Q: The other day on the D train, I had the misfortune of sitting next to a woman who, for four stops, ate cherries out of a bag and threw the pits under the seat. It was disgusting, not to mention inconsiderate. Normally, I respect the “don’t look at others” rule while riding the train, but this seemed gross enough to warrant an exception (alas, I did not). What would you have done?
-IN THE PITS, COBBLE HILL
A: I once made the mistake of glaring at a jerk on a packed F train who was sitting with his legs J.Lo-in-Gigli wide (“Gobble, gobble”), taking up two seats, while an elderly woman standing nearby struggled to maintain her balance as the subway car bucked like, well, J.Lo in Gigli. I didn’t say a word, but that didn’t stop him from glaring back at me and barking, “What?! What the fuck?!” I could have responded, “You are being impolite!” Instead, I muttered a quick “Nothing” and hightailed it to the other end of the car. My thinking is that anybody who would actually dispose of cherry pits on the subway is not only rude but quite possibly a sociopath. (People who clip their nails are, without a doubt, criminally insane.) So I don’t blame you for playing it safe. However, you would have been well within your rights to speak up. If more of us spoke up at moments like that (maybe just as the train reached your stop), there would be fewer cherry trees growing in the subway.
Q: Is it really okay to talk about getting a Brazilian bikini wax in public? This happens at work all the time. In fact, women trade tips about where to go and discuss how drunk they got before they went and how much it hurt, and frankly, I think that’s more than I need to know about my co-workers’ intimate maintenance regimens. I’m a gay man, but I don’t like to think of myself as the palace eunuch. Am I being a priss?
-BUSH WHACKED, MIDTOWN
A: There is a larger question of taste at stake here—namely, aren’t bikini waxes a little Y2K? You might point out to your colleagues that it was fashionable to discuss the work of the J. Sisters at around the same time it was fashionable to sing “Let me see that thong” under one’s breath. Brazilian bikini waxes are, in a word, over. Vogue recently advised its readers to “banish thin brows,” and the same could be said for thin, Hitler-mustache-style genital topiaries. We don’t blame you for resisting the gay-man-as-squirming-sissy stereotype. Much better to go with the far more potent gay-man-as-arbiter-of-style-and-taste stereotype by aggressively recommending that your lady co-workers adopt a fuller, stronger pubic profile this fall to go with the bold, unplucked brows and weightier fabrics of the season.
Q: A friend of mine recently invited me to a dinner party, rattling off an unusually stellar guest list culminating with Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. To avoid appearing clueless, I spent some part of the week leading up to the dinner reading up on Mr. Allen; indeed, I even went so far as to purchase The Accidental Zillionaire, a new unauthorized biography. Then, on the night of the dinner, Mr. Allen failed to materialize. The host bravely continued the evening with no mention of his trophy guest, and I couldn’t bring myself to compound his disappointment by asking what had happened. But having done all that “research,” I was a little annoyed. How can I raise the issue without offending my friend?
-THE DINNER GUEST, UPPER WEST SIDE
A: You fail to include the date of the dinner, but Allen’s business skills are not what they once were. According to one recent report, his losses have now reached a total of $19 billion, almost halving his once-great fortune. So perhaps he was too depressed to socialize. Then again, perhaps your friend invented Allen’s inclusion on the guest list in order to lure other guests who might otherwise not bother to attend. As for the book, you should present it to your friend as a gift, suggesting in a conspiratorial whisper that he start at the bit where Allen boots a children’s summer camp off an island he has just bought, and see what response this provokes.