Al Fresco

Last night as Tex and I emerged from the library where we’d been attending a Queer Book Group event*,  there was a short white man with a very healthy head of 70s-style hair standing on the steps.

“Registered voters!” he called out. “I can spot a couple of registered voters anywhere! I know them when I see them!’

We stopped, and he went on to explain that he and his silent, frozen friend who clutched the clipboard, were collecting signatures in order to put before the upcoming Town Meeting a very, very important issue, namely…outdoor seating. See, local restaurants have just been putting out chairs and tables higgelty piggelty and these two guys feel that unless someone does something quick, all hell will break out.

If anyone had been watching the scene on the library steps last night, I think they would have witnessed two middle-aged queers practically twisting their heads off like 2 extremely perplexed canines. The fellas wanted us to sign a petition about chairs?

Let me back up a moment. For the past, oh, 20 years and perhaps even longer than that, Tex and I have been in the thick of various civil rights struggles, including fighting racism, sexism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, ageism, you know, that kind of thing. Yesterday, we’d spent most of the afternoon trying to recover from a one-two punch having to do with a straight ally at church offering to do something for the queer group and then reneging in a particularly clueless fashion. And for some reason, perhaps the stars or the season, or my rapidly retreating hormones, I had been feeling particularly small and old that day, and rather unfit for the daunting battles still looming. A person can’t be fired up all the time!

Back to the library steps. We were not at our sharpest (it was almost 9pm, after all) but we both immediately got very suspicious. I wondered if this guy was working for the Man, sneakily trying to curtail workers’ rights. Tex assumed the worst and thought the guy’s elderly aunt had been pushed out into the street by unruly seating arrangements and done in by a passing car. Finally, we snapped out of it, asked a few questions, like, is this a public safety issue and how did you become interested in this (yes, and he just thinks there should be some regulation before everyone just starts doing whatever they want), and in the end, we both signed. It was just some signatures so that Town Meeting considers the proposal.

This morning we checked in with each other: had it been a dream? aliens posing as humans, slightly behind in their fashion research? the shared hallucination of two hard-working queer activists brought on by the afore mentioned sucker punch? I guess we won’t know until Town Meeting, but the thing is, as my dear friend in Chile reminded me: there are other issues, you know. And sometimes, they involve al fresco dining.

What a world!**

*our town has a Lesbian Librarian! She started a Queer Book Group! It’s so much fun!!!

**Some of you may know that this is a direct quote from Chet, who is the dog half of the Chet and Bernie mystery series by Spencer Quinn – a Total Femme fave!

Published in: on January 30, 2014 at 9:56 PM  Leave a Comment  
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I Can’t Explode

(Before I start, I have to tell you that ABE RYBEK made me write this post – not that he requested it, or anything, it’s just that he commented on another of my posts, “Abe Rybek Hugged Me,” and his sweet words reminded me that it is always worth it to make the effort to get the posts out of my head and into the blog so Abe, thank you!)

One of the consistent joys of teaching English as a Foreign Language is the wonderful mis-speaks you get the privilege of enjoying. Just recently, a new student of mine, a Chinese boy in 9th grade, said earnestly, “I know what it means, but I can’t explode.”

I can’t explode, either. I can’t explode when I hear that the n-word has reared its ugly head at our town’s middle school, being used as a weapon by white students against the students of color who are bussed in from the city to enjoy a “better” education out here in the burbs. I can’t explode when Seth tells me that students watching the girls basketball game at his and Owen’s* high school started saying, “Terry* plays like a dyke!” about a girl who was Owen’s best friend in 2nd grade.** I can’t explode when my UU church shows some very discriminatory colors in a recent action involving the forced resignation of a beloved staff member, rendering the church environment unsafe for minorities in one fell swoop. I can’t explode when a colleague and I go to the local youth counseling center to gather information about starting a queer youth support effort in town and the 3 staff members let us know that they have no resources for queer and questioning youth and are actually looking to the two of us as the experts (they have paying jobs as counselors; we’re volunteering our time and energy).

Much to their dismay, the boys did not have a snow day last week, only a two-hour delay. To be nice, I gave them a ride so they could linger just a little longer at home. On the way back, I saw John*, a boy in Owen’s grade, whose mother once cornered Tex when they were both chaperoning a 2nd grade field trip, to tell her she thought her son was probably gay. I stopped and asked if he would like a ride down the hill in a warm car, and he did. We chatted, me asking him about his singing group, him being the darling polite lad that he is. When he thanked me for the ride, I said, “It was my pleasure,” and readers, truer words have never been spoken. Me and Tex have had that child’s back since that bus ride Tex took with his mom way back when, and not just him, but Terry, and so many more.

See? I can’t explode. Our kids are out there.


*Not their real names, in case you were wondering.

**Seth gave them what for, he says. Way not to be a bystander, eldest son!