Rock Manor:

  • Short Story: Rock's Sense Of Gaydar 

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(Rock Manor writes about gay male life -  what he calls the Gaydom - as he sees it. He also likes sunsets, long walks on the beach, and other various cliches. You can visit his website at and follow him on twitter @TheRockManor and instagram under RockManor.)


Rock’s Sense Of Gaydar

I was having lunch with Mason and Andy at the local BAM healthy cuisine when Mason nodded at the hot guy walking past our patio table.

“Too bad,” I said. “He’s probably married with kids.”

“I didn’t see a ring,” Mason said. “And so what? Wasn’t Elton John married once?”

Andy laughed and nearly choked on his popeye wrap.

“You got a signal?” I asked. 

Mason was the youngest friend of the group in his junior year of undergrad. His youth sometimes made me envy him, but I never felt threatened or jealous since I did well at my own age. Young men were my interest and mostly who I dated even at an older age.

“You really need to fix your gaydar.” Mason smiled.

I looked to Andy for some kind of support. I knew I wouldn’t be getting any when I saw his face.

Andy stayed focused on his lunch. He didn’t like conflict and was the most passive of our group. Sometimes, he could easily get lost in wallpaper.

I blurted out my first defense. “What about Sam? I knew it when I first met him.”

Mason laughed. “Oh please, even someone who is blind, deaf and dumb could guess Sam was gay. The only thing missing is Sam riding the unicorn over the rainbow.”

Sam Bresel and I dated for a hot minute. We soon discovered we were better off as friends rather than lovers. Turns out we weren’t into each other except for the occasional retail therapy session together. He has a gifted sense of fashion for which I’m not up to standard. That’s not saying I’m a slouch either. I’m just saying if you compared my style to Sam’s, I’m not even in his league. The guy could make sweatpants work. 

Okay, so sweatpants was a bad example. Sorry.

Mason continued. “Let’s not forget Tyler Hendricks who you thought was gay and you tried everything you could to get him.”

Andy chimed in. “You were so convinced that his wife was a beard.”

“Actually I thought his wife was a lesbian,” I said. “You didn’t think she was butch?”

They both widened their eyes and turned their heads to the right at the same time as if to take pity on me. I had to admit it: there were plenty of times I thought a guy was straight and it turned out I was completely wrong. Then there were plenty of times when I thought a guy was gay and that made for a really embarrassing situation.

“Great,” I said. “So what shop do I take my gaydar to get repaired?”

Mason and Andy gave each other the rolling eyes I typically get when I make a bad joke. 

“Look,” Mason said, “I’m not right all the time, but the majority of the time I am. I can just tell. Maybe it’s his style or the way he walks, sort of like this guy for instance. Maybe it’s the way he talks, the way he moves, the eye contact, all things that combine to make a call. Then I can pretty much tell.”

Mason kept talking but his words dissolved into silence as another picture entered my mind…

I’m standing behind a podium with a microphone attached to it. “Rock Manor” is scrawled on the front of the podium television screen like some poor man’s Jeopardy game show.

A voice booms from above. It’s the voice of God, or what people probably think of when they think of the voice of God.

“Hello and welcome to everybody’s favorite game show…The Gaydar Game! And now, here’s your host… Jack Mehoffer!”

A tall man walks towards me. He wears a jet black suit, holds a thin microphone in one hand, and has a grin so wide it might fall off his face at any moment. 

Is that shoe polish in his hair?

He looks out to a set of empty bleachers in the dark. They are also behind two unmanned cameras.

“Thanks for joining us on another edition of The Gaydar Game! Today’s contestant hails from the Midwest. He’s known for telling gay jokes, likes the disco song Xanadu, and dates guys who shit on him…let’s give a warm welcome to Rock Manor.”

An invisible audience applauds from the empty bleachers. This reminds me of some creepy nightmare from a David Lynch film.

“Here’s how we play the game. There are three closets. We will ask each guy inside the closets three questions for which they will answer to the best of their ability. Then you will pick which closet has the real gay guy inside of it. If you pick correctly, you will win an all-expense paid date together and a grand prize of ten thousand dollars. Are you ready to play?” 

The invisible audience applauds and whoops it up from some other place. Three closets stand at the one end of the studio directly across from my podium. Jack’s teeth shine bright enough that if we were in total darkness they could serve as a flashlight. He waits for my answer which seems to take an eternity to come out of my mouth. And when it finally does, it comes out in slow motion.


The audience erupts. Jack spins around.  “Then let’s play round one! Closet number one. Which comedy movie would you prefer watching on a rainy night? The Hangover or Pitch Perfect?”

Closet #1: “Hmm. That’s easy. Pitch Perfect.”

Jack: “Closet number two. What would you rather do on a random afternoon? Go to a baseball game or go shopping at Rue 21?”

Closet #2: “Baseball game as long as it’s an Indians game.”

Jack: “Closet number three. Would you rather listen to Lady Gaga or The Black Keys?”

Closet #3: “I love The Black Keys. Lady Gaga’s good too, but I like The Black Keys more.”

Jack: “Let’s go to our contestant. Would you like to use your gaydar to tell us which closet the gay guy is inside?”

I feel sweat trickle down my temple. I have no answer yet. “I’d like another round Jack.” 

Jack smiles. He’s way too happy. 

Jack: “Round two. Let’s go! Closet number one. Are the majority of your friends girls or guys?”

Closet #1: “I have a lot more girlfriends than guy friends. I can talk to girls easier.”

Jack: “Closet number two. Do you know what the snap and bend is?”

Closet #2: “What the hell is that?”

Jack: “Closet number three. Hollister or JC Penny?”

Closet #3: “Hollister. Their clothes are more my style.”

My mind races with potential answers. Number three’s answer makes me wonder about him. I think it was number one, but then he gave an answer I didn’t see coming. But number one is still in the lead but… It’s all too much. Jack turns to me but before he says a word, I say…

“One more Jack! I need one more round!” I’m too nervous. This is too much!

The crowd chants: "One more! One more! One more!"

Jack: “Here’s the final round! Closet number one. If you were at a bar, would you prefer an Appletini or a Guinness beer?”

Closet #1: “Appletini. Guinness is disgusting.”

Damn! There went my confidence on who I thought it could be.

Jack: “Closet number two. Do you like cuddling after sex or would you rather just turn over?”

Closet #2: “Sweet like a turn over.” 

Apparently, the guy in closet #2 is not only straight, but he’s cheesy as well.

Jack: “Closet number three. Name the two main characters from the show Absolutely Fabulous.”

Closet #3: “First off, it’s AbFab. And the characters are Edina and…oh, the blond…um wasn’t it Penny or something like that?”

Jack: “That does it for the rounds. Let’s go to our contestant. You have to give an answer. Now’s your chance to use your gaydar and tell us – which closet is the gay guy in? Is it closet one, closet two or closet three for your chance to win a free date and a check for ten thousand dollars!”

The invisible crowd shouts their approval or disapproval while I think about my answer:

“Yeah!” “Closet two!” “Three!” “No!” “Number one!” “Closet one!” 

Sweat drenches my head, my neck, my underarms. I shake. Jack leans into my face, his smile wavers. The closer he gets, the more I see his hair is literally painted on and he smells like burnt plastic.

I think, it definitely isn’t number two. At least I don’t think it’s number two. It’s one or three. Or maybe it’s two, someone to really challenge me. No way it could be two. Then the game is rigged. Come on gaydar, why aren’t you working? This should be easy. Like Mason gaydar easy. Ugh!

“What’s it gonna be?” Jack asks. “We’re waiting!”


“Yes? YES? YES!” 

The black shoe polish runs down Jack’s cheek. No words come out of my mouth. My voice is choked off.

Jack yells my name. “Rock! Rock!”

I jerked my head and saw Andy shaking my arm. He’s saying my name aloud. He had finished his meal, and Mason stood at the door of the restaurant talking with the hot guy who walked in earlier.

“Back in your gaydom, as you call it?” Andy asked. Andy knew me so well.

“Yeah, I guess,” I said. “I was on a really weird game show full of gay stereotype questions.”

“You are so weird.”

“That must be why we’re good friends.”

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

I nodded in Mason’s direction.  “Is he really --” 

“Of course he is. It’s Mason. Would you expect anything less?”

Mason walked back towards us. He had an expression I didn’t recognize on his face. As he sat down with us, I figured out what the face said: disappointment. Disappointment on Mason’s face was an anomaly.

“Phone number?” Andy asked.

“No,” Mason said. “I thought for sure.”

“What do you mean?” Andy said.

“He’s married,” Mason said.

Andy’s hand went up to his mouth as if he heard something really dirty. 

Mason looked right at me and said, “With kids.”

I thought I would feel satisfaction when he said it. For once, my gaydar was right and Mason’s was wrong. But the feeling never came. The game show was still fresh in my mind.

“Fuck gaydar,” I said. “It’s just based on stereotypes anyways. Everyone’s different, and we can never assume anything until we get to know someone. So there you go.”

“Did you just give us a lesson?” Andy asked.

Mason stood up. “We’re going to be late to Heather’s. Everyone’s meeting there. Let’s go.”

We got up and headed for the car. Our day was just getting started.