Gay as Pink Suede
Miranda and I were in the gender-neutral restroom at Webster Hall, trying to have a meaningful conversation in the inconvenient atmosphere of flushing toilets and roaring hand dryers.
“Do you remember that time I ran into a coworker in the bathroom at a gay club?” Miranda shouted.
“At Trade, a.k.a. Shirtless Heaven,” I nodded. “That was the night I picked up my gay mistress and some gay porn.” My gay husband, Stanford, had been so green with envy about my new Australian shoe distributor, Oliver, that he later outed me for having worn pink suede Candies in the 80s.
That same night, in the sanctity of the men’s room, Miranda had revealed her pregnancy to Max, who asked her to keep his sexual preferences hidden from the older partners at Stern, Hawkins & Erickson. Turns out, it was mutually assured destruction, as both Miranda and Max accidentally outed each other to the office gossip, Celeste.
“So this little junior associate gets Casual Friday cancelled for wearing mesh and camo on his first foray out of the closet, then he leaves to go work for Grubman, Grubman & Curcio. I can’t begrudge him the salary, but he was my gay boyfriend. We were supposed to have each other’s backs, you know? Even my gay relationships are dysfunctional.”
As we exited the all-gender restroom at Webster Hall, a pansexual foursome made their way past us, looking like an updated version of our original group. Miranda turned her head slightly to watch them go, while I waxed nostalgic about the time when all we needed was each other, even if it was just hanging out together in Samantha’s apartment, watching gay porn.
“The thing I can’t wrap my mind around,” Miranda said, her gaze gliding back toward me, “is that he went back into the closet after he changed jobs.”
“Let me guess: he changed his name, too?”
“Yup. He dropped the “Max” nickname from law school and returned to plain old Patrick Serafini Parisi. Celeste found out that Patrick got engaged to a girl—I forget her name, maybe Fielder? But you’ll never guess whose daughter she is…”
This girl, who we will just call Fielder, had grown up with Patrick Parisi, son of Pasquale Parisi and nephew of Patsy’s late twin brother, Philly Spoons. Their histories often overlapped, but nothing serious developed between them until she got a good look at him during the premiere of the family-funded mob slasher movie, Cleaver. The two rekindled a long-latent spark and were engaged soon after.
Patrick was instrumental in convincing his fiancée to give up her long-discussed but never genuinely pursued goal of becoming a pediatrician and instead “settle” for law school. Fielder claimed she wanted to help combat Italian American stereotypes after seeing the way her father and his associates were treated by the federal government, but the $170,000 starting salary Mr. Grubman dangled in front of her did not hurt.
“What kind of spoiled Ivy League brat graduates from Columbia with zero life direction and takes another three years to decide between medical school or law school?” Miranda mused aloud.
“An annoying but well-connected one?” I shrugged, thinking of my own rejected application to Columbia.
“I mean, usually you have some sort of inclination, one way or the other: medicine or law. There’s not a lot of overlap. None of that flakiness would fly at Harvard Law,” Miranda concluded.
I couldn’t help but wonder: If this Fielder girl were half as smart as she thought she was, would she have noticed her fiancée was gay as pink suede? Or was it like the time Stanford and I pretended to be engaged so he could lockdown his inheritance and I could lockdown a sugar daddy and, perhaps, one of his grandmother’s Chanel suits? Did Fielder and Patrick Parisi come to an arrangement that worked for them both, keeping their respective families happy while allowing the two of them to live their personal truths away from prying eyes?
Could a closeted gay man in the New Jersey underworld keep his proclivities private, perhaps even escape to New Hampshire to live out a fantastic gay porno with a volunteer firefighter who made a tasty batch of Johnny Cakes? Live free or die, right? Surely there would be no repercussions?
And just like that, I remembered the time I got karmically mugged for my pink suede Manolo Blahnik strappy sandals from the 1999 collection that I got half-off at a sample sale. As the mugger pointed a gun in my face and demanded I hand over the Monolos, I whined that they were my favorite pair—granted, I say that about damn near every pair of shoes I own. But for someone who uses pink suede as a measure of gayness, I sure wear a lot of it.
Perhaps sexuality is a spectrum that my friends and I all populate at different places during different points in our lives. I was clearly in the pink suede zone of the LGBTQ rainbow, while Samantha was lightyears beyond the rest of us in her fluorescent power suits, and even Charlotte was becoming woke…by pastel Park Avenue standards.
As for Miranda, we had tried to establish early on that Miranda was undeniably straight, even though her coworkers and boss at Stern, Hawkins & Erickson thought Miranda was gay long before she outed Max and even before she made partner. Miranda famously failed the lesbian kiss test with her softball buddy, Syd, but what if Miranda was just not attracted to that particular lesbian?
“Hey, Miranda, what are your thoughts on pink suede?” I asked as we exited Webster Hall. I looked around, but Miranda seemed distracted, staring down the sidewalk into the crowd. After an entire summer of badgering her with questions about members of a certain Italian American subculture, maybe it was time I let Miranda focus on herself.
“Huh?” she finally asked, glancing at me.
“Never mind,” I said as our Uber arrived. “I’ll ask Charlotte.”