Tips for successful closet-dwelling

I cannot watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Such is my sense of vicarious embarrassment that every time something horrible happens to Larry David (not that he doesn't have it coming), I feel it in my gut. It is viscerally unpleasant, literally.

I experienced the same kind of "punched in the solar plexus" queasiness when I read this, from former Congressman and current train wreck Eric Massa:

Former New York Congressman Eric Massa told FOX's Glenn Beck that he groped a staffer but denied it was sexual. Massa referred to his interaction with a male staffer as a tickle-fight.

"I tickled him until he couldn't breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me," said Massa. "It was my 50th birthday. It was kill the old guy."

This makes me want to hurl.

Friends, Massa was saying all of this in an attempt to defuse allegations of sexual harassment. This was meant to be taken as a reasonable explanation, as thought it would makes sense to us as normal behavior.

Eric Massa thinks that straight men have tickle fights with each other.

I am a gay man. Maybe not the gayest man out there, but firmly and unapologetically on the Judy Garland end of the Kinsey scale. And I know, beyond the faintest shadow of a doubt, that straight men do not get into tickle fights with each other. (Tickle-fighting straight men, please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.)

Also, there's this:
Massa then blamed himself for getting too close to his staff. He showed photos from his days in the Navy, essentially saying that the sort of horseplay he exhibited with his staff stemmed from his days in the military.

"I never should have allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was," said Massa. "I never translated from my days in the Navy" to Congress.

Oh, good GOD. First of all, using the Navy to burnish your heterosexual cred is an iffy strategy. While I'm sure that the vast majority of history's sailors have been straight, there is a persistent whiff of gayness to that particular branch of the armed forces. (Everyone, sing along!)

Secondly, it's probably best to avoid drawing parallels to your days on the open seas when said days are equally problematic.

So, here's a hint or two to all you closeted Congressional types.

Don't try to get your jollies with the staff. It never ends well.

If you have crossed that line and are facing investigation, do not under any circumstances draw attention to yourself. Do not become a cause celebre and attempt to take on the White House Chief of Staff. Do not create a phony scandal. Do not go on Fox News. In other words, STFU.

And for the love of all that is holy, do not use the words "tickle fight" to describe what you hope will be mistaken for heterosexual male behavior.

On the other hand, this whole sorry affair has yielded an experience I never thought I would have. For the first time in my life, I have some fellow-feeling for Glenn Beck:
Beck seemed frustrated by Massa throughout the interview. When Massa spoke of Washington corruption, Beck repeatedly asked for specific details.

He ended the show by saying about the Glenn Beck-Eric Massa interview: "America, I'm gonna shoot straight with you. I think I've wasted your time. I think this is the first time I've wasted your time."

Update: I have been informed by a reliable source, complete with photographic evidence, that straight men do occasionally get into tickle fights. To which I reply, that is really, really gay.


  1. My husband to this day refuses to believe that when women get together, we don't tend to end up in bra and panties having a tickle fight.

  2. i like to poke people and say "boop!" does this count as tickling?
    tickle fighting among adult men is pretty gay, i suppose - but it could also just be horsing around. either way, it's probably not appropriate to do to with a staffer.


  3. Who the hell tickles colleagues? Aside from being somewhere on the spectrum from high school "I'm touching you because I like you" to full White Party "I'm touching you because I'm incapable of keeping my homoerotic feelings quiet", the tickle fight excuse is just pathetic. Be a man, like Roy Ashburn, who came out in the face of a scandal and issued forth the quote of the year: "The best way to handle that is to be truthful and to say to my constituents and all who care that I am gay," he said. "But I don't think it's something that has affected, nor will it affect, how I do my job." Aside from the honesty is the admission that being gay or not being gay has no freaking bearing on how you do your job. Unfortunately, he said it so he can go back to building a terrifically homophobic voting record. Ideally, without tickle fights.
    LOVED the links.

  4. > ... straight men do occasionally get into
    > tickle fights. To which I reply, that is
    > really, really gay.

    Damn it, now I need to clean coffee off my keyboard.