I think there’s some benefit to wearing sunglasses all the time. Sure you’re “that guy” and you lose out on some quality interactions with people who’ll have none of your pretentiousness. On the flip side though, you avoid uncomfortable exchanges.
I don’t wear tinted bifocals, more out of a fear of losing them than a fear of looking like a jerk. I have a practical work around but having your sunglasses hang from your neck like a granny in between crossword puzzles is even too un-cool for me. So as I passed through security at Cleveland International with the windows to my soul exposed, I made eye contact with a friendly airport staffer. This gentleman was African American so there was the obligatory “Keep fighting the good fight” nod that black people often give each other in non-black environments. Also, I had just done 6 sold out shows and already established during my last show that an audience member would be on my flight. So it’s possible that the staffer was at one of the shows is all I’m saying.
All the aforementioned factors led to me nodding and that led to small talk: Something about me going to a warm place and him wishing he could get away from the cold. So far so straight. Then he asked me if I had had a Cleveland tour guide. “Uh… No” Now I’m thinking Cleveland airport is all about hospitality. Like Cleveland is banding together as a city to make sure visitors leave with a good impression.
Then the airport staffer offered to show me around next time. I still wasn’t sure if he was at the show or making small talk or what. Since I was on my way out of Dodge I said “Sure, thanks…I guess…” I still didn’t know what was happening. Then he said he was on Facebook and I thought “Oh, he is a fan…whew…” Then Mr. Friendly proceeds to write down his Facebook url, number and email. And as I walk away he says “Call me anytime!”
Finally, I knew what was happening. He was a fan alright. Now readers, in my defense, black people can be very informal with each other and I’m constantly trying to make sure I’m not being standoffish like some snobby New Yorker or even worse an aloof Angelino. So I thought this was an example of down home folk being down home folksy.
To each his own but not my own. I’m straight like Indian hair. I suppose women go through this all the time, never knowing if a friendly guy has an ulterior motive. Well that’s easy. Of course he does. But for same sex encounters in non-gay situations how is the straight person supposed to know? It’s not like this guy wore a pink boa and flashed jazz hands. Maybe gay guys need a sign to identify each other. There’s the rainbow but that might lack the subtlety needed by some. Also, Hawaii is still all WTF about their beloved rainbow being co-opted by gay bars. There’s got to be at least one bar with a rainbow outside of it that is really just a straight Hawaiian spot.
Perhaps some odd sequence of words might better serve as the gay sign and something far more intricate than “how’s it going?” Maybe something like “Cream style corn is better served warm” and the response to let the other person know it’s on would be something like “And French Cuff Links shine brightest at dawn.” Now there’s still a chance that a straight person could say the cuff link line without knowing it was a code but in my case there was no exchanges of non sequiturs.
To avoid straight guys with tourette’s getting hit on. The best thing to do would be to have a secret gay handshake. Of course this would have completely shot holes in the otherwise very believable movie, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Steve”
I now pronounce myself a sunglass wearer.