Photo: Supporting the gays, one chocolate at a time.
I started Pride out on Sunday morning, when a gang of pre-teens with 'Team Queer' t-shirts flooded the bus. Amateur photographers, gay couples, gothy punk rockers and sweaty drag queens alike sat together in harmony while I silently cursed them--because of them, I had to stand. It's bad enough I have to take the bus like a simple commoner, but balancing like a tightrope walker amidst homo-friendly chaos, on a bus that's barreling down the Express lanes like Mad-fucking-Max, is not my idea of a good time.
I was working during the Pride Parade, but had the best seat in the city. We sat in my treatment room, which is right on 4th Avenue (Seattle's version of "Main Street"), munching on snacks, taking pictures, and enjoying the AC. The room is roughly the size of a clown car, so there was only room for three people at a time (or, 47 clowns), but there were other windows to peek out of, mainly in the Sanctuary (our spa's version of a waiting room). It wasn't as fun as being in the parade, but did I mention the air-conditioning? The sun looked like a hot steaming bastard that day, especially for those in platforms. Luckily, I'd left mine at home.
The parade was fun, even with the cheesy sponsors and bad emcees; not Erik, he was great (you should watch him on NW Cable News!). He's the way an emcee should be, in my opinion--professional, funny, focused, good-looking. Who would want an ugly emcee? I asked myself. That question was answered almost immediately; apparently, the people of Seattle do. The other emcee... egads, she was quite possibly the most hideous woman I've ever seen, or the ugliest drag queen, I couldn't really tell--either way, that's really saying something. I was squinting in her general direction when she started speaking through the bullhorn she calls 'her mouth', and that's when my ears began to bleed. Her voice, buoyed by what sounded like 50 years of smoking unfiltered cigarettes during her life as a long-haul trucker, was a veritable scythe of sound; it slashed through the air at you, repeatedly, while you screamed in pain and ran for your life. If Gilbert Gottfried and Ethel Merman had a voice baby, it would be this one, there's no doubt in my mind; in my diary, I referred to her as The Mouth. And this was the voice that could be heard throughout the entire spa, all. day. long. Imagine lying down on a warm massage table, candles flickering, soft music playing. You breathe deeply, inhaling the scent of essential oils, while sinking further into the bed. Then, you hear the most annoying sound in the world. On repeat. For the entire day. And then you pay $125 for it. Hilarious.
AVER (American Veterans for Equal Rights, aka the hardcore gays who defend our country and the people who love them) was in attendance again, and just like last year, I thought they were pretty lean--in numbers--but at least they're standing up for their rights (rights?) and their shitty country who won't recognize them in the armed forces. The Don't Ask Don't Tell policy was invented by the same people who invented hospital gowns: old white men without a clue.
The marching band was pretty amusing; my reaction to the 'Rocky' theme song was, "Um, really?" The best part of the marching band was their unsteady, gay homeless cheerleader (that's what he looked like) bringing up the rear with his bright pom-poms and drunken choreography. He reminded me of Paula Abdul, which basically means he was two shots of Tequila and four Vicodin away from becoming a lesbian.
The Safe School Coalition group was confusing, because at first I thought they wanted to keep our schools safe, but I was wrong; they just want to keep them safe for the queer kids. Screw the heterosexual kids getting beaten to a pulp; if they want to be safe, they should get their own coalition. Hopping cheerfully alongside the big yellow school bus were dead, slutty Asian girls--turns out they were just gothy, underage, gay Harajuku chicks in school girl uniforms. Gwen Stefani would have been proud.
The GSBA, or the Greater Seattle Business Association, couldn't get their act together this year. I swear it took them 20 minutes to walk a block, A BLOCK. You know the GSBA, they're the people who make the condensed directory of gay/gay-friendly businesses; I'll bet you have one of their books, which makes you feel socially progressive, but I'll also bet you've never actually opened it. They did prompt one of the funnier comments from The Mouth, when she shriekingly honked out, "BUSINESS IS NOT JUST FOR STRAIGHT PEOPLE ANYMORE!" I laughed out loud, but then stopped abruptly, because I didn't want to encourage The Mouth, unless it was to go away.
KUBE93 (the local rap/pop/R&B station) came by on a Summer Jam-themed float, which to me screamed, "Wine coolers and date rape are the BEST!!!!!!!!" I remember when I used to listen to that station in 1996. I had to stop, though, because I missed using proper English, and got sick of flavored malt beverages.
I had to start a service at this point, but when I ran through the Sanctuary again, it looked like a gay soccer team had taken up residence, with soccer balls the size of a Volkswagen. I thought there was a euphemism in there somewhere, but didn't have time to think about it.
After walking to Pike Place Market for lunch, and weaving through the throngs of drunk and sweaty people, I came back and settled into my room. I was excited to have an hour of people-watching ahead of me, which is when I should have quit: while I was ahead. Anticipation is a funny thing--it propels me, and holds me back, and also slaps me square in the face when I'm least expecting it. There I was, perched on my chair, camera phone ready, anticipating the next crazy thing that might come our way--and who should flagrantly and unabashedly roll down the street? The naked and painted-up Solstice whores on bikes. Naked they were, painted they were, and definitely on bikes they most certainly were. Now I don't care about nudity (much), or biking (much), or painted fairies (I've only known one), but when you put those three things together, I think you're just asking for it. I don't know what you're asking for exactly, but the phrases 'epic ass crack sweat', 'unfortunate accident', and 'you're living out one of my nightmares' come to mind. Adding to the hilarity was this: upon closer inspection, I realized I knew a couple of them. Accidentally seeing your friend's painted junk while you're on a lunch break is the very reason people cut themselves, I'm telling you; that's why I started.
I was in the back room, where Howard--a previous employee filling in for a sick employee--was commandeering the laundry. Howard, in the interest of backstory, is probably in his 40's, reminds me of Andre the Giant in movement and in stature, and has the exact voice of Wallace Shawn, aka Vizzini in The Princess Bride ("Inconceivable!"). He's also special in some way, but I can't put my finger on it. Our main laundry guy, Tim, is also mentally slow, but I don't know what ails him--seems like he's either Autism-tastic, or has some form of Asberger's. I find myself speaking to them as though they were foreign children, here on a free trip to Disneyland; I'm like a walking exclamation point, a screechy tour guide in a city they already live in. "Do. You. Like. The. Paraaaade?!" I shout, brightly. They nod. "I. Love! The. Paraaade!" I say with enthusiasm. They nod. "Isn't. This. FUUUUN?!" I ask, desperately. I know I look and sound like a total asshole, but it sounds even worse when I'm mumbling sarcastically to them, as I'm prone to doing with "normal" people. I have to find a balance.
When I went through my camera phone to collect photos of the parade, I realized I'd only taken one picture. One. And it was of the The Macy's people. No, that's a lie--it was of a Macy's employee, pulling a Frango cart behind them. You know what a Frango is: the delightful, mint-chocolate treat in the green, pentagon-shaped box? I took a picture of those in a bucket on wheels, being pulled by a sassy gay Mexican. That photo will represent everything I experienced from the Pride Parade of 2008 (or it will highlight my apparent lack of pride and a surplus of chocolate-y goodness). In later years, I will look back upon this one small picture, and struggle to remember the significance behind it--maybe my blood sugar was low, or perhaps I was exceptionally hungry that day. I could have been drinking on the job, or had a head injury, or both. I'll bet, in about six months, I will have already forgotten what the picture is from, and accidentally delete it.
Memories are the best.