This week, Susan and I have been in Utah attending the Sundance Film Festival. Currently, we're in a period of fairly heavy travel, which got me thinking about some little-known travel advice I rarely get to share.
Several years ago, I had a boss who made a weekend trip to the University of Michigan with his son on a college recruiting visitation. The following Monday, he recounted the trip to us. After a glowing review of the campus, he described the town surrounding the University. As he concluded his assessment of the town, my boss looked us dead in the eye and proclaimed, "Lot of gays in Ann Arbor."
Suffice to say, shocked laughter followed the abrupt announcement. Horror washed over my boss's face as he realized that his inadvertent lack of subtlety - he wasn't a native speaker, after all - might have offended someone. "No, no," he corrected, waving his hands in a forestalling motion. "Gays make it... classy!"
While many of us have known this for a long time, I'd like to unpack the thought as a bit of advice learned while traveling through dozens of countries: When deciding where to stay when visiting a new place, stay in the gayest part of town.
When visiting a new metropolis, I have never been disappointed using this as a strategy.
In recent years, Susan and I have taken this one step further: When we can, we search out gay hosts on AirBnB. Susan has begun actively hunting them, going so far as to suggest that AirBnB add a "host sexuality" filter to their search algorithm.
To really hammer the point home, let's examine a synopsis of gay hosts for some recent trips:
- Bergen, Norway: BRAND NEW townhouse in central Bergen. Huge room three blocks from the train station. Luxury kitchen. Immaculate home, including a Shiba Inu. Price: $65 a night. IN NORWAY. Put that in perspective: Dinner for two at Norwegian Applebee's costs $95 and the bus to the restaurant is another $20.
-Wilton Manor (Fort Lauderdale Area): Host was a flamboyant cowhide salesman/painter. He owned a fabulous three bedroom house with a pool, but was in some ill-defined financial trouble that led him to rent out rooms for $40 in a beach neighborhood that asked three times that amount for much less.
-Salt Lake City, UT: During Sundance Film Festival and the height of ski season, we're paying 40 bucks a night for a private bed/bath in a luxury rental building. Includes free breakfast, exercise center and a parking space in their garage. One of the dudes cooks, which filled the house with fragrant smells at all hours.
-La Paz, Bolivia: Entire top floor of 100-year-old house with private deck and catered breakfast. The damage: $27 a night. This one was run by a pack of ambiguously affiliated gay men.
Compare that to our last four straight hosts:
-Oshkosh, WI (for the EAA Airshow): Farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Decent experience and great host, but crappy beds that were, inexplicably, two singles instead of one queen. Susan accidentally locked one of their cats in our room and it tore the carpet to shreds.
-Atlanta, GA: Host stayed up all night playing Call of Duty, loudly screaming curse words to his teammates over his headset. Only time I've locked the door to our bedroom.
-Coral Gables, FL: Angry white trash couple with an overly friendly giant dog and a dirty house. They ordered Little Caesars twice in two days.
-Clearwater, FL: Ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere run by a husband-and-wife team of foreigners who ran a shady "real estate investment" companies. They worked from home and frequently demanded we abandon the kitchen table so they could photograph various lots of comic books they were selling on Ebay.
It's worth mentioning that this theory has only been tested with gay men (our lesbian dataset is too small to share). It's also worth noting that our homosexual hosts all had elaborate coffee machines and high-quality conditioner/shampoo in the bathroom (not to mention no-questions-asked hair dryers for Susan).
And there it is - homosexuals offer a refined experience at an incredible value. Now that the secret's out, I'd like to introduce the catchphrase, "Go gay whenever you stay."
Noah's Inner Monologue
Scribblings of a man who can barely operate an idiotproof website.