Tab Tries: Secret gay dining societies
Four courses, seventy-two gay guys in suits and one debauched evening in the depths of Peterhouse.
Who would say “no” to an offer to dine with the Adonians, Cambridge’s worst kept secret?
Well, anyone with a modicum of self-respect, I guess. But, luckily for you, I’m totally unprincipled, so I jumped at the chance to go get felt up by creepy old fellows. Anything for a good story, right?
But this is the Tab, not the New-Fucking-Yorker, so don’t expect florid prose and a blow-by-blow (har har) description of the shitty food, the shittier company and the passable wine. Here’s half a dozen takeaways from the evening instead.
1. Date-rape jokes
There we all were, in an old hall in Peterhouse, well-groomed and clutching champagne flutes. People were slowly spreading out to chat with old friends or to introduce themselves to prospective sugar daddies.
I saw two gentlemen eye me up, so I wandered over to say hello. Neither were good lookers (let’s say 4 and 5 1/2 out of 10 respectively), but maybe one of them was a world expert in something interesting. Or rich. Let’s be honest, I was really hoping for rich.
Within a few minutes I realized that they were both utterly dull, but the conversation seemed pleasant enough, even if neither had any money with which to buy me diamonds. Then one of them made a joke about putting something in my drink. Fucking hell.
2. The British Empire
I was seated next to an octogenarian at dinner. He seemed thrilled when he found out that I was planning on spending the summer in South-East Asia.
“Oh yes, there are some wonderful places between here and there. Look, I’ll tell you what, next time you’re there, on the way back you simply must visit a wonderful place. I take it you’ve heard of Ceylon?” (This is paraphrased obviously, I wasn’t taking fucking notes).
Ceylon? You mean that term we haven’t used to describe Sri Lanka since 1972? I couldn’t tell if he was messing with me or actually senile. I really wish I’d responded with “Oh yes, we holiday there in the summer, but my family actually prefers Rhodesia – have you been?”
3. The toasts
There were two toasts that evening. The first, unsurprisingly, was to “Queen and Country”. Understandable, I guess. The second was very much ironic, but I’m not sure that many people realized this. Not the best execution, perhaps. (“Gentlemen, I’ve been told by a few of you that we need to make a toast to an important man, who died about forty years ago today. Now, I’ll be the first person to admit that he did some absolutely atrocious things, but by god he kept the communists at bay. Gentlemen, to General Franco!”)
At this point, a handful of people stood up to toast him (these, I take it, being the people who realized it was ironic. Or maybe I’m being too optimistic).
4. The undergraduates
It was an incredibly varied group of students. I mean, basically everyone was a posh white gay guy – usually a twink – but one or two were wearing fairly controversial dinner jackets. Positively diverse, no?
5. Creepy old guys
Were there lots of creepy old fellows? Yes. Was it only undergraduates and creepy old fellows? No. It seems like membership isn’t too tricky to acquire – there were plenty of people from the city, many of whom had never actually been at Cambridge.
Did one of the creepy old guys try to feel my friend up? Yes. But he was very sweet about it. I guess that counts for something. And that short conversation, at least, will supply him with a year of wet dreams.
I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of people paired off at the end of the evening. But most of it seemed to be undergraduates hooking up with undergraduates. There were few undergraduates hooking up with “younger” old ones, but I didn’t see any octogenarians score that evening.
It must be tough, knowing you’re only a few Adonian dinners away from death, and leaving alone, again, at the end of the evening.