What happened to the days when you could go to a party and lock lips with a cute stranger? The other night, I went to a housewarming party at my friend Anna's and everyone was hooked up, coming to the door side by side with flowers, a boxed cheesecake, or even a babe in arms. Anna is not exactly a homebody. She's in the rock music business, wears her hair and makeup very dark, and is alluring in a P.J. Harvey "I don't take any shit" sort of way. So I was surprised that all her guests looked as if they'd rather be in front of the TV watching Martha Stewart Living.
I am a single black sheep surrounded by couples. All my women friends are either hitched or shacked up with someone. This is fine, except that it's become very hard to hang out with my friends one-on-one. Before Anna moved into her new place with Dean, her boyfriend of three months, we used to call each other up and dish it out. Example: "Alien Boy broke up with me. [Sob, sob.] What's worse is that he doesn't even want to have just sex." Anna: "What? That's crazy! He must be gay." No longer can I hear that kind of catty consolation. Now every time I call her, I run the risk of having to chit-chat with the boyfriend first, or having Anna censor herself because the b.f., a total alpha-male in sensitive-man disguise, is in the same room.
Even my gay friends are in long-term committed relationships, defying the stereotype that gay men aren't faithful lovers. Whenever I go out with Chan and his boyfriend of one year, Ben, I have to watch them embrace, caress each other, and nose-kiss. Their tender gestures are cute, almost adolescent, like scenes from Dawson's Creek. I try not to turn away, because I figure since they're comfortable being affectionate in front of me, they want me to be comfortable with it. So I'm comfortable with it, I think.
Last week, I went out dancing with another gay couple, Billy and Jamie. These two are less WB than Tom of Finland, with leather pants, tight spandex shirts, and hoop earrings. They're very sexy, and they want the whole world to know it. They also like to talk trampy. When I showed up at the club in a strappy black dress, Jamie took one look at me, and said, "Wow, you look gorgeous. I just want to take you now and do you." (He loves saying shit like that to me since he doesn't have to live up to it.) Instead, he started dancing, opened Billy's shirt, and licked his nipples. All this while Billy was sitting on a bar stool. It was quite a show, and again, since they were comfortable. . . .
At least they weren't reaming each other in front of me. My friend Valerie had to endure that once while visiting someone in another town. Her friend lived in a studio apartment and was apparently waiting on pins and needles the whole weekend to be alone with her boyfriend. Valerie was taking a bath when the couple got started. When she came out of the bathroom, she found her friend standing behind the boyfriend crouched on his hands and knees. They asked her politely to go back into the bathroom. She did for a while, but then got tired of waiting—"My toes were starting to wrinkle"—so she returned to the main room and plopped down on the couch, just a few feet away from the couple. She sat there patiently, towel-drying her hair while the two carried on with their demonstration.
And people accuse me of being an exhibitionist! Most couples I know are exhibitionists of sorts—showing off their love and/or sex, and if not that, their pricey homes stocked with things from Restoration Hardware. At Anna's housewarming, I met an older woman who kept gabbing about her new mission table, tablecloth, and matching tea towels in colors with pretentious names you'd have to look up in the dictionary, like persimmon (orange) and cerise (red). Now that's obnoxious.