. . . I just play one in Second Life.
Second Life (google it): that fantasy playground in cyberspace, the holodeck in 2D, those dreamscapes in pixels and LCD screens.
I found SL during the holiday season -- and was immediately hooked. It has been a pleasant addiction, one I've tricked myself into believing is "healthy" because I indulge in a bit of capitalism on the side.
But, it isn't the trading that's got me down -- it's who and what I am.
When I joined, it was automatic. No conscious choice . . . no deliberation . . . no game of deception. I just pointed, clicked, and "poof!": for the first time in my life, I was a girl. There were no second thoughts about it either . . . I went about learning how to navigate, how to build, how to fly. My psyche merged itself with its new feminine identity like we had been separated since birth; or in her case, since before the account became premium.
Within a matter of hours, I was trading newbie hair and newbie skin for flowing and delicate -- and within a matter of days, I had my first boyfriend . . . who thought I was a girl in real life . . .
Again, no act of deliberate trickery -- "She" was me, and when he failed to pay me enough attention to she-me, I proceeded to acquire more and more boyfriends . . . until I had a stable full -- enough to keep me feeling needed and wanted, and more importantly -- beautiful and feminine.
Except, that I'm none of those. I'm a middle-aged gay man slap-ass in the middle of an existential crisis that's been boiling for several years. Okay, I'll dumb it down -- "mid-life crisis" -- same difference, except that it's worse for smart people.
Instead of just worrying about the small things like whether we could ever attract anyone other than the one we tricked into pseudo-matrimony, we choose "since I now understand that there is no God, what is the point of anything?" - or - we amuse ourselves by watching people who overly concern themselves with news and politics, as if the extra ulcer will actually slow global warming with the all-encompassing power of its acidity.
That's the good thing about SL -- I've stopped watching TV altogether: not only the news, but HBO (and that's not even TV) and Showtime and Logo and Bravo . . . I've even stopped blogging and reading my favorite blogs. Who gives a flying fuck if Keith Boykin writes another self-indulgent "weight training" entry, or if malcontent finds even more common ground with Newt Gingrich than I ever could? I realized the moment Kos opened his mouth on Bill Maher that the pretense of bloggers affecting politics was mostly a sham -- as if Kerry's defeat wasn't proof enough. Sure, they can "find things," but so do church ladies -- and you have to search through tons of cushions and nooks and crannies, turning up nothing more than a lot of lint and a handful pennies before ever finding that rare twenty-spot, or a Franklin.
But, let the hair-splitters continue grinding gears behind curtains . . .
As for me, I've gone somewhere else . . . trying to find my own truths in the nooks and crannies of a virtual world.
About halfway through my second SL boyfriend (also straight and doubly clueless), suddenly . . . it hit me. And, it was hard realizing this -- the fear of being discovered and possibly slaughtered for the crime of having virtual sex in a multiple-animation bed powered by a Grade A premium mam-beef on the other PC was enough to prevent a lot of things.
But, it hit me one night . . . I wasn't pretending to be a girl. I was one. I am one. At least . . . in my head. Suddenly, it all started to make sense: my inability to relate to my own gender, my inability to relate to other gay men or homosexuality in general (although I've functioned as a well-adjusted gay man most of my adulthood), my own desires, my frustrations . . . things that seemed so disordered before seemed to be rearranging themselves on the puzzle table -- almost without my assistance.
By boyfriend number three, I decided that I was "a woman trapped . . ." as the cliche' goes. And so, I dreamed and imagined how i might be transformed, and of course -- how I would get rich and famous in the meantime so that my fake boyfriend would want to be with me (instead of killing me when he found out) . . . and other assorted delusions of grandeur.
And then I researched transgenderism, the "surgery" and all that -- and realized that the most possible outcome would be this: if I bankrupted myself to have this surgery, I would not only lose my real-life boyfriend (who is most definitely not straight or bi by any stretch of the imagination), but I would most definitely estrange myself further from finding lovers among all members of my gender -- gay or straight. Getting your dick wacked off does not make straight men like you. The creme of the pie was this: I would also (and most definitely) lose the only dick I would ever get from there on out -- making the situation more hopeless than it already seems.
And so, I've become more rational about my Revelation from On-Line: emotionally, I am a woman. Physically, I am a guy. So, until that great and final day when they come up with GirlTron3000 Genetic Transgenderizer, I will follow this moral: If you're not going to get more dick when you trade in your old ones . . . you gotta keep the ones you have.