Mums the Word

If You Hate Gays, You Better Hate Cheeseburgers

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I’m moving in with the first man who ever kissed me.

Apartment-hunting here is a ghastly experience. The realtors are especially sharky, charging a huge cut and human-trafficking you from dump to dump until you give up and sign something, anything. Few details matter in the NYC apartment hunt. I can count a definitive two: Is it cheap? Are there bed bugs? If the answer is yes, followed by no, then it’s a miracle.

Three months ago my current roommate asked me to take a permanent hike on account of he wants his girlfriend to move in. I countered that perhaps he should be the one to leave, maybe join an Alaskan fishing company or take up migrant farming. Alas, my size advantage and intellectual superiority are trumped every time by his lease rights. If ever there was an event that would precipitate me giving up on New York City, this was it. I was fully resigned to going back to Seattle, all beat up and defeated, no throne, no belt of scalps, no trophy to brandish for the locals. Instead we all bought a giant fake fish.

It’s true, we did. The first warm day of spring happened to fall on Donnelly’s birthday, and we were throwing him a party. Sean. Donnelly is the kind of guy who buys all the crap he needs and wants for himself anyway, so if you get him a present, it has to be outside the box, carved out of wood, shaped like a swordfish, and mounted above the fireplace. The trouble with purchasing a gag gift is trying to hide your disdain for the saleswoman who holds sincere feelings of sentimentality and appreciation for the tacky monstrosity in her possession. We were a large pack of 30-something artists, half drunk from brunch, piling $10 bills on the counter and asking, “How much for the tuna?”

This woman’s wounded face betrayed her - she knew the fate of her pet. Nemo or Wanda or whatever this beast’s name was, he wasn’t going to a loving home or a kitschy seafood restaurant where he belonged. He was going to serve his time in hell as a fantastical symbol of glorious hipster irony. Imagine the conversation piece he would become.

“Nice fish.”
“Hey, thanks!”
“Goddamn, you are interesting.“
“Yes, I am.”

The fish party was fantastic. Strange Greek sausages grilled slowly over the coals. Someone passed around a bag of ribs-flavored potato chips. There was beer and margaritas, and salad for no reason, and a man mowing the grass behind the adjacent apartment building. The birthday boy, prescient of the mortality of my residence, turned to me and asked, “Hey man, know why that guy is cutting the lawn? He’s about to rent out the apartment behind all that grass. You should go live there.”

I grabbed Bruner, and we checked it out. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Very clean, definitely no bugs, brand-new bathroom and kitchen, lots of lighting, and a sure-as-shit back yard. In a city choked with concrete, we would have our own patch of grass. We could start a garden, co-parent some peonies, install an above-ground plastic kiddie pool, forge a future within the fiery womb of cohabitation.

Bruner is a good dude, fiercely loyal, sensitive and passionate. He’s no coward. Bruner steps up and does the right thing for a friend in need. Two or three months before the fish party, I was having a bad day. Cratering, I trudged to the local watering hole. They call it Sparrow Tavern, but we call it The Bird. I was chasing good beer after bad, exacerbating my mood with liquid depressant. Worse yet, I got the hiccups. Aside from being socially annoying, for me hiccups have the tendency to precede projectile vomit. I needed a cure, ASAP.

The Sparrow bartender is a bit of a witch doctor. An ace mixologist, Mr. Freeland has a tender manner with even the most brutish of customers, and multi-tasking comes as naturally to him as breathing or digestion. “Parky, I have the solution. But it will only work one time, and I can’t give it to you.” I told him the fuck he couldn’t. He shook his head and kept drying the glass in his hand. My hiccups persisted, and so did I.

“Fuck you, Free; fix what ails me, you son of a bitch!” Free’s cold eyes read, “Mentula conatur Pipleium scandere montem, another mortal found my doorbell.” He leaned across the wood top and whispered to Bruner, who laughed. “What is going *hiccup* on?” I shouted. “What are you two *hic* talking about?” Bruner shook his head. Denied. Consensus was taken, and I was left to suffer. I sat in a rage, grinding my teeth, tearing my beverage napkin, hiccuping miserably on my stool, looking for faces to punch, choking back tears and vomit. I was in physical pain; why wouldn’t anybody help me? “Cure me, you assholes!”

“All right, Parky. I’ll cure you.” Bruner downed his whiskey, pushed off from the bar, and stepped brazenly into my personal space. When I opened my mouth to protest he kissed me full on, hard as he could. The old element-of-surprise trick.I tried to pull away, but his hands were clamped around the back of my skull in the unrelenting vice grip of tough love. Resistance was both futile and unnecessary, so I squeezed my eyes shut and took my medicine like an adult. Though his tongue stayed in his own mouth, his beard scraped against mine. The kiss lasted maybe fifteen seconds, but it left a permanent mark. And my hiccups were gone, without a trace, perhaps forever.

It felt something a bit shy of disgusting. Bruner is fairly pretty for a man, but he has facial hair and big hands and he smells like a car fire. There’s not much there that I find sexually relevant, but it didn’t feel especially “wrong” or “evil.” Supposedly this sort of thing is an abomination in the eyes of God, you’d think there’d be a jet of hell fire, or a screaming demon to contend with, at the very least a bouquet of sulphur steaming up from the vents in the floor.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Bring it, bitch. You are the craziest of 40 dead-guy co-authors of the Bible and the only one getting specific about this, channeling the will of God into a statement of eternal bigotry. Are you sure you heard him right? This is important, it affects the species. If you are right, we’ve got a lot of undoing to get done. First off, it’s gallows for Ellen, Elton, at least one of those Jonas virgins, and we have to make sure the ghost of Dumbledore is in hell. If you are wrong, well, we’ve got a problem, because an awful lot of gay folks and their friends out there would prefer they be treated like human beings with dignity and respect.

We can start by letting them get married. I understand a plurality of North Carolinians don’t think I should marry Mister Bruner. I’m with them, I don’t want to marry him either. Some day I’ll marry a pretty girl with soft skin and weak ankles, but it pisses me off that a bunch of hick voters say that I can’t. I’m so sick of this homophobic group-think shit. What’s the fucking problem exactly? Gay marriage isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something that happens for someone else. It’s entirely avoidable if you don’t want it. “The Bible says it’s bad!” say thousands who never read. Anti-gay references in the Bible are vague and rare, and none fall under the Commandments category: the only clear list of do’s and don’ts in the book.

The trouble with using an ancient text transcribed and translated several dozen times over is that you end up with an even gayer orgy of scrambled-up ideas and irrelevant, contradictory bullshit that doesn’t work for most folks. If we write every passage in Leviticus into law, there would be no bacon cheeseburgers, or cheeseburgers at all for that matter - ain’t kosher - and it would be perfectly acceptable and vigorously encouraged to trade and own human beings. The Bible has a lot of pretty passages about how the Earth came to be, and who begat whom back in the day, and there are a couple “Love thine enemy” passages that ought to be followed by all of us, but as a comprehensive Existence Rulebook, it’s a lousy piece of shit.

What an inglorious mess, all of these registered voters cherry-picking a passage from the Bible as the leveraging agent for their knee-jerk reaction to man-on-man matrimony. It doesn’t make one damn bit of sense. If you hate The Gays, you’d better hate The Cheeseburgers because there’s way more Biblical God-speak about keeping milk off meat than there is about keeping man-meat off man-meat.

Our aggregate decisions matter, despite what the good book says or doesn’t say. In 1883 a perfectly human black dude was trying to play professional baseball - he was a catcher named Moses - and some dingleberry asshole named Cap Anson yelled, “Get that nigger off the field!” and other such crap until we made a national mistake for the next 70 years: boring, uninspired baseball played solely by white people. Can you imagine? Now let’s all sit down, talk to each other like adults, and consider learning from our mistakes before history soon tells us how much of an asshole we were being right now.

So we got the apartment. It’s been a weird week. I got dumped - by a woman - and the weather report calls for warm temperatures with 100% chance of calamitous change. I somehow have to fill half of an apartment. There’s a furniture void; we fall far short of even Spartan-status living. Priority number one is going to be the yard. We need outdoor seats, some kind of flooring to stave off the mud, citronella candles, oil lanterns and a grill. The yard - our garden - shall be the newest iteration of Rome, the capital rotunda at the epicenter of Western thought. This is our olive tree, where we’ll cross our own Rubicon and declare yet another list of mandatory amendments to the Self-Evident Rights of All Mankind. Once we’ve done that and propped up half a dozen tiki torches, then we’ll get around to calling the electric company and throwing down a rug or two.


Linzy said...

Dude. I just read about three of these things. You're fucking hilarious. Just keep pitching this shit into the void- I mean that with utmost sincerity. Maybe it won't land anywhere. But you just made a comparatively-backwoods Vermonter nearly spit their tea out with honest-to-god laughter. And you're not just funny, you're right. At least in my opinion. How your stuff found me I have no idea. The internet is weird beast. But, anyway. Best of luck, man. The void says "hi."

James Parkinson said...

Hi Linzy! Thanks for the kind words! You would be happy to know that Half Dollar Rebel has been published as a book and you can purchase it on, and if you are ever in New York, I'd love to sign it for you!

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