square or something until you can act like a grown-up."

You say, "This city is not only beautiful in its scenery, but its men are the most beautiful"
I say, "As if the most important thing when it comes to quality of life is the beauty of the men! Dear GOD you're shallow. And you've once again proven my point about what's important to most gay men in this Minnesotan gay community. And besides that, I don't know what the hell La-La Land you're living when you say that the men in this city are more beautiful than elsewhere... Dude, that's just plain and simple not true."

I also find it easy to believe that someone like you would find the internet's "dating opportunities" intruiging. It would seem to fit your kind of vain, and selfish need for cleanliness and beauty... This way you won't have to leave your house and deal with nasty things like panhandlers (*shiver*) or, god forbid, COLORED PEOPLE! (*shiver*).

You can stay safe and sound cocooned in your little bubble of midwestern self-centeredness. :)

Good for you!

Why is it that people who get riled up never remember to spell check? Perhaps we should check out a somewhat less vituperative response:

Mice, Minnesota Ice, they go out to bars to be alone - m4m

Reply to: pers-479819538@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-11-15, 1:18PM CST

I moved to Minnesota twenty years ago and have made some very close friends. It can be done. This is a great state, so I hope you don't think I radiate negativity. Nonetheless, I gotta tell you . . .

I still hang out with native Minnesotans who chuckle while they tell the amazing story about how I walked up to them at a bar/party/library/store and introduced myself to them in hopes of making a new friend. The natives listening to the story all marvel at the utter strangeness of someone that they DID NOT ALREADY KNOW (!!!!!!) walking up and making a polite introduction.

Often they get this look of incredulity that seems to say "You mean a perfect stranger talked to you, Ole? Uff-da! Didn't it make you want to run?"

I don't have the heart to tell them that getting to know new people is commonly done outside the borders of Minnesota. In other states, people welcome the opportunity to "open the door" for someone new and expand their horizons. Instead I let them rib me good naturedly - I'm that crazy guy who talks to people even if I have not known them for years.

I have gone to other states and heard people tell me that they spent several days in Minneapolis on business and never once did anyone strike up a conversation. They went to bars and everyone kept a distance. It seemed to them that everyone assumed that they went out in public so that they could be alone. People looked at them suspiciously if they tried to start conversations.

I actually had a good friend (native of Minnesota) tell me once that he would never date anyone that he did not already know well. I asked him "So, how exactly do you plan to get to know these people, prior to dating them?"

Dead silence. He just stared at me blankly.

And that, my friends, is the Minnesota conundrum in a nutshell. You won't be accepted until Minnesotans know you, but Minnesotans won't give you much chance to get to know them.

So there you have it. I've been to Minneapolis, but it was probably seventeen years ago when I was married and had an infant in tow and was there for my ex-wife's cousin's wedding, so I didn't really have the time or inclination to check out the bar scene. I don't remember much else. I think there was a nice lake there. But it's pretty clear from the missed connections that Minneapolis is a powder keg of suppressed rage just waiting for the right spark to light it. Whereupon it'll fizzle out completely. Think of the drama in Minneapolis as West Side Story but where less attractive versions of the Sharks and the Jets never actually talk to or fight with each other, choosing instead to kvetch amongst themselves over second-rate beer. Then they go home alone and jerk off. Also, Norm Coleman:

I think it's off my list of potential vacation locations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have low crime, clean streets, few gangs and you can actually walk down the street without being harrassed for money.

Heh...how funny--I had the same thought as the first responder to this: "He means no Black people!"