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Is he gay or just a douchebag?

How can you tell the difference between a metrosexual and a homosexual? With finely tuned gaydar.

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My boss lives in Los Angeles, owns a penthouse in Atlanta and drives a Mercedes-Benz S-Class convertible. He's been dating two women for several years and can't commit to either. He's 41, divorced, no kids. He showed up at our last meeting sporting a man-purse and black leather driving gloves — in the hell of Atlanta heat. I didn't think anything of it, but my wife insists he's gay ("straight as spaghetti till you cook it!"). I don't believe it. She wants to bet me a week's worth of making dinner and cleaning up. How do we settle the bet? It's not like we can ask him.

— Gay or Nay?

Dear Nay,

It's easy to pick out the gay if he's a man-hungry, "Glee"-watching, bonnet-wearing swish-dish who can't finish decorating the Macy's Christmas window because his browser is stuck on www.onlyfrombehind.com.

But what if he isn't? Gaydar, the ability to clock a 'mo at 500 paces, is notoriously inaccurate. In the absence of effeminacy, most people's gaydar explodes like a BP oil rig. And this is where it gets tricky. While some gay men flame out so badly you have to hide the lighter fluid or risk third-degree burns, most do not.

That leaves your gaydar pointing to other stereotyped traits, which are not good signifiers, either. Jerry Seinfeld once referred to the folly of using stereotypes when he said, "Why does everybody think I'm gay just because I'm tall, thin and neat?" Still, most people, who don't know what to look for, concentrate on yet more stereotypical traits. Like beauty and style. Everybody knows gay men are good-looking, right? That they're hipper than a pelvic replacement factory, that they can tell the difference between beige, cream, ecru and eggshell. Well, if you believe that, you need to visit some of the gay bars around town. No offense to the patrons — really, I say this with love — but when they entered the ugly contest, some of these guys were told, "Sorry, no professionals."

I'd also invite you to my home, where roadside bombs are planted under almost all the gay stereotypes. You need a tetanus shot before going into my bathroom, I've got the fashion sense of a cinder block and my living room looks like the dining room got drunk and threw up as it ran to the bathroom.

So, you see, you can't go by stereotypes. As far as your boss, you've described douchebaggery more than male buggery. After all, what gay man would leave two women hanging for years? We limit our exploitation to attractive guys, thank you very much.

Outside of stereotypes, there are a few things that'll tell you if he's gay. For example, how does he act toward beautiful women? Is he uncomfortable? Nervous? Then he's straight as 6 o'clock. See, gay men are far more comfortable around women than straight guys. Since we don't want to sleep with or date them, we're not nervous about "blowing it."

Another subtle clue is his behavior toward men. Gay men hold eye contact a split-second longer than straight men. It isn't because we secretly want you (unless you're Rob Marciano). It's because we're comfortable looking into men's eyes.

Also, watch how he hugs other men. Straight men do the A-frame hug (bend at the waist so they don't get too close). Gays do the Squished H hug (belt buckles touch). Again, it ain't because we wanna 'mo on you, but because we're comfortable with male touch.

The truth is, it's hard to peg the 'mo unless he shows signs of the sequined unicorn (he talks in italics, his waist is under 34 but he isn't, he knows the difference between a "soundtrack" and an "original cast album," and his career goals involve African-American backup singers). Ultimately, the only way to tell if a guy is gay is if his balls slap up against the back of your thighs when he's stabbing your starfish with his stick.

And even then ... .

Mike "The Sexorcist" Alvear hosts HBO's "The Sex Inspectors," blogs at mikealvear.com and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie. Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? E-mail him at Sexorcist@creativeloafing.com.

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