My boyfriend and I get two reactions when we walk down the street. Before I tell you what these reactions are, I should preface this post with some details about how my boyfriend and I appear to strangers.
Me: I’m often a little grizzled. I have permanent 5 o’clock shadow. My hair is growing out, so it tends to be mussed (MUSSED!) quite a bit. Not bird-nest like, but I’m not prim and proper either. I wouldn’t win any hair contests. I dress pretty average. Pants, shirts. Nothing special. Lots of earth tones, except win I wear black. Then I look mysterious and grizzled, which means women pick up the pace when I walk behind them. I’m of average height and a slightly bigger build, though I’ve lost some of that on account of the arm and the illness (which by the way, The Arm and the Illness sounds like an undiscovered Poe short story). I’m white and often confused for a Mexican because of my dark features and olive skin, which can be attributed to my spicy Mediterranean blood line.
My boyfriend: He’s got style, style I soarly lack. His hair is best described as a Hitler hairdo if Hitler was a hipster. He hates that I describe it as such, but hey, I call’em like I sees’em. And I sees’em like Hitler. The sides of his head are shaved and the top has a swooping mass of hair that flows moreso to one side than the other. When the wind blows, it can turn into a pretty hot mohawk or a Bert cut, as in the muppet. Either way, it’s pretty adorable. Anyway, he dresses super nice, which has more to do with his body type than his personal taste. He’s fortunate to have a build that works with any type of clothing. He can make a parka look sexy. Everything just hangs off of him like an H&M maniquin. But mostly he wears tank tops and jackets. He’s a man of extremes I guess. He’s black, which in my neighborhood is cause enough to have people turn their heads (we’re pretty white up here in the Swedish neighborhood…who knew?).
So as I was saying, oftentimes we get one of two reactions. The first is the glare, the evil penetrating part jealousy, part uncomfortable glare. We get it from gay and straight men alike. From gay men it says, “How dare two gorgeous people with penetrating eyes and lushious lips deprive me of making out with either. So unfair. So, so unfair. Plus I have a small penis and a pizza face. God hates me, and I want to cry, but that will make my mascara run. Woe is me!” From straight men this stare says, “I’m very uncomfortable with two men showing affection toward one another. Could you please take this elsewhere? Like gayville? Oh wait, I’m in gayville. What am I doing here? Don’t tell my wife!”
But then the other reaction we get is one of adoration. Like last night, as we were walking back to my place from the grocery store, a short, older man waiting for the bus mumbled something as we passed. I figured it was something along the lines of, “Fags! Pukey!” But my boyfriend assured me he said, “Love is beautiful.” Now, true, this man used a cliche, but I wasn’t going to fault him for being uninspired. The sentiment was nice. And it’s not the first time we’ve gotten this reaction. We get a lot of smiles and nods from gay and straight people alike. Oftentimes it’s gay men and women. I mean, I’d be kind of shocked if a group of Wrigleyville boys tipped their Cubs caps to show us their approval of our couplehood. But hey, stranger things have happened (not one of which is the Cubs winning a World Series in the last 100 years…ZING!!!).
But I think there are multiple reasons why people show their favor for our relationship, even if their gestures are unsolicited. First, my boyfriend and I must really be in love. People can probably feel our love vibes. And if they aren’t bitter self-hating people, then they are happy for our love. It either reminds them of the person they love or of a love they once had or the love they want to have but can’t because they eat too many Cheetos at night and smoke too much pot (Hey, I’ve been there too buddy. It’s called maturation). Another reason could be, and this is especially true among the straight girls that approve of our relationship, is that seeing two guys in love warms people’s hearts and gives them hope for a better tomorrow. Too often men are involved in pissing contests with one another. “I can beat my chest more than you.” “Oh yeah, well I can piss farther than you.” “Oh yeah, let me see that.” “Okay. But I’m warning you, I’m pee shy…so, uh, you can’t look.” “Then how do I know you’re not cheating?” “Um…Zoinks!” So when two men decide to drop their machismo and just hold fucking hands, it makes people smile. Then there’s the whole racial thing on top of this. White and black. Embracing. Like a zebra or an ice cream sandwich. Find me a person who doesn’t like zebras or ice cream sandwiches and I’ll show you a bitter, heartless, unloved zit-faced stinky head with no imagination who will probably die early in his mom’s basement…naked…with a belt wrapped around his neck.
Yup. We’re loved and hated. Rarely looked at with indifference. Kind of a gay power couple. Except we don’t really have corporate jobs. Or a lot of money. Or a car. But we’re pretty. And that’s what counts.