He’s vegan, elderly and ailing with a stack of bibles on the table. She’s young, queer and proud and wants to put her underwear in his refrigerator. Then there’s the gay painter…
Recently, something happened to remind me that one, subtle discrimination against queers does exist, and two, I should steer clear of guys with one-syllable names who casually refer to themselves in conversation as ‘the Apostle Paul.’
I spotted a ‘house-sitter wanted’ ad and called Frank, the owner, who told me he needed someone to, in exchange for rent, water the plants and clean the pool. The pool? If he has a pool, I thought, he probably has other luxury items like a refrigerator and a stove, maybe even a couch with cushions. (I’d been living a rather rustic life up until then.) I was excited.
When I met with Frank to discuss the details, I couldn’t help but notice not one, but three separate Bibles on the coffee table, which was covered in Christian pamphlets with titles like ‘How to Spread the Word to Non-Believers’ and ‘Get Off the Hell Train.’ I was slightly spooked, as fanatical Christians and gays haven’t historically seen eye to eye, but I figured I should check him out. We talked and discovered we’re both vegans, though I’m vegan for animal rights reasons and he’s vegan because he’s had two heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery, but hey, love of soy is love of soy.
After our initial visit, he called me to come back again so we could finalize my moving date. I was already fantasizing about what I could chill in the refrigerator. Cold juice, yum. Soy milk. Ice pops. Bread. Cereal. Books. Underwear. I awaited a world of chilly fresh items and days spent lounging in the pool.
‘One more thing,’ Frank added as I was leaving. ‘There’s a guy coming to paint the house while you’ll be here. I should tell you he’s gay. Is that a problem for you?’ I was slightly shocked to hear Frank utter the word gay without then adding ‘shall burn in the eternal hellfire.’
‘Not at all,’ I replied. I think it was the way he whispered the word ‘gay’ in that low tone people use when they think they’re okay with it and really aren’t that bothered me. You’ve heard them, the people who mention homosexuality as though it’s an impolite little problem, like a lazy eye or an unsightly growth. The next smart-ass remark flew out of my mouth before I could stop it. ‘Actually I’m gay, too, so that works out well. Me and the painter can probably hang out and be gay together.’ Frank’s mouth fell so far open, I actually heard his jaw disconnect. He had to snap it back in place before he could continue speaking.
‘Well, okay. Okay. Well. Well then, that’s not, not a, a problem for me. I mean, I don’t really care one, uh one, way or the other.’ His sudden stutter didn’t sound convincing. ‘You won’t be bringing any boyfriends here?’ He asked, just starting to grasp the implications. I could see a dim light in his brain blink on and off as he weighed the advantages against the disadvantages of having a ‘homosexual lady,’ as he put it, watch his house. On the one hand, there’d be no strange boys in the house and he could rule out me running off to shack up with a suitor. On the other, who knew what kind of Satan-worshipping, lesbo voodoo and finding-your-inner-wolf-spirit drumming circles his house would contain. He had a far away expression on his face, by which I could tell he was wondering if lesbians really have sex, and if so, what exactly that means.