Sunday, 24 June 2007

My Favourite Things

This week I met a rather strange fellow at a party. He was introduced to me by a friend who fell for Gay Misconception No.1; all gay people will get along swimmingly and instantly want to sleep with each other. While there may be some circumstantial evidence to support this point of view, it is most certainly not the case when one of them is a depressive psychotic with a habit of spitting his sibilants. Please note, not me.

For all his difficulties with bodily fluid retention, the Depressive was an interesting case study. There’s a reason we’re referred to as ‘gay’; it fits. “Ooh, did you know, our Kenny’s come out?! Y’know, the dramatic prancing one who wears the frilly pink panties? Yes, who’d’ve guessed; he’s a Morose!” Doesn't quite work does it?

By contrast, the Depressive was pretty pissed off about his lot. If he could’ve believed in some higher power without also being given a one-way taxi ride to Hell, I’m sure he would’ve given God an earful. Or Buddha. Or... And I’m stopping now.

The negative energy of the experience grated, so to redress the cosmic balance I’ve decided to spread some positive love. And you, my lucky readers, are the conduit through which my love flows. Savour that image, and then read on to learn why…

It’s Great To Be Gay

1. Relationships: With two men, these are a piece of piss. There's none of this ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ bollocks. No sireeee, it's just two Martians getting down and jiggy with some green-slimed, one-eyed, E.T. lurvin'.

“You like sci-fi action movies where Hugh Grant is ripped to pieces by marauding zombies and then fed to the Giant Ant Queen? Hey! So do I!”
“You'd like to do some destructive DIY this weekend involving big drills, lots of noise and dust throughout the house? What, instead of shopping for strappy shoes? Awww, sweetheart.”
“You fall asleep 17 seconds after sex? Fourteen for me.”

2. Lifestyle: The genetic quirk that causes men to like men seems to lie next to the triggers for good fashion sense, conversational eloquence, intelligence and tight buns. Read ‘em and weep ladies.

3. Toilets: We’ve all been here. You’re out with your partner at a musical/play/concert/Star Trek Convention, it’s time to go home but it’s a long journey so you both decide to pop into the loo before you leave. Unfortunately, by the time the XX-chromosomers among us are done, the queue for the carpark has snaked its way to Helsinki and back and you’re truly fucked. Oh look! Guess who’s at the front of that queue? Go XY!

4. Male changing rooms: My favourite. At some point in the history of sexual repression, some ugly monk decided that it was indecent for men and women to see each other's nudey bits in public, and voila! the same-sex changing room was born.

This system works wonderfully for stopping dirty fat Victorians from leering at the exposed ankles of young ladies, but rather comes unstuck for gay men. In fact, it has rather the opposite effect, creating the kind of show one would normally pay good money for… ahem, theoretically. For the women out there, it's a bit like donning a fake beard and being allowed to run around hugging the English rugby team at full time. For the fellas, well, it's a bit like being let into the Ladies changing room.

And before I sign off, I just need to slag off Julie Andrews. All this talk of ‘My Favourite Things’ has reminded me of how disgustingly saccharine that song is. Bright copper kettles? Schnitzel with noodles? Please. The girl wasn’t aiming nearly high enough. If we’d had a bit more focus and a little less Goody Two-Shoes action she might’ve got the Captain’s money and ditched the kids at boarding school. Feel free to sing along.

Twenty-four billion in Microsoft assets,
Daniel Craig’s torso in glistening wet spandex,
Flying to New York for breakfast with Sting,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cheating at poker and stealing from babies,
Imagining Paris in jail with the ladies,
Angolese diamonds and hip-hoppa bling,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Pool boys and firemen and Chippendale waiters,
Darcy and Heathcliff in nothing but gaiters,
Craig in brown paper all tied up with string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

When my hair’s flat,
When my bum’s fat,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Feeling the love

Today I am angry. Angry angry HW. Specifically I am so sick of the assumption that as a gay man all you need to do to meet Mr Right is wander down to the nearest club, dip into the communal gene pool (watch out!; the edge is slippery) and drag him back to your cave. The reality is that gay clubs are freakish abominations where the best you can hope to take home is an obscure Amazonian rash.

Your Honour, I present the Prosecution's case.

Exhibit A: a diminished sense of self-worth

One this occasion H – my ever-faithful wingwoman – has got so sick of me moaning about being single she has forcibly dragged me to ‘Bristol’s Premiere Gay Nightclub’, for which you may read ‘Bristol’s Only Gay Nightclub’. She is convinced that Mr Right is lurking in the stinking damp corners of its dancefloor, and that if we can’t find him we may at least thank ABBA for the music and show those dirty homos some moves. I’ve washed my jumpsuit and everything.

You find us soon after arrival, perched at the bar, knocking back a few G+Ts. I’m trying to build up some Dutch Courage, and I suspect H is trying to ignore the small crowd of women in bomber jackets that is sniffing around her. To get the ball rolling she asks:

H: “So, c’mon, who do you fancy?”
HW: “Ummmm, the barman?”
H: “Oh please, HW, he’ll be some Bristol University dropout who thinks George Eliot was a man. Try harder.”
HW: [George Eliot wasn’t a man? Fuck, what was he then; some kind of hermaphrodite?] “Ummm, the guy at the end of the bar?” I point at a chap wearing a pinstripe suit and loosened tie sitting calmly by himself.
H: “Well, off you go then.”
HW: [Poor bastard, those Victorians must have really given him a rough time] “Oh, I can’t. Please don’t make me”.
H: “Go ON!”
HW: “Please don’t…” [Am sure no one picked on poor George like this].

H makes me.

As I approach Mr Pinstripe I have the horrible realisation that I have never, ever, had to use a chat-up line in my life. This is not a nice feeling. A quick ransack of my brain confirms it is a hollow darkness with a few off-cuts from Woody Allen movies resting in the bottom. I’m fucked.

HW: “Soooo…… Ummmm……Ahemm, yes ah……Do you, ummm, mind… if I join you?”
Mr Pinstripe: [Looking at me like I’m shit on his shoe] “Yes.”
HW: [Momentarily stunned] “……Right. OK. I’ll, ummm, I’ll be off then.”

I skulk back to H, having to admire Mr Pinstripe’s total disregard for my feelings. He is aware of some greater Hierarchy Of Visual Compatibility which grades gay men into strata of beauty, the kind of thing that completely passes me by. I have ventured out of my stratum and been justly punished.

Fuck them all.

Exhibit B: second degree burning to the lips and chin. Medical report confirms symptoms consistent with Pash Rash.

After that little experience you’d have though I’d have learnt my lesson, but no. On this occasion I have not only managed to enter a gay club by myself but have successfully initiated a conversation with a man. I can only assume I thought I was in a hardware store and that my request for plumbing services has been misinterpreted, but so be it. I’m going with the flow.

Things appear to be going well. He works for the BBC World Service writing political stories about Albania, and so far I’ve managed to avoid letting on that I have no fucking idea where Albania is, although I have a suspicion it may be a spoke on Dubya’s Axis of Evil. He also has a head, all his limbs and no outward signs of fuckwittism, so I’m doing better than the apode I got stuck with in the last bar.

Despite all this I’m bloody nervous, so cue Involuntary Fidgety Gesture No. 236; taking off my glasses and cleaning them with my shirt. Possibly because this causes a spooky resemblance to Clark Kent, or possibly because he’s looking for any excuse, The Albanian chooses this moment to stick his face onto mine. One minute we’re talking some rubbish about the privations of the poor in Algeria or Alberta or some place, the next he’s trying to chew off my epidermis.

Minutes pass, during which I mostly ponder whether it’s salmon or atlantic cod he had for lunch. Eventually the respiratory system comes to my aid and The Albanian has to surface for air. I use this opportunity to push him gently away and say, “I’m sorry, this isn’t really what I wanted.” To which he replies “No, it’s not really what I wanted either. I just thought it was kinda expected.”

I’m sorry? What? Expected? Expected? In the way that one expects the use of sugar tongs because fingers are vulgar? Or that you expect a gentleman to avoid the use of spirits, tobacco and onions in the presence of a lady? How about we try this one; I expect to be able to hold a conversation with another human being without my uvula being treated like a smurf-sized punching bag. Good god, gay etiquette is truly fucked.

The Prosecution rests. I don’t give a fuck about the Defence’s argument. It’ll just be some twat in a pin-striped suit anyway.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The winner takes it all

I’m not a fan of loose ends, so it’s time to tie a big fat knot in the speed dating story. Here’s a summary of the situation as we left it.

Option 1: The Barrister: tall, funny, sexy, leaves me with a winning smile.
Option 2: The Speed Date Organiser: blonde, cute, hot, leaves me with his phone number.

It’s clear before the race has even begun that the Barrister has a heavy no-phone handicap, and as the gun goes off The Organiser leaves the stalls with a clear head start. Exploiting his advantage he texts me within half and hour of leaving the venue to tell me that I have a hot arse (ohhh, bless), thereby increasing his lead to a body-length.

A week of dinner and drinks follows, and I am completely smitten. On the bus I find myself wondering how The Organiser would look in lavender tails with a carmine trim, or if open shirts would better suit an April wedding. At work I take the down pantone swatches and try different colour combinations for the walls of the childrens’ nursery. And at night I get the big pot out from under the sink and warm some water for his pet rabbit.

Around this time I get an email from The Barrister, whose horse has stopped for a snooze in the clover near the starting line. His real name is actually Justice Hordinger*, and the email comes from

“Wow!” I think. “Justice must be veeery important at his Barrister-thingy place to have his own name as an email address. Interesting. I’ll just see what google has to say about it”. Within seconds later I’m at The website is dominated by a stylish black and white photo of a man in a tux whose suave expression says “Oh Moneypenny! Let’s do it now! Yes, on the exploding pens and the typewriter because you drive me mad with passion!”

“Odd,” I think, “he looks a bit like The Barrister.”

Digging a little further I discover that is a website for an internationally recognised magician who has done shows in Europe and Vegas. He has his own book and has appeared on an American TV programme called “The Greatest Magicians in the Universe”. And there are more photos.

“Fuck me,” I think, “it IS The Barrister!” Barrister. Magician. Magician. Barrister. He defends the rights of the Innocent while sawing beautiful women in half. He pursues Truth by day and makes you dance like a chicken by night. He steals your wallet, swallows your kitchen knives and pulls a rabbit from your trousers, all while wearing a powdered wig.

Suddenly this is a two-man race again.

The problem is, I am not a player. I’m a one-man kinda guy, and finding myself having to juggle two potential Mr Rights causes my brain to go into catatonic shock. Fortunately the thumb of my right hand is ready to take over the reins, and it sets about busily texting The Organiser with wilful abandon. With no SuperEgo in charge it soon breaks the three golden rules of 21st century dating; thou shalt not be the text initiator, thou shalt not text when thou hast nothing to say, and thou shalt not text ANYTHING at 3am.

Meanwhile, I'm going on dinner dates with The Magirrister and finding him deeply fascinating and infinitely kissable. He gets us into private clubs with hidden entrances, lives in an impeccable Bauhaus apartment, performs amazing l├ęger de main (the dirty bastard) and is generally perfect. Abso-bloody-lutely perfect. But – oh, here it comes – I don’t feel the magic. Yes, Fate is fucking with me.

About 100 yards from the finish line The Organiser’s horse stumbles on a mound of unanswered texts, falls, and breaks its neck next to a very pink rabbit. The Magirrister’s horse struggles on valiantly for another month, but is eventually disqualified for being a ‘friend’ rather than a racehorse. Appropriately there are no winners, only some idiot holding a golden cup who thought that two was better than one, and that a race was better than a stroll.

Bugger. Back to square one.

* no, really.