Well, that was a bit different.
What happened yesterday in a string of stores.
Tell me more.
Okay, since you ask. Yesterday a buddy of mine wanted to just wander around town, chat, eat lunch, etc. Take a break from fix this, do that, etc. Sounds great!
So we do. And in the first store we walk into, a Home Depot, a salesperson smiles at us and says “Hi guys!”. Curious. So cheery and in what’s generally an impersonal kind of warehouse store. Oh well, carry on. Maybe she was in a good mood.
Next store, full of sports clothing. Same thing. “Hi, welcome!” Huh? This is starting to weird me out. When I’m shopping I’m pretty intent on what I’m after and I rarely get any greetings like that, other than at places like Williams Sonoma where they pay people to greet you. Although in this case I’m not really shopping; I’m more wandering around and chatting.
And in the next store ... same. Happy, cheerful sale staff going out of their way to say hiya. So I wonder aloud to my friend about why there’s suddenly such a happy-fest in these stores. And his answer was “Because they think we’re a cute gay couple. They want to make sure we perceive them as welcoming, to show they're not anti-gay.” “No, really?” “Oh, yesssss.”
Realllly? Could that be it?
Next store, not only do I get the 'happy to have you' here but I ask to see if they have some pot lid organizers, because lids are just a pain to store, and a saleswoman shows me some. Just me. And as my friend approaches she says “Oh, you’re together.” And smiles.
You know, I have to say, I believe he’s right. I’ve never gotten that kind of cheery how-are-you when I’m shopping with my wife. And by myself - forget it. You’re a brave person to even speak to me at all when I’m in acquisition mission mode. But here I go and walk around with my male friend and instantly it appears we’re “a couple”. Assuming this presumption is correct, and at this point I believe it is, it’s a fascinating piece of societal social interaction. And unlike the negative sorts of reaction that one reads about, this was all sweetness and light.
Makes me wonder what would happen if we’d done the same thing in Louisiana or Kentucky or pretty much anywhere that isn’t the Bay Area California. Is this an enclave of enlightened acceptance or is this the new norm? And does this imply that when two women go out they’re immediately assumed to be lesbians? Or would we NOT have been pigeonholed as gay if we’d acted more non-gay, however one might do that? We were just wandering and shopping and I had my nifty new Tlingit-made crow bolo tie on over a black T-shirt (stylish, eh?) and was carrying my man-purse (which actually holds my art pad, pencils and sharpener). So I certainly didn’t look like a rough and tumble, takes no guff, man’s man. No cigarette dangling from my lips, either. Would doing so have changed the responses?
Anyway, it was something out of my ordinary day and therefore a good thing. Different is good.