The Gay Toronto House Party

Image result for karen mean girls

I am at a house party in Cabbagetown, Toronto, hosted by a delightful young gay couple I met at my gym on Yonge & Something. I am wearing jeans, a black tank top, and a paddy cap.

A red-haired woman asks me the second question everyone always asks in Toronto. The first question is what’s your name. Then they pretend you don’t have an accent and avoid asking you where you come from because they once read an op-ed written by a frothy thought-policemaperson about how you’re a cryptofascist for othering others by questioning their origin.

And they go straight to asking you what you do for a living because Canadians are the greatest people in the world, but they still need to know where you rank in the grand scheme of things.

So I tell her the truth — that I am the Editor in Chief of Arthritis Monthly magazine. I say it like that, capitalizing Editor and Chief because job titles should always be capitalized in Toronto.

To this she oohs and aahs and how-interestings. Yes, it is quite interesting, but also very challenging, I say. It’s not easy to fill up an entire magazine with fresh arthritis-related content every single month plus the special summer issue.

The red-haired woman is single and middle-aged and gorgeous and wants to tell me about all the boys she’s slept with in the past three months. I pretend to listen but my mind is elsewhere, thinking as I am of the next Arthritis Monthly centerfold spread — two blank pages with an old lady crumpled into a tiny twisted heap in the bottom right corner.

One of the hosts is snorting coke off the abs of a shirtless Portuguese waiter. He turns to me and says, “you can’t smoke in the house”.

Then I wake up.

The Gay Man’s Guide To Straight People’s Babies

There comes a time in every gay man’s life, usually around his thirties, when he is confronted with other people’s babies. If you find yourself elbow-deep in friends’ and relatives’ super fertile life stages, and and feeling a bit lost, read on.

There comes a time in every gay man’s life, usually around his thirties, when he is confronted with other people’s babies.

It comes slowly, then suddenly: a Facebook announcement or two, then a sibling’s phone call, then seventy thousand people seemingly agreeing to repopulate a continent at the same time. If you find yourself elbow-deep in friends’ and relatives’ super fertile life stages, and feeling a bit lost, this guide is for you.

— The Baby Announcement. “We are pregnant!”, says your favourite straight couple, and they are thrilled, and so are you! You jump, you hug, maybe you cry a little? You look deeply into your straights’ eyes (all four of them) and you say “This is going to be amazing!”.

Not so fast. Not everything about babies is wonderful and powdery and fragrant, and it’s important to be informed about the consequences this will have for your life. For starters, and I cannot stress this enough, you’ll be shocked at the amount of focus this baby is going to pull: it will steal your thunder at Halloween parties. It will soil its diaper in the middle of your anecdote. And there’s nothing you can do – not even your zombie stewardess costume can compete with Baby Wonder Woman and you know it.

Think about this for a bit. You are going to be very quiet at work the next day.

– The Sonogram. First seen around the third-month mark (your mileage may vary), you will be confronted with a grainy mess in black and white. This is an image of the inside of your friend’s uterus. Rumor has it that the baby is in there too. If you sucked at playing Where’s Waldo and hated those terrible 3D trick image books that you are supposed to stare at while crossing your eyes, you will love the sonogram stage.

Let’s play Spot The Fetus!

You know when you are ravenously hungry but you don’t have anything in your fridge because you have been working too much and forgot to do the shopping, so you pop down to the corner store and buy a can of lentil soup and it’s the last one on the shelf and it’s kinda dusty, and then you go home and you microwave it in a bowl and then you look at it?

The baby is the sausage.

Don’t worry if you still can’t see it as the parents will point it out to you. What they insist is the baby will look to you like a blistered toe, but you must keep this observation to yourself and adopt the Sonogram Face: simply picture yourself smelling a delicious batch of freshly baked cupcakes. Aha? See? That’s the face. You’ve got this.

– The Pregnancy. With all the mainstream focus relentlessly placed on the mother, people often neglect to tell you that during your friend’s pregnancy, as a gay man, your body is going to change. Not only is she going to be cancelling a lot of joint artisanal vegan Pilates sessions or whatever, but she’s always going to be tired. At some point, getting your pregnant couple friends to stay up past eleven is going to be a huge imposition even though it’s barely dinner time for you (no? just me?). You are either going to be getting a lot more sleep, or a lot more drunk by your lonesome. Which, you know, it’s a free country.

– Picking Baby Names. Save yourself the trouble and stop suggesting awesome names like Sebastian and Vincent because you all know they’re going to name it after a grandparent. And not even a grandparent with a cool name like Dorian or Rambo, but one named Norman.

– New Glossary: Replace commonly used terms like ‘brunch’ or ‘theatre tickets’ with ‘placenta’, ‘mastitis’, ‘epidural’, and my personal favourite: ‘mucus plug’. (never ever google this)

– The Birth: It’s best not to ask questions. You can’t handle the answers. Just show up three days later with a bottle of vodka and a carton of cigarettes for the mother like I did once some form of fluffy toy animal and your Sonogram Face on.

– Baby Gifts. Baby gifts are a minefield. The colours. The politics. Is pink okay for a girl? Is pink okay for a boy? Is a copy of Heather Has Two Mommies too premature for a pre-verbal child? Does this stuffed giraffe violate fundamental principles of animal ethics?

The good news is that, while you may fret about such unquestionably important things, the baby’s parents haven’t slept, showered or eaten a warm meal in a week and therefore would not care at this stage if you gave their child a box of live ammunition and a copy of Hustler if it meant that you finally went away and left them alone with the consequences of their poor choices baby.


This has been your Gay Man’s Guide To Straight People’s Babies, learning as we go along. Coming up soon, The Gay Man’s Guide To Parent’s Demanding Grandchildren Because Being Gay Is No Longer An Excuse.

Why Is My Twitter In Italian? And Other Questions My Grandmother Never Had To Grapple With

My grandmother never opened Twitter in her iPad web browser and found herself staring at the word ‘Iscriviti’. She didn’t poke at the screen with her bony index finger curved into a menacing hook and scratched at the words ‘Nome utente’ like an unwelcome water streak.

“What is this goddamned gibberish?”, she never asked. “Why is this here, what did I do?” My grandmother didn’t have Twitter or an iPad or a browser because she only read the newspaper, and within that newspaper she only read the ‘Happenings’ section — the ‘sucesos’, or happenings, which is where you would go when you wanted to read about people who had been murdered in their sleep, or become tetraplegic after falling from their balcony.

Later on, as she got older, she would share the obituaries section with my grandfather and they would recognise the name of a long-held acquaintance and not say anything to each other.

“Why are you throwing yourself off an airplane? Is it because of me? What did I do?” is another question my grandmother never had to ask herself, because her boyfriend never came home one day and said “I am going skydiving in Kolín this Friday afternoon”. Her one and only boyfriend who then became my grandfather would have never contemplated jumping off a plane. And if he had, she certainly wouldn’t have snapped at him to get a haircut instead if he felt his life was so devoid of meaning. (My bad.)

My grandmother never once wondered, “What are 13 little things that can make a man fall hard for me?” because she intuitively knew that it’s her empanadillas.

And she never reflected upon “the five questions to ask when discovering your personal brand”. Her personal brand was the purple and silver blouse she bought herself after my grandfather died but she didn’t think of it that way because grandmothers don’t have personal brands.

The mere mention of “Which Sex And The City Character Are You?” would have gotten any of us yelled at and thrown out of her house. She was all of them, by the way, except Carrie. She would have yelled at Carrie and thrown her out of her house.

It’s days like these when all I have is stupid questions in my head that I miss her the most.

Her and her empanadillas.

(Seriously, why is my Twitter in Italian?)

34 Things You Should Have Done Before Turning 35 But You Haven’t Because You Are A Loser

How have you failed at adulting? From love to career to adopting rescue dogs, let us count the ways.

How have you failed at adulting? From love to career to adopting rescue dogs, let us count the ways.

1- Marry The Love of Your Life. Romance and relationships make up approximately 50 percent of any carbon-based life form and 99 percent of humanity’s cultural output (the other 1 percent is the Guernica). How come you’re single? Why won’t he marry you? (it’s because you smell)

2- Have Children. Children are the future. We are the children. Why don’t you have children? Don’t you like children? Everybody likes children. You would be such a great parent to Jaydyn and Kaydyn and little baby Jennica. Those are real names.

3- Buy Your Dream House. By 35 you should have both feet firmly planted on the property ladder. You should be upgrading to a 3-BR by now, you sad renting plonk. Why don’t you own your Dream House? Your cousin owns three and she’s married to The Love Of Her Life and she just gave birth to baby Jennica.

4- Get an MBA. Undergrad is the new high school. You need an MBA. Everybody has an MBA. Why don’t you have an MBA? Your BA in Event Planning just isn’t going to cut it by the time you are 35. Your cousin is an event planner and she has an MBA.

5- Plant a Tree. In the backyard of your Dream House which you own.

6- Travel to India. Maybe for your honeymoon, with The Love Of Your Life. It is said that the Taj Mahal is the most romantic building in the world. People say that. And thanks to the Delhi Belly you have now hit your goal weight at last.

7- Write a Book. Your cousin is a functional illiterate and even she has managed to publish an e-book of her favourite Kardashian tweets. It’s selling really well. Why haven’t you ever written anything? (it’s because you smell)

8- Adopt a Rescue Dog. It can run on your beautiful backyard of your Dream House which you own with the Love Of Your Life. Make a fun family time out of discovering its behavioural problems. Oh wait, you don’t have a family.

9- Learn To Cook With Brandy. You are a sophisticated domestic god/dess.  No one is ever going to marry you if your dinner is lumps of cheese eaten in front of the open fridge until it beeps. We can see you.

10- Practice Yoga. Yoga gives you poise and equilibrium. Well, not you, obviously. You just flail around your mat trying to conceal your erection and toppling over people.

11- Meditate. Shhhh. Quietly.

12- Become a Vegan. Just for a little bit so you can tell people you are a vegan. Isn’t your cousin a vegan? I think she’s a vegan.

13- Go Gluten-Free. Ride that trend like a fucking bronco.

14- Organise a Beautiful Easter Egg Hunt For The Whole Family. Invest on some really high-end egg-painting accoutrement. This is not the time to be stingy. Let it take up as much time as it takes because your event planning business isn’t doing so great and you don’t have much else going on.

15- Call Pest Control. You were just down in the basement hiding Easter eggs and you saw a huge rat.

16- Read Capital in the Twenty-First Century By Thomas Picketty. Or do what everyone else does and just buy a copy and put it on a shelf where people can see it.

17- Self-Identify as an A-Type Personality. Tell everyone about it. Make a really big deal about how A-Type you are. You just can’t relax! You are so A-Type! But nobody will believe you because of your slovenly ways and because of that one time you filed for bankruptcy.

18- Dance in the Rain. Dance.

19- Survive Pneumonia. Why would you go out dancing in the rain like a goddamned hippie. (it’s because you smell)

20- Have an Honest Talk With The Love Of Your Life. Communication is key. Put on your big girl/boy pants and sit down with the Love Of Your Life and have an open, honest, judgement-free discussion about why s/he is being so distant and I don’t know, weird all of a sudden, you know what I mean?

21- Have a Glass Of Brandy. You need it, after that Honest Talk. Jesus, that escalated quickly. What a scream fest. Did you wake Jaydyn and Kaydyn? (you did)

22- Maybe Check His/Her Phone. While s/he is in the shower. Quickly. What’s Craigslist?

23- Explore A Trial Separation. Well, look –this can be a wonderful opportunity to rediscover who you are, and have some much needed you-time. You are just working some stuff out. Just for a little while. It’s not even worth worrying your mother with it.

24- Divorce The Love Of Your Life. Yeah, it wasn’t temporary, was it. Lose your soulmate forever and watch him/her walk away from you like the profoundly unlovable mess that you are.

25- Temporarily Lose Custody Of Baby Jennica. Because of your drinking problem. You and your brandy must be very happy together.

26- Have a Series of Drug-Fuelled One-Night-Stands. You are strong and desirable.

27- Fight Off Venereal Disease. Where did that come from?

28- Get Evicted From Your Dream House. Because you lost your business and you couldn’t pay your mortgage.

29- Move In With Your Mother. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with your relatives and curl in the fetal position under your childhood bed and be very scared about how fast life can unravel.

30- Sign Up For An Evening Class. Salsa dancing and Italian are big favourites with divorced people. Maybe you will meet someone nice! (but you won’t)

31- Drop Out Of Your Evening Class. Because you had a shitty lawyer during the divorce and you got stuck with the Rescue Dog with behavioural problems and your mother is afraid of being alone in the house with it.

32- Volunteer. Nothing lift your spirits higher than bearing witness to other people’s fuck ups.

33- Do An Internship. Do three! Like volunteering but without the schadenfreude. Discover that in the New Economy internships are today’s entry-level jobs in which you have no hours and get paid in karma.

34- Call Your Cousin. Call her to thank her for getting you the internship and  to tell her that you received her invitation to the barbecue party at her beautiful new beach house and you would love to go, but you don’t think you’ll be able to make it this time.