In the first chapter of Armistead Maupin’s 2nd. Tales of the City Book titled More Tales of the City, the hopeful romantic Michael “Mouse” Tolliver delivers a handmade Valentine’s Day card to Mary Ann Singleton, a friend and fellow resident of the domain of the eccentric, marijuana-growing landlady Anna Madrigal.
Author Maupin describes Mouse’s gift as “a handmade pastiche of Victorian cherubs, pressed flowers and red glitter.” Inside, he had provided 10 numbered spaces for Mary Ann to list her “Valentines Resolutions.”
Micheal then produces a list of 30 of his own.
The year is 1977. For those younger readers I will explain things that only us mature gays remember. Consider it a Gay History lesson.
Michael Tolliver’s Dirty Thirty for ’77
- I will not call anyone nellie (fem queen) or butch, unless that is his name.
- I will not assume that women who like me are fag hags. (Fag Gag: A straight woman or lesbian that enjoys the company of gay men.)
- I will stop expecting to meet Jan-Michael Vincent (actor) at the tubs.
- I will inhale poppers only through the mouth. (Smells like dirty socks and gives you a head RUSH.)
- I will not spend more than half an hour in the shower at the Y. (Men used to pick each other and have sex at the YMCA. Thus the Village People song YMCA.)
- I will stop trying to figure out what color my handkerchief would be if I wore one. (The Hanky or Bandanna code. A code for gay men to tell what favorite sex play they were looking for by placing a colored handkerchief in their back pockets)
- I will buy a drink for a Fifties Queen sometime. (An older gay man. Which now incluses most of us who remember the original TotC.)
- I will not persist in hoping that attractive men will turn out to be brainless and boring. (Some things never change)
- I will sign my real name at The Glory Holes. (San Francisco “private” (for 5 dollars) sex club that had many booths with holes at crotch level to have anonymous sex. One had to sign their name upon entry.
- I will ease back into religion by attending concerts at Grace Cathedral. (Famous San Francisco Church prominent in the TotC universe.)
- I will not cruise at Grace Cathedral.
- I will not vote for anyone for Empress. (The Imperial Council of San Francisco; a drag queen based charitable organization.)
- I will make friends with a straight man.
- I will not make fun of the way he walks.http://www.imperialcouncilsf.org/index.html
- I will not tell him about Alexander the Great, Walt Whitman or Leonardo da Vinci.
- I will not vote for politicians who use the term “Gay Community.”
- I will not cry when Mary Tyler Moore goes off the air.
- I will not measure it, no matter who asks. (PENIS!)
- I will not hide the A-200. (A-200 was used to kill crab lice which was fairly common and usually caught by having multiple sex partners and sex in the bath houses.)
- I will not buy a Lacoste shirt, a Marimekko pillow, a secondhand letterman’s jacket, an All-American Boy T-shirt, a razor blade necklace or a denim accessory of any kind. (All parts of the gay world and uniform of the late 70’s . A popular Lacoste joke went: “Did you hear the one about the alligator who bought a shirt with a little faggot on it?”)
- I will learn to eat alone and like it.
- I will not fantasize about firemen.
- I will not tell anyone at home that I just haven’t found the right girl yet. (Closet case.)
- I will wear a suit on Castro Street and feel comfortable about it.
- I will not do impressions of Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Mae West or Paul Lynde.
- I will not eat more than one It’s-It in a single evening. (Famous Ice Cream in San Francisco.)
- I will find myself acceptable.
- I will meet somebody nice, away from a bar or the tubs (bathouse) or a roller-skating rink, and I will fall hopelessly but conventionally in love. (Common gay meeting places before the internet.)
- But I won’t say I love you before he does.
- The hell I won’t!