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SENIOR MOMENTS Letter from Palm Springs
by Sukie de la Croix

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I'm 66 years of age, and growing old as a gay man isn't what I thought it would be.

I was rather looking forward to spending my twilight years sitting in a rocking chair reading Virginia Woolf and complaining about the neighbor's annoying dogs, kids and untended lawns—complaining about everything, really. However, old age … or my old age, at least … is proving to be highly amusing. I laughed my ass off the other day when I couldn't unscrew the lid of a marmalade jar and some days I have to roll out of bed because I can't muster the strength to sit up. I look like an overturned beetle, legs and arms pawing at the air.

The good news is that living in Palm Springs, I am not alone. When homosexuals in America stop swimming and float on the tide, they eventually get washed up here in the desert. This gay retirement resort is God's waiting room—sadly, there's no atheist equivalent to that phrase. You know what I mean.

When you organize a dinner party in Palm Springs, you have to work around everybody's colonoscopy. It seems like every week someone I know is having a camera inserted up where the sun don't shine—and not in a fun way. It's not just dinner parties, but anytime you meet friends: "Sorry, can't make it on Wednesday, I'm having a pre-cancer removed" … "I'm getting this lump checked out" … "I'm having blood work done" … "I'm having a stint put in" … "Sorry, Jim and I are going adult-diaper shopping that day" and "Does this colostomy bag make my ass look fat?"

So hosting a dinner party is a tricky business, involving fancy footwork and a cursory knowledge of medicine.

Hip replacement, knee replacement—some of these old queens are semi-robotic bionic bears. Daleks, R2-D2 even. Some have to plug themselves in and charge up before leaving the house. However, there's one part of their bodies that never fails to function at the sight of an attractive waiter bending over to pick up your napkin-a lot of napkins are dropped on the floor in restaurants in Palm Springs. If you look at a map of this area, you will see a river of Viagra flowing through the Coachella Valley, sweeping up octogenarians in its wake.

Viagra and cannabis sales are huge here.

Pee breaks. That's the other thing I've noticed here. Car trips with four gay seniors are punctuated by frequent pee breaks. When you're over 60 and you need to go, you need to go NOW—not in five minutes when you get to a gas station, but NOW. And when one pees, everyone else TRIES to pee, otherwise you're stopping every 10 minutes.

I say Palm Springs is a gay retirement town, but that's only one side of the story. It's also a gay resort, which means thousands of gay men arrive here every week for the clothing optional resorts, and thousands of lesbians for the annual Dinah Shore Golf Tournament. What is it with lesbians and golf? That was rhetorical, no need to answer. Some mysteries should be left as mysteries.

The upside to living in a retirement town is that you have gay men with long lives behind them and stories to tell. I've got growing-up-gay in the 1950s stories that would fill a dozen books. I also find that older gay men are more tolerant of eccentricities, are more broadminded, have mostly ditched religious pretensions, are more creative, and laugh a lot more than young gays.

I find younger gays—not all of them, but some—are more conservative, uptight and happily tow the politically correct party line on any given issue the left conjures up this week.

I prefer a good vintage wine. A swimming pool, a bottle of Chateau Vieux Gay Homme and enough marijuana to bring down a water buffalo, and I'm good to go.

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