Almost a month ago, I was sentenced to twenty-four hours of community service for charges that don’t bear re-hashing. I was forced to write a letter of apology to the Catoctin Petting Zoo, and fined three hundred dollars. There is also a civil suit pending, plaintiff listed as ‘Eddies Leather Fantasies, LLC’, in relation to the same case.
Being the procrastinator that I am, the deadline was almost upon me for the community service thing. I had to do something soon, or Judge McCallum would throw me back in the clink. Jail’s not that bad, but thirty days playing Spades and eating Little Debbie Strawberry Cupcakes conflicts with some other stuff I have going on, ( there’s a sheep museum opening in Gettysburg) so I had to get on this.
I brainstormed for a while on what I could do. Going back to the petting zoo was out, part of the ruling speculated some cute shit like I couldn’t go within five miles of the place. I thought of the Humane Society, or the local soup kitchen, but those animals and drunks weren’t really going anywhere, were they? If I was going to spend twenty-four hours doing something, I wanted it to be something that made a difference, something that mattered.
That’s when I discovered Michele Bachmann. I was on the internet, looking up something completely unrelated to petting zoos, and caught a news headline about her. If you don’t know who she is, I’ll tell you. She’s a United States Congress Woman from Minnesota , who is also running for President and who claims that gay people can be cured. She also has some really neat views on slavery, but I won’t go into them here. I barely had time to read them anyway. I was so enthused, so charged up about this whole ‘curing gays’ thing that I could think of little else. Yes. This. This is what I would do.
I felt like I looked like this at that moment. Although I probably didn’t. I was on my couch in a bathrobe trying to clean up the Lucky Charms I spilled when I stood up before the dog could get to it.
I found the number online for Michelle’s campaign center and called it. A chipper male voice answered.
“Hello, thank you for calling the Bachmann election headquarters. We are most assuredly not racist homophobes.”
“Hello? Yes, I’d like to pledge some time to the cause.”
“That’s great to hear! America needs a strong leader right now, and Michelle Bachmann is this country’s best choice! What would you be interested in doing to help her become president and better this great land?”
“What? Shit, nothing. I’m not interested in her getting elected. This curing gays thing, though. Yes. Hell to the yes.”
“Sir, that really isn’t the focus of Congresswoman Bachman’s campaign. I think if you would like to help-“
“Cut the shit man, listen. I’ve got to do twenty-four hours of community service. If I send you the paperwork, and cure a gay dude in twenty-fours hours, will you sign it?”
“I’m not sure…”
“If I can make a gay guy straight in twenty-four hours, will you sign it!?”
His voice dropped to an almost conspiratorial whisper. “Absolutely.”
“It is ON!” I screamed. I hung up the phone and shouted, “Let’s Bachmann some shit up!” My dog looked at me disapprovingly.
So, now I needed a gay guy. I also needed a car. I haven’t had the money to get my Scion XB out of impound since it was towed from the petting zoo. I called up my pal Joey, who owned what is probably one of the most heterosexual cars on the planet, a 1978 Trans-Am.
He agreed to lend me his car, because he doesn’t know me all that well. I went to the mall.
It didn’t take long. I spotted an effeminate boy with makeup on, hanging out with like-dressed parties outside of the Auntie Ann’s pretzel joint. I approached him.
“Excuse me, are you gay?” I asked, trying to sound forceful, but not too intimidating.
“Uh..what?” he answered.
“I asked if you were gay.” I said, and gestured to him.
“Uh…no? I don’t think so.”
“Then why?” I asked, gesturing to him again, trying to get him to fess up.
“I just like a certain genre of music. The way I dress doesn’t have anything to do with my sexuality. What the fuck is wr-“
I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned around. Standing there was a man, about six-two, wearing a tight t-shirt, workout pants, and sneakers.
“Is there a problem?” he asked.
“I’m looking for a gay.” I said.
“Yes. I’m looking for a gay. I’ve taken on a community service project for some very important people and I need to find a gay to cure in twenty-four hours.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. My immediate future depends on it.”
“I’m gay.” he said.
“No, seriously. I need a gay man. So bad. Right now.”
“I’m gay” he said emphatically. “I like men. Sexually.”
“Are you sure? You don’t really look like the type.”
“Yeah. You know, effeminate, flamboyant… whimsical? Are you sure you’re gay?”
“I’m pretty sure.” he said. “Let me ask you, how would you attempt to ‘cure’ me?”
I had to stop there, because I realized that I didn’t really know. I had been so excited with the concept of curing homosexuality, that I hadn’t really considered the process. I improvised.
“Ah, well, with shit. You know, manly-type shit. Doing man things and all.”
“Fuck yeah!” I said, a little too enthusiastically. Other mall patrons were staring at me now. I lowered my voice. “Look, I could help you, I know I could. Give me a day. Hell, I’ll even kick in some Barbra Streisand CD’s.”
“What makes you think I like Barbara Streisand?” he asked.
“You don’t…? Listen, are you sure you’re gay? You’re kind of confusing me.”
“I’m sure it’s not the first time that’s happened.” he said. “Look, I’ll help you. This has the opportunity to be hilarious. When do we start?”
“Now.” I said, in my best ‘serious’ voice. Then I changed gears. “Let’s Bachmann some shit up!” This time, it was more than just my dog.
Outside, near the car:
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Jeff.” he said.
“Geoff?” I asked, “Like with a ‘G’?”
“Why would it be with a ‘G’? I’m not British.”
“Whatever, Jeff. Have you ever seen a more manly automobile? Seriously, it’s like a dick with wheels.”
“And you think that makes it manly?”
“Shit, we play some Kiss in the stereo, you’ll be thinking about vagina before you know it.”
“I’m not getting in that. I’ll follow you in my car.”
“Baby steps, Jeff, baby steps.”
The Cure, Step One
A Trinity Of Manly Shit
Part One: Firearms
On my way back to my place, I called my buddy George. George had guns, lots of them. I’m not legally allowed to own guns because I’m way too awesome to conform to The Man. And apparently felony public exposure charges are a thing that actually exist. He answered on the third ring.
“George, I need guns, right now.”
“Oh hell no.”
“It’s not what you think. I’m trying to teach this gay guy to be straight. I’m going to cure him.”
“No, I’m going to challenge him to a gun-off.”
“You mean like a duel?”
“No, we’re not shooting each other. Like, targets and shit.”
“You mean a shooting competition.”
“Oh good lord. Fine. I’ll bring two. Out back of your place?”
“Yes sir!” I said. “I’ll make sure you get them back.”
“Are you crazy? I’m not letting you out of my sight.” he said, and hung up.
Ten minutes later, George met Jeff and I in the field behind my house. He brought two guns. They were very…gunny? I don’t know. They looked like this:
Being the straight guy, I took the larger one with the longer barrel. There are probably some weird connotations there, but whatever. The point is, I didn’t want Jeff to be at any kind of disadvantage.
“You sure you want me to take the .38?” he asked.
“That’s cute.” I said. “Acting like you know guns.”
George set up two targets. The competition had begun.
“You see, Jeff. The gun is an extension of yourself. You’ve got to be one with the gun. Act like the gun is your penis. The target, obviously, is a vagina.“
“If you say so.”
I gripped the gun in my right hand and pointed at the target. I fired all six shots as fast as I could. By the time I was done, the gun was pointing straight up in the air, and my palm and wrist hurt like it had been hit with a hammer. My target looked like this:
“I feel sorry for anyone who owns a vagina.” Jeff said. Then, “Actually, it’s probably the safest place on earth.”
He stepped to the line, took the gun in both hands and shot unhurriedly at his target.
“I was thrown off.” I said. “The automatic was on too high.”
“These are revolvers.” Jeff said.
“Where did you learn about guns?” I asked.
“I grew up on a farm. My father taught me how to shoot.”
“Your father that won’t even speak to you anymore?” I asked.
“My father and I are actually very close.”
“Ringer!” I screamed. “Ringer!”
But all that didn’t matter. Because up next, was,
Part Two: Sports, Specifically Football
Football is a game of man’s men. That is no bullshit. It takes serious testicular fortitude you risk your body and grey matter running at huge dudes in an attempt to control the position of a ball on a field. This was a game of warriors. I had him on this shit, for sure.
“Call your people.” I said. “I’ll call mine.”
“Yeah. Some gay friends. Is that what you call them? Gay? Or do you do like the brothas do and call each other the ‘F’ word and just drop the ‘T’ off the end?”
“You know, like ‘faggo’.” I said. It wound up sounding very French.
“No one says that, and neither should you.”
“Fine. But call three friends, so we can get this done.”
“Sure.” he said, and got on his phone.
Man, this was going to be a massacre. I called three of my biggest, burliest friends. ‘Big’ Nate, John ‘Pieces’ Reece, and ‘Little’ John Smith. It was on like Donkey Kong.
My boys showed up. At least 250lb., each. Not all muscle, but big. It was all about moving people around. Jeff’s friends showed up, all kind of looking like him, polished gym rats that wouldn’t know what a gridiron was if you dropped it on them. I called quarterback. Jeff, for some reason, called center for his team.
“What do you think the Redskins chances are this year?” he asked. “McNabb is kind of getting up there.”
“I don’t…I don’t really watch sports.” I said.
We had the ball. Big Nate hiked the ball to me. The plan was for ‘Pieces’ to barrel through and go long for the pass. Something went wrong.
Jeff seemed to glide around Nate and his arm came up before I could release the ball. Then I was…
Waking up on the ground.
“Damn dude, are you alright?” Nate asked, hovering over me like some kind of discount cherub. “I think you might have pissed yourself.”
He may have been right. It was beside the point.
“Fuck.” I said.
“Yeah.” said ‘Little’ John. “But these guys have some awesome beer.” he held up a bottle I had never seen before. “It tastes just like peaches!”
“Fuck you guys.” I said, then walked inside to change.
But all this was irrelevant, because I was going to cure Jeff yet. The next challenge was:
Part Three: Serious Automotive Shit
“Fuck the nonsense, Jeff. We’re going to fix this car.” I said, pointing at the Trans-Am.
“Is there something wrong with it?” he asked. “Besides the obvious?”
“There’s always room for improvements, Jeff.” I said. “We’re going to rebuild the engine. Do you know about cars?”
“No, not like that. Do you?”
“Uh…I mean, all red blooded American males know about stuff like this. It’s instinctive.”
“Really?” he asked. “So what’s entailed with rebuilding an engine?”
“Um, well, you’ve got to change the rings, the pistons, the headers, the doodleflangers. You know.”
“Yeah. I hear ya.”
“Right. I’ll go get my hammer and my wrench. Watch how a man works.”
“I’ll be sure to.”
Six Hours Later
“It kind of looks like you’ve got some parts left over.” Jeff said.
“They’re not important.”
“They sure look important.”
The Cure, Step Two
Part One: The Gay Club
“Partying was invented by straight people.” I said, holding an ice pack to my head. My skull still ached from where Jeff had hit me when playing football. “I mean, look at frats. Look at Van Halen concerts. They are monuments to excess and pussy. Hedonism writ large. Nothing you have has that beat. We’ll go to your bar or club first, then one of mine, deal?”
“Whatever you say.”
“That’s the attitude. Now, where are we going?”
“You ever heard of The Lodge?”
“The gay club?”
“Are they going to look at my ass?”
“No one is going to spend too long looking at your ass, I promise.”
“It’s not that great.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, don’t you look at girl’s asses?”
“Yes…but. What? Mine’s not that great?
“I’m just saying.”
“Shit. Fine. Let’s go.”
We had to take Jeff’s BMW, because the Trans-Am wouldn’t start for some reason. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with it. Joey would have to sort that shit out.
We arrive at The Lodge a little after 11:00. The parking lot is full, but the place looks like an old cabin or something, like something Lincoln would have built, if Lincoln had been gay, instead of a vampire hunter.
“Oh jeez,” I said, “see, I knew I was going to get raped.”
“What?” asked Jeff.
“Look at this place. It’s a rape cabin. Like a big homo rape castle.”
Jeff shook his head, then looked thoughtful. “I wonder if you could open a club named ‘The Rape Castle’?” He shook his head. “Maybe in New York, or San Fran. Wouldn’t work here.”
He started walking towards the club. He made it about halfway before he realized I wasn’t following him.
“What the hell?” he asked, “You’re not coming?”
“I’m…I’m good right here I think. I mean, I can kind of gauge the vibe from out here. There’s no real need to get any closer.”
“Ah, hypocrisy and fear. I wouldn’t have expected that from you.”
“No. Look, we made a deal. You go to mine, I’ll go to yours. Come on.”
“You are really in love with the idea of getting raped, aren’t you?”
“Then come on.”
The place was, I admit, much nicer inside. There were two bars, a large dance floor and an outdoor smoking area out back that was actually quite lovely. Some of the patrons were what I expected, flamboyant colorful types, dancing around, or talking to people, but most of them looked normal for the most part. The music was what I heard coming out of most car stereos. I don’t listen to that stuff, but I understand why clubs play it. I’m into post-prog-hardcore-bluegrass. I looked around suspiciously.
“What’s wrong now?” Jeff asked.
“I thought that there would be more…”
“Yeah, you know, mincing about. Frolicking.”
“Jesus. Get a drink.”
I did my best mince over to the bar.
“You okay?” The bartender asked. She was a pretty 20-something with a cute diamond nose ring.
“Just trying to fit in.” I said. “I need a drink.”
“Okay, what would you like?”
“What do most people drink here? I need the opposite of that. Because I’m straight.”
“Most people drink what they want.”
“Well, I need a man’s drink.”
“Oh good lord, no. I can’t drink that stuff. Give me a Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss.”
“And, just curious, are you a lesbian?”
“I’m a communications major.”
Jeff ordered a beer, a Sam Adams. I thought I might be getting somewhere.
We stayed for three hours. By the time we left, I had drank eight Berry Wiess’ and had danced for five songs. No one touched my ass. The place was actually pretty nice, but I didn’t know if Jeff had called ahead and told them there was a sleeper agent coming. I might have to go back later, unannounced, and see if it played the same way. For research and all.
Part Two: The Straight Bar
“Where to now?” Jeff asked.
“You okay to drive? I asked, as I walked full-on into someone’s Toyota Land Cruiser.
“I’ve only had three beers. We were in there three hours. I wouldn’t say I’m drunk.”
“If you say so.” I said, stumbling into his car. “But prepare yourself for adventures unbounded!”
“We’re going to a bar-slash-pool hall! There is no straighter place on the planet. It’ll knock the gay right out of your backside.”
“No one has tried that before.”
“Prepare yourself.” I whispered. I told him where to go and rested my head on the window. I was dizzy.
We got to Hot Pockets and went inside. The bar wasn’t what I would call full, but the guys in there were definitely straight. There was also a large woman, wearing what looked like pajama pants, with her head on the bar, weeping loudly. Gretchen Wilson’s ‘Redneck Woman’ was playing.
“Do you feel it?” I asked.
“The straightness of it all.”
“Very good. Let’s get a beer.”
I walked to the bar and ordered a Berry Wiess. The bartender, a huge guy with a balding pony-tail haircut and maybe three teeth handed me a Miller and shook his head. They still had Jeff’s Sam Adams. We walked to the back.
There were three pool tables, lighted from above with those cool-ass lights that were decorated with beer logos. When I got a house with a basement, I was totally ponying up for one of those motherfuckers. Four guys were standing around shooting pool. One of them, an old white dude with a mullet and a jacket that might have once been denim, walked up to me and asked when the last time I’d seen Leroy was.
“I don’t know Leroy.” I said.
“Aw, c’mon man! Leroy!” he said, and shook me fiercely, as if that would jog my memory.
I threw up on his shoes.
I woke up on a couch, in a pretty nice apartment. Sunlight was coming through the windows. Something smelled like eggs.
“Hello?” I called.
Jeff walked into the room, holding a spatula. “Hey, you’re up.”
“Yeah. Is this…is this your place?”
“It’s pretty nice.”
“Thanks. You want some eggs?”
“Sure? Hey, what happened?”
“Man, I have never seen anyone take a punch like that.”
“What, like a man?”
“Like a lump of modeling clay. I mean, your expression didn’t even change when his fist was coming at you. Most guys at least try to move. Not you! You were like some kind of punch-test dummy. It was awesome.”
“Thanks. So, you beat his ass, right?”
“No. He was all right. A little drunk, sure, but you puked on his shoes. I played two games of pool with them and carried you out of there.”
“Yeah, won twenty bucks.”
“Oh shit, you didn’t…?”
“Take advantage of me?”
“Naw man, you were handling that all on your own.”
“Well, you’ve still got…” Jeff looked at his watch, “Three hours left. You still think you can ‘cure’ me?”
I thought about it. My head hurt, like there was a dance party going on in there. Wait, dance party? Man, The Lodge was fun. There was that little dude in the beanie cap doing all those cartwheels and shit. I’m gonna have to go back there. No. Wait. Focus. I didn’t really know what to do next, but I figured I had to go back to the source.
“Yes. Yes I am. But, do you have a computer? I have to look something up.”
“Sure, go ahead. It’s in the den.”
“The fucking den??”
The Cure, Step Three
I hated to admit it, but I had to be doing something wrong. Michele Bachmann could cure gay people, and she was a woman. What the hell was wrong with my technique? I went into Jeff’s den, which, by the way was really well kept up and who the hell has an apartment with a fucking den? Sorry, that part still messes me up.
I sat down in front of his PC, (I totally thought that he’d own a Mac, but at this point I wasn’t even going to say anything) and did some digging. As it turns out, Michele Bachmann wasn’t actually the one curing the gays. It was her husband, Marcus. Marcus Bachmann is the president of Bachmann & Associates, a self-described Christian counseling clinic. But, both he and his wife believe that the way to cure homosexuality is through prayer.
Damn, why didn’t I think of that? Probably because you’re about as religious as a piece of driftwood. I thought to myself. Or possibly said. Jeff was standing behind me and said:
“Nothing. Jeff, come on, we’ve got to go.”
“Where? I haven’t even eaten my eggs yet.”
“Church, Jeff. God is the only thing that can save your tainted homosexual soul from the thorny, fiery pits of hell.”
“Well, that can wait for me to eat my eggs.”
“Jeff, you’re not hearing me. Salvation.”
“You want some? I’ve also got toast and peach preserves.”
Just when I was starting to think Jeff was all right, he roped me in with the offer of peach preserves. Perhaps Michele is right about them. The devil, tempts.
By the time we got to the church it was almost one o’clock. My twenty-four hours was almost up. I’m not even sure what kind of church it was, but I’m pretty sure it was the one with Jesus.
I ran in, holding Jeff by the wrist. We got to the alter, and I spun to face him.
“JESUS!” I shouted at him, while mimicking the ‘Hadouken’ maneuver.
I looked at him. “Nothing?” I asked.
He shook his head.
I went to his side and said: “Come on, Jeff, get knee-bound with me. Let us pray.”
“Fine.” he sighed.
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.” I said.
“That’s Pulp Fiction.” Jeff said. “You don’t know anything about religion, do you?”
Just then, the preacher (Reverend? Deacon?) walked in from a small room from behind the alter.
“Can I help you boys?” he asked.
“Oh Jesus fucking Christ. Thank god you’re here.” I said. Here was a professional. My problem was solved. “Jeff here is gay. Gay, not as in happy, but meaning that he likes man dicks in a big way. Can you help to cure him?”
“Cure him?” the preacher asked.
“Yeah, do some God voodoo on him or something. That’s a thing, right?”
“Are either of you actually members of this church?”
Jeff shook his head. I said: “When I was way younger, I joined the KISS army. I’m pretty sure that membership includes induction into the Church Of Rock. I’m not one hundred percent on that, though. I’d have to go dig up my membership info.”
“Good day, boys.” the preacher said, and walked back into his little office. I’m pretty sure I heard ‘Maury’ on the TV in there before he closed the door.
I stood up and sighed. Jeff looked at his watch.
“Time’s up.” he said.
“Do you feel any less gay?” I asked.
“Not in the slightest. What are you going to do for your community service now?”
“I don’t know. Maybe go scream at homeless people to get a job or something? Like, you know, for the city?”
“That sounds like it will work out just as well.”
I’m sorry Michele, I tried.