An Excellent, Local, Gay Writer
Posted on June 9th, 2009 at 11:32 am by Steve

Mike Mennonno is, in my opinion, a terrific writer And he’s based in Boston. And he’s gay! And he gardens!!

I’m really enjoying his post about Gay Pride, but I’m even more enamored of this passage from his discussion of how strangers can interact:

As noxious as smoking was, people forget why they started: because when everyone was doing it, it was the perfect opening line. “Got a light?” was the all-purpose come-on. Everything about cigarettes was perfect for bridging that now unbridgeable gap between strangers — even the fact that they were addictive. It gave both parties an out. If she rebuffed you, usually with a “no, sorry, this is my last one,” you still had your pride. You could be all like: yeah,well, I’m only asking because I’m about to have a nick fit, not because I want to get in your pants, sugartits.

If she — or he — said yes, there was always time as she fished in her pocketbook, or he unrolled the sleeve of his tee, looking all rebelly without a cause, to show off your charm. The cigarette was an in, an opening. And despite the fact that it would eventually kill you, it was also supremely civilizing. Nothing has taken its place. Gum-chewing lacks sophistication, asking the time doesn’t invite intimacy, and you can’t just go up to someone you don’t know and start talking about the weather, even in New England, where it is a rich, voluble topic.

I used to think of cell phones as the new smoking, but only because they, too, pollute the environment. But cell phones are actually worse. They’ve allowed the virtual, in the guise of the private, to colonize and completely overrun the already decimated public sphere, the shared space of strangers that once held the promise of a strange intimacy, without which our common life withers. Smoking, as damaging as it was to health, at least had a social function among strangers to partly make up for it.

A worthy addition to your blog-world, I daresay!