I used to say that whenever I date, I at least get a pair of socks out of it. This became true again recently, with a young fellow named Mark. We had an innocent date, and then another innocent date, which was a new thing I was trying - no sex for a while. But he slept over, and, being frisky gays in NYC at the beginning of a new decade, we played "Space Invaders" with each other's joysticks. (That's a clever euphemism I just made up). In the morning, he woke up before me, and I heard him looking about my apartment and making clucking noises. I just stayed in bed, silently wondering what sort of judgments he was forming about me, based on my messy apartment. Manhattan gays are all such li'l Martha Stewarts. To me, being gay means dirtiness and rock music and protesting on bridges and drunken evenings that may end up in jail. To my peers in the gay milieu, though, it means cleanliness and emulating straights and sconces. What the fuck is a sconce?! When we'd been getting ready for bed, the Colonel jumped into the bed with us. "Ahhh!" Mark screamed. "The cat's in the bed! The cat's in the bed!" I laughed at him then, a complicated laugh filled with love for my cat and derision for cat-fearers and of the peace and wistfulness of knowing that it won't work out, ever, between me and the fellows. I never saw Mark again. But he left behind his Hugo Boss socks, which I've worn at least once since then. They are really nice socks!