Ms. Behavior®

Dear Ms. Behavior:

My wife, Mindy, and I just had our first baby, Theo. Our lives our hectic and happy, because we work, and share baby care. We’re frequently too exhausted to cook, but lucky to have an infant who can manage a meal in a restaurant fairly unobtrusively. So, we go out to eat a lot.

The problem is other people at adjacent tables, who seem to think nothing of butting in with cooing and questions. Not just the normal questions new parents get, like how old is your baby and what’s your baby’s name, but other truly inappropriate ones once they figure out we’re lesbian moms. These have included: Who’s the baby’s mother? Does the baby have a father? Where did you get the sperm? Do you know the sperm donor?

Mindy and I feel that our being gay shouldn’t mean we have to put up with intrusive questions (not all of them are even from straight people). Can you help us think up a way to deal with this? We really would like to have a private meal without having to suffer the third-degree at our own table.

—Theo’s Moms

Dear Theo’s Moms:

For the first problem, unwelcome chatter, use body language to send a clear message that you’re not open to conversation. Start with subtle gestures, like turning so that you’re not directly facing people at neighboring tables. If you’re dealing with dimwits, you may need to progress to more complex physical maneuvers easily learned in any schoolyard, or by watching rappers on YouTube.

Of course some people are oblivious, and will persist in asking questions anyway. If you can tell they’re gearing up for a marathon quiz, as if you’re creatures from another planet, try politely stating that you need to eat.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to make the universal sign of choking (hands over your throat), and collapsing onto the table with food hanging out of your mouth.

When people ask rude or overly personal questions, you could try saying, “Sorry, that’s private,” or “We’re not comfortable discussing that with strangers.” If you’re moved to address the questions, try giving short answers that don’t invite further conversation.

For example, the obvious answer to where the sperm came from is “the freezer.” If they ask which woman is the “real” mother (as if only genetics makes parenting authentic), the short answer is “we both are.”

If they don’t get it, don’t feel compelled to invest your energy in educating them. Make something up, like: “Genetically, we’re both his mothers. We figured out how to splice our eggs together.” If they continue to ask questions about how that’s done, you might try inventing an elaborate sexual process that involves sucking an egg out of your partner’s uterus through her vagina, and then swallowing it. The odds are good that the interrogation will end.

Dear Ms Behavior:

My across-the-hall neighbors are circuit queens: two guys who have wild sex weekends about twice a month. The guys are friendly when we see each other, but I never have been invited to their parties.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I wonder if they think they’re better than me, or if I’m not good looking enough for them, and why they wouldn’t just invite me. I’ve thought about hinting, but they don’t seem like the type to pick up on anything subtle.

So, what if I just go one night? I really want to get in on the action. What do you think?

—Neighbor in Need

Dear Neighbor in Need:

Don’t be the guy who slips uninvited into the orgy, all goofy and salivating. You easily could switch from being the neighbor they greet in the laundry room to the creepy weirdo they avoid or have arrested.

Try being direct instead, and tell them you’d love to come to one of their “gatherings.” But don’t be insulted if they don’t pick up on your request, and don’t assume that it’s because you’re not cute enough. If you respond with anger or resentment, you’ll seem freaky.

When people who have orgies don’t invite their neighbors, it’s often because they need a boundary between their fucking and fisting, and their neighborly chatter about holiday tips and front-loading washers. Nothing personal.

If you really need a sex party, it doesn’t have to be your neighbor’s. Try finding one online or through an ad in a gay publication.

Anyway, attending an orgy a few blocks from home rather than right across the hall is much more in keeping with the wise old adage: “Don’t felch where you sleep.”

© 2008 Meryl Cohen. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected]. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.

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