“So, we have a question for you.”
“Do you know what a fag hag is?”
I cock my head and squint at my brother and his friends. We had just met again after many many years, re-connecting under the fated raison d’etre: our father. His death had not only created a reason for us to find each other again, but had also created this vacuum of mystery: lists of ‘things we don’t discuss’ and ‘things I secretly resent you for’ were being developed. It was nearly 2011. We were entering our 2nd hour of the New Year's Eve Masked Ball at one of the swankiest gay bars in Seattle. I understood, and yet didn’t understand the question.
“Well…yeah. I guess.”
“Are you one?”
“Am I what?”
“Are you a fag hag?”
I kept repeating myself, because it sounded like he was dissing on his own people, ‘people’ being me.
“Robert, ahm, did you just call yourself a fag?” Laugh out loud, “I mean, I am your sister – and I’m hanging out with you – does that make me a fag hag? I guess I don’t understand why you’re asking.”
Now, Robert didn’t look like a fag, per se, he was this huge six-foot-two, handsome bear of a man. Neither did his boyfriend, Charles, who smiled his famous chubby “Mona Lisa Smile” at me and sat down beside him. He was decked out in this HUGE cookie monster t-shirt, that made me want to just hug him to death, he was so cute. Robert’s other two friends were less endearing, far more catty and cynical; Larry, a music attorney, and Miles, his “wife,” had also “leaned in” to hear the conversation better. People were practically shouting; the music was annoyingly loud, then add a blonde-haired, Masked Twinkle Toes flitting around and bumping into everyone, and I was starting to get irritated. Even with the couple of drinks I’d already had.
“Well, see that girl over there?” We all look at the plumpish party girl he was pointing at.
“She hangs out with Bernard – who’s gay.”
“Ah – okay….,” shaking my head, “go on.”
“Well, she hangs out because sometimes he’ll get drunk enough to bone her.”
“Ah, well – that doesn’t say much for either of them, does it?” I smiled. “So, you are asking me if I hang out with gay guys as a matter of course, sexual intercourse?”
I laughed at my own joke, whilst everyone else remained deadly serious.
“Yes. I mean, does that turn you on, is that what you’re into?”
I still didn’t understand why he was asking, but I tried to answer best I could.
“No, I don’t necessarily ‘go after’ gay men. I like to hang around gay guys when I want to go out and drink, because I assume they’re safer than the straight dickheads that I seem to be attracting of late. Does that answer your question?”
Robert nodded and sucked on his swizzle straw. Everyone turned away silently. Curious, I thought, but shrugged it off and went to the restroom. As I reached for my purse, Miles made a point to say: “oh no worries girl,” he would watch my stuff.
When I got back, my stuff was gone. Of course.
“Oh no! I’m SO SORRY.” Miles exclaimed.
“Dude, I had all my credit cards in there, and MY LICENSE.” I panicked, because I was supposed to fly back home the next day.
I grabbed my phone and tried to make a call, but because it was too noisy in the main room, I meandered toward the back. I had just gotten a connection, when a couple of half-dressed bar staff turned the corner.
“Ah, you can’t be here, it’s against establishment policy.”
“Oh, okay – is there a place where I can go, my purse was just stolen --- Oh, hi, yes, can you hold just a moment ---“
“That’s too bad, but you still can’t stay here.”
So I moved further out of the way, closer to where people were, but still where I might be able to hear.
“Yes, hello, I need to report my bank card stolen.”
“Ah, ma’am, we already told you, you can’t be back here.”
“Look, I just need to make this call, and then I will move. Can I talk to your manager about this?”
They look at each other and one of them proclaims, “Welp, that’s three strikes, you’re outta here, lady.”
I grasp my phone as the each of them grab one of my arms and begin moving through the back of the bar. I trip and stumble to the ground and sit, and two more guys come and literally pick me up and THROW me out the back door. On the way out, I smash my knee against the door jam, dislocating the knee.
It’s icy outside, so when I land – of course I land on my injured leg, and slide, into a crumpled mess in the back alley.
The bar staff go back in and shut the door.
I sat there crying, not able to move – texting my brother to come get me, when another bloke peeks out the back door and TAKES A FUCKING PICTURE.
Of me. In a heap. Crying. In the alley.
I guess there’s a first for everything.
I had never gotten thrown out of a bar before.
When my brother finally comes to get me, he does his best to feign concern. But it’s that moment that I realize that I’m mixed up in something that’s absolutely bigger than me. And to not trust bears.
Well, not confused bears, at least.
The next morning I woke up thinking that New Year’s Eve debacle was just a bad dream, and then I tried to stand. Nope.
I opened my laptop as I lay on the couch, waiting for everyone to get up. Facebook has been a shitstorm lately, I thought. The posts were divisive and taunting. No doubt because of another election coming up, but certainly, the caustic and threatening postings seemed to be, I couldn’t be sure, but “personalized” somehow.
I tried to be as friendly as possible to my brother and his roommates, but basically, all I wanted to do was get packed and get the hell out of there. But first, I needed to figure out how to get home with no identification. After that, I would have one main objective: figure out why I felt picked on – was it just me, or was there a reason for all of this? What was it that I was doing? If I could figure that out, then, perhaps this pain would go away. This feeling of persecution and bewilderment. This feeling of guilt for no reason. This feeling of being unloved, and unwanted was…
Interrupted when my brother’s cat, Bruno, came up to sit on my laptop – while I was typing of course. I love cats. They seem to just “be.” They wander silently, always ‘in the moment’, without the hindrance of a past or the worry of a future. I should be more like one. A cat. A ninja cat. Maybe I would get more answers.
It was in that moment of clarity that I realized I kept my passport in my laptop case.
Just. In. Case.
Immediate jubilance. Like a cat.
It’s the little things.