Tuesday, October 7, 2008

There's nothing more boring than watching politicians talk, so when I got invited to a viewing party for the Vice Presidential debate last Thursday I jumped at the chance. I even got there early, but the club was already jammed. Along the left side were big-screen TVs, and along the right were VIP booths where sheer drapery protected the stars from the hoi polloi. Tonight, though, the advertised stars -- Laurie Anderson, Alan Cumming, et al. -- must have been hiding elsewhere, because only the last booth was occupied. Every square foot of floor space was claimed by WASPish, 20-something gay men who chattered about their iPhones and their clothes. I set up camp right outside, the only place in the building offering unoccupied wall space to lean against.

About ten minutes into the debate, one of these guys rushed out to the real world to greet two late arrivals. "Ohmigod!" John squealed, pogoing excitedly. (I'm using his real name, because he deserves far worse than this.) "I can't believe you're here!"

The three old pals reminisced about their college years, then segued into heavy personal talk. "I'm single as of two months ago," John announced. "We were together two years. I still can't believe I dated a guy like that."

Now, John had one of those voices that carries far further than normal sound, like chalk on a blackboard or a coyote's howl. Every time he opened his mouth, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Sarah or Joe would get a word or two out, then John would steamroller them flat. Still, I wasn't going to interrupt. I'm hypersensitive, and it's a slippery slope. Everybody annoys me, whether they're chattering in the supermarket or whispering in an art museum, and if I criticized all of them I wouldn't live to see grey chest hair.

From a quick autopsy on his relationship, John segued into what he liked in men. What he needed in men. What men had to offer that women didn't. What women had to offer that men didn't. What he could offer, what New York could offer, what internet porn, Manhunt and vodka could offer. At a volume that rivalled jet airplanes.

Eventually one of his friends in the VIP booth spoke up. "SHUT UP, JOHN!" he yelled, and John collapsed like a cold souffle. "Ohmigod," John gushed to the two new arrivals, "was I really that loud? I can't believe I was talking that loud. Could everybody hear me? Was I really that annoying? Ohmigod. I can't believe it."

I listened in disbelief as John followed this tangent for a good ten minutes, and then went back to talking about men. Finally somebody grabbed his shoulder and shook it. "Would you PLEASE . . . SHUT . . . THE . . . FUCK . . . UP?" the man implored.

John stared at him in shock. "Ohmigod," he stuttered. "Am I still talking too loud? That is unbelievable. Am I incapable of turning myself down? I absolutely can't believe this."

In the face of this force of nature, everybody caved. We listened to eight words from Joe and Sarah, eighty thousand from a self-possessed, oblivious gay. Finally somebody threw a baby at Sarah and we all hit the road. At the door, the organizers tried to convince people to sign up for bus rides to various swing states. We'd go from house to house, talking to people about the election and persuading them to our side.

Oh, great, I thought. Yeah, that'll sway them -- the opinions of young, overprivileged gays. We know what's best, so of course they'd listen to us. I mean, I'd listen if Cletus and his dog Shep turned up on my doorstep. The earnestness would show on his face as he announced, "Ah brang you good news about Sarah Palin, America's Princess!" and I'd thoughtfully weigh every word. I'd think, Isn't it considerate of those Southerners to think I'm not smart enough to make an informed decision? and then I'd invite him and the dog in for Pepperidge Farm crackers and Earl Grey.

Still, I hope John volunteers. If nothing else, he'll have the determination our side needs. I'm picturing him trying to convert some poor, uninformed Southern soul. "I can't believe I'm still standing on your porch after you said you were going to call the police," he'll say. "But I'm still here! Is that crazy? I'm still here."


Yet Another Steve said...

I'm so glad to hear that John is in New York. I never knew his name, but he used to be here in California, going to all the movies I attended. At last I can go to the flicks again! Unless his sister Rhonda is still here with her damn cell phone (which at her volume she doesn't even need).

Maybe I'll just start taking a slingshot to the movies. Hey, it's portable, quiet and accurate.

R J Keefe said...

Yet another use for duct tape.