Yesterday in “Artificial Emotional Intelligence,” I described how the intersection of social anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has resulted in a strange phenomenon: in my memory, the images of most other gay guys I know are saved as something like cartoon Muppets. For example, the piano player at Showtunes Night looks like a non-green Kermit the Frog.
To keep things interesting, my memories aren’t limited to fuzzy gay puppets. I get other fantastical creatures, too. One of the other Americans in Vancouver Men’s Chorus tends to be a bright blue Disney character, but with Frank’s Latin features and black glasses. Usually Frank resembles the Genie from Aladdin. Sometimes he’s more like Dory the fish.
Last Wednesday at Showtunes Night I ran into a Second Tenor I hadn’t seen since December. We’ll call him “Chard.” I barely recognized him – Chard got a fabulous new haircut while he was away visiting his family in China. (I told him the corresponding trim at Supercuts for straight eleven-year-olds on a budget is called “The Bart Simpson.”)
While I sat listening to songs by Gershwin and Sondheim, I observed Chard fiddling with his phone nearby. Interestingly, whenever I looked away he remained a real human in my mind. So I conducted an experiment. I closed my eyes for a few minutes, opening them briefly every twenty seconds. While my eyes were closed, I remembered an actual human face – but a different face each time. Every time I opened my eyes I thought, “Who’s that cute Asian guy? Oh, it’s just Chard.”
The Muppet-memory phenomenon mostly applies to gay guys I already know, such as the men of Vancouver Men’s Chorus and the other regulars at Showtunes Night. They give my subconscious something to work with in order to generate each image. In contrast, as I confessed in “Artificial Emotional Intelligence,” most gay strangers don’t look like cartoon Muppets in my memory. They’re human. But they all look the same.
However, last week I realized the buff bearded bartender at Pumpjack also appears to be an actual human being, even when he’s not in the room where I can see him. Because I’ve interacted with him every Wednesday for ages, my initial hypothesis was that he must be straight.
That left me confused. At least on a subconscious level, I have preternaturally accurate gaydar. I asked my friend Trish for her opinion. In my experience, nice straight girls who’ve hung out in musical theatre for too long either have infallibly protective gaydar, or they cluelessly fall in love with all the boys in the chorus. Trish said she assumed the bartender is gay. So we had one and an half votes against my heterosexual non-Muppet hypothesis.
As a parent, you’re not supposed to have a favourite child. To compensate, you can have other kinds of favourites. Everyone knows I prefer our dog Bear over the shaggier, fatter, and dumber Buster.
The singer in our section of Vancouver Men’s Chorus with my favourite voice is Zack. He’s also a talented musician. Zack arranged the Sinead O’Connor number for our June concert “R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Celebrating Women’s Music.” The Second Tenors have the best part in the song.
While chatting at Pumpjack last week about the upcoming concert, I realized that in my mind Zack is a human being rather than a Muppet – but he looks exactly like the similarly buff and bearded bartender who works on Showtunes Night. So do several other guys I know.
Apparently the kaleidoscope in my subconscious is convinced there’s an infinite number of cute gay Asian guys out there. But only one cute gay lumberjack.
More Showtune Night Stories:
"Missing Marie's Crisis" (5/6/17)
"Get Out and Stay Out" (10/18/17)
"Six Degrees of Kristin Chenoweth" (10/31/18)
"Comfort Animals" (4/24/19)
"I am Third" (5/29/19)
"Maybe I Love Showtunes Too Much" (9/17/19)
"Artificial Emotional Intelligence" (2/25/20)