As Miss Marple said in “The Murder at the Vicarage,” “so many people are a little queer, aren’t they? — in fact most people are when you know them well.”
They certainly are at Yale; we all know several people who could be described as a little queer.
Miss Marple was invariably right, which is why a headline stuck to a wall in my apartment reads “Agatha Christie can be better than sex.” If you skip pages of a novel or read the end first, you don’t have to ask if it’s okay with that or fear that you’ve made it feel cheap. If you spill coffee on it, you don’t have to claim that this never happened to you before.
I’m sorry! I’m feeling the effects of Valentine’s Day, increasingly associated in my mind with the word massacre. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance and all, but occasionally the urge rises to stand every couple against a wall and (at the very least) growl at them.
But my editor asked me to write on bisexuality, so, in my usual attempt to have it both ways, I gracelessly agreed. This despite the fact that my most useful comment on the subject is that beds at my undergrad college aren’t — or certainly weren’t — made to contain three people, and there’s only so much pleasure to be had when you’re using one arm to stop yourself falling on the floor.
It was back at college that friends and I constructed the Green-Crouch Scale, which ran from 0 (straight) to 10 (gay) depending on your predilections, which was then modified by the Birch Corrective — I swear I’m not inventing this — which factored in what you might be prepared to experiment with, and which tended towards a bell curve by pulling people towards the middle.
I tend to agree that you should try everything once except incest and country dancing, and as I fruitlessly explained to a friend over the break, one mouth is pretty much like another in its basic construction. I can understand the need for what might cautiously be termed genital persuasion, but mouths are rather like wine: infinite variations of the same substance. Don’t believe me? Insert “mouth” for “wine” in the following (from tasting-wine.com) and see:
“A good wine is smooth and delightful, leaving you feeling as content as a purring feline. Occasionally you may come across a wine that tastes off, musty or moldy. Rest assured, this is not the way a wine should taste!”
So while some are fruity and assertive, others linger on the palate. And, as with wine, some taste good and others don’t, though it’s usually considered impolite to question your partner’s oaky finish or their buttery aftertaste.
As Christina Ricci noted in the “Opposite of Sex,” Rule One of Sex is that a person can do anything for 10 minutes if they don’t breathe in (including, presumably, asphyxiate). Fluidity of sexuality is a hot topic, to the extent of disputing whether bisexuality exists. A Yale alum friend who wrote a senior project on the subject concluded that sexuality was essentially bipolar, hence the common axiom “Bi now, gay later.” I used to think that “one in four, maybe more” existed only because “one in four, not a chance” didn’t rhyme, but I hereby recant. At least 40 percent of my male thefacebook.com friends are gay, and of the 11 male Yalies in the 50 Most Beautiful People I Know (updated from October), five are gay.
I don’t know the personal sexual histories of these latter 25 men — well, not all of them — but their average on the Green-Crouch scale must hover somewhere around 5.
Sexuality at Yale is a sort of curious hokey-pokey routine — in, out, in, out, shake it all about — as evidenced by gay friend A, who commented that Haley Edwards was drop-dead gorgeous; I couldn’t comment, as the closest I ever got to Ms. Edwards was rubbing up against her in scene. Meanwhile, gay friend B firmly believes that mutual friend C is gay, despite the fact that friend C is dating a girl because he “just doesn’t give off a straight vibe” — ah, the wonders of Gaydar. And gay friend D, referring to a JE senior, ironically noted that he was a curious specimen: “two boyfriends and still not gay.”
As the Kinks sang, “I’m not the world’s most masculine man/ but I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man.”
I glory in my pink-and-white shirt and I adore musical theatre, though I hadn’t quite realized the extent of my fading masculinity until I was intimidated by my shower gel, which promises “an intense clean” that “slams away dirt” but “won’t wash away testosterone!” I want a sensitive soothing gel, not one that holds me in contempt. But I’m happily male and otherwise reasonably masculine, and my best conclusion is that there’s no sense to attraction: tall blonde people, short dark people; Californians, Carolinians, Connecticuties (and if that isn’t the word, it should be); blue eyes, brown eyes, whatever colour eyes, it’s just crazy how it works.
This article could, appropriately, have been straight; when I told my father I was writing on the subject he wondered, rather sweetly, if I would quote the archbishop of York. Well no, not this time, other than to say that, while the archbishop defined his sexuality as a “gray area,” I like to think of it as multi-coloured, like Joseph’s coat: “scarlet and black and ochre and peach/ And ruby and olive and violet and fawn/ And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve.”
Too gay? Okay then, pass me a beer. And the shower gel.
Nick Baldock is smooth on the tongue with a velvety finish.