Friday, April 16, 2004

Bloodless

First impressions matter. If you don’t believe me, try wearing something white after Labor Day, you know, like a white gown and a pointy white hood.

I read somewhere that people make up their minds about someone they meet somewhere in the first seven minutes, which makes a good first impression crucial. I tend to agree; I generally know whether a guy I meet is someone I will be eventually dumping, dating or stalking.

It sounds contrary to everything your parents told you when you were growing up: "Don’t judge a book by its cover" or "It’s what’s inside your pants that count." After all, nobody thinks of themselves as shallow; you would lie through your teeth before admitting that your Louis Vuitton bag is real.

And it’s even worse in cyberspace (such a quaint 90s term) where online profiles tout qualities that are complete fabrications; that they are funny (not), they go to the gym (one time, six years ago) and well-adjusted (complete and raging co-dependent psycho).

I remember a guy asking me once, in a chatroom, what kind of sports I play. Without a beat, I typed “basketball,” even though the last time I played was when I was fourteen and it was with nine year-old girls.

For gay men, what kind of sports you play is like a barometer of your “butchness” or masculinity. A gay man who plays football is man’s man; basketball, your boy next door; and tennis, the limp-wristed stereotype. And don’t ever admit that you don’t play sports; you might as well say you have a special shelf where you store your tiaras.

Of course, some gay men will overcompensate and play football just to confound you. A friend who was in a gay football league told me that a huddle is where he got a great recipe for German Chocolate cake.

People want to put their best foot forward, make a good impression, which really makes getting to know someone really difficult, if not futile, in the short term. Nobody’s gonna present their real selves. Might as well go along with the fiction and enjoy the ride because one day you’re gonna wake up and wonder how you married this person with the chronic flatulence and $500 a day cocaine habit.

Same thing with interviews. I don’t know how questions like "give me an example of how you handled conflict" or "what are your weaknesses?" are supposed to help find the best candidate for a position. It’s not like you sit in an interview and say "Yes, I will be coming late to work everyday, steal the toilet paper, and eat other employees’ lunches in the refrigerator. And when I’m done with that, I’m gonna sleep with your husband—beeyaatch!"

The way I see it, the most convincing candidates are probably the ones you have to be wary of. Any question beyond experience and qualifications are really not relevant unless you have a lie detector or a nipple clamp.

I was in an interview recently where the woman asked me one hypothetical scenario after another about how I would resolve conflict with people. I got frustrated because I have never met these people that are supposedly giving me a hard time. In real life, I would know whether a bagel, a beer or a blowjob will smooth things over. In an interview, what I may say isn't what I would necessarily do.

It’s like that ethics test that they give potential employees:

You are in charge of petty cash. You forgot to go to the ATM and you need $10 to buy lunch. Do you:

a. Take the money from petty cash.
b. Borrow money from petty cash and return it later.
c. Don’t take the money.
d. Take the money but answer "c" in this questionnaire.

Duh.

By the end of the interview, I was drained, bloodless. My cheeks ached from smiling so much. I knew I didn’t get the job, her first impression counted.