“Oh!! Miss Ing Thing?” A cackle came from the dark on one side. Tisu Trauma climbed on stage. She wore a distressed wig with beer cans for curlers and a tattered pink nylon robe thrown over a lime green flannel night dress.
“If it isn’t the darling, daring, Achoo Mama.”
“Good heels, Ing girl. We are almost eye-to-eye.”
“I know how you love getting down on your knees.”
“Good thing there was sale on knee pads at the Gardens.” Tisu lifted her nightgown to reveal goalie pads underneath.
“Oh my my!” Miss Ing feigned surprise. “How do you get grass stains off those?”
“The same way you get ass stains off your face, darling.”
“The girls have all chipped in to buy you a little something to show our deep, deep esteem and respect for you, Miss Ing Thing. Bring the offering forward.”
“I’d say you shouldn’t have, but I’d be lying.”
“Not the first time. Strange though, nothing on you grows when you lie.”
“Unlike your gut, my pet.”
“Be a doll and close your eyes.”
“Anything for you, Blanch.”
Tisu leaned to her accomplice, flipped open the box she held, and took out a cream pie.
“Here you are, dear Thing!” she screamed. Tisu held the back of Robert’s head and rotated the pie in his face. “I’m sorry we didn’t have time to bake broken glass into it.”
The crowd roared, and Tisu Trauma and her henchmen made a fast escape from the bar.
“You fucking cow! I’ll get you for this!” Robert wiped pie from his face. He smiled to the audience. “So much for the improvised portion of our program. Luckily I have someone who will blot out this horrifying spectacle. I have for your delectation a new, recently discovered by me, talent. Kevin McLeod.”
Kevin got on the stage. He squinted in the lights.
“Okay Kevin. It’s your party.”
The music for “It’s My Party” started. As he sang it was Georgie, not Judy, who wore his ring. It was followed by the natural sequel “It’s Georgie’s Turn to Cry.”
David was caught off-guard by how comfortable Kevin was. No self-consciousness and complete sincerity in what he sang. He brought an urgency to the songs that made them genuine, not kitsch queer lampoons.
Kevin left the stage, and Miss Ing reappeared in his leather police woman persona. Extra pointy breasts, tight black skirt, lots of chains and platform shoes that had jail bars for heels.
“I hope this one is pie proof. If not,” his night-stick opened into an umbrella, “I’m ready.”
David followed Kevin as he left the bar, but by the time he’d made his own way through the crowd, he didn’t see Kevin anywhere.
Perhaps it’s just as well. When a dog catches the car, what can he do with it?
Mark detached himself from a group in front of Java Squared.
“David, you’re looking a little lost.”
“Nights like this I feel like one in many millions. Each year it gets bigger and bolder.”
“And drunker too. It’s sad to see so many equate gay pride with getting drunk and stoned. Such a waste.”
“I suppose getting ripped on extra slow espresso isn’t as morally bad?”
“At least in the morning I get to remember who I had sex with the night before.”
“Or the afternoon before?” David leapt at this chance for a casual mention of his conquest of Yves.
“The ten year old … this afternoon.”
“Right.” Mark winced at the age crack. “I don’t go for chicken but this one was eager. I was sitting there and he almost jumped my bone in the park. You were with someone.”
“Yves.” David implied as much as he could. “How was he?”
“Young. Too young to be on the loose. Came as soon as I got his fly down and took off without so much as thank you ma’am.”
“How callow. Yves was a gentleman.”
“You and Yves?”
“Mais oui, mon cher. No eat and run there.”
“No wonder you are all aglow.”
“Yes, his accent is thicker than it appears.”
David wanted to confess the glow was from seeing Kevin, but couldn’t indulge in schoolgirl emotions. Although he and Mark had been friends for some time, he didn’t understand someone who was gay but didn’t drink. What was a life centered around draughty rooms in community centers?
“I suppose we’ll be seeing spectacular garments of yours in the parade tomorrow?”
As they talked neither paid full attention to the other, but searched the crowd for that someone to unlock the night and maybe the future for them.
Yves exited a taxi on a side street behind the Community Center. Bare-chested in a black leather vest and a kilt with nothing under it, he wasn’t up to public transit.
He had no idea what clan his tartan represented, but the deep reds and greens meant it was a hunter tartan. Fresh polished black boots with green socks completed his look. Cell-phone tucked in the sporran.
The kilt was his one concession to fashion. He avoided anything that might stereotype his sexuality. Leather vests, once something rough and tumble, were now something every gay man had to own. Much like the deck shoes and smart sweater of the past.
It was also an easy nod to drag without the worry of the right wig and heels to match. Bare flesh allowed people to project on to him and not have to read anything from his t-shirt. He wanted people to see him as someone comfortable with his body.
He walked through the park behind the Community Centre to the AIDS memorial. Roses, ribbons or small teddy bears were wedged by various names.
Out of the park, he was in the thick of things. Differing cliques were faced off against each other. Each protected its territorial bar with attitude. There was “Bart’s” the leather bar that barred leather transies as too fem and pretty boys as too pretty. “The Brook” was the preppie bar that didn’t acknowledge anyone not in the right shoes.
“Big E’s,” famous for Miss Ing Thing and her drag shows, drew a cross-section but if you were too old, too obvious, or too extreme you were shunned. “Big E’s” was in a feud with “Papa Wiggie’s” where Tisu Trauma ruled. The feud was more p.r. than real enmity.
“Dream Catcher” was the one lesbian bar on the strip that had managed to last for a few years, despite its strict women only policy.
For a community there were a lot of enemy camps with land mines of taste to explode to leave the uninformed ignored and unaware of why. With so many out in one place, he was surprised at the civility that was maintained.
He stopped at Java Squared for a coffee. He would have gone farther to Tencity, but didn’t want to face any more of the factions without caffeine to gird his spirits.
Outside, he joined Mark and David. He had enjoyed David that afternoon but was tongue-tied now. This was the awkward social stuff that was never taught in school. He couldn’t write a Queer 101 book till he had finished the research.
“Nipples suit you.” Mark pinched Yves’ left nipple. “And what do we have here?” He flipped the kilt. “Oooh, an eyeful and a mouth full too, or so I hear.”
The way Mark directed this last remark at David told Yves that he knew about their encounter. Should he be amused, flattered or annoyed? David and Mark were friends, so it wasn’t out of line for David to talk about him, but Yves was uncomfortable that he had. Worse, Mark joked about it.
It was this sort of confusion that made him shy. How can you trust when you don’t know who or what to trust?
“Mark, shut your mouth, please. If you aren’t embarrassing Yves you are certainly making me blush.”
“David must have been saying good things because my ears weren’t burning.”
“It’s not your ears …”
“Mark, keep this up you’ll be making an amend to both of us.”
“Sorry David. Didn’t know I was stepping on your skirt.” He drew David aside and appeared to make a more sincere apology, then turned to Yves. “Too much coffee. I hope I didn’t say anything that would you know … between you two …”
“Don’t worry.” Yves replied.
“I gotta run. I’m manning the Gays and Lesbians in Recovery table tomorrow afternoon. I want to be fresh faced and cheerful to bug the shit out of these guys.” Mark waved in the direction of the bars. “There’s nothing like being proud without a hangover that makes you wish you were fucking dead at the same time. Bye.”
“Plans for tomorrow?”
“I’m looking after Jake. He’s made his own float for the parade.”
“You march in the parade before?”
“A few times. The first time was an amazing experience. All those people along Yonge street cheering you on. For a moment I was on top of the world and safe in it. You?”
“Not yet. It’s enough to see Robert parading my invention for him and … ” David broke off. “Hey Kevin!”
A young man stopped confused.
“Over here!” David waved.
The confused look lessened. “Uh … Hi.”
“David Walters? We met at Robert’s garden party.”
“Right. I didn’t expect anyone to call my name here.”
“Yves, meet Kevin. Kevin, Yves.”
“Your first pride day?” Yves asked.
“Can you tell?”
“Those eyes tell everyone.” Yves was amused by the eager awe in Kevin’s eyes as they went from one group of men to another. “Like a kid in a candy shop.”
“Wait till you hear him sing. He did some ancient Leslie Gore numbers at Big E’s and made them sound like … like … the emotional high points of Cats.”
“Paul helped.” Kevin blushed. “We ran over them a couple of times at the Inn. I never learned words so fast in my life.”
David gazed at Kevin in the way Yves recognized as a man smitten. Kevin was so full of the newness of gay life around him that he was unaware of any vibe that came from David.
Had he ever felt that way? Had anyone felt that way about him? Both trains of thought depressed him.
“Time to push on.”
“Sorry about Mark.” David kissed Yves quick on the mouth. “Call?”
“Sure.” Yves walked away from something he wanted to understand, but was afraid he’d never get the chance to experience.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License