Sunday, April 17, 2011

Come out, come out, wherever you are... Part 2

On St. Patrick's day this year, I was in Texas.

I've talked about how the political climate struck me as a tad bit suffocating in Part 1.

I was having a good time and it is quite lovely on the San Antonio river.

Missing my boys and my sweetie, I still wasn't going to ignore the fact that it was ST. PATRICK'S DAY. And on most years that goes by fairly UN-celebrated by me (due to familial and work obligations, not because I don't want to get all sloppy on green beer and Irish car bombs.)

There was that one time when my sister and I took the day off to spend it in a bar in South-ie...

and we drank all day until everyone in that place seemed like a pal...

But usually it's a toss up: "sleep... Green beer? Sleep... drunk girls in a too crowded bar, spilling green beer everywhere?? Sleep... spending too much money on bad Irish food and over priced car bombs???"

I know... I'm lame. I usually chose the sleep. Especially since the kids were born and wrecked my ability to sleep off green beer.

Anyway, this year, I was away from home, getting plenty of sleep, only responsible for myself. I had intended to round up some nurses or others from the conference to go rouse a little rabble.

It didn't work out. The 2nd day of the conference ended weird with some opting to go visit a site and others rushing away early and I was somewhere in between, ending for the day far too early for dinner. I went back to my room. Had an ichat with my family and then decided to head out on my own.

Going out to a bar on your own is strange, especially when you don't have any sexual favors to barter with or center banter around. It's not my game, but I think I understand why there are those people that travel a lot for work who make up an alias... It can only get you into trouble, but it's just so that you can go out and "hunt" for a dining companion, right? Anyway... I found a bar Durty Nelly's

This place was all set for the night; the piano-man was in the center of it all, singing ditties and limericks and keeping everyone entertained:

I found a seat about 12 feet from the piano, up against one of those boxed-in support poles. There was a small (14") table to my right and one empty chair besides mine. I was there for about 30 minutes when I started to get restless and feel awkward about being alone. I wasn't really in the mood to be so outgoing as to make new friends, and I for sure wasn't interested in giving up my seat to go make screaming small-talk (over the sound of the music) with strangers.

I sat for about 10 more minutes, my blood feeling like mercury rising as it measured my increased discomfort. Then in walked two couples looking for seating. They seemed disoriented like when you step from the sunlight into a darkened room and can't quite find your bearings. After I watched them twirl around a few times scouting for unavailable seats, I motioned that they might want to pull some chairs around the small table next to me.

I got up and quickly corralled 2 extra chairs, pointing to a 3rd in a far off corner. They were happy and silly and it calmed me. We introduced ourselves and ordered up a few more drinks. The "Hi"s and "Where are you from?"s and "What brings you to San Antonio?"s lasted 10-20 mins. They had a few stories of this long trip they had taken to the western edge of Texas, and being social with them was as easy as stirring up a pitcher of iced tea in the summer.

We weren't too far into it when Mary asked about my kids (I showed pictures) and if they were okay with their mom so far from home...

I paused. I admit it, it is not how I roll usually- hesitating to bring up my wife- but this Texas place is strange. People down there seem to have a special way of not expecting the obvious (or what might be obvious to me...)

I smiled. Giving her the most reassuring and genuinely friendly vibe I could muster:

"Well, they have two moms, so they are doing okay..."

"What's that?!?" Mary asked blinking.

"I'm married to a woman, and our boys have two moms, so they are in very good hands when I'm away."

Two blue eyes stop blinking and fly open - wide as saucers.
She literally brings her hand to cover her mouth which is now gaping open.

I can't even formulate the mental "oops" because her reaction is so extreme, so cartoonish that I am actually giggling.

I wait. There's not much more for me to say, so I let her get a grip of herself and recover from the (apparent) shock.

The other members of her group are not really aware of what is going on... They are eating peanuts, looking around... the music is loud and they have missed the meat of our conversation. I don't think they have noticed her surprised expression.

She lets her hand fall to her lap and her mouth is still open when she forms the words, pausing dramatically between each one. Searching carefully for each syllable, it's as if she is inventing language from scratch. She leans towards me.


It is too loud in here for a whisper to be audible. Though she is shouting, her eyes focus and her posture grows conspiratory in nature.


She glances left and then right.


I can barely handle it. Is this for real? Is she going to have a stroke???

She squeals the final word: "Democrat?!?"

I about lose my shit. I expected LESBIAN not DEMOCRAT. I nod enthusiastically as I laugh and smile hard at her. (Unlike being gay, being a Democrat is NOT illegal in any state.) But I am wondering, will this be the thing that prompts her to overturn the tiny table between us??? I just can't figure out what is going on... What is about to happen?!?

"Yes," I tell her again as she continues to stare at me blankly.

Then it explodes:
"I AM A DEMOCRAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(yes, that many exclamation points)

And a round of hoots and howls and giggles.
She is speaking wildly now- dozens of words a second- it is even more cartoonish than before- Now I freaking love her!!! And yet I'm struck with instant empathy. Here is a woman, deep in the heart of TEXAS, who is so isolated in her liberal politics that an Irish (1/4 Irish-mutt) lesbian from the North-East who shows up at a bar on St. Patrick's day is her best shot of MAYBE...


Meeting a fellow Democrat.

You know what this means, right??? In Texas (And Mary has lived there all her life and presumably been out there looking for others) you more likely to run across an OUT homosexual than an OUT democrat...

I don't believe they aren't there, it's just that they have to hide in the closet!!!

Holy shit.

I about pee'd my pants at that bar... The night didn't end until we had shared a few too many drinks and Mary dialed up her 18 (? I forget his exact age) year old son for me to have a chat with via cell phone. (I have no idea what that was about either, but he was just as sweet as he could be and didn't seem the least bit surprised- It clearly happens to him all the time.)

Though none of her other companions indicated to me that they were also democrats, they seemed pleased as punch that Mary had located another one of us in this quaint section of the world.

I say again, "Holy shit." Can you imagine if I hadn't come out to this poor lady??? She would have spent the entire night assuming I voted for George W. Bush and sent money to Sarah Palin's PAC on a monthly basis?!?

You have no idea how profoundly this effected me. Let's just say, there are people all over the world, that need to know they are not in this alone!



Anonymous said...

It's such an example of why being honest is important. If you've been lucky enough to be born in a place where you are not persecuted for your democrat-ness, you owe it to the less fortunate to at least tell them they are not the freaks they've been told they are. tcl

Adam Hirsch said...

Hilarious. :)

Sherri U said...

I am speechless...YOU are a Democrat? ME TOO! How did I not know this? LMAO.

Seething Mom said...

Oh my gosh, how well I know what Mary goes through on a daily basis. That absolutely could have been me behaving exactly as she had. We progressives who live in red states are so starved for company, but so deeply hesitant to out ourselves that we literally act like fools in paradise when we accidentally find ourselves in the company of like-minded people.

Great story. I am still smiling from ear-to-ear!