Sunday, November 8, 2009


Things have been quiet lately. Okay, it’s always quiet. But this is the kind of quiet where the tree falls in the woods and no one’s there—and I still manage to hear it! Yes, it happened! Now can that expression be done away with? Permanently?

When I was at the cottage an hour outside of Ottawa, the newness of Gay Ottawa got me in the car and my Just Visiting status made me more of a risk taker. Not risky as in crazy sex, but risky as in show up to gay events solo. Yeah, radical, isn’t it?

Now I’m back home and feeling complacent about my remoteness. There was a Halloween party last weekend that I skipped. I don’t do costumes. It’s always terribly stress inducing. I have no idea how to put together a getup from scratch and I’m not motivated (or rich enough, at the moment) to hop on the ferry to buy a ready-made Spiderman costume in Vancouver. (I’m also not one of those gays who looks forward to October 31 as a time to dress in a Speedo and spraypaint my body gold, shirtless firefighter costume—with darling suspenders!—retired after three years running. I’ve been working out with results to show for it; I just choose not to show. Yeah, push me off the Pride float. I don’t belong.) Coming up with a costume is work for me and knowing that there was a good chance I’d be the only single guy present was the thought that put the final nail in the vampire’s coffin.

Last night offered another opportunity to follow my gayness. Ivan E. Coyote, a homo author and storyteller, was performing at a small town half an hour from home. I marked the event on my calendar weeks ago so there was no backing out. Calendars must not mislead! Still, as the afternoon rolled into evening, I felt content at home with the dogs and my library copy of Eat, Pray, Love. If Julia Roberts is going to be in the movie, I’d better damn well read the book. She had me at “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (if not “Mystic Pizza”).

The tug-and-pull continued as the time when I’d have to leave neared. Must stay--look at those pleading dog eyes! A lesbian author in your environs—must go! As a writer, I knew I could use some inspiration and, to my astonishment, I couldn’t recall ever going to an homo author event. I ironed, I dressed and then the climactic moment arrived. Something brown—and smelly!—was smudged on my pants. Oh, beloved dogs, what have you done?! Was it a desperate ploy to keep me home for yet another evening of idle tummy rubs and ice cube treats?

Almost worked. I’d sworn I wouldn’t wear jeans, but I had no time (or desire) for more ironing. Jeans on—and snappy little 70s jingle bopping in my head—I made my first drive in months to the town so near, yet so far.

The place was packed. I knew it would be. The crowd almost all female. Knew that, too. A few dutiful husbands tagged along with their wives. It was Saturday night, but the Canucks had a rare weekend off.

There was a long introduction of the honored guest, one of those rambling speeches read directly from an earnestly written script. Verbal diarrhea, really. We want Ivan! At last, she stepped to the podium. It took less than sixty seconds for me—and the crowd—to be hooked. Ivan E. Coyote, a proud, butch lesbian who does not mind being mistaken for a man—relishes it, I think—proceeded to share story after story for two hours, breaking only for a brief intermission/book signing.

Was I inspired? More than that. Awed. She had notes, but glanced at them only occasionally without interrupting the flow of her narrative. Ivan was in full command throughout.

Could I ever do that? Not likely. If it were a room of kids and no adults, sure. I can work the room, feeding off the reactions of the audience. But it’s different with adults. The sweat stain quickly begins under my arms, the heat of the spotlight moistens my forehead, my mouth dries, the voice wobbles and my breathing becomes as desperate as when I try to pick up the pace swimming freestyle at the local pool.

Ivan Coyote is a master storyteller. I haven’t read any of her short stories. Sometimes I even skip her column in Xtra West, the Vancouver gay news rag. And now I’m a fan.

Glad I went. During the many quiet times ahead of me, I have a little more to think about—and read.

No comments: