Archive for August, 2012
Lazy Hazy Crazy Gays of Summer
When I was seven I went away to summer camp, John Island, somewhere near Espanola. It was an unfortunate miscalculation on my part. My older sister and brother had talked up John Island for years and even though I’d never been known to survive so much as a sleepover, my mother put me on the bus in hometown Sault Ste. Marie and off I went.
I will go down in John Island’s history as the worst overnight camper ever. I cried for two weeks, unable to let go of the heart stabbing gut hollowing brain freezing homesickness that overcame me the moment I arrived. I cried so much that, as one counselor complained, exasperatedly, I even had the orphan campers from Sudbury crying to go home.
Later, safely ensconced again in our living room, I described shower night (I only remember the one) to my mother, little girls being herded naked into a cement room full of showers, and she accused me of mixing up summer camp with the Holocaust.
Not true (although I occasionally mix up my mother with Hitler) it was exactly as described. And the water was cold, too. And the soap harsh. And the shampoo stung my eyes.
Anyway, I’ve always wanted to wipe the stink of John Island off my memory, so this summer I went back to camp.
For a weekend. No more two week commitments to rubber pancakes, forced labour and lice-ridden sleeping barracks for me.
Good grief. Summer camp sure is gayer’n I remember. At John Island, which was all girls one summer month, all boys the other, I was sworn to secrecy while my cabin counselor made out with her boyfriend, who must have somehow escaped the notice of the guards, but now I’m wondering if in fact he was a she.
Indeed, I arrived at summer camp (I don’t want to give away the name because I plan to go back next year and I don’t want my gay reader(s) to snag my spot) a tad early. My brother and sister-in-law, who had dropped me off after an overnight with them, were apprehensive, but also eager to get rid of me, so I gamely ignored the “Registration is at 7:00″ sign and walked around the farm gate.
I was in. I also briefly considered running after their car, but didn’t trust my brother not to make a game of it and keep me running behind the car all the way back to Sudbury. (Oops, yup, the camp is near Sudbury.)
Anyway, they weren’t really prepared for early arrivals (or, eager beavers, as it turns out) so I found my way down to the dock and resumed reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” (just kidding, “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen).
Once registered, campers were to convene in the outdoor screened in dining room/mess hall for a meet and greet. The women all had their various reasons for attending, mine being that I wanted to do summer camp as a paying adult who could just leave if she didn’t like it.
Immediately after saying this, one of the other campers, a particularly annoying one, said, “Didn’t you say your brother dropped you off?”
“Well, how are you going to leave if you don’t like it? You don’t have a car and you’re in the middle of nowhere.”
Le sigh. The same camper was also assigning us handles for the weekend, handles that amused her greatly but which reminded me of the time I was a counselor in training and this little jerk-off in my 10-year-old boys troop gave me the handle “Grandma” from the Addams Family for some reason I was never clear on but which proved to be exceedingly annoying as the summer wore on and interminably on.
I was getting that old timey days feeling of having made an unfortunate miscalculation.
The meet and greet also included a little lecture by our guide (and canoeing/kayaking instructor) about assumptions and how important it was that we not fall into the trap of assuming that just because someone may look, act and be gay, that she necessarily identifies as gay.
It was more inclusive than that, and more thoughtful, but it also reminded me of the time I assumed my sister-in-law’s sister was pregnant and, well, she wasn’t. So yeah, assumptions are fraught with peril, for sure.
I was tempted to offer up the counterpoint that often if someone looks, acts and is straight, it’s generally okay to assume that she identifies as straight, but I wasn’t sure of the lay of the land yet (as in, lesbians/humour) which was starting to identify (to me, anyway) as pretty much gay to a woman.
Precisely, out of 20, I think there were two other women who may have been straight, but I’m not sure. Suffice it to say that straight was definitely the visible minority in the mess hall. Or, I may have been the only straight woman there. NOT that there’s anything wrong with that and NOT that I’m particularly straight, either. As I explained a couple of nights in, I just have a swell and manly beau and no desire to have sex with a woman. Unless, and this could be all there is between me and you, gay sisters, I just haven’t met the right one.
Of course, that same night I was accused by Miss Handle of being the gayest person there, on account of my monogrammed Ralph Lauren pajamas, tightly crossed legs, and wine glass held aloft as I dished dirt and name-dropped (Bob Rae – always either a conversation starter or stopper) and generally acted like I usually do, a super gay cross between Truman Capote and Peewee Herman.
She said, and I quote, “You’re the gayest person here! You’re like a gay man!”
Ouch, baby. Although, being like a gay man, I was also quite pleased by the notice my Ralph Lauren pajamas had attracted. They’re plaid, drape elegantly even after several washings, and the underside of the collar has a dashing leopard print. Not to be a snob, but certain campers could stand to upgrade their nightwear to… not the same as their daywear.
But enough about who’s gayest (me) and back to the group, which was more or less interchangeable with my book club, except bigger (in number) and with a wider stance while sitting. Also, there was only a bit of talk about men, all of whom were exes, save for myself as I explained that even though I have a swell and manly beau, I’d sure as hell be a lesbian if I was a lesbian because who the hell in her right fucking mind would have sex with a man if she could have sex with a woman?
(And yes, I realize my straight credentials are sounding increasingly nebulous.)
Because that’s just it, isn’t it. While sexual orientation is a given, it’s not really clear to me anymore how much of culture is a given, too. Until this weekend, I thought of myself as basking under the attention of men. Throw in some beer/wine/liquor and booyah! It’s a straight thing, I thought. I like possibility, a little frisson, flirting, as it were. Sure I have a swell and manly beau (did I say he was manly?) but you never know what life will bring and I do not want to live alone. I need a sounding board for my twitterings or cyber space will become clogged with inanity.
Well Bob’s my uncle (actually, former boss) but as it turns out, it’s even more fun being the straight arrow in a quiver full of lesbians! Seriously, I’m thinking of joining a roller-derby club or trying out a machine-shop course or maybe even taking up golf, so inspired am I to hang out more with my gay sisters in their various habitats and covens.
I should probably tip off the camp directors, too, that specifying lesbian/bi vs blank weekends probably isn’t necessary, since I’m pretty sure I signed up for the blank weekend, not wanting to intrude on any private time, as it were.
I mean, maybe it’s just me, but assuming blank stands for straight, straight might just be the new gay.
Summer camp, it’s not just for straight homesick kids.
Freedumb’s Just Another Word
I am so enjoying Mitt Romney on tour. It couldn’t happen to more deserving world, in my opinion. I mean, imagine being a wealthy Israeli specially selected to break bread with Mitt the Mormon, Republican candidate for President of the United States, and he compares your country’s productivity to that of an occupied people who live trapped and blockaded behind a wall on a narrow strip of land. AND, he manages to screw up his figures so that it looks like they’re doing pretty well, too, all things considered. AND, everybody knows the all things considered are you.
Cripes, imagine what those go-getters could do with their own country, you’d no doubt be thinking as you make a mental note to ask the Israeli Defence Forces to bulldoze a few mansions next time it’s out raping and pillaging the occupied go-getters. Why you’d be thanking Moses that Mitt hadn’t made plans to go to Gaza for lunch, “While you guys are doin’ okay, I was just on the other side of the wall where these people who look just like you but have some other wacky religion, are doing way better – way. I think it might be because they have a country and you don’t. Juss sayin’.”
And although it’s pretty rude to show up at another country’s Olympics, the real kind, not the winter kind that Salt Lake City hosted, and make fun of all the glitches and breaches, it’s true that Conservatives really suck at doing anything that doesn’t involve spending gobs and gobs and gobs of public money. And it was fun watching Conservative Prime Minister and Official Sponsor of Phone Hacking Journalists, David Cameron, and Mayor Boris Johnson, who must spend more time tousling his own hair than Amy Winehouse spent teasing hers, retort to Mitt’s jabs in that superior way those pasty-arsed toffee-nosed twits have with a quip about SLC being in the middle of nowhere.
Take that, rebel colony!
And Poland, well, who cares, but if people who were freed by Solidarity want to cheer for a union-busting Ugly American when he comes to town, I say, “No more Polish jokes for you, Poland!”
Because that’s just it, isn’t it. You can lead a people to freedom, but you can’t make them smart. Everybody’s voting choices these days remind me of Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. (A Macedonian friend unfailingly referred to it as “The Incredible Lightness of Being”, but she grew up in downtown Toronto with a grandmother who would warn her every time she went out not to speak Macedonian in the marketplace, so freedom wasn’t just another word for nothing left to lose for her, it was not having to worry about having her brains bashed in by a Greek policeman on Yonge Street because she was second generation Canadian and didn’t speak a word of Macedonian.) I think we (and by “we” I mean “they”) deserve some time spent in a gulag, or China, where people don’t have electoral freedom and leadership is passed down from tyrant(s) to tyrant(s).
So go ahead, Americans, elect Mitt Romney as your next President. Hopefully he’ll choose Sarah Palin as his running mate and she’ll give up her reality show career and hit the campaign trail. Or not. Maybe she’ll keep her reality show (is it still on? I only watch CBC Newsworld – until I cancel basic cable at the end of the summer because Conservative cutbacks have rendered it repetitive, and with too much Kevin O’Leary and not enough news) and add in the campaign as a subplot. Whatever. Maybe Mitt Romney will turn out to be a laugh riot AND a good President AND have the best reality show ever.
Better yet, maybe he’ll misstep and fall down a well and Sarah Palin will become the first gosh darn lady President ever imaginationed.
And she’s already got laugh riot and reality show covered, so there’s only the good President part to go.
Relax, people, George W. Bush was elected President and the Earth is still spinning. It’s burning and flooding and lots of people are dead who would otherwise be alive, but it’s still going round and round and round.