Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Straight Man in my Life

I am not used to hanging out with straight men.

Seriously, this is true. I work in a job in the arts, where out of 60 employees in my institution, there are only a handful of men. Even the director is a woman. Most of our meetings consist of all women; the 2 male colleagues of mine with whom I work with frequently are gay. I have developed most of my close friends through work, and guess what: they're all females, or gay.

This is a very rarefied world. What's fantastic about it, is that at work, there are NO sexual politics. Zero. In fact, being a mostly-female institution makes it feel incredibly sane and supportive. The other thing that is conspicuously lacking at work is...practical joking. I didn't even know this existed at other work places until I dated a guy about a year ago who was telling me constantly about the funny things his colleagues did to one another's cubicles. I kept asking him what he meant: grown men? Putting v*seline on someone's phone? You're kidding, right? He also told me that there was a long "runway" that everyone in the office had to walk down when they entered the office. Everyone could see it from their cubicles, so they would rate one another's outfits (male or female). Very "Mad Men" if you know what I mean.

Of course, sweeping generalization here, but practical joking is just so....male.

And, because most of my close friends are women or gay men, I am so used to exuding, emoting, and connecting when I have conversations. So much so that, when a conversation doesn't go that way I feel somehow disappointed.

And then there's all that traditional guy stuff: sports? yea, right. Computer geekdom? not so much. People who don't take pride (or spend hours and hours thinking about) decorating their home, or their wardrobe? Or gardening? Do they exist? One of my closest friends is actually....the only male member of the Northeastern African Violet Society. And a fiercely talented artist. And an avid Jane Austen fan. I love him.

So, you see what I mean.

Which is all an introduction to say that I had a wonderful 2nd date last night with the guy I will call James. Being an academic, he and I have tons to talk about. We easily navigated topics like politics, family, prejudice, growing older, being lazy, being vulnerable. It was pretty great. And yet I found myself saying, what's going on here? He's so unemotional!! Oh, and he brought up football. A shock to my delicately guarded sensibilities.

A real, straight man. How exciting.

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