Main | Friday, January 20, 2006


October 2005, 47th floor, midtown Manhattan

I'm at an industry conference, surrounded by colleagues and competitors. There's a woman speaking on a platform, leading the discussion and taking questions from the audience. Every time somebody in the audience speaks, we all turn and size that person up, assessing the necessity or stupidity of the question, and, when called for, making smug comments to each other under our breath.

As far as I can tell, there's only one other gay man besides me, in a room of perhaps 75 attendees, which is somewhat unusual for this industry. The other gay man is young-ish, perhaps mid-20's, and seems to have a terrible cold, because he keeps sniffling. At one point, he excuses himself to "go get a tissue". He's gone a long time and when he returns, the sniffling resumes.

After another twenty minutes of Q & A, punctuated by the young man's continuing runny nose, the moderator decides to act. Clearly annoyed, she strides over to the dais, reaches into her purse and tosses the young man a small package of tissues, saying "Here, try these. I hope you're taking something for that cold!"

The young man says, "Yeah, I did a couple of Sudafed, thanks."

And there it is. The room breaks into titters. Can open, worms everywhere. You don't do take Sudafed. The young man does not return after the lunch break and we all wonder whether it's due to embarrassment or his boss.

Or maybe he just needs to see about doing something.

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