Of Gay Penguins and Other Uncomfortable Subjects

It’s actually quite empowering to not write anything for a long time.  It’s been exactly a month since I wrote anything here, and the last few posts were, by any standards, “not much.”  Even better, it’s been at least 48 hours since anyone even read my stuff.  Why should they; I never write.  I didn’t feel like writing, have been in a funk, and the winter, well, you know of, or have heard of, this winter in the entire northern U.S.  We had a couple more inches of snow yesterday, April 16th, and an assload of wind.  It’s mostly melted today, thank goodness, and Easter weekend promises to be in the 60s.

It’s fun, too, to think you have nothing to say.  I imagine a woman writer, any creative woman (because I don’t want to gross out the guys and have it be me in this scenario, and it’s more fun for me to think of a lady doing this–sue me) for that matter, deep in the throes of self-loathing, vigorously touching herself, using the self-hatred, the feeling of an absence of the talent she otherwise thinks she has, using it to reach ecstatic heights.  “I suck at life, OH MY GOD I AM SO FUCKING USELESS, I SUCK AT LIFE SO MUCH, OH GOD OH GOD I AM NOTHING, YES, YES, YESSSSS!!!” It’s genuine, surely, for many of us, self-doubt, that is, but also an affectation, at times.  There comes a time when you have to say to yourself, “Do what you do.”  So, here goes again, the twisted world of my blog.

My daughter is supposed to read to her parents for school and then we’re supposed to mark down when she reads at least 15 minutes to us any given day.  We’re terrible about it, her mom (never), her stepdad (mostly never), and me (too infrequently).  I hope she learns to love to read and I think she will one day.  I don’t think she can be forced to too easily.  Her teacher even admitted that my daughter was the most stubborn person she knows.  I say she’s the sweetest, cutest, shyest and stubbornest person I’ve ever met.  Anyway, sometimes, when I’m  already at the library anyway, I’ll pick up a kid’s book for her that I hope might pique her interest.  I usually fail.

A while ago I picked up a “featured” book, as in, it was plunked on one of those book holder things on top of a section in the kid’s book area.  It was called “And Tango Makes Three”, and had a cute drawing of a little family of 2 adult penguins and one baby penguin on the cover.  I looked inside long enough to see that it was about the right difficulty and the right ease for her, checked it out and went home.  Then, a couple days later, I broke out the new book and asked her to read it.  A few pages in, lo and behold, I find out that the two adult penguins, seemingly very much in love, are both males.  I let out a little gasp or whatever, perhaps a bemused chuckle, and she smiled at me and I encouraged her to keep reading.  Now, I consider myself reasonably enough enlightened, and my daughter doesn’t seem to care one way or another or even really think about which adult of any species may be attracted to which adult, but I was thinking to myself: “Really?  They have to make a simple children’s book, mere fluff about a sweet little penguin family really, be some sort of, I don’t know, object lesson, I suppose, about how tolerant everyone should be of ‘alternate’ lifestyles, even, apparently, in the penguin world.”

Of course, after thinking that, I had to go through all the self-recriminations of my thinking, wondering if I’m a raging bigot because I didn’t really feel that I should have to explain to my kid how gayness in the human or animal world is just fine, that they (kids in general) can learn that from tv and school and life, and if I want to help guide her toward tolerance and answer questions about such things I can do it otherwise, not from having her read me a cute little piece of fluff about a nuclear animal family.  I thought maybe there should be a warning label on the cover for us, that says that some readers may find the subject matter controversial.  Turns out, if you google “gay penguins”, that in the true story it was based on, one of the “gay penguins” who adopted the motherless baby penguin later ended up cheating on the other dad with a female penguin.  Thankfully I didn’t have to explain to her about “male whores”, human or animal.

I’m sure there were more touchy subjects when I first thought of this post, and perhaps I’ll remember them later, but the only other one I remember right now is about the “cleaning Nazi” at the local fast food place.  You know the type, the cleaning person who seems to be eyeing you with lowered eyelids, disliking your very presence there (nearly as much as a dumb drunk at a bar who really, really really wants to fight and picked you), impatiently waiting for you to be done so they can immediately clean your area, sometimes even cleaning almost (or even literally) right under your feet.  Thankfully, I rarely see anyone spraying cleaner right under anyone’s noses any more in restaurants, though certainly I’ve witnessed the little cloud of tiny aerated cleaning bubbles drifting onto my food in times past.  This particular lady, bless her heart, looked to be perhaps borderline “special-needs”, not that there’s anything wrong with that, and she often seemed to hover around my daughter and I, as I took my daughter there for a happy meal and a toy before taking her home on the weekends that I’d have her overnight.  The lady seemed a tad surly and never seemed to talk to anyone.

Have I mentioned to you lately that times are a bit tough for me in recent times in the romance department?  Well, you guessed it, after months and months of cleaning too close to me and my little sweetie-pie, the cleaning Nazi suddenly starts “hitting on me” a month or two ago.  I couldn’t, fucking, believe it.  I mean, no way in hell I’m better than her, or worse for that matter, but the heart wants what it wants, everyone likes to look at pretty faces or sparkly jewels or whatever, and I have to think a future (probably fictitious) love-interest is nice enough to look at, not overwhelming pretty, mind you, and reasonably, oh I don’t know, SANE, and hopefully less of (what’s rudely but widely considered to be) a freak than I am.

It’s also sort of like when I and straight friends accuse each other of having gay thoughts or actions with other guys–it’s silly, harmless fun, but sometimes when one gets too little action with the ladies, it wears thin, whereas, if one regularly rounds the bases with the ladies, it’s just another joke.  No harm, no foul.

So, after an “eons-long” dry spell for me, after months and months of her not addressing us in any way, when the different-looking and different-acting cleaning Nazi lady came up and, not once, not twice, but three times tried chatting me up one Saturday, in her odd little tinny high squeaky voice, I was thinking, “Really.  Really?  This is what that little cocksucker Cupid puts in front of me.  Hmph.”  Makes about as much sense as when the 20-year old hottie was smiling at me one Sunday at the grocery store a couple years ago, only at the opposite end of the spectrum from the cleaning lady encounter, I suppose.  I had as much chance of having a meaningful relationship, a meaningful anything, with one as with the other.  Maybe I reminded the grocery shopper of her uncle or something.  Maybe it was the leather jacket.  They say clothes make the man.  I suppose I should have chatted her up.  I’m sure I knew there was no chance.

Back to the more recent unlikely thing, with the cleaning Nazi: as we were driving away from the place, I was fumbling around with trying to tell my daughter (my shy daughter who doesn’t like talking to anyone outside of her small circle, and who has unfortunately learned the art of shunning, separately, from both her biological parents) that I wasn’t shunning the woman because she was different (my daughter couldn’t have cared less if the woman was a supermodel or if she had three arms), that I wasn’t singling out the woman by not talking to her after a polite word or two the first time the woman tried to talk to us, but that I took her (my little one) to restaurants because I wanted to sit and eat with her, not to interact with other people.  She agreed.

Speaking of dating or not dating:  I read a story recently with the headline “Lawyer accused of setting girlfriend on fire at condo.”  What, so that’s no longer cool to do?  So much for my second-date plans with some woman (first date being dinner at a restaurant, I suppose):

1.  Fix her a nice supper of goulash, salad, and a couple glasses of boxed wine.

2.  Set her on fire.

Oh, and I think there maybe should be a “gay penguin” section in the library, not to ostracize the book, but to give unknowing parents the chance to put off touchy subjects till another time.  Thanks for reading.

(And wow, just wow, wordpress, thanks for disappearing all my paragraph breaks when I left the post editor for a bit to check on the accuracy of the penguin book title and other things.  You’re in luck, readers, no videos tonight because I don’t dare leave and come back again–I’d probably come back to random paragraph breaks in mid-sentence.  Plus it’s late and I don’t want to spend the time looking for any “You’re a lying, cheating, two-timing penguin asshole” songs.)

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9 Responses to Of Gay Penguins and Other Uncomfortable Subjects

  1. Gregoryno6 says:

    Did you ever have the Noddy books in the USA? They were around for years – and then back in the 1980s the PC brigade latched on to them. They’ve been cut about and revised heavily since. Racism was one issue, because the golliwogs were shifty critters. There was implied homosexuality too – but these days it seems the real transgression is in the ‘implied’ part. Get it all out in the open!
    I wonder if they’ll reinstate the scenes where Noddy and Big Ears say goodnight in the same bed. They probably should. Just to be fair.

  2. BroadBlogs says:

    Welcome back from your sabbatical. I imagine that reading with your child could be a great bonding experience. You get to read and it can provoke conversations. I don’t have kids so I haven’t done this myself, but I have friends to have, And it’s been great for the relationship.

  3. Anna says:

    I’m back too! Almost. Sort of.

    I always say it, but I’m glad you’re still alive. I feel like we’re holding onto different ends of the same rope from our own locations. Every time my end jiggles slightly I know you’re still there. Even if you’re being harassed by gay penguins.

  4. The Hook says:

    Looks like the time away dud you good!
    By the way, thanks for going easy on me over at my blog…

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