When we say we're dating ourselves, we mean, generally, that we're giving out clues that reveal our age. Not that said age is a secret, particularly; it's just that we'd prefer to define ourselves in terms of something other than the number of years since we tumbled/were squeezed/were ripped out of the womb.

There is, of course, a more-literal interpretation of the phrase, and what got me thinking about it was a video by a young (thirty-seven, which to me is young) woman who not so long ago was living as a young man. (I'm not, incidentally, looking for an argument as to the validity of that description: to me, she's a girl-type person, end of story.) For this piece, she reverted — with apparently a smidgen of difficulty, I note, at least as regards her voice — to Boy Mode, and tossed out the question: "If you could, like, clone yourself in the different gender, would you date yourself?"

My first reaction was about a 7.2 on the Ick Scale: "A woman who of necessity looks like me, and probably acts like me? Not on your life." I've never been attractive by the standards generally applied to men, but my deficiencies have never fallen under the general description of "looks like a girl", so I have no reason to think that a female version of me would have any appeal to the eye. (My eye, anyway. And if the next question is "How do you know?" the answer is "Been there, dressed up like that." Even allowing for the typical Drag Equation — 15 percent decoration, 85 percent projection — I am not persuasive. Then again, there was this one guy at the C-store who ... but never mind about that.) Questions of passability, anyway, are only slightly relevant; what's more important is "Could I actually get along with her?"

In an effort to isolate this factor while taking appearance out of consideration, I temporarily set aside the cloning idea and posited the idea of a more-or-less duplicated consciousness uploaded, or whatever, into a body resembling that of [fill in name of Major Babe]. It still didn't quite work. My peculiar, if not exactly unique, blend of whining and stoicism is off-putting enough; it's not going to be any more appealing in a dress. There's the advantage of shared values, I suppose, but if two people think exactly the same way, one of them is going to be essentially superfluous. If the prettier one gets to stay, I'm screwed, and not in a good way either.

Then there's the question of whether she'd have any interest in me. Based on my experience in the late 1980s, in which I managed to diffuse myself into two online personas, one of which was decidedly female, I suspect she wouldn't. (According to the official mythos, she moved away and married well; about the time this was supposed to be happening, I was having an actual nervous breakdown which required several weeks of hospitalization.)

Our video star, in the meantime, admits to a certain dichotomy: the male version is taken with the female version ("she's cute"), but not so the reverse. I'm guessing that she pretty much had to think this way to be able to leave guyhood behind. (Well, most of it, anyway; she's still pre-op.) Commenters on the video, unsurprisingly, were all over the map.

And then there's this lesson we got in high school, in a sort of pre-marriage-preparation class: "Suppose the person you're dating were the same sex as you." (Yes, folks, things were heteronormative in the 1960s, though none of us would ever have come up with such a word.) "Could you be friends?" The implication, of course, is that if you couldn't get along in a purely nonsexual manner, God forbid you should even think about getting married. (And this being a religious school, "God forbid" might as well have been literal.) The wisdom of this approach seems unassailable; still, the gap between Just Friends and "until death us do part" seems so wide that I despair of finding any application for it in my own life.

The Vent

  14 February 2010

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