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    Breaking bread the manly way

    Straight guys are so cute sometimes. Gay News links to this piece by an English writer who gets all fidgety over whether it looks gay if you go out to dinner with another man. He seems not to realize that his and his buddy’s thoroughgoing heterotude is proved beyond a shadow of a doubt from paragraph 1:

    Not so long ago I was having dinner with a (male) friend of mine – just the two of us in a cosy little Italian restaurant in Soho – when he suddenly started laughing. “God, this all looks a bit gay, doesn’t it?” he chuckled, indicating the plastic carnation in the middle of the table, the bottle of sparkling white wine, the tomato salad we were sharing. “I wonder if anyone thinks we’re like… you know… a couple?”

    You caught the important part, right? Of course, you did–otherwise you wouldn’t be hanging out here.

    But, okay, just in case you’re having an off day, here it is highlighted:

    Not so long ago I was having dinner with a (male) friend of mine – just the two of us in a cosy little Italian restaurant in Soho – when he suddenly started laughing. “God, this all looks a bit gay, doesn’t it?” he chuckled, indicating the plastic carnation in the middle of the table, the bottle of sparkling white wine, the tomato salad we were sharing. “I wonder if anyone thinks we’re like… you know… a couple?”

    Not if they know any queers. In the language of flowers, a gay guy who takes another gay guy to a restaurant with plastic carnations on the table is saying, “You will NEVER get into my pants.”

    BTW, Paul Sussman, the writer of the Guardian piece here, may not be anti-gay, but he’s a regular old fount of stereotypes. I’m aware that the tone of the article is tongue-in-cheek, but there’s still room for clue-deprivation:

    In a “two-guy” situation I always try to stick to “manly” beverages such as beer or whisky – the sparkling wine mentioned was a momentary aberration – and plump for cholesterol-packed, hunter-gatherer-type main courses (rump steak, rack of lamb) rather than flans, tofu or (the ultimate no-no) anything involving filo pastry and baby courgettes. I try to tell stories that involve me miming punching someone, or throwing a rugby ball, or unclipping a bra and squeezing it’s contents. Most pathetic of all, I always but always make a point of telling the waitress in a jokey-but-firm sort of way as she leads us to our table: “We’re not lovers, you know!” (On one occasion this drew the memorably caustic response: “That’s unlucky, because I can’t see any woman wanting to shag you.”)

    (Aside: Why is it that the nebbishy sorts of hetero guys like to invite the audience to laugh at the humiliating sexual put-downs women have delivered to them? So not charming. Anyway.) Half-joking or not, anyone who thinks gay guys are calorie-obsessed anorexic gym bunnies who gravitate toward fussy foods needs to see my friends some time as they tunnel ruthlessly through the romaine in a Thai beef salad to get to the meat. (Animals! You have any idea how long it takes me to wash and individually wipe those lettuce leaves dry, guys?) Or make a bowl of mashed potatoes and a boat of gravy disappear five minutes after I’ve put it on the table. I’ve been known to drink a wine spritzer or two, but I can assure you that most of us know our way around whisky and beer, too.

    Be that as it may, a word to the wise: the best way to look gay–or, more precisely, look like a certain breed of see-and-be-seen gay guy you see plenty of in cities such as London–is to make it clear that you’re taking in the effect you’re having on surrounding diners and desperately hoping you’re making the “right” impression. Secure people focus on their dinner partners, whatever plans they have for them afterwards.

    4 Responses to “Breaking bread the manly way”

    1. Dean Esmay says:

      I never care if anyone thinks I’m gay. Problem solved.

      Oh by the way, “amen” on the bit about women putting down guys, and the guys who dig it. It’s annoying as hell.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Seriously, what is up with that? I don’t blame the waitress in this case–she wasn’t practicing good customer service, but the guy, having volunteered information about what he was not going to do with his dinner partner in bed, completely asked for it. I’ve never understood the look-at-what-a-loser-I-am strategy for getting…uh, what is it supposed to get? A laugh? Sympathy?

    3. billy-jay says:

      You caught the important part, right? Of course, you did–otherwise you wouldn’t be hanging out here.

      You know, there are some folks who read you that wouldn’t get that. Seriously, I know nothing of the language of flowers.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, you probably don’t need to know that particular rule unless you plan to have a lot of one-on-one dinners with gay men in which the atmosphere is electric with half-submerged flirtatiousness. (“What’s the point of any other kind of dinner?” I say, but tastes vary.)

      In all seriousness, I think the only language of flowers most people recognize much today is that it’s a little weird to give red roses to someone who’s supposed to be just a friend. And in Japan, I guess giving someone white chrysanthemums would be interpreted as a not-very-winning “I eagerly await your funeral.”

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