straight but not the straight man
Sunday, January 9 2005
When I walked the dogs this morning, whatever had finally fallen on the snow had frozen into a thick, hard crust, one so tough that it could support my weight without my breaking through. To leave footprints I had to stomp with each step. The dogs loved it; for them it was as if someone had poured a layer of concrete over everything, forming a smooth consistent surface suitable for running around like crazy upon. You know how dogs can be. Sometimes Sally would scratch the crust and dislodge a few granules and then she'd flop down on them and roll back and forth with the manic look of a rabid wolf in her eyes.
Later, as I was tooling around in my truck, I noticed a fat tick embedded in Sally's ear. I had no idea ticks could be active at this time of year, but then again, this has been an unusually warm winter so far.
This evening Gretchen came home from her birthday celebrations and reported that she and her friends had been up on stage with the Sugar Hill Gang, the seminal rap band who brought us "Rapper's Delight" in the late 1970s. From the story Gretchen told, she had personally got the entire sit-down audience out of their seats and dancing in a manner not unlike that of the Pied Piper.
In the mail waiting for Gretchen when she returned home was a letter from the prestigious journal Prarie Schooner accepting two of her poems for publication. It was the first acceptance in a long time and she was euphoric about it. We decided to celebrate with a dinner of tempeh reubens at the Rosendale Café, where we were joined by our friends from Tillson.
Before dinner, though, I installed the new thermal mass warmer in the teevee room while Gretchen tried to watch episodes of Queer as Folk on DVD. At one point the hiss of my MAP gas torch was so loud she had to get up and sit directly in front of the screen, like Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist. Upon learning that, for example, I don't get turned on by scenes of hot man on man action, Gretchen is likely to observe how "straight" I am. She did so yet again over dinner tonight in Rosendale. When she used the term "straight," it referred only to sexual preference. In all other respects, I'm rarely accused of (or lauded for) being straight.
At some point in tonight's dinner, during a discussion of Queer as Folk, Ms. Tillson mentioned a line from the series, one that had appeared in both the British and American versions. It was made by a gay character making an observation about a conversation among straight people: "People are talking, but there aren't any punch lines!" Everyone at our table is currently in a heterosexual relationship, but no one overhearing us could make the claim that our conversation was devoid of punchlines. Comedically, none of us play the straight man, and sometimes minutes will pass before something is said that isn't a punch line.
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