Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Lonely Guy and The Slightly Older Guy

by Bruce Jay Friedman Afterword by Bruce Jay Friedman

“I love this book!” –Steve Martin

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date November 15, 2001
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3833-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $13.00

About The Book

Tags Literary


‘sparkling . . . sly . . . engrossing . . . winsome and true. I can imagine no book that would be more appropriate reading, propped up against the Blue Plate Special in a cafeteria on Father’s Day.” –Herbert Gold, The New York Times Book Review

“I love this book!” –Steve Martin

“I just laughed myself sick.” –Neil Simon, author of The Odd Couple and The Dinner Party

“The funniest book of the year!” –Theodore O’Leary, Kansas City Star

“Will be around as long as there is humor in the American fiber. It is the funniest book of this year, or most any other. You don’t close this book. You just start reading it again immediately. I loved every page–and laughed out loud on most of them.” –Dan Jenkins, author of Semi-Tough and Dead Solid Perfect

“A book to make you laugh out loud–and to make you see. On one level, this is sound entertainment. . . . On another level, Friedman appears to be getting at sober matters. . . .

What makes this writing more than just the strutting of a stand-up comic is the pain whispering behind the gags.” –Peter LaSalle, The New Republic

“Three words that always make me laugh are Bruce Jay Friedman. I read The Lonely Guy’s Book of Life and laughed. And laughed. And laughed. From the dedication on, he retains his ranking as one of the funniest writers in America.” –John Gregory Dunne, author of True Confessions and The Studio

“[The Slightly Older Guy is a] funny little book . . . of what we might call urban folk knowledge, in that Friedman is imparting insights garnered from his own experiences. Whether slightly older guys should wear ponytails, having a slightly older wife as opposed to a younger wife, and being forced into retirement are among the subjects of Friedman’s ruminations. . . . Entertaining . . . Funny stuff not just for Slightly Older Guys.” –Booklist

“A witty book on the midlife travails of the Slightly Older Guy (SOG). The SOG is concerned about enough bran, too many eggs, and when the medical profession will make up its mind about the prostate gland. The near-SOG reviewer is already uneasy with his new doctor, a mostly younger woman (MYW), whose attention is diverted annually to his prostrate.” –Library Journal

‘males over 50 will find the light touch of top humorist Friedman bringing smiles of recognition on page after page. The SOG will see himself in the man with wattles under his chin, a memory that is not totally reliable, and the recollection of that traumatic moment when the pretty girl he was ogling on the subway smiled and said, “Would you like my seat?”” –Publishers Weekly


Who Are the Lonely Guys?

Who are the Lonely Guys?
They tend to be a little bald and look as if they have been badly shaken up in a bus accident. Jules Feiffer obviously had “Lonely Guy” stamped on his forehead in the cradle. Buck Henry. Guys like that. But it gets tricky. Woody Allen is doubtful. We’re not talking shy here. That’s another book. The Shy Guy’s book. Warren Beatty gets you mixed up because of all his dating. He may be a secret Lonely Guy. Why else would he have made Shampoo, which winds up with him on a hill, albeit a Beverly Hill, puzzling over the folly of the human condition? Jack Nicholson’s too quirky.
Except for Truman, all presidents are Lonely Guys since they have to go off regularly and make decisions that affect the hearts and minds of all Americans for generations to come. They usually do that after lunch. One blooper, and that’s it, for an entire generation to come. All of which makes for a tense Oval Office Lonely Guy.

Was Nixon a Lonely Guy? Even at the crest of his powers, he ate a lot of Lonely Guy food. American cheese sandwiches and pale vanilla shakes. Until he started drinking those wines. Yet even his wines were Lonely Guy San Clemente wines.
Network heads are visionary Lonely Guys and so are the fellows in charge of FBI district branches. It’s possible there are entire gay couples that are Lonely Guys. Women can be Lonely Guys, too. Female stand-up comics, for example. Also women who are sensitive but are trapped inside lovely faces and bodies. Certain Wilhelmina models are in this pickle. She’s not going to be throwing any eggs in the pan at four in the morning, but Jacqueline Onassis may be a Lonely Guy. Kierkegaard was probably the first Modern Day Lonely Guy, although he may have disqualified himself when he came up with faith. (Lonely Guys know what the score is in this department.) Howard Hughes went over the line when he let those fingernails grow. Right fielders are Lonely Guys. So are free safeties, doormen and large dogs. Horses are Lonely Guys unless they are the spoiled favorites of girls named Wendy in Darien. All of Canada may be a Lonely Guy. “Boat People” thought they were Lonely Guys until they got settled in suburban homes in Sacramento. Married people are fond of saying that they are Lonely Guys, too. But this is like marching in solidarity for Choctaw rights, when you’re not a Choctaw. No Polish directors are Lonely Guys since any time they like they can just reach out and grab a script girl and some caviar.
Lonely Guys lean against railings a lot and stare off in the distance with bunched-up jaw muscles. They had a bad time at summer camp and are afraid they are going to be sent back there, even at age forty. From the street, they peer in at cocktail lounges, through the potted palms, and decide the place is not for them. They take naps in the early evening and are delighted to wake up and find it’s too late to go anywhere. A favorite activity of the Lonely Guy is to take a walk down by the river. Lonely Guys start to fill out forms with great enthusiasm, then quickly lose heart, right around the part that asks for their mother’s maiden name.
This book is written not in celebration of the Lonely Guy, since obviously there is not much to celebrate. But it is designed to let him know that someone is aware he is out there. And that he is not alone. There are millions like him, even though he has only a small chance of meeting the attractive ones. The Lonely Guy may decide that he doesn’t need a book, but this is entirely beside the point. If he is going to co-exist with his fellow Americans, he has got to learn to accept gracefully things he doesn’t want.
The book may be picked up and read at any old place; the chapters do not follow in any rigid sequence, and in that sense, the book is like the Lonely Guy’s life, one phase of it relentlessly like the next. Care has been taken to address the specific problems of the Lonely Guy–such as what to do with little leftover pieces of soap. On occasion, the reader will be led to the door of wisdom, only to be asked to wait outside for a while. The perceptive Lonely Guy will see that this approach, too, is a deliberate one, designed to mirror the quality of the life that awaits him. Never mind that it would have been much more work to write a book that actually delivers the goods.
Does life itself deliver the goods for today’s Lonely Guy?
This book, finally, is your companion, Lonely Guy, a loyal comrade in the battle against a world you never made–and one that often seems to wish you would go away.
Read around in it, clutch it to your thin chest, and do not leave it on someone’s buffet table.
BJFPenn Station, 1978

Part One
The Basics

Brief Bio of a Lonely Guy
” He married a woman because she smelled like gardenias. She also did a perfect imitation of Cyd Charisse.
” They chose the suburban town in which they wanted to live because it had an attractively rustic name.
” They named their child after a bit player in a late-night movie.
” He picked his divorce lawyer because the fellow had an office in Madison Square Garden where the Knicks, Rangers and all his favorite teams played.
The Lonely Guy’s Apartment
At college, he was quite shy with women. His approach was to say “Hi there,” tell the woman his name and then say: ‘some day I would like to have an apartment overlooking New York City’s East River.” He could not recall one instance in which a woman responded to this technique.
A Lonely Guy’s best friend is his apartment. Granted, there is no way for him to put his arms around it, chuck it under the chin and take it to a Mets game. But it is very often all he has to come home to. Under no circumstances should he have an apartment that he feels is out to get him. One that’s a little superior. An Oscar Wilde of an apartment. No Junior Studio will ever throw its arms around the Lonely Guy and say: “It’s gonna be all right, babe.” But it should at least be on his team. Perhaps not a partner on life’s highway, but somewhere in his corner.
If you are a brand-new Lonely Guy, the chances are you have just been thrown out and have wound up draped over the end of somebody’s couch. Either that or you have booked a room in an apartment-hotel for older folks who have Missed Out on Life. There will be a restaurant in this kind of hotel where people take a long time deciding if they should have the sole. You don’t want to become one of those fellows. As soon as you get movement back in your legs, try to get your own place.
Many Lonely Guys will settle for a grim little one-roomer in which all they have to do is lie there–everything being in snatching distance of the bed–contact lens wetting solution, Ritz crackers, toothpicks, Valium, cotton balls, etc. This is a mistake. No Lonely Guy can thrive in an apartment that comes to an abrupt ending the second he walks through the door. There is no reason why he should have to go to the zoo for a change of scenery. Or stand in the closet. The Lonely Guy in a one-roomer will soon find himself tapping out messages to the next-door neighbors or clutching at the window guards and shouting: “No prison bars can hold me.” It’s important to have that second room even if it’s a little bit of a thing and you have to crawl into it.
The best way to smoke out an apartment is to check with your friends. Everyone will know someone who has seven months to go on a lease and wants to sublet. Someone who’s had a series shot out from under him. But this may not be the best way to go. Living in an apartment with seven months remaining on the lease is like always waiting for the toast to come up. Try to get one with a decent amount of time remaining, eighteen months or two years, so you can at least feel it’s worth it to get your Monterey Jazz Festival posters on the wall.
Rental agents can be useful, except that they tend only to handle apartments with wood-burning fireplaces. If you say you don’t want one, you get marked down as an un-charming fellow who didn’t go to acceptable schools. The tendency of the new Lonely Guy will be to grab the first place that looks better than a Borneo Death Cell, just so he can get off the street. He doesn’t want to make a career of looking at vacant apartments which still have other people’s old noodles in the sink. It will be worth your while to hold out, to contain your retching just a few days longer and ask yourself these questions about any apartment before you snap it up:
How Is It for Taking Naps? Lonely Guys take a tremendous number of naps. They are an important weapon in the fight to kill off weekends. Before renting an apartment, make sure it has good nap potential. You might even want to borrow the keys from the rental agent, lie down and test-nap it.
What Would It Be Like to Have Bronchitis In? Bronchitis, that scourge of the Lonely Guy. Call up any Lonely Guy you know and he’s likely to be in the last stages of it. (Lonely Guys don’t wash their vegetables.) But it’s an excellent test: Is this the kind of place I’d want to have Bronchitis in or would I feel ridiculous?
What About Noise? Tomb-like silence is not always the ticket. It can be dangerous for a Lonely Guy to sit around listening to his own pulse. Some noises aren’t bad. The sound of an eminent chest specialist with a persistent hacking cough can be amusing. But make sure there isn’t a lady above you named Haughty Felice whose specialty is chaining up stockbrokers and hurling them into play dungeons.
“Get in there, Dwight, and start worshipping my stiletto heels.”
Nothing is more unsettling than to hear a commodities expert rattling his handcuffs at four in the morning.
Do I Want This Apartment Waiting for Me When I Get Back from San Francisco? The Lonely Guy may often be sent to San Francisco to whip a sluggish branch office into shape. When he returns, there will never be anyone waiting at the terminal to hail his arrival. This is always a clutch situation. The well-traveled Lonely Guy deals with it by holding back his tears and impatiently shouldering his way through the crowd, pretending he’s got to catch a connecting flight to Madrid. Still and all, if he gets out of the airport at one in the morning, and there isn’t a wonderful apartment waiting for him, all warmed up and ready to go, that could be it, right there, ring-a-ding-ding, into the toilet for good.
Is It Overpriced? The Lonely Guy has been taught two things, ever since he was a little tiny Lonely Guy: (1) Never kneel down to inhale bus exhaust fumes. (2) Keep the rent down.
It’s time to take another look at that second one. All terrific apartments are overpriced. The only ones with low rents are downwind of French restaurants that didn’t get any stars at all in dining-out guides.
When it comes to rent, it’s probably best to cut down on other things, like molar insurance, and pay through the nose, if that’s what it takes to get a winner. On the other hand, don’t pay so much rent that you have to live on Milk Duds. Or that you’re always mad at your apartment. Remember, it’s not the apartment’s fault that it’s expensive. There is nothing the apartment can do about it. Can it help it if it’s great?
Is This Apartment Really Me? That’s the Big One. Freud told his followers that when it came to making major decisions they should listen to their ‘deep currents.” You might find an apartment that would be just right for the early struggling Gore Vidal. Or for Harry Reasoner right now. But does it have your name on it? Listen to your deep apartment currents on this one. Ferenczi, a disciple of Freud’s, listened to his and admittedly committed suicide. But not before he’d enjoyed many happy months in a charming little duplex in Vienna.
In sum, you need a great apartment.
There will be times when it will be just You and Your Apartment against the World.
Get yourself a stand-up apartment.
Here are some more apartment insights:
One Great Feature
Before you sign the lease, make sure the apartment has at least one special feature–a natural brick wall, a sunken living room, smoked mirrors–so that when you are walking around aimlessly, you can stop suddenly and say: “Jesus, look at those smoked mirrors. And they’re all mine, until the lease is up.” That one terrific feature might even be a dignitary. Then you can go around saying: “I’ve got a little place in the same building as John Travolta’s dermatologist.”
Terrace Tips
The Lonely Guy with a decent income should try to get himself a terrace. The most important thing about a terrace is to make sure it’s screwed on tight. A lot of them fall off and are never reported because people are too embarrassed, the way they used to be about rapes.
Along with the terrace, it’s essential to get a Monkey Deflector. Many big-city buildings have South American diplomats living in them who keep monkeys that will swing in at you. Chileans are especially guilty of this practice. They will insist the monkeys are harmless–”Just give Toto a little yo-gurt” –but if you check with the doorman, you will find out they are biters.
Once you have a terrace, don’t feel obliged to throw over your adult life to the care of potted flowers. Toss a few pieces of broken statuary out here and tell visitors: “I’m letting it go wild.” This will impress women who have been raised in Sun Belt trailer courts.
The Joy of Lighting
Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the importance of good lighting. The Lonely Guy with an uncontrollable urge to bang his head on the refrigerator may be reacting to sallow, unattractive light. Lighting should be warm and cozy and there should not be too much of it. An excess will remind you that there isn’t anyone wonderful in there with you. Too little will have you tapping along the walls to get to the bathroom. A sure sign that the lighting is wrong is if you spend a lot of time taking strolls through the building lobby.
Unfortunately, there is no way to tear off a piece of lighting you like and bring it down to the lighting fixture people. There is no such thing as a swatch of lighting. One kind not to duplicate is the harsh, gynecological type favored by elderly Japanese civil service officials who like to spy on their sleeping nieces.
Lighting fixtures are tricky. Some will give off a cool and elegant glow in the store, and then turn around and make your place look like a massage parlor. The best way to get the lighting right is to experiment and be prepared to go through half a dozen lamps to get the right one. It’s that important. Some of the finest light is given off by the new Luxo lamps. Unfortunately, they look like baby pterodactyls, and Lonely Guys who’ve used them complain that their lamps are out to get them. A great kind of lighting to have is the kind they have at a bar you love in San Francisco. Shoot for that kind.
The worst view you can have is a bridge, particularly a Lost Horizon type that’s obscured in fog at the far end. In no time at all, the Lonely Guy will start thinking of it as a metaphor for his life, stretching off into nowhere. Some other things not to have as a view are prisons, consolidated laundries and medical institutes. The Pacific is not so hot either unless you’re into vastness. Interiors of courtyards are tolerable, but will tend to make you feel you should be writing a proletariat novel or at least in some way be clawing your way to the top. The world’s most unnerving view is when you can see just a little bit of a movie marquee; the only way to tell what’s playing is to stretch all the way out the window while another Lonely Guy holds your ankles. The most relaxing view is the Botswana Embassy.
People Who Can Help You Decorate
The Last People Who Lived in the Apartment. When you move in, don’t rearrange anything that was left behind. Chances are the previous tenant knew more about decorating than you do. He may even have been a tasteful Lonely Guy.
The Moving Men. Many have good decorating instincts, especially if they are out-of-work actors. A danger is that they will make your apartment look like an Uncle Vanya set. But if your own decorating instincts are shaky, leave things exactly where the moving men set them down.
Any Woman Who Worked on a Major Film. Invite one over, don’t say a thing and have a normal evening. At some point, reflexively, she will move a sconce or something several inches and you will see a boring room explode with loveliness.
The Woman at the Department Store. Every department store has a handsome woman in her fifties who is assigned to help Lonely Guys. She will have a large bosom, generous haunches and will set you to thinking about Dickensian sex with your mother’s best friend in front of a hearth. There is no need to seek her out. She will spot you at the door of the furniture department. (There is some evidence that she is in league with the divorce courts and that you may have been phoned in to her.) Work with this woman, though cautiously. No matter what your sensibility, she will see you as a craggy, seafaring type out of a late-night movie (‘dash my buttons if you aren’t a handsome-looking sea-calf”) and pick your furniture accordingly. Upon delivery, many of her choices will not fit through your front door. Why does she pick out furniture that’s too big to fit in? No one knows. She earns no commissions on this massive stuff that has to go back to the store. It may have something to do with her ample haunches. Get her to try again by coming on smaller.
Fear of Decorators
Many people are terrified of decorators, afraid they’re going to be given widely publicized Bad Taste Awards if they don’t go along with every one of the decorator’s recommendations. It’s because of those “to the trade only” signs on all the good furniture stores. Just once, talk back to a decorator. The experience can be exhilarating.

DECORATOR (a woman with orange hair): I’ve thought it over and you’re getting Riviera Blinds for your living room.
LONELY GUY: No, I’m not.
DECORATOR (astonished): What?
LONELY GUY: You heard me. I hate Riviera Blinds. And I’m beginning to hate you, too.
DECORATOR: How about the track lighting I ordered?
LONELY GUY: Hate it. Send it back.
DECORATOR (after a pause): You’re right on both counts. I’ll get rid of the ‘verticals,” too.
LONELY GUY: The ‘verticals’ stay. I’ve always had rather a fondness for ‘verticals.”
DECORATOR (with new respect): You’re hard to work for ” but so challenging.

A Word of Caution on Desks
The easiest thing to buy is a desk. Rough-hewn ones made of driftwood, rolltop desks, elegant French ones upon which the first acts of farces were written. The Lonely Guy must be careful not to buy a whole bunch of them; if he does, his apartment will soon look like the city room of a scrappy small-city daily.
It’s important to have a lot of ashtrays around and not just to accommodate smokers. When they cook, most Lonely Guys have nothing to bring the vegetables out in. Certain ashtrays can pass as a charming new kind of vegetable platter. The peas, for example, look just great in a big bright ashtray.
Books give an apartment a scholarly pipe-smoking look. Many rock-oriented young women will assume you wrote all the books in your shelves–that you were once named Coleridge. Don’t overdo it and turn your place into a library. The saddest book story is that of Lonely Gal Eleanor Barry (reprinted in its entirety from The New York Times, December 21, 1977).

A 70-year-old woman was pulled out from under a giant pile of books, newspapers and press clippings that had collapsed on her, but she died shortly after being rescued. The pile fell on Eleanor Barry as she lay in her bedroom, and according to police in Huntington Station, Long Island, the weight of the papers muffled her cries for help. She died Sunday.
The police said they had to use an axe to smash the door of the bedroom because the collapsed pile blocked their entry. They said that the house was filled with towers of books, newspapers, shopping bags and assorted papers.

The Ends of Things
It’s important to put some focus on the ends of things as the Lonely Guy will be spending a great deal of time huddled over there in a corner. An investment in a bunch of good strong end tables, for example, will not be wasted. It’s important, incidentally, to keep couches manageable in size and not have them stretching off in the distance. What’s the point of being the only fellow on a long freight train of a couch! Other, juicier opportunities for loneliness and isolation will be coming your way. And stay away from Conversation Pits. The Lonely Guy who’s rigged one up will quickly see that he is the only one on hand to sound off on America’s lack of a clear-cut natural gas policy.
A Tricky Decision
Do you go with overhead mirrors? There is no question that they are fiercely erotic, especially if you can talk an au pair girl into slipping under one with you. But what about those nights when you’re just a poignant guy staring up at his own hips! The makers of overhead mirrors are conservative and confidence-inspiring, many of them respected Italian-Americans with no connections to the Gambino family. But they cannot absolutely guarantee that an overhead won’t come down in the middle of the night and turn you into a whole bunch of Lonely Guys. For this reason, it might be wise to pass.
Buy a lot of them. Scattered about, they will cover up the fact that you don’t have enough furniture and aren’t knowledgeable about room dividers. A drawback is that each day you will see little buds and shoots, life perpetuating itself while yours may very well not be. Buy your plants on the opposite side of town. They are always cheaper over there. Refer to your plants as “Guys.” Put your arm around one and say: “This guy here is my avocado.”
Room Freshener
Lonely Guy apartments tend to get a bit stale, so it’s important to load up on room fresheners. The way to apply one is to hold it aloft, press the aerosol button and then streak through the rooms as though you are heralding the start of the new Olympics. Some of the fumes will flash back and freshen you up, along with the apartment. Many a woman who has admired a Lonely Guy’s cologne is unwittingly in love with his room freshener.
A Sheet and Blanket Program
One kind of sheet to be wary of is the elastic bottom one that curls over the four corners of the bed and supposedly stays there. As soon as you buy them, they no longer fit. The biggest problem is that they tend to break loose in the night and snap you up in them.
Silky, satiny sheets feel good to the skin and will give you an inkling of what it’s like to be Bob Guccione. But what you get is a combination of sleeping and ice-skating and there is always the danger of being squirted out of bed. Just buy colorful sheets you like.
The time to change sheets is when you can no longer ignore the Grielle and Zweiback crumbs in them.
Salesmen will tell you that East German llama blankets are the warmest in the world and are so tightly woven that the thinnest shaft of cold can’t sneak in there and get at you. None of this is important. The only way to test a blanket is to hold it up to your cheek and see if it feels fluffy. (The sight of this is heartbreaking and will help you in picking up saleswomen.) Better to have ten fluffies than one llama that holds off chilly weather but has a hostile Cold War feel to it.
Shower Curtain Madness
The trick in getting a shower curtain is to find one that fits right. Shower curtains are either long, flowing things that look like gowns worn by transvestite members of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, or else they are shorties that will remind you of Midwestern insurance men whose pants don’t come down far enough. Bob Dole fans.
There is the possibility that the Lonely Guy is incapable of buying any shower curtain at all. And that he will have to wait till Ms. Right comes along. If such is the case, and you plan to go without a shower curtain, the trick is to let the water hit your chest so that as much of it as possible bankshots back into the tub and doesn’t rot your tiles. If enough of it gets out there, you will run the risk of plunging through the floor to the Lonely Guy below.
Silver Separators
Lonely Guys with mangled hands are usually assumed to be veterans of Iwo. This is not necessarily the case. Too often, it’s a result of reaching into kitchen drawers to try to get knives and forks out. The way around this is to buy a silver separator that has little rows for utensils. On the other hand, many Lonely Guys would rather sever an occasional artery than stand around filing butter knives.*
Pictures You Are Not Sure Of
Lonely Guys have a tendency to accumulate paintings they are not quite sure of–gifts from dissident Haitians or suburban women who’ve suddenly left their families and moved into Soho lofts. The way to deal with such a painting is to prop it up on a dresser and put stuff in front of it–a clock, a Fundador bottle, a book about the fall of the once-proud Zulu nation–so that only some of the painting shows through. Make it look as if it’s ready to be hung, but that you haven’t gotten around to it. (You don’t know where the nails are anyway.) That way, if someone admires it, she can push aside the obstructions and say, “Hey, whatcha got there, fella?” If she hates it, you’re covered because you’ve put all that stuff in front of it, indicating you don’t think it’s so hot either.
The Right Air Conditioner
Get a strong, no-nonsense air conditioner that sends the cold air right up the middle at you. A Larry Csonka of an air conditioner. Don’t get one in which the air wanders out in a vague and poetical manner so that you have to run around trying to trace it.
The Right TV Set
The most important thing about a TV set is to get it back against something and not out in the middle of a room where it’s like a somber fellow making electronic judgments on you. Odd-shaped TV sets make a lot of sense; a tall skinny sliver of a TV set can actually spruce up a dying sitcom. But don’t make the mistake of getting a lot of little tiny sets and scattering them about like leftover snacks. Get one solid-looking Big Guy that you can really dig into.
The prospect of a little TV-viewing section with some throw pillows strewn about and a prominent bowl of shelled walnuts may be dismaying to the urbane Lonely Guy–but its effects are likely to be calming.
Gay Cleaning Fellows
Now that you’ve got your apartment, who’s going to clean it up? Good news in this department. Now that Chorus Line is a smash and has spawned international companies, there are a lot of dancers who couldn’t get into any of them and have become gay cleaning guys. They aren’t that easy to find. It isn’t as if they advertise conspicuously under names like Joan Crawford Clean-Up and play selections from Gypsy on their answering services. They are usually under an Italian name like Fuccione and Calabrese.
Yet such a macho-sounding company can send over a bright-eyed and cheery gay guy with a handkerchief on his head. The best thing about gay cleaning fellows is that they are not afraid of ovens. They go right after them, all the way to the back end, sponging up the last droplet of lamb chop grease. Gay cleaning fellows also know all about the latest cleaning stuff: you may have to take a little ribbing about not having Lemon Pledge Dusting Wax for your breakfront. On the plus side, though, they are considerate enough to Leave the Windex to You, the only fun part in all of cleaning. The only gay cleaning fellows to be wary of are ones from East Germany who may try to Cross That Line. Unless you don’t mind waking up on a Sunday morning to a gay cleaning fellow named Wolfgang who has already started on The New York Times Arts and Leisure Section.