Gracious living with gracious queens - or Golden Girls Go to Hell

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Bette on the VCR. Now Voyager: the verandah, the moonlight, Max Steiner's music. Paul Henreid does the two-cigarette thing, and Bette starts to cry (smoke gets in your pop eyes). In a voice too touched and too tender to have ever issued from any man's mouth in real life, Paul asks why she's weeping. Bette turns away (killer close-up) and says, "Only an old maid's tears of gratitude for the crumbs offered." I begin sobbing into my bowl of air-popped popcorn, the way you do. Will pauses in passing around the 5lb box of Belgian chocolates to mutter, "She's off", and hands Andrew the triple-layer tissues we prepared earlier. Andrew follows Will's example and nabs a sheet for himself before giving them to me, along with a hug. As Paul politely advises Bette not to be such a silly bitch, we three honk into our hankies, devastated by a dead movie star's quest for true love.

Wet-eyed, heartbroken, down to our last soft centre, Will knows precisely what this moment of profound male bonding requires: "Boys, boys ... I believe low-fat cheesecake is in order."

Gracious living with gracious queens or The Golden Girls Go to Hell. You're watching a weepy and instant relief - you don't even have to pretend to be "the strong, silent type". In fact, once Now, Voyager is over, someone (oh, all right, me) is bound to break out Imitation of Life - yes, we have no bland Lana's - so we can road-test Max Factor's 100-per cent waterproof mascara at double recording speed.

We're men - we can take it.

It's not all eyeliner. It's one-liner too. Exchanges in gay households are seldom simple (basic is another thing entirely). John: "We're out of loo roll." Andrew: "I'll alert the media." John: "Whose turn is it to make dinner?" Will: "Marco Pierre White's. And tell him I wasn't struck by the hake and custard combo. It lacked ..." John: "Salt?" Will: "Sanity."

I confess: it can be tiring, not to mention surreal. The trivial flow of the everyday is routinely gatecrashed by slabs of Victoria Wood, French and Saunders and, even now, Dynasty. John: "Will, the phone." Will: "Grace, what I have told you about interrupting me when I'm sketching my designs?" which obliges you to keep your half-wits about you from breakfast ("Grey eggs? Is that an Arab custom?") to lonely bedtime ("You'll find The Biggest One I Ever Saw on the third shelf, right beside Persuasion"). And bedtime can be a very long way away, what with flatmates returning from the clubs, or the bushes, at five in the morning ("You're early") wanting to describe, in the sort of detail usually reserved for autopsy reports, their latest close encounter of the third sex kind.

But that's cool. Mutual support (and retort) go hand in hand, along with other body parts - the ear lent to wee-small-hours angst over Mr Right- Off, the shoulder provided to cry on when Carlo at Sassoon's goes stir crazy with the heated curlers. Your bad moods are alleviated by your flatmate selflessly making your favourite meal, a bottle of wine, and timely reminders of eternal friendship, because lovers can literally come and go, but buddies are diamonds and diamonds are forever.

Well, perhaps not forever, because these days there's an uninvited and unwanted guest haunting the party - see the guests vanish one by one - but that only means you should cherish your chums and protect your castle twice as hard, doesn't it? Think about it: wouldn't they do anything for you? More than any "real" family? Don't they monitor your diet ("A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips"), remember what you said you wanted for your birthday ("Brad Pitt. So where is he?") and impersonate Eartha Kitt on the dog and bone when you don't want to talk to your mother? And haven't they let you borrow their clothes (flash), car (flashier), home gym (flashiest), drugs (industry standard), boyfriend (ditto)?

They have. To refuse any or all of the above would be to question good taste. And if two or more sexually unattracted gay men are to cohabit peacefully, taste is the one thing that must go (relatively) unquestioned; taste in men especially - especially especially if you share a taste in men. Fight over the decor, yes; haggle over the positioning of the hi- fi/PC/CD-i, certainly; but quarrel over a quick and meaningless cop-off? No.

Avoid this, also: wearing identical outfits, motifs or accessories when painting the town pink - there's nothing sadder than three queens emerging from their bedrooms, ready to conquer Mezzo, all wearing the same tartan Dexter Wong - then the pros far outweigh the cons.

Cons like hardcore handbag first thing in the morning, sex toys in the washing machine, tubes of KY turning up where the toothpaste should be, and vice versa.

Pros like: the shopping takes care of itself. You'll enjoy a higher standard of living - toaster by Dualit, Cross Trainer by Pro-Form, torture chamber by Clone Zone. And that terrible nightmare about running out of Clinique, CK1 and Boots' Botanic Moisture Mask ... forget it. Though you may run out of patience if there's only one bathroom to go around for all those beauty products and all that ugly vanity. Still, what a meagre price to pay for sparkling, caring companionship, and being able to burst through the front door every evening, calling out in time-honoured fashion, "Hi, honeys! I'm homo!"