Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gaydar, Drums and Sri Lankan Mothers

This is a slightly awkward but necessary thing to confess. You might know me and think I'm talking rubbish, you might not know me and think that I'm being boastful or you might just think I'm talking a load of tosh.

The fact is that, since I was about sixteen, I've often found that gay chaps like me. And by "like" I mean "like" not just 'like'. I don't know why this is. Perhaps they like the cute little Asian boy thing, maybe I flirt when I talk or it might be my collection of George Michael T shirts and penchant for dressing up like a fireman when I go to nightclubs.

The details aren't important. What matters is that this is the case and some time ago I accepted the baton and now carry it with the responsibility it deserves. I've found myself wishing I were gay sometimes too, purely for the way in which gay chaps can befriend women and make them want to spend all their time with them.

All women want a gay best friend, the negative also being the positive; that said fellow won't be trying to jump the woman at every available opportunity and so the woman can relax without feeling threatened. My knowledge of women is limited, I'm a man after all, but I suspect that all of them secretly harbour a desire to be the one to convert their gay friend, to make him finally realise that women are the real thing.

Often though I've found myself being chatted up by a bloke, something that, truth be told, I quite like. Thinking about it, it's probably because I never get chatted up by women. But, when the man chat starts I tend to go along with it for a while before revealing that I'm almost entirely heterosexual. It's fun and harmless and I reckon my gaydar is fairly well tuned and able to spot the difference between casual chat between hetero men and a chat up scenario from a good distance.

As far as sexuality is concerned I think I'd be classed as anti homophobic. I must stress that to you now.

Last Sunday I went to a local pub where I'd agreed to meet my parents. It's a fantastic riverside pub that, on a Sunday evening, has truly world class musicians playing a relatively low key jazz session. I go fairly often as it gives me the opportunity to watch some of the best drummers in the country if not the world (really I'm not exaggerating there) in a close setting.

This week I saw Ian Thomas play. Unless you're a drummer you probably haven't heard of him but he's one of the first call guys that many big name artistes use all the time. I've seen him play on TV with Eric Clapton more times than I can recall, with Tom Jones and with just about everyone you can think of, so to watch him close up, to chat about drum stuff with him and see his every move is truly a privilege.

My 'rents, who go to this jazz session almost every week, have built up a little circle of likeminded friends there. Oldish people who like music and all look like trainspotters (retired).

There we were on Sunday. The band had finished the first set and I was enduring another round of a game me and my Mum play. The game is called "name the drums" and involves her asking me what the various drums in a drum kit are called. It always starts the same way

"Rhythmic, tell me one more time, what's the drum to his right called again?"

"That's the floor tom, Mum."

"Right, got it, and what are those ones in front of him?"

"Well those are toms too, but not called floor toms as they're usually mounted from a rack."

"What's a rack?"

I then explain that.

"But I can't see one"

"Well there isn't one, but they're still called rack toms, or mounted toms"

"So which are the tom toms then?"

"Those are" say I pointing to the toms.

"But you said they're toms"

"They are, the full name is tom toms but we usually just say toms"

"Right, got it."

We play this game every time me, my Mum and a drum kit are in the same room. As you can imagine, what with my love of all things drummy and the fact that my mother is of the Sri Lankan variety, which fundamentally means that she stalks her children and rarely listens to them, that also means we play the game a hell of a lot.

I wouldn't mind if we had the conversation once or twice but it gets taxing after a certain point, particularly when I know that if the specific drum kit had been dressed in a Liverpool football kit then she would have remembered every last detail about it. The worst thing a chap can do, faced with one of these situations, is to confront the Lankan mother. That's stupid, pointless and akin to taking on a herd of wild elephants protecting a baby when you're armed with only a flimsy bikini and a Dairylea triangle.

I confronted her.

"Mum who plays left back for Liverpo...?"

Before I could finish the sentence she'd answered and told me the name of the bloke before.

"So why is it that you can remember things like that, but not details about drum kits?"

I'd prehandled her usual response; that with getting older she has trouble remembering things and I shouldn't get angry with her for it. I was on the verge of a resounding victory, by using a tactic I'd never used before. Things were looking good. She was stumped but couldn't resist trying to win.

"If you asked me a question about ----------(insert medical term here) would you remember the answer?" she responded.

"Well yes, if I was interested enough to ask you I think I would actually." I returned with confidence.

I looked at her and saw the glint of a tear in her eye. Oh shit I thought, she's going to do the half crying emotional blackmail thing again. There is no way to beat that, it's like playing Civil Aircraft Top Trumps when I was a kid and having the 747. You just say "490 passengers and you've won". These days I guess the A380 would beat that but that's another story.

Everyone knows it, once a Sri Lankan mother turns on the tears you've lost. And it's a loss without honour.

Then, as victory was about to be declared, which usually involves my Dad wondering why my Mum is crying and what I've done to upset her, a bloke who looked like he was Freddie Mercury trying to act a bit camp dressed in cycling gear strolled flounced into the picture. It was apparent that the chap was not only a friend of Dorothy but also a friend of my Mum.

They chatted for a bit, then she introduced him to me.

"T, this is my son Rhythmic. Rhythmic this is T" said she. The tears had entirely disappeared.

T and I shook hands. I swear I caught him lick his lips, just for a split second. He glanced at my left hand and I clocked him as he clocked the lack of ring on it. We conversed for a while. T was as camp as a good few rows of tents. I know that campness doesn't necessarily equal gayness but I'd have bet large amounts of money on this one.

I suppose I was a little bit flirty with him, exchanging stories of where we live, when I was going on holiday, my favourite Scissor Sisters costume, the usual stuff. I deliberately didn't mention that I have a girlfriend or even my kids, just for a bit of a laugh. Then, some way into the conversation, I got cold feet. Then I quickly said something like

"I'mgoingwithmykidsandmygirlfriendwillbetheretooandIlikewomen" to make sure he got the message. Confidence and strength are all well and good but, when you break you break. A chap can hold out without peeing for so long but once he's passed the tipping point there's no turning back. And I'd tipped. Or turned. I hadn't peed though.

He ambled off into the distance as he lost interest in me quicker than my lead guitarist did the last time I tried to tell him about the wood that my snare drum is made of. He'd made some utterings about it being nice to meet me but I could sense his disappointment and felt a little bit bad for him.

My Mum turned to me and whispered. She whispered in that voice that people only use when they talk about other people having cancer, that strange very open mouthed whisper that that can be both lip read and heard from about half a mile.

"I think he's gay you know. I was trying to warn you, I was trying to send you ESP messages to let you know. I think he was trying to chat you up."

I looked at her, I felt a bit guilty about the drum thing and the tears.

Yes. I know Mum. I was just having some fun.

Secretly I tutted and rolled my eyes. The second set was fabulous.


Resident Princess said...

I know what you mean by "Everyone knows it, once a Sri Lankan mother turns on the tears you've lost. And it's a loss without honour".

I feel absolutely rotten everything my mum cries and my imagination runs riot about what I would feel like the day she passes on. Its quite traumatic.

Queen from Another Planet said...

Naaah, we don't want to convert our gay friends. It is such a joy to have a gay friend, because he gets you in ways most straight men don't. And you get them. So it is like a totally honest, chilled out friendship :)

David Blacker said...

"I've found myself wishing I were gay sometimes too, purely for the way in which gay chaps can befriend women and make them want to spend all their time with them."

Isn't that a bit like a vegetarian teetotaller wishing he could go to dinner at the Bavarian Restaurant during Oktoberfest?

Confab said...

How I've missed your blog. Hope SL is treating you well :)