‘You lot have it easy,’ grumbled Daniel, as he bemoaned his lack of action over his fifth beer. ‘You gays can get it anywhere.’ You haven’t seen who’s offering it, I thought to myself. There’s a reason why they switch off the lights in gay darkrooms. But in one sense he is right. Daniel is good-looking, intelligent, has a good job (well, maybe good is overdoing it, but at least he has one, a rare enough commodity in Berlin to be a real bonus), and even has the capacity to patiently wait outside the changing room while a girlfriend tries on clothes. But the fairer sex just doesn’t go for him. Whereas, if he were gay, he might find it just as hard to find a partner, but at least, while he waited for his true love, he could get a bit of casual sex in about half of the gay bars in Berlin. And most of the parks. Granted, not all gay men are in to that sort of thing. But even so, it’s nice to have the option.
Daniel’s main failing is of course that he is nice. He calls when he says he will, doesn’t check out girls passing by in the street, and is good to his mum. All of which makes him a failure with the ladies, who may say they want a modern, sensitive man, but in reality appear to be looking for a testosterone-packed bastard who will mess them round. The rest they can get from their gay friends.
‘I can’t stand how Josef dresses,’ Melanie told me as we were spending the ritual three hours trying to decide what to wear before going out – the usual industrial-strength vodka tonics in hand. Sometimes this procedure can last longer than the actual night out. And is usually more fun. ‘I sometimes think he does it just to aggravate me. I mean, who would go around like that and think it’s normal? Here, try this belt on … ’ she said, chucking some sort of glitzy silver thing across the bed. ‘And another thing,’ she added, jabbing her drink in my direction (vodka tends to make Melanie argumentative) ‘there always seems to be some sort of football championship on the television. Euro Cup or World Tournament or some such bloody thing. It just never seems to end. It’s not like he ever plays any damn sports,’ she sighed between swigs. But despite these complaints, I think Melanie secretly believes how a straight man should be. She expects her gay friends to talk hairstyles with her and discuss Madonna’s latest album. But if her boyfriend decided to go to a Kylie concert instead of the footie, I suspect she would start feeling a little bit put off. Which explains why straight men in Germany are so confused. For the past few decades, society has been telling heterosexual men to express their feelings and show their sensitive side. But as soon as they do, they don’t get laid. Bit of a no-win situation. Being an aggressive macho means you are fucked in the eyes of society. And not being an aggressive macho leaves you, well, not fucked. If straight men hadn’t spent the last few millennia running the world, you could almost feel sorry for them.