Three Wise Guys: Oriental Rug Stores, Gay-Straight Guy Friendships, Old Whiskey

(By Danny Hellman ForThe Washington Post)
By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

Why are Oriental rug stores always going out of business?

Skeptical in Arlington

Joe: A couple of reasons. First, there's peer pressure. Think about it: Would you buy an Oriental rug from a store that wasn't going out of business? And pay full price? I don't think so. But there's also the existential answer, which is that a store, every store, is -- eventually -- going to go out of business. How fast that happens will vary, but nothing, not even a successful company, is permanent (just ask the folks at Bear Stearns). So you can be skeptical if you wish, but these Oriental rug stores are actually engaged in truthful advertising.

Dear Wise Guys:

I'm an educated, professional, mainstream guy. I have a high-profile job, make a good salary, have two mortgages, am respectful of all kinds of people. I enjoy music, football, college basketball, landscaping, Home Depot -- all the "regular" guy things. I also happen to be gay and in a long-term relationship (16 years) that puts some straight relationships to shame. I am completely assimilated (live in the 'burbs, where most of my friends -- women and men -- are straight).

But I could really use some friendships with other guys (preferably straight). Nothing sexual, just buddies. Although I stereotypically like Broadway show tunes, I also like the NFL and struggle with the same issues that any marriage faces. I feel like I don't belong anywhere: Most gay guys don't get it, and most straight guys are freaked out. How do I break the barriers?


Dan: In describing yourself, you're kind of describi ng me, minus the two mortgages, maybe 15 to 20 years of age and the fact that I'm a transient who has lived in five different places in the city in the past six years. So while I love the Buffalo Bills and Sabres as much as I love Stephen Sondheim, perhaps I'm not completely qualified to offer insight.

But whatever. You mention you already have straight male friends in the 'burbs, so why not strengthen those friendships? My suggestions are woefully elementary: Get a team together for a recreational sports league, or have neighbors or co-workers over regularly for barbecues this summer. If you feel as if you don't belong anywhere, start tilling your own social pasture and see what grows.

Joe: Sometimes the team you root for -- not the team you're on -- can make all the difference. The reason w e don't hang out with Dan isn't that he's gay. It's that he likes the Bills.

Dear Wise Guys:

I have a bottle of Seagram's VO Canadian whiskey, still sealed from 1979, as noted on the neck seal. Is this safe to drink, has it aged or improved over the years, and is it worth anything?


Justin: T o sort this out, I caught up with Stuart Ramsay, a contributing editor for Michael Jackson's "Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide" (DK Adult, 2005), who was returning from a tequila-tasting excursion in Mexico. Bad news first: You haven't stumbled upon an "Antiques Roadshow"-style jackpot. "There were so many bottles of Seagram's VO produced back then," Ramsay says, "that its value would not have appreciated to any great degree."

On the other hand, he indicates that you probably still have a good bottle of spirits: "If the bottle is unopened and if it has a metal cap, then it won't have changed flavor. If the cap is cork and has deteriorated noticeably, then some off-flavors could have been introduced."

But let's back up for a moment -- a tequila-tasting excursion in Mexico? Man, am I in the wrong line of work .

Have a question only the Three Wise Guys can answer? Send it to and await their words of wise-dom.

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