So I’m at LAX last night, waiting for my luggage. It’s taking forever, and I’m standing there bored, halfway listening to a couple of Argentinian girls who don’t know I can understand them.
A young man from my flight strikes up a conversation – he’s very friendly, with blond all-American good looks, very fit, and gay. He’s not exactly hitting on me, but he’s leaving it open (“So, you going to party while you’re here? You just going to crash at a hotel, then?”)
And I’m finding myself stumped about what to say. It’s not that the situation is a problem, or uncomfortable in itself – actually it’s flattering. And it’s not the first time, either – I’ve been hit on by men before. But for some reason I can’t figure out how to finesse this one.
To blurt “I’m straight”,
would be outing him – it would be just between us, true, but it’s polite to let other people tell you their personal business on their schedule, not to throw it out into the air unasked.
And saying “I’m straight”
might not be that meaningful, anyway – I’m told quite a few guys who get a little on the down low when nobody’s looking claim to be 100% "straight".
And there’s the slightest chance I could be wrong – it *is* LA, after all – maybe he’s just super-metro and really really friendly...
Okay, that’s silly – he works in West Hollywood, for pete’s sake – if he’s straight, then my gaydar’s not just broken, it’s set on opposite polarity. And he’s smiling and chatty and if I wait too long to clarify things, then when I finally do he’ll feel stupid and wonder why the hell I let him get that far.
Also, some straight guys get a charge out of kind of “baiting” gay men – it’s stupid and manipulative, and I don’t want him to think that about me.
So I start to stammer something, then stop. He laughs – “What were you going to say?”
he says. “Nothing, never mind,”
I say. He smiles, “No, go ahead – what?”
So I say hesitantly, “Well, I’m straight. And I... well, there’s partying and there’s partying, and... I’m not sure what...”
He smiles again, but it’s just the slightest bit wounded. “I just meant have a drink,”
he says. “That’s all I’m talking about.”“OK.”
And then suddenly we have nothing else to say.“Sorry for all the stuttering…”
I begin.“No, it’s fine,”
he interrupts. He smiles again.
Then he takes a phone call. I step away and start talking to the Argentinian girls. They laugh and confide that they had thought the two of us were a couple.
I’m so much older than they are I’ve got no business flirting with them, but I don’t care – at least in this conversation I know how to hold up my end...
I think this story has no point, except possibly that it doesn’t matter how sanguine we think we are about life, sometimes things catch us off guard. Or if you have a better idea what lesson the universe was trying to teach me, let me know…