On Dorian Gray and I

Trigger Warnings – Discussion of body image

Shocking news, Jacob Wolfe has been invited to a party for once and will not be posting at the usual time because instead he will be eating nibbles and standing in a room full of people dressed as vampires and/or zombies. I think the most shocking part of that story isn’t the theme of the party, being a Halloween party after Halloween, but that I’m actually attending a social event that isn’t just a work social or a family birthday bash. Being a Halloween party, I had to have a costume, something I’ve managed to avoid for a few years now but alas, festivity has caught me and is squeezing my balls and telling me to put on a pretty outfit so after batting around a few ideas such as Wolverine, Van Helsing, Gomez Addams (felt that was dumb without a Morticia on my arm) and Jon Snow, I eventually settled on something a little more unique, Dorian Gray. Okay, I’m not the first guy ever to pick this outfit but the odds of me finding someone in the same costume are pretty obscure and whilst it does involve the prop of a portrait, it’s a flippin’ good portrait a friend did for me, I’m going the whole hog so screw it.

As a man who often reads too much into things, I found myself wondering why I settled on Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is of course the short novel by Oscar Wilde about a handsome young man who sells his soul to stay young and handsome forever after a friend tells him to enjoy his youth and live life to the full. Corrupted, Dorian Gray abandons his virtues and indulges in a life of passion and sin, with a portrait of him made by his honest friend Basil aging in Dorian’s place, reflecting every sin and foul deed in its painted surface. Dorian eventually grows weary of this life of selfishness, his wickedness spreading death and disaster in his social circle and so he destroys the painting, dying naked and decrepit on the floor. Dorian Gray is a classic story about the balance of good and evil and the dangers of living a life solely revolving around vice or virtue, that life is a mixture of all things and that no matter what we do, we must embrace the consequences of our lifestyle choices and the responsibilities of our actions.

So Dorian Gray, why him? The boy is fair-haired and I’m not, the boy is smooth-faced and I’m not, the boy is tall and thin and I’m not. Well, it is one of my favourite books, that’s a start. I dunno, picking a literary character seems a bit pretentious I’ll admit and without the prop of my portrait, I just know people would assume I’m a vampire because my costume is basically a rather gothic suit. Part of me considers that I chose Dorian Gray because I associate myself with him, not in the homoerotic subtext kinda way that the uncensored book has (because another theme of this book is struggling with sexual identity and Dorian basically fancies Lord Henry, who symbolises a romantic vision of freedom as opposed to loyal old Basil who represents traditional values)  but on a different level that I shall explain to you now

I’m not meaning to brag but I like to think that between ages 15 and 18, I was quite handsome. Slender, reasonable height amongst my peers, long thick black hair and nice cheekbones, as well as a six pack under my shirt, believe it or not. I was, however, an asshole up until about age 17, I was selfish, vain and saw people around me as means to ends so in a sense, I was like the corrupted Dorian, I was good-looking and charming but I had no soul to me. I look in the mirror now, or rather at photos when I was trying to model for this portrait via selfies, that I do not look like that anymore. My face, no longer a sloping shape, is round and the beard serves to hide my chin which has become more bulb shaped. The six pack is gone and in its place is a pudgy little gut that sticks out over the top of my belt rather than my previous issue of “No belt holds my trousers up, woe is me”. The strength I once used to be feared as the school nutcase has gone and I run myself ragged just taking the bins out and what was once a frightening and intimidating man that commanded respect is the butt of every joke and smiling amiably, albeit in a forced manner, to everyone. However, I feel I am fundamentally more likeable and down-to-earth than my pretty boy past self, I have more soul, I’m more intelligent, I am not young forever but I have an honest soul to me.

Does this sound vain and daft? Comparing myself to Dorian Gray? Maybe, but I think Dorian is a character I can relate to, a man who struggles between worlds of influence whilst trying to maintain a dandy self-image and handsome appearance, perhaps some still consider me a good looking man and truth be told it could be worse, all I’ve got weighing on me is some tummy fat and thinning hair, it’s hardly a debilitating thing to live with but personally I don’t feel attractive. I can probably get over this with some exercise and a better diet, recently came to the realisation I comfort eat cinnamon buns when I’ve had a hard day, those sticky devils will kill me, but I feel awkward exercising alone and stupid exercising with a partner or in a group. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t

Ah well, I’ll go to the party, I’ll enjoy myself, I’ll be a slightly chunky Dorian Gray with facial hair he won’t shave off entirely for fear of his less-attractive chin and I don’t imagine anyone saying anything like “Aren’t you a bit short/pudgy/hairy for Dorian?”, heck, I doubt the guests will guess, thus the prop to help but honestly, I find a disappointingly high number of people know nothing of Oscar Wilde and that saddens me

…Ok, that was pretentious

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