When you are growing up as a gay man, you realise that most of your relationships with straight men (just like your relationship with dead lifts) can never be easy. What do we talk to all our fathers, our brothers, our cousins and our many girlfriends’ husbands, boyfriends and significant others about?
Do we talk about the difference between single malt and double malt whiskey? Do we talk about the backward English pass in billiards? Do we discuss (at great length) the pickup of the Audi Q2 versus the BMW X1? Well, we’ve got Google, and I still can’t say much.
Like I said, it’s not easy.
A decade ago, when I was younger and more socially awkward, I would get the nervous sweats whenever I was introduced to a straight man. What if he mocked me? Made fun of my nasal twang? Ridiculed my niche taste in pop music (read: Katy Perry)? Or the way my hands flapped at my sides when I wasn’t holding up a drink?
Instead, I would rush over to their sisters and girlfriends, and instantly bond over the newest episode of Gossip Girl or how delicious Ryan Gosling looked in his latest RomCom. Countless experiences and many sob stories later, I was in a constant state of worry. What if these men thought that I was secretly in love with them? What if they felt threatened and insecure (just like I did)? What if they thought I was staring at them (or worse, their privates)?
Almost never, boys. Almost never.
But it’s 2017, and we’ve entered (figuratively, obviously) a new generation of straight men — the ones who are charming, and don’t think twice about harmlessly flirting with you. They are the ones who have shifted from the spectrum of open fear to open curiosity — open to the idea of wearing male rompers, open to the idea of discussing (at great length) the net worth of the Kardashian sisters, open to the idea of a hug that lingers for just the slightest second.
But while these men might seem perfect and straight out of an indie movie, it’s always a good thing not to get too ahead of yourself. That never bodes well for anyone. So before you make sure you don’t misinterpret his mixed signals and get carried away by his poetic fluidity, here are the seven straight men you should be wary of:
The bartender is every gay man’s wet dream.
He’s a man who can handle his alcohol (pun intended), plus he’s great at showering you with attention and double meaning innuendos (when he’s not showering you with great customer service and free drinks).
The bartender is a man of actions. He’ll not so subtly praise you on your choice of drink, might wink at you suggestively as he passes over your change, and maybe even lick his lips seductively as he pours you an (extra) measure of single malt. Customer might be king, but that still doesn’t mean our flirty Mr. Bartender wants to be your queen.
At the end of the day, just remember one thing — his interest in your job, your mother’s side hobbies and what you had for lunch last Tuesday, comes with an ulterior motive.
He’d rather you leave a hefty tip behind, than your phone number.
The thing about Mr Drunk is that he’s so far gone, that he probably won’t (or will at least pretend not to) remember flirting with you last night. Six shots of tequila and three towers of tap beer aside, our man has had so much to drink that he’d probably hit on the barstool if he could (which he probably already did).
Do yourself a favour. Send him back to his table, and drop him an aspirin for his morning after if you can.
Mr Feelings is a sensitive straight man, who likes to paint and drink chamomile tea. He lives by himself in a tiny studio apartment, and spends his Sunday evenings doing crossword puzzles. Sometimes, when he’s bored, he pulls out a book of Rumi’s quotes, and ponders about life (and the loneliness of it).
Mr Feelings is vulnerable at the moment, and just wants to feel loved. But beware; he’d trade you over for his grandmother.
Or worse, yours.
With his indifference (but with just the right amount of interest that makes him look endearing), Mr. Ennui can be the quintessential gay guy that every man would like to take to bed. He’s suave, he’s attentive, he’s charming, but yet, he’s all of the above without being the slightest bit offensive.
But the truth is, Mr Ennui is only one thing: He’s bored. He’s not flirting with you because he’s interested in you (or your manicured fingers); he’s flirting with you because there’s no one else around. Hold on to those horses that whisk you off into wedded bliss, boys, because he’s only going to be the charming dreamboat till his girlfriend swoops in (and yes, there will be a girlfriend). Once she does, he’ll go back to being his clueless ‘I-thought-I-was-talking-to-a-straight-guy’ self.
PS: He might even part with a fist bump if he thought things got too awkward.
So keep those hands to yourself.
We all like to feel attractive, and some of us (when we are not feigning modesty and throwing around a general air of being nice), also like to be told we are so.
For most straight men, there are various levels to the ladder of attractiveness — from ‘look-at-how-well-he-handles-a-baby’ and ‘wow-he’s-so-rugged-when-he-opens-a-Nutella-jar’ to ‘He’ll-look-so-much-better-out-of-the-suit-than-in-it’. You get the gist.
Mr Narcissist, on the other hand, feels that being objectified by a gay man is the highest rung of the ladder (and we all know how men like to be on top). He’s not gay, he’s just curious why you, as a red-blooded gay man are not head-over-heels in love with him, and craving for every square inch of his not-so-square body.
Mr Narcissist’s biggest mystery to crack, is simply wondering why you aren’t salivating over him, the same way you’d salivate over an iced mojito on a balmy summer day.
Keep him wondering, guys, and pass me that mojito instead.
Mr Husband misses his wife. Mr Husband misses his children. Mr Husband misses his dog. Mr Husband misses the physical touch. Mr Husband misses the sex. The only thing that he doesn’t miss?
His cue to behave, and just go back home.
Mr Nice Guy
Mr Nice Guy might be the most harmless of the straight men that you need to stay away from, but also the most confusing.
Maybe he was a bully back in high school and wants retribution. Maybe he just wants to compensate for the generations-worth of atrocities thrown your way by other (less sensitive) straight men. Maybe he just wants you to know that not all straight men think that you want to hit on them. Maybe he wants a gay friend to wingman for him. Maybe he’s just curious. Maybe there’s a chance he’s closeted and just giving you mixed signals.
Mr Nice Guy will always be full of manners and maybes. But then again, he probably signs off all his tweets with #NotAllMen.