As ONE OF the last straight guys in the West Village, I feel like a lion in the wild. We are here, but you rarely spot us. The neighborhood’s women come in all shapes and sizes—there are antelopes, giraffes and wildebeests—and you see them everywhere. And you certainly can’t miss the gay guys, including your everyday bears, otters and peacocks, who have become the kings of this corner of the concrete jungle. But me? I’m still not quite sure where I belong.
When my marriage came apart after 20 years, I was living in Far Hills, New Jersey. After an economic tsunami deprived me of both a savings account and a home, my mother asked, “Why don’t you stay at our place? We live in the hottest neighborhood in the city.”
Mom had remarried a great guy and although they got rid of my childhood home in Princeton, they kept his apartment in the West Village. Now retired, their primary residence was in Maine, leaving their West 12th Street apartment empty 10 months a year.
So, while the rest of Manhattan was off at the beach, I was unpacking a fraction of my belongings on a Saturday night in June. And my new dwelling didn’t seem so bad—I could even hear laughter through the open windows.
The next morning, on my very first walk around the block, I followed the sounds of music to a street fair. It seemed like everyone I saw was gay; I knew Greenwich Village was a Mecca for the gay community, but this was ridiculous.
Things seemed to be looking up when a cute girl walked over to me and flashed a smile. At least until I noticed her clipboard and she asked if I was, “Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Lesbian, Transsexual or Cross Dressing only.” When no one jumped out from behind the sausage tent to shout, “Just kidding!” I answered honestly. “I’m straight.”
The girl suddenly looked up and just about gasped in surprise. “Uh… uh…,” she stuttered as she ran her finger down the list of choices on her sheet. Eventually she came to “Other” and wrote in “Straight Male” beside an empty box and checked it.
A band of trannies was jamming on a nearby stage, so I bagged asking her why she was doing the poll and focused on my first Sunday morning as a real New Yorker.
As I listened to the band, I watched the crowd meander by. There were big muscular gays, tiny ones, good-looking dudes and even a few downright ugly homosexuals. Some wore hilarious outfits that exposed their rear ends and others wore elegant dresses. I was tired from staying up the prior night unpacking boxes, so it took me longer than it normally would to realize I was smack in the middle of the Gay Pride Parade.
On the days that followed, stunning women seemed to come out of the proverbial woodwork. In fact, the neighborhood’s mix seemed to be 50/50—50 percent gay and 50 percent good-looking girls. Straight dudes are a rounding error.
And really, after months in the neighborhood, I can’t blame my friends for wondering if I am turning gay. I do work out at Equinox, I wear my hair short and clean cut, my clothes are freshly pressed Brooks Brothers suits and crisp Thomas Pink ties by day and slim cut jeans with Chuck Taylors at night. Hell, I wear Ralph Lauren Black cologne.
These days, I don’t mind standing out in my neighborhood. Besides the fact that I have never once been hit on by a man, the odds for dating the local antelopes and giraffes are clearly in my favor. Forget 5:1 for the city, it’s 20:1 around here!
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