Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I want to take this opportunity to put in a shameless plug for a shameless friend of mine, Joel Derfner, who has written an incredibly funny book, Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever.

I met Joel through our mutual friend, the equally talented and funny Franklin Habit. Joel, like Frankin, is an accomplished and enthusiastic knitter, and he came to knit with the guys once while in Chicago. Meeting Joel isn't something you could ever forget. My sides hurt the next day from laughing so hard.

Anyway, Joel -- who seemed pretty gay to me to begin with -- set out to become The Gayest. And, while I will leave it to the reader to decide whether he succeeded, I think I can safely say that he did become noticably more light in the loafers. Reviewers have compared him to the likes of David Sedaris -- high praise, though not undeserved.

Joel is graciously allowing me to publish here an excerpt of his book -- the knitting chapter, no less! I hope you buy it. I hope you read it. And I hope you laugh as much as I have.

O n K n i t t i n g

The two Englishmen were staring at the half-finished glove in my hands, aghast. “What is that?” the short one asked.

“I know it’s a mess,” I rushed to apologize. I was lying. It was not a mess; it was perfect. But I had just arrived from the airport and I didn’t want to offend them, as they were my hosts while I was in town for a small theater’s presentation of a show to which I had composed the score. The couple continued to stare in reproving silence at the work in my lap. “I’ve never done a glove before,” I continued desperately, “and the fingers are trickier than I expected, and they—”

“No!” the tall one interrupted, his voice quick with dismay. “It’s not that. It’s that you’re knitting. Men don’t knit, young people don’t knit. Knitting is . . . something your grandmother does!”

My mother’s mother was a raging alcoholic who had been married seven or nine times (depending on whether you counted the annulment and the common-law bigamy), including once to a member of the House Un- American Activities Committee and once to a French royalist arms smuggler, so I felt I could safely assert that knitting was not a pastime she had ever enjoyed. “Besides,” I said defensively, “knitting is very fashionable in New York these days.”

“Well, this isn’t New York,” the short one retorted, but something in my face must have inspired pity.

“All right,” said the tall one grudgingly. “Just as long as nobody sees you doing it in public.”

But it was already too late, as the tube ride from the airport had been a long one. To mollify them, I put the knitting away, and then we had sex. It was more than satisfactory, as far as that sort of thing goes, but I still didn’t trust them. What kind of people would disapprove of the manufacture of a pair of beautiful cable-stitch gloves, no matter by whose hand?

Excerpted from Swish by Joel Derfner Copyright © 2008 by Joel Derfner. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


anne marie in philly said...

here's ANOTHER shameless plug...

congrats to YOU on coming in second in joel's contest!

BTW, did norbert's room ever get finished? is the kitchen unpacking finished? how is dennis doing?

get us caught up, man...we (your fans) are hanging by a string of dental floss!

Aidan said...

Thank you, Anne Marie, for pointing out that, as crazy and wierd as I may be, I am only second best. The worst part: My wife voted for the kid in shtetl drag! When I accused her of being a traitor, she said she's seen me naked, and that gay men take better care of themselves.

anne marie in philly said...

OMG, too funny!

to be honest, I also voted for the winner. I just thought he "out-gayed" you. is there such a word?

don't take it personal - having grown up catholic, I could perfectly understand where you were coming from.