My Queer Life: Ah-Choo!: A Guide to the New Hankie Code
|by Michael Thomas Ford|
For years, gay men searching for sexual fulfillment have been aided by the convenience of the hankie code. For the unfamiliar, this extraordinary cultural invention involves the wearing of different colored handkerchiefs in the back pocket of ones jeans or, in some circles, leather pants. Depending on the color of the handkerchief and its placement on the left or right side, observers can tell at a glance what ones particular fetish is and whether one enjoys being the top or bottom when partaking of this activity. For example, a gentleman sporting a navy blue handkerchief in his left pocket would not be at all unhappy to find a nice fellow with one in his right, as it would mean the two of them could soon be in bed with the righty requesting the lefty to, "Pound me harder, you big stud." You get the idea.
While this code has worked nicely in the sexual arena, those of us who would like to identify potential partners by means other than what they do in the bedroom (or back room) have not been so fortunate. Left to our own devices, we frequently choose badly because, quite frankly, there is no "buyer beware" sticker on the package. This is not fair. So in an attempt to right this wrong, I have developed a hankie code for the rest of us. It is based not on sexual proclivities, but on general personality traits that often have a great effect on the outcome of a relationship. As with the other hankie code, when worn on the left the color implies that the wearer meets the assigned description; when worn on the right it is a signal that the wearer is looking for such a person. Curiously, the code applies almost equally well to lesbians as it does to gay men, so finally there is something we can all agree on.
Green: Eats only organic produce. Will drag you around for hours in the co-op searching for locally grown cilantro and pesticide free lemons. Takes a multitude of vitamins, but is oddly tired most of the time, requiring numerous visits to acupuncturists, herbalists, and crystal healers, none of whom are covered by a health plan. When on a dinner date, will complain loudly about how the non-organic lettuce in the salad will surely result in a sore throat, but has no problem eating the entire piece of chocolate cheese cake you order for yourself.
Yellow: Amateur activist. Has a membership in every gay group you can imagine, from the Human Rights Campaign to the gay swimming club. Has memorized every acronym imaginable, believes in the educative power of the bumper sticker, and leaves articles clipped from the newspaper on your kitchen counter with salient points underlined. Frequently unavailable for dates due to a heavy schedule of petitioning and volunteering for local gay political candidates.
Red: Processing junkie. Enthusiastically codependent, and will not hesitate to reassure you that all of your personality defects are completely normal and most likely the fault of your parents. Has an entire library of self-help books and knows the schedule and meeting location for every conceivable 12-step program. Generally has a degree in social work. Dates will involve talking about how you feel about the previous date.
Blue: Enjoys foreign films, particularly when playing in a theater situated in an inconvenient location with no parking and ethnic restaurants of ill repute. Will frequently tell you that anything made in Hollywood is crap and insist only on attending movies featuring arcane or nonexistent plots, actresses with three names, and children carrying balloons. A typical date will consist of sitting through three hours of subtitles and an additional three hours of exposition during which you are told as many times as possible that you "just dont get it."
Lavender: Overly fond of Siamese cats. Probably has at least two, who will assuredly sport completely unsuitable matching names like Melissa and kd or Joan and Bette, even if male. Will not understand when you insist the cats do not sleep on your face at night, and will frequently cancel dates because one or the other of them is sneezing. Dates will involve neurotically- prepared dinners followed by looking at high school yearbooks and hearing endless stories about all of the people in them.
Pink: Writes extremely bad poetry. Has an entire shelf filled with notebooks dating back to the sixth grade, and will spend hours reading them to you if youre not careful. Easily breaks into tears and says, "Can you believe how deep that is?" while listening to Elton John or Jewel albums. Dates will always center around poetry slams and art installations involving black and white photos of body parts with accompanying text taken from the work of Sylvia Plath.
Orange: Tanning booth afficionado and gym bunny. Insists that every day is swimsuit season, and always looks the part. Spends hours in the gym buffing, then even more time in front of the mirror perfecting the look. Comes with a startling array of hair and face care products, and considers the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog acceptable bedtime reading. Dates will involve shopping at J Crew and repeatedly answering the question, "Does this make my ass look big?"
Black: Prozac queen. Has an entire medicine cabinet filled with half-used prescriptions for every mood-altering medication known to science. Only stays on each one for a month before announcing that it just isnt working and trying another. Dates will consist of recounting everything said at last therapy session and therapists reactions.
White: Virgin martyr. Never does anything wrong, but makes sure you know when you have. Is adept at sighing and looking disappointed, particularly on birthdays and anniversaries. Dates will revolve around discussions of exes and everything they did to ruin the relationships.
Michael Thomas Ford won a Lambda Literary Award for his book Alec Baldwin Doesnt Love Me. His new book, Thats Mr. Faggot to You, is in stores now. He welcomes e-mail at Shopiltee@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 8, July 2, 1999