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In defense of flaking

Posted: December 9th, 2016 | Back Out With Benny, Columns, Featured | No Comments

By Ben Cartwright | Back Out With Benny

I had an interesting conversation with a man at a bar recently. After sitting next to each other for about 10 months, we struck up a conversation and the topic of “flaking” came up.

“Flakes,” for those who don’t know, are those who tend to say they’ll show up somewhere or do something, but then bail out, usually with no notice, reason, or phone call.

Benny Cartwright (Photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography)

Benny Cartwright
(Photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography)

So many gay men I come across say that San Diego has one of the highest concentrations of flakes, more so than they’ve experienced in many other places. I doubt there’s any research data to back this up, but I’ve only lived in San Diego, so I don’t have any other city to compare it to. I’ve always been a fierce defender of my hometown, and usually tell people who make the “flaky San Diego” claim that it might just be gays in general, or it could be because of the culture of social media and hookup apps that have led people in general to be less serious about following through on promises made.

I’ll admit it: I’ve flaked before. I’ve said I was going to some parties or events, and didn’t make it. I’ve even once or twice flaked on a friend or date. I’ve been late to meetings and events. But I will make one thing clear: I very much value other people’s time, feelings and respect mutual agreements and plans, and do my best to keep my commitments whenever possible.

Flaking isn’t cool.

But this very cool-talking, down to earth, seemingly “all together” guy at the bar asked me to think about it differently: Why are our lives so controlled by schedules?

“Flakes aren’t bad people, they’re just living in the moment,” he said.

It was an interesting perspective and really got me thinking, especially as we enter this very busy holiday season, which has my calendar so locked tight, I could barely find time to go over to my mom’s house one night this month for dinner. We schedule ourselves so tight with meetings, obligations and other things, that sometimes, the obligations lose their fun. It feels weird to have to schedule “friend time.”

Maybe it’s because I’m a Southern California boy, I’ve always been fairly flexible, try to take my time on things, enjoy sleeping in whenever I can and am just a bit slower about things (although I admit I talk and walk a mile a minute!), but my work, personal and social activities can really get overwhelming sometimes.

While I certainly don’t plan to make a bunch of plans and then “flake” on them, I’m going to really start looking at my calendar and deciding which events and obligations are really that important and which ones not so much.

I want to think more about what “living in the moment” might look like for me, without hurting or “flaking” on others and be more mindful of my own personal time.

What does “living in the moment” look like to you?

Getting Out With Benny

We’re in the midst of the busy holiday season, so there is just so much going on that I’m not even going to get to most of it, but here are some highlights that I’m looking forward to.

The Center’s “Come Home for the Holidays” on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 5-8 p.m. is an annual community tradition where everyone is invited to come together and enjoy food, treats and holiday cheer. Dozens of community groups will provide food and share information about the work they do. For more info, visit tinyurl.com/gp3hn5e.

The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus’ annual holiday show, titled “Jingle,” is another holiday tradition that so many look forward to. The Sunday, Dec. 11 show is already sold out, but you may be able to get some of the final remaining tickets for the Saturday, Dec. 10 show. Details here tinyurl.com/grml3b3.

FilmOut San Diego is presenting “Auntie Mame” (the Rosalind Russell version) for their next monthly screening on Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 7-9:30 p.m. I love this movie and can’t wait to see it on the big screen! More information here: tinyurl.com/jtlub7z.

Finally, I’m vice chair of the Hillcrest Town Council and would love to see all of my Hillcrest neighbors (and friends who love Hillcrest) at our first annual Hillcrest Holiday Mixer! The event will be on Friday, Dec. 16 from 6-9 p.m. at Gossip Grill with hosted appetizers, holiday cheer, special presentations and more! Join us: tinyurl.com/jtlub7z.

Happy Holidays!

—Benny Cartwright is the director of community outreach at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. He can be reached at 619-692-2077 ext. 106 or outreach@thecentersd.org. Note: Byline photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography.

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