Monday, July 17, 2006

"No, what do you DO do?"

This weekend we forewent a trip to Fire Island to participate in Monte L's clothing optional houseparty (is it bad that we now get invitations that just assume we'll be out there every weekend? Is it because we started wearing jean shorts?), and headed to East Hampton. Thankfully, we stayed at the beach most of the time - but at one point we did pick up a crew at the Maidstone Club and end up at a tragic little margarita bar called "The Blue Parrot." Aishwarya and I immediately found the only three gays in the place, and went over to compare whose shorts were the most pastel.

But as we struggled to make pithy conversation underneath the vintage Applebees wall-junk decor, next to the bar television which was blaring the Weather Channel, we ran into a problem: they were touchy gays. Specifically, they reacted negatively when we asked them about their jobs. Now, this may have been because of their social breakdown - one was a 42 year-old buyer for a famous designer, one WAS a famous designer, age 38, and one was a 23 year-old... something. Getting caught with your barely legal weekend marcia escort CAN be awkward, in the wrong company.

We went through the usual introductory remarks: "Where are you from?" "Don't you wish the Hamptons had a gay bar?" "I notice you've altered your french cuff shirt with ribbons to match your yellow cutoff capris," etc. But eventually, we asked the dreaded: "What do you do?

We were immediately castigated.

And the thing is, we've never understood why that's a bad question. Gays will often reprimand you for asking what they do - as if you've asked about their political beliefs, or acne prescription. For a people who toss out "Top or bottom?" before they get to "What's your last name?" this seems a little inconsistent. Your job is where you spend half of your waking hours. Isn't that a natural conversation starter? Is the assumption that if someone is a waiter or, say, a lighthouse keeper, that there will be judgement involved? Aren't we giving one another too little credit?

The most lowly job we ever had was to be a lifeguard at an underground naked pool in Manhattan. That's pretty appalling. And let us tell you - there was no conversation where that DIDN'T come up. So what gives?

3 comments:

Conor J. Murphy said...

Very funny post and you are dead on.

I look forward to reading the rest of your blog and the posts to come.

Best,
Conor
www.conorjmurphy.blogspot.com

Bella Wilfer said...

Margarita bars are NEVER tragic.
Unless you meant it was tragic that I wasn't there.
And I think "what do you do" has become the new "where did you go to school" - okay to ask for about a year out of college but after that somehow gauche...?

Anonymous said...

Asking what they DO is a great conversation killer. Try asking what they THINK about this or that of you really want to bring things out of the conversational doldrums.

You're on my "read it every day" list; bravo.
Michael S.