My radio producer volunteered me as a subject for “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” I doubt I’ll go through with outing myself on national television as an unprocessed hillbilly, but I am intrigued by gay men having become the straight man’s “messiah.”
“Queer Eye” is based on the premise that heterosexual men are today’s coarse savages who need their chest and back hair (wait, isn’t that a rug?) waxed. Bad-mannered brutes and barbarians with apartments that look like Beirut. Unlettered in stylishness, unschooled in being gentlemen, they need to be rescued from their boorishness by the guys they used to give wedgies to in the locker room.
In one recent episode, the Fab Five poured into the home of a quiet cowboy with two brain cells and one eyebrow. His apartment looked like a barn and smelled like a stable. His five-o’clock shadow made him the twin of Uday Hussein. He planned to propose to his live-in girlfriend.
The Fab Five made it clear that in his primitive condition only a she-wolf in heat would agree to marry him. So they plucked his eyebrow and taught him how to make chocolate mousse. Presto. “And on the sixth day, the Fab Five created man.”
As I watched this clueless cowboy being taught how to clean up after himself, dig wax out of his ears, and speak romantically to a woman rather than his horse, it suddenly struck me that this is exactly what the women in my life did for me.
My mother taught me how to tuck my shirt in and how to keep my room tidy. If I used foul language, she’d wash my mouth out with soap.
My wife taught me how to act like a gentleman, especially in the presence of a lady. If I ate with my mouth open, she would gently rebuke me. Before I gave a public speech, she’d straighten my tie and take the lint off my jacket. And because her face lit up when I bought her flowers, she taught me chivalry and the power of the romantic gesture.
But how can women teach men these things today?
Raised in a world where they get attention by flashing a thong strap rather than a kind smile, immersed in a workplace where masculine aggression rather than feminine sensitivity earns a promotion, there are precious few ladies left.
And in a world where there are no ladies, there can be no gentlemen.
Honestly, what can a college girl who flashes her breasts for the “Girls Gone Wild” videos teach a man about civility? What can a woman who prances around in her underwear on the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” teach a guy about dignified bearing?
Men no longer believe that women have class. And while they date them and bed them, fat chance they’re going to be preached to by them about not belching. Reality TV and the Internet package women in four foul stereotypes: 1) the greedy gold-digger; 2) the brainless bimbo; 3) the publicity-seeking prostitute; 4) the bitchy backstabber.
In a world of such rampant misogyny, where women have become complicit in their own degradation, they can have little positive influence over men. It has therefore fallen to the last feminine, nurturing spirits in our society – gay men – to teach the straight men the basics of elegance, refinement … even the importance of marriage! While the straight guys hyperventilate whenever their girlfriends mention the very word, the gay guys are fighting in the courts to tie the knot.
I have long said that the perfect couple would be a gay man and a straight woman, who marry and raise boys and girls to be both refined and nurturing. “Straight Tie (tie-the-knot) for the Gay Guy”? But the next best thing is for women to reclaim the civilizing role they’ve abdicated. After all, the Straight Guys on the show are motivated to clean up for the women in their lives. The least the women can do is to show them the way.