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July 29, 2005

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Volume 33
Issue 30

 
Tuesday, Mar 01, 2016 02:09
 
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Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
TALKIN' TO STRANGERS
"You don't get it," he said, looking down at the ground with a long, thoughtful stare. It was as if for a moment he had forgot completely that I was there at all, and so he let himself become more deeply personal than he intended.

I didn't know what to say to the guy. His problem was so foreign to me that I didn't entirely understand some of the words he used when he described it, so I decided against saying anything at all, figuring this wasn't a discussion so much as it was a confession.

"I did what any guy would do, didn't I?" he asked, looking at me. "What would you a' done?"

Oh, crap.

Five minutes ago I didn't know the guy who was spilling his guts to me. I was just waiting outside of Hot Mamas for my pizza when he walked up with his girlfriend, who went inside to order. As if I were just an old buddy, he leaned up against the wall and started spilling his guts.

As I sometimes get when faced with straight men I don't know who are unusually friendly, I was instinctively suspicious at first, expecting he was maybe going to ask for crack or try to sell her to me for an hour. When that fear went away and I felt good and ridiculous for all of my assumptions, his story left me speechless. Never in my life has a straight man I didn't know just come up and poured himself out like that. As far as I knew, they didn't do that sort of thing.

But here he was, doing just that.

So, wanting to be helpful - especially since this might never happen again - I tried to put myself in the implausible scenario of being a 20-ish-year-old guy dating a tall blonde gal. It was tough to imagine.

Let's see... turn the gal into a guy... get mad when he flashes his boobies to another guy at a pool party... spend three hours arguing over who asked who to do it and why the bathing suit was too small anyway, then blame her - er... him - for the fight only after I've beat up the guy who looked at her, but who apparently was not the person to blame, then spend a whole four days fighting about it again and again and again, including just now...

"Well," I said after a long pause, "I got nothin'."

He took a couple of thoughtful drags off his cigarette, staring off across the street.

I found my own thoughtful stare on the tip of his cigarette. Are there really this few straight men in my life that I would react this way to someone coming up to me? Have I spent too much time in my comfy little Gay life, surrounded by Gay people, that I don't trust people who are not Gay? How the hell did that happen? Do straight people really argue for days over stuff like that?

His girl came back out with their slices of pizza and, in one quick movement, he turned to thank me and put his arm around her as they disappeared down the street.

To me, he was a straight guy who had some suspicious motive.

To him, I was just some Gay guy wearing a Gay Games T-shirt, who might have some idea about his problem.

Which one of us was more accepting?

"You know, it's not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself." - author James Baldwin

Beau Burriola is a mild-mannered writer by day and a hat wearin', snakeskin boot kickin', guitar-strumming crooner called "Wyomin Shy" by night... but only on nights when it isn't too hot to dream. Email him at beau@beaubrent.com.
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