Please welcome Dan Skinner with
(That Darn Muse)
Includes previously released Misadventures of Doc & Dirk, available for the first time in paperback, an additional episode, and more!
He's a middle-aged, newly single, gay photographer starting over. Along comes a freshly out nineteen-year-old, irreverent free spirit who wants to be his apprentice.
Mismatched by more than a generation, what could possibly go wrong? Everything! And it's AWESOME!
When I first saw my soon-to-be muse Dirk, in a gym I was struck by his coy nerdiness. A cute teenager with a fresh face, a residual of prepubescent freckles spilling from his upturned nose down his cheeks. He had that Eddie Redmayne-type of skinny build that clothes hung on nicely, and he was animated in both facial gestures in body language when he talked to his friends. As a lifelong photographer, people like this fascinate me, because they have a naturalness I find appealing and an honest, unaffected beauty. They're attractive because that's the last thing they're trying to be. The gym could be filled with jocks working on their perfect physiques, posing in their shorts and tanks for every mirror they could find, yet I’d find this young, sleek-faced, man covered head to toe in sweats more intriguing.
When circumstances ended up making friends of us because he was an aspiring student of photography, I found myself afforded the rare pleasure of being able to pull back the many layers of his personality. He was intelligent, but self-deprecating. His disguise as a shy bookworm hid a comedic, wisecracking observer of life. And most of all, that face that swore innocence masked a sexuality that was not just budding, but in full, fragrant, testosterone-driven bloom. He was neither virginal nor unknowledgeable, as his friends assumed. He was gay, but I wouldn't learn that until months later while he was working for me as an apprentice. Like I said, it was like peeling back as many layers as the clothes he wore.
As with myself, he's ADHD. I've always believed it added an element of creativity to my work that others couldn’t attain without the mental hyperactivity it produces. We tend to run like roadrunners when an idea strikes. Dirk is like that – times a thousand. His ideas come as fast as his tongue can throw them out.
When we're talking and inspiration strikes, it's like someone throwing gasoline on a Boy Scout campfire and turning it into a Burning Man orgy of flames.
Sometimes it's difficult to remember whose mouth the original idea spouted from because we both tumble into the momentum, feeding off each other.
People have asked me what I like most about our relationship, and I can be honest and say it can't be reduced to one thing. He makes me think faster, harder, and deeper about things because he's honest. I feel things more intensely because he somehow strips away the pretense we acquire by becoming jaded over time. He makes me care.
For Christmas the first year of our acquaintance, he dragged me to a homeless shelter to serve food and hand out clothes to the homeless before we had dinner ourselves. He did this because, his mother says, he was born with an over-abundance of conscience. She'd started this practice when he was a youngster to show him that the rest of the world was not as privileged as the one he was born into. It became a routine of his own as a young man because he could never forget what she'd taught him. I'll admit I'd never done it before, but watching him rummaging through boxes of used clothing to find things that fit the cold, hungry people in line did something to me. It made me realize that love for humanity was a real thing. He wasn't a politician doing a good deed for a photo opportunity. He was doing a good deed because he was a good kid. Seeing something like that can restore your faith in humanity.
He treats his sexuality like it’s an endless source of amazement. I'd lost that enthusiasm after a lifetime of bad relationships. He expresses himself with a boundless and refreshing boisterousness that reminded me sex was a fun thing.
But, more than anything, he’s like an electrical outlet, of pure energy I can plug into when I think I've grown tired. Suddenly the lights are on, the ideas come pouring in, and I’m alive again.
I don't believe fate or destiny guides people into our lives for any divine purpose. However, I do believe if we let down our guard occasionally and take a chance, sometimes something or someone wonderful can wander in. I got lucky. I know that. And I'm grateful for the mystery of every adventure he takes me on once he walks through the door.
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Dan Skinner is a new author who hates writing bios. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and has been a book cover artist for seven years.
Visit Dan's deviantart profile for more works of art.
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