Toronto
3 min

Good plucking & 24 other gay secrets

Sometime around Dec 27 you’re going to start to think about what you didn’t do last year and what you’re not likely to do this year.

This is the depressing but inevitable effect of too much thinking. To save you from this common but pernicious practice, we offer up some tidbits of pre-digested wisdom. With luck these will tide you over until you can stop thinking of what you did wrong last year and start doing it all over again this year. Preferably with more gusto and less guilt. Herewith are Brent’s observations for a satisfyingly shallow life.

* At some point on every gay first date, someone will say, “What was your name again?”

* The more they talk about sex (“So what are you into?”) the worse it will be

* If they won’t hold hands they won’t hold much else

* Anyone wearing an untucked dress shirt has something to hide

* Friendly guys in brown socks and skater shoes who ask you, “What’s your name, man?” are not trying to pick you up

* You know you’re in trouble if halfway through the hijinks you’re moved to ask, “Are you straight or is it just me?”

* There is no sexual technique so satisfying as complementarity. “Great sex” just means the other person likes to do what you like to do

* People who ask, “What do you do for fun?” are not likely to provide much. These are the kind of people who have “hobbies”

* Anyone who says they work 60 or 70 hours a week has too much time on their hands. Why else would they sit around counting the hours? Avoid — unless they’re prepared to sign an annuity

* The secret of eternal youth is meticulous plucking. Just don’t do the Rita Hayworth thing with the happy face arches. You want to look comely not coy

* Choose your mirrors carefully. A good mirror can make or break your mood and the worst are easier to find than the best. The worst, we add, merely for your own protection, are to be found in the central hall of the Manulife Centre. Those babies will shrivel your stomach and freeze-dry your face

* Worry about other people’s clothes, not your own. Bitching is a gay birthright; self-deprecation is just plain silly. Besides, if you smile a lot, nobody will notice your outfit. They’ll be too surprised by your very un-gay gallantry

* If you’re having troubles with body image, try looking at other people. The showers at the Y are a good place to start. The lights are merciless and the bodies are, uh, varied

* Take acting lessons. People are not deep; they tend to assume you are what you present

* Do not go to the baths if you’re feeling lonely. Physically horny is fine, socially horny is another matter. Love finds its way to the strangest places but not when the mind is moody

* Do not go to the bars between 11pm and 1am on a Friday or Saturday night. Contrary to popular belief, this time is not for you. It’s for the bar owners. It’s their chance to make money. Leave them to it. (It’s too crowded and crowds are anathema to a good entrance)

* Never pay cover; you’re just encouraging them

* The young are easier to pick up than the old. The old are cynical and bored and determined to get some sleep; the young are still experimenting

* “A paedophile is someone whose boys are a year younger than yours.” I wish I could claim this line as my own but it belongs to a friend of Edmund White’s named Stanley Redfern. White quotes him in his memoirs

* Always take a shower at the gym. If you don’t, people will talk, and not in the right way. Phrases like “insecurity” and “something to hide” come to mind. Think of your watery exhibition as your contribution to the community libido

* Need to feel younger? Go out earlier. The age drops as the evening advances. By 3am it’s teenybopper time. But at 6pm it’s still the blur of the bifocals. Get out the high-waisted flannels and celebrate!

* Cell phones are this generation’s cigarettes. People wave them about when they have nothing else to do

* Do not go to Ikea on Saturday. The single gay couple shopping for handles in hardware can’t compensate for the thousand screaming kids in carts

* Anyone who refers to Andrew Holleran’s Dancer From The Dance, the classic 1970s tale of sex, drugs and debauchery in a fabulous gay nightworld, as a “period piece” is straight

* New Year’s is expensive, stressful and repetitive. So forget it. If you’re like me you won’t remember what you did this year next year anyway.