Thursday, November 20, 2008

"You look like a fag"

"You look like a fag" was the charming greeting a panhandling gentleman gave me today as I passed him by, ignoring his pleas for change. Being everpresent on the sidewalks of downtown Portland, panhandlers barely penetrate my consciousness any more than blowing leaves, but this was an instance of a mind game we sometimes play.

The game goes like this: I walk by, say nothing, refuse eye contact. I know from comparable experience, as a telephone poll-taker making cold calls to people who despised me for it, that no response is far better than a snide one. But once in a while, the panhandler will throw out something snide of his own, e.g., "you look like a fag," hoping to get a rise out of the party and thus establish in each contestant's mind that the non-answer was a ruse. So I've long since honed the I-don't-even-notice-the-panhandler ruse to such a point that I anticipate this sort of thing and know not to react. I didn't react, I just kept walking with eyes ahead, pretending to listen to my iPod, which wasn't actually powered on at that time.

I took it as a compliment, actually. Aren't gay men always the most stylish?


benvanderbeek said...

And really wouldn't the world be a better place if we could get honest critiques of our appearance from more people, besides just panhandlers?

Dale said...

BenV, indeed! For now, only the panhandlers are willing to speak up. Thanks, panhandling vanguard!

larryniven said...

It would probably have been smarter if he'd said something like, "You look like a very generous fag." (Unless he knows about some statistics about how gay people are more charitable than straight people?) If you think that's bad, though, some friends and I were walking around Pittsburgh's south side one night and I stopped to give some change to this one guy. Eventually, we came back the other way, at which point I was joking that one of my friends should share something or other with me - I forget what. Anyway, the guy overheard me joking around and yelled at me, "Yeah, share, you hypocrite!" For a second, I seriously considered going and getting my change back, but not even I am that much of a dick.