Dear Ms. Behavior:Thank you for so much good advice. My question relates to dating and age. I lived in Chicago in the ’90s, and had a toxic relationship that lasted for seven years. I am now much happier back in my hometown.After nearly 12 years of celibacy, I am ready and looking at potential friends/partners. However, I don’t do the “bar scene.” Having worked in some notorious establishments for nine years, I don’t have any interest in the whole cruising “meat rack.”I am 44. The last time I went to a bar, I saw no one smile, and no one greeted me. I was rebuffed by nearly everyone with whom I tried to strike up a conversation, to whom I offered a beverage, or whom I asked to play pool or darts.I am of the opinion that the bars are for a generation or two younger then I am, and the whole body image thing just goes over my head.I am happy with how I look. I know that if I find someone who loves me for me, body image is second to the spirit and mind of the one you love.I have so much to share. I just don’t know where Mr. Aujourd’hui is.—Pax (Still Looking After All These Years)Dear Pax:It’s true that some bars cater to cruising 25-year-olds, and you might feel like an invisible middle-aged chaperone in such a place. But others, like piano bars or gay sports bars, often tend toward an older clientele.Still, if bars in general feel torturous for to you, you needn’t go there. You’re best off trying to meet people in a venue that’s within your comfort zone.You can be most specific about whom you’re looking for if you place a personal ad, or answer one that seems suitable (e.g., GM with shoe fetish looking for sensual shopping mate).You also can try looking in your local gay newspaper for events that sound like they’d draw people you’d find interesting: queer water skiing, gay furniture building, or homo sushi making.Most likely, plenty of other gay men enjoy whatever it is that you like to do. Join some local gay online groups organized around activities like reading or watching sports.If you make an effort to reach out gayly, you surely can find a nice man who likes to garden, knit, fish, or fist. If you can’t find a social group that appeals to you, place an ad in the paper, and start one.Still, if you’re rebuffed by literally everyone, something may be too aggressive or otherwise off-putting about your approach.Do you have a friend who could attend a social event with you, acting as your wingman, and then give you an honest assessment about your technique for meeting people? Sometimes, small things, like talking too close or too loud, or seeming too desperate, can make people shy away.It’s great if you can find someone who loves you for who you are, and not for how you look, but please make sure you don’t have any stray nose hair or earwax that could act as a deterrent.© 2008 Meryl Cohen. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected]. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.