Friday, November 13, 2009


I need a gaydar repairman. Can’t find one in the yellow pages. Another inconvenience of living in the boonies.

I brought my twelve-year-old dog Lincoln to the vet this morning, worried about a lump in his hind region. Now that’s not the point of this entry—just provides context—but, if you’re like me, there is no focusing on anything else until knowing how the dog is doing. Turns out it was a harmless cyst. Just what I’d hoped, but I’d have been wracked with lifelong guilt if I didn’t have it seen to and, a few months later, had been told it was a tumor.

I waited in the little doggy patient room, my younger dog frantically whining and bouncing off the walls. Literally. It was live-action Pac-Man. Lincoln was perfectly content, cradled in my arms, occasionally smacking my nose with his pale, stinky tongue (an unfortunate side effect of his chronic renal failure, one of a slew of conditions duly noted in his ever-thickening veterinary file).

In walked the vet, not the affable, stout lady I was accustomed to, but a tall, late-forties man I’d not seen before. He introduced himself, explaining he was finishing up his last week here on a contract basis. From the moment our eyes locked, it was clear to me that he was gay and vice versa. In fact, he stared and stumbled through his introduction, apparently startled to finally encounter a gay man in these parts. Undoubtedly, he’d seen many of the local lesbians with their beloved dogs, cats and ferrets, but this place was parched of gays.

He looked at me more than he looked at my dog. Perhaps it was on account of attraction, but as he was only here temporarily I suspected he was dying to say, “And you live here?! Why? Why?!” Nothing I haven’t said to myself. Countless times.

The examination was essentially done in sixty seconds. As I said, harmless cyst. (Ooh, I love that word: harmless.) He even had time in that minute to explain that, even if it became something more ominous, it wouldn’t ever become the primary concern, given Lincoln’s other conditions, his medications and his specialized diet. Basically, a lump was the least of my worries.

Still, despite the fact that the lobby was crowded with other reluctant critter patients, he let the session linger. He went into detail about options for grinding flax seed and cleaning my coffee grinder thereafter, all the while looking intensely into my eyes. I couldn’t sustain the stare. I had to keep looking down to pat Lincoln and attend to the other one, now frantically bounding at me from the rear.

As he finally ended the examination, he volunteered that he would be back again in December. Uh, thanks for sharing. It seemed clear that something else was going on during this visit. He wasn’t quite my type. It was only a hunch, but I suspected he was a little too much the Mr. Leather type for me. After all, I’m a strict vegetarian (a near vegan, but I just can’t give up ice cream—the soy stuff doesn’t compare). Although I didn’t feel a Love Connection, it was flattering, even exciting, to be ogled by an attractive man.

Back in the lobby, I waited to pay my bill. A tiny woman in full cycling garb, helmet included, yammered away to the receptionist about the ingredients of a single can of pet food she was contemplating buying. I had enough time to jot down some blog sites from an article in Modern Dog Magazine and work out my entire Christmas shopping list while this woman continued to find a question and follow-up comment about every word on the damned label. Dr. Pleather—hey, I could fantasize, right? The word of the day is “harmless”—popped out twice, again eyeing me and seeming to have no other reason to make an appearance.

Between his two peekaboo curtain calls and since I had no desire to start on a To Do housecleaning list, I glanced down at the counter and noticed a bio for Doc Pleather for clients to read. I skimmed it, just to pass the time, of course. Former Canadian Olympian in water polo! Yada, yada, yada. And then, midway through the overly long single paragraph, I read the sentence that began, “He lives with his wife…”

I stopped right there, mid-sentence. I suppose the rest of the sentence said something like “on a farm with three rescued goats and a horse named Howard.” But then, maybe I shouldn’t suppose at all. All bets were off. Come to think of it, everything about the day was awry. I awoke late due to a power outage that gave my alarm clock the morning off. I had a warning signal flashing the alert “Low Caffeine!” somewhere inside me, a result of having to forgo my pot of coffee (a 40/60 caf/decaf blend, potent nonetheless). The pool had been freakishly busy when I swam my laps, a couple of newcomers failing to grasp the concept of lane swimming despite several collisions and flustered tutorials by other pool regulars. Given the tone of the day, why shouldn’t my gaydar be on the fritz?

But, you see, I’m 90% sure the gaydar was in fine form. Now I realize medical practitioners often have a soft, compassionate disposition. I could have mistaken sensitive, skilled doctor for gay man. (Hence the need for the gaydar systems check. I was overdue for a tune-up anyway.) Hell, even as oblivious as I am to all things gay, I know he was gay.

Gay and married. Bisexual? I don’t know. Does anyone have bisexual-dar? Is there even such a thing—the dar, that is. I’m sticking with gay and married. And that bothers me. My friend Rob recently recounted a story about an acquaintance who’d moved to B.C.’s Interior and placed a personal ad online. He was deluged with offers to meet up with married men. All I can think is, In this day and time?! Gay men are still getting married? To women?!

Gay marriage is legal everywhere in Canada. If marriage seemed like the way to conform (and hide) twenty years ago, haven’t we made strides in getting closer to living a life of integrity in the time since? Gay and still married?! I’m a naïve person, I realize, and that I hope that naïveté never fully goes away, but any excitement over being cruised by a doctor quickly transformed to sadness and annoyance. No wonder this vet likes to contract his time, traveling to all parts of the province—away from his wife and Howard the horse.

Back to my word of the day: harmless. Was it just an episode of harmless flirtation? I can’t seem to shake it off so flippantly.

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