Monday, September 24, 2007

She Drives With Her Balls Out

Yes, she does and they are swinging from her trailer hitch to prove it. What you can’t read, however is her bumper sticker–top center of the window. Its pink letters say, (and I quote) “Vicious, Power Hungry [B*&%#]”.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

[He'd] Rather Be Gay Than A Democrat

Those are not my words.
They cling to the backside of a black SUV that sports dark windows and big tires and caught my attention in a grade school parking lot. The driver is a loving father, sending off his kiddos to public school. I had to drive around the lot one more time to see if that truly was what I read. It was. I grabbed the image off the web page that sells it for your viewing pleasure.
His name is Sean and he is not a gay Republican. He is in his early thirties. He is white, bald and very tattooed. He wears black t-shirts and long denim shorts that show off a pair of very thin legs.
I was curious about the ownerof such a statement and this is how I know his name. I asked him what it meant. He read it to me in case I didn't read it correctly, or couldn't read or, or....
"I don't get it." (I did.)
He kindly explained, "What are the two worst things a person could be? Gay and Democrat."
"Yeah, I get the Democrat part. You don't like them. But the gay part, I don't get it. "
He sneered, "Well, then you are obviously a Democrat."
"The reason I am asking is because we had a wonderful uncle in our family who was very well respected and very loved and he died of AIDS about 12 years ago and it is so disappointing to see this kind of thing out here now."
His attitude turned to contempt. "Yes, it is, isn't it?!!"
He explained that he is very Christian and this is why he feels so strongly. I told him our uncle was an ordained Lutheran pastor. He said, "Then he of all people should know how wrong that is."
I said, "I can tell you a Bible quote he lived by and that is that 'Jesus said, There are others outside our fold' meaning the church humans created for worship, 'and I know my own and they know me.' He knew the church would reject him yet he answered a greater calling knowing it would be difficult."
He paused. "I am also Republican and it is the Republican Party platform."
I said, "Do you believe that? My parents are Republican and they don't believe that."
"Then they are not true Republicans," was his quick response. "President Bush is the most gay-hating President we have had. Why do you think he voted down gay marriage?"
"I don't know George Bush personally but I have never heard him say he hates gays. He never had a vote on gay marriage. He said he didn't support the idea for other reasons but I don't remember hate being his reason."
His chuckle said, "Oh, you silly fool." and his lips said, "Well, it was. If you don't like this sticker you would hate the ones I have on my other car," he went on, "AIDS is Mother Nature's way of curing fags."
"You're right," I said flatly, "I don't like it. I feel bad for all of the kids coming to school who deserve to feel that this is their place and it is safe. If I were a gay parent or gay student driving in behind this sticker everyday it would make me sick to my stomache for my child. I just don't understand why you feel so strongly."
He lamented how "unfortunate" it is that he lives in such a liberal city. Apparently so.
I remain confused about the devotion of that much energy into something so uselessly negative. "It just feels like hate, " I said.
In a tone of voice that might have said "BINGO!" he said, "It is! That is exactly what it is. I get so angry at all those gay parents walking into school for curriculum night and conferences."
Neither of us expected to change the other. Neither of us raised our voice or stooped to name-calling. I was trying to understand the person who puts that out there--goes through the effort to find the sticker, purchase it and then adhere it.
What need did it fulfill for him, I wondered.
Of course, we agreed that we would agree to disagree. We even shook hands. He really hoped I would either get angry or go away and it didn't happen. He didn't know what to make of me. I am white. I look just like someone he could sit beside in church. If I was a male he would have wanted to fight me. If I was a person of color, he'd write me off. If I had dredlocks and multiple piercings he would have written me off. Instead there I was looking every bit the part of a white, middle class soccor mom (which I am not).
I appreciated talking to him because I was trying to figure out how to explain his bumper sticker and his kind of hatred to my kids. And now I am able. I wanted to explain it without the same kind of blast that he explains differences to his kids.
I was curious what he tells his children. He says, "I tell them, it is just wrong. We read the Bible and go to church every week and our pastor also says it is plain wrong."
Months later my husband saw him (and I just have to use this tabloid word...) canoodling with a woman who was not his wife over brunch. Months after that he and his wife split up. I wondered, then, what his pastor says about that.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ol' Yeller

It's late summer in the Hippest Town in the West.

Blue skies. Light breeze. Kids playing outside. Yards being mowed. And our neighbor, Ol' Yeller, shouting at a distant dog. We all have sounds that provide context. If we were to close off our other senses and just hear these sounds, we'd know where we are. Ol' Yeller is one of mine. His yawp reassures me that I am home.
Shhhh...He lives just through those trees. If you look closely... you might actually see him ruling from his deck.

He bellows from the boudoir to reaches far away. He crackles from his computer command center. He spits out his toothbrush and whinnies from his window. In a twisted conjuring of the Royal Family greeting from the Palace, he explodes from his deck. His holler is his royal wave.
Some days I hear him yodel angrily in my direction only to follow up with an encore in the opposing direction. He interrupts outdoor programming with blaring announcements that he "wants IT QUIET!!!" Whatever "it" may be.

Once "it" was mine. The four legged sprinkler gallumped outdoors in pursuit of an animal. He barked his canine proclamation of, "My yard! My yard! My yard!" (He's a dog of a seldom few words because it would require too much effort. Effort which may drain him of the energy needed to sink his chops into the kitchen garbage.) That's when Ol' Yeller entered the auditory picture and I realized how effective his bawling truly is.
"I want that dog QUIET!!!" the trees roared.
All four adults were silenced. The Gallump was hushed but that's only because he'd said what he had to say. Just in case, he was shuffled inside. Ol' Yeller was not heard from again that evening.

I am bit embarrased for O.Y. because I do know him. His kids are great kids, he is always friendly when we see him and so is his wife. Does he not know we know where the shouting comes from? He is fascinating. It is as if he thinks the big NW trees will confuse the rest of us as to the origins. The topics tend to alternate between shouting at barking dogs and his children. He has yet to take on the traffic noise or blue jays but I wait expectantly.
I am completely truthful when I say this sound means home. It is simultaneously disturbing and entertaining; reassuring and unsettling.

A year ago, the Ol' Yeller family concluded that their 2400 sf house was simply not large enough for the four of them. So an additional 1,600 sf was added on along with a lovely water feature. I am so happy for them. Bigger is better. Now they each have 1000 sf to themselves and he has yet another deck from which to perform. The entire addition has sweeping views of our dining room/living room/kitchen/deck/ and even our entry closet. It feels a bit like living in the same pond as Yurtle the Turtle. Only Yurtle was quieter, I am sure.