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Let's Get Something Straight

by Stephen Lautens


May 31, 2002

Last week I was enjoying one of the rarest of new father pleasures - a night out with a buddy for a beer.

Oh sure, at three months of age our little tax deduction is by far the best looking and smartest child ever born in captivity, but that doesn't mean you have to spend every evening at home staring into the crib waiting for his first word.

So I got the night off and my friend and I went downtown in search of a beer. The streets were buzzing, since the temperature finally cracked ten degrees and every bar in the neighbourhood already had their patio open. Plus the hockey game was on, and people were crowded underneath sports bar TVs.

As my friend and I walked down the crowded sidewalk in search of a place to wet our whistles, he recognized someone walking towards us. It was someone we had been to college with twenty years ago. I didn't recognize him, but then my friend was a lot more social than I was.

Amid the small talk about what everyone was doing now, I noticed a funny thing. It seemed like my friend was going to great lengths to let them know that we were not a gay couple.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, to quote that great 20th century philosopher. I've had a few gay friends, and have never seen what the fuss is about. My love life isn't any else's business, so I don't see why theirs should be any concern of mine. As far as I'm concerned, the world would be a better place with a lot more "live and let live" in it.

Like all that media circus about the guy who wanted to take his boyfriend to his high school prom. You'd think the Catholic Church has enough on its plate at the moment. Not to mention that "throwing the first stone" thing. Besides, twenty years ago I went to a prom and a dozen guys showed up with their same sex dates and it mostly got a big yawn. Of course that was 1980, and I still hadn't figured out that Queen's Freddie Mercury was gay.

Still, I'm not sure why my friend felt he had to drop hints as to our apparently not so obvious heterosexuality. Things like telling them I lived in the neighbourhood, but he lived in another part of town. "With his girlfriend" was hastily added.

Maybe it was because I said we were looking for a place to have a drink, but didn't want to sit in a sports bar where you can't hear yourself think. Not watching the hockey playoffs apparently makes you highly suspect. When they suggested we try a "cozy" little coffee house down the road, I think he panicked.

I've tried to figure out what caused the misconception in the first place. Maybe it's the fact we weren't wearing baseball caps or sweatpants. Perhaps after being best friends for more than twenty years we're actually starting to look like a couple, although we always maintain a manly distance from each other, and at Christmas we restrict our present-giving to very heterosexual pocket knives and flashlights.

Whatever it was, I'm not sure he convinced them, but I thought his offer to send them pictures of him and his female date at his high school prom was going a little too far.

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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