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word watch

I saw Kevin Smith on TV the other day, calling something gay, And I don't mean gay in the cool cocksucking way, he said. More in the very lame way.

Apropros of which, I had an interesting moment on streetcar yesterday. I was sitting in the middle of the mostly empty car, early evening, when a group of kids came on. Kids meaning maybe high-school seniors. Young adults, almost. Large, toughish looking, male. And I found myself smiling broadly as I listened to their conversation. They were talking, with the unself-conscious volume of the young en masse, or the slightly drunk, about a mutual friend named Derek.

(Hey, should it be un-selfconscious? Now that I've written that out it looks wrong, but so does unself-conscious.)

So did you know, said one of the young men, pronouncing it didja -- Didja know that Derek is into dudes?

What? said another.

I mean dudes. He's not into chicks. He's, like, totally into dudes.

Whaddaya mean? said the other guy. He had a higher whiny voice.

Well I was at a party and Derek was there too, and he was totally like hugging this other dude.

So what? said the third guy. Lot of dudes hug each other. Doesn't have to mean anything.

Sure, said the second guy. You see it all the time.

Well, they were like hugging and kissing, said the first guy. I was getting a drink at the party, and Derek and this guy were, like, making out.

Big pause.

Huh, said the second guy, stretching it out. Huuu-uuuh. (No idea where to put the hypen.)

Yeah, said another guy. Who would have guessed that, eh?

I know, said the first guy. I was going to whack him on the shoulder and say, Derek! I didn't know you were into dudes. But I didn't. I didn't want to ... you know ...

Bust in? said the third guy.

Yeah. What if he was embarrassed or something?

What if he kissed you? said the second guy.

And they all laughed.

There was an older -- meaning my age -- woman sitting across from me on the streetcar. She and I shared a smile at all this. At my high school, she said in a low voice, those boys were the kind that would have beaten Derek up. I nodded. My high school too. Not that Derek would have been hugging another dude at any party I ever went to.

Mine was the next stop. I waited by the middle doors. The guys were lounging all over the seats at the back of the streetcar, discussing Avatar in derisive tones. A totally gay movie, they agreed.


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