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Ask Anyone


I’m dating a guy who’s handsome and really nice. Sex is great, conversation is great. We like to do lots of the same things. I should be really happy, but obviously I’m writing to an advice column, so I’m not. Here’s the problem: he uses a handkerchief. You know, a cloth one. Takes it out of his pocket, unfolds it, blows his nose into it, folds it up again, and returns it to his pocket.

I find it disgusting. I can’t stop thinking about it. All that sputum and germs and whatever jammed into his pocket, gradually forming a hard crust. I told him that it’s gross, but he still does it. It’s a real turnoff. Does anyone else think this is gross? Have you ever found a habit like this just utterly revolting?

Hanky Panky

The Omniscient One says: It has nothing to do with snot. The handsome guy you’re dating is gay. There is a well known “hanky code” in the gay community. The Village Voice published comprehensive guidelines for the code in the 1970s and it is still practiced today. The hanky code allows gay men and women to communicate to each other without attracting attention. It means you are approachable. It’s called flagging. The color of the hanky and which pocket you stuff it in signals your preferences and your availability. As a general rule, someone who flags in the left pocket indicates that he or she is a top, while someone who flags in the right pocket is a bottom. Bottoms prefer to participate as recipients in sexual and fetish encounters, while tops prefer just the opposite.

The Calendar Girl says: In the words of Liz Lemon, “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!” If this guy prefers to walk around with a crusty, germ-covered, ancient snot rag in his pocket, who knows what he keeps in his drawers…or closet for that matter! Cleanliness is next to godliness…and a handkerchief is only cleanly by hoarders’ standards.

Dining Out says: The modern day Emily Post would be mortified! I personally cannot stand it when people blow their noses in cloth hankies or use linen napkins on tables when dining out. There’s no excuse in this day and age when disposable Kleenex are abundantly available and always on sale at local supermarkets and drug stores. I don’t care how green you are. If you have to blow your nose, excuse yourself to the restroom, blow away, and give your hands a thorough wash with antibacterial soap. If your bf is worried about irritating his nose, tell him to pick up an organic brand of tissues at the Co-op!

Smart Money says: Really? Your major objection is that he uses a handkerchief? Don’t you think you’re looking for something to be wrong? I’m sick of you annoying germ-a-phobes. What ever did we do without anti-bacterial hand wash? This from the person who will not touch anything in the office bathroom (they are really disgusting). Tell him how you feel. If he won’t change, you’ll have to decide if it’s a deal breaker for you. FYI, those habits you once thought were cute end up being annoying. Think of how awful this will be when the bloom is off the rose.

Designing Woman says: Handkerchiefs are eco-friendly. Think of all the tissues/trees he is saving by using one. Plus if you like him as much as you say you do, you probably have all of his germs anyways.

This is really something very silly to break up over. I call BS and that there must be some deeper issue.

The Sales Guy Says: Who are you—Jerry Seinfeld’s sister? Does he eat peas one pea at a time? Is he a close talker, a soft talker, a sidle-upper, dirty talker—does he have enormous hands? I have to say if that handkerchief thing really bothers you, let him go! You will be doing him an enormous favor.

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