by Aengus Cargo
It’s about 22:00. The parking garage at DIA is cold and dark. I stand against a concrete pillar wearing a sensible cap and a beige trenchcoat. My beard is dyed orange to help with my disguise. I could just as easily have taken the Bermuda shorts off and worn slacks and a polo shirt instead, perhaps even donned a pair of Aviators to mask a good deal of my face; but why sacrifice one’s allegiance to floral print and turn down the opportunity to dye something, if even just for the sake of a meeting with some anonymous, jittery stranger?
Speaking of some anonymous, jittery stranger, my subject approaches in the shadows and leans against the other side of the pillar. We exchange the secret word, “sopaipilla,” and I take a seat next to him, cross-legged, on the hood of a Ford F-150 with a Wyoming plate. (Entirely inconsequential, but if you’re the owner of a pickup from county #2 with a large, ass-shaped indentation on the front end… consider the mystery solved.)
His handshake is firm and sincere, but reserved. The voice of this gentleman is a hint chesty and ever so slightly slurred, like a triple-lunged Gerald Ford, but nervous and high strung just the same, giving hints of Don Knotts as Mr. Furley in Three’s Company. It’s like the two of them grew a heavily caffeinated hybrid in a test tube from Heaven and sent it to defend anonymous suck-offs in the airport bog.
This meeting was made possible by a Craigslist ad I’d happened upon that carried the subject line “Smoke this pol down to the butt – m4m.” At the time I was surfing the Internet for… auto parts.
Completely heterosexual auto parts.
The body of said ad, curious indeed, expressed a desire for a “mile-high human male to pull in to Concourse ‘P'” and “invoke cloture on this pent-up load.”
Also mentioned was the urgent need to “filibustanut without DeLay.”
This meeting, though, is business.
“The thing about anonymous BJs on the down low,” the mysterious man says, “is that there’s nowhere to send the dry cleaning bill! Hah! I’m just lucky I get my flag lapel pins for free. In any case you can just toss the pin and grab another one, right? But, if there happens to be splashback onto your glasses or your pocketful of Mont Blancs, just drop in at the CDC to autoclave ’em on the way back to Woodbridge to have crepes with the wife and the ‘2.3’ at the hotel. Do you get me?”
Honestly, I didn’t, though I did want to help further break the ice by sharing one piece of information about myself: I have a soft spot for pancakes and all their relatives.
“You had me at ‘crepes,'” I respond.
“Jimin–I mean, uh, Cowabunga… dude! This decade, those pins are a dime a dozen. They fly in from Shanghai faster than we can distribute ’em to Young Republicans and Republicans alike, don’t you know! They’re coming faster than a Norwegian sailor on leave. Hey! Have you ever heard the term ‘Gothenburg Tonsillectomy’? You could say I know the origin.”
“Gothenburg’s in Sweden,” I reply. “It’s always handy to have that pin, I’m sure! You never know when you’ll be caught in one of those unexpected photo-ops, and you want to make sure your patriotism is clearly visible should you encounter a photographer that fixes to ‘shoot your mug,’ as some say.”
My subject says nothing.
“‘Oslo tonsillectomy’ rolls off the tongue easier, anyway,” I add. “…You’re welcome!”
I hear an exasperated sigh and a grunt.
I smile and nod. I pretend to make notes on my canary legal pad, but I have at this point taken to drawing pictures of a drooling, bald caucasian man, wearing large glasses, holding up with two hands a cornucopia of crudely drawn male genitalia of all shapes, sizes and religions.
Clearly, I am transfixed.
“In the Oval Office,” Mr. X continues, “Reagan had jelly beans on his desk, right? Bush 43: American flag lapel pins. Giant bowl. Right there. Any staff member with strong enough teeth could eat them like popcorn.”
I raise an eyebrow.
“I retract that last statement. The lead paint, the Melamine… It would not be wise.”
Stifling a giggle, I respond: “No doubt! Who knows where those things have been?!”
“Is something funny?” the stranger inquires.
“There’s humor everywhere, good sir.”
“So, you may be a bit confused as to why I asked to speak to you about something besides…” (I rifle through my handbag for the printout) “…’Jiminy juice…’ ‘…every last drop…’ ‘…no recip…’ and keep in mind that anonymity is being maintained, and I’ve no idea who you are behind that impressive prosthetic John Oates mustache, nor underneath that Boise Potato Museum, Jerky Hut and Keys Made While-U-Wait official souvenir sombrero…”
“I have an inkling of an idea what your inquiry is about, Mr. Uh… Mr…?”
“…How unfortunate for you. Remember that you did promise to keep this discreet, even if you have your suspicions.”
“Of course, uh, Mr. Anonymity Guy. You’re a busy man, I know, and you’ve got to make that connection to Washington from–where did you say…?”
“Chattanooga,” he responds.
“–Right, on your way back to where?”
“…The Ben & Jerry’s headquarters…in Vermont.”
“MMMMMmm, yes. The Land of Cherry Garcia…”
I drift off momentarily and begin to drool. By the time I come to, my beard and my gel ink wang cornucopia are drenched and I am being mercilessly smacked with a sombrero.
“Focus!” the man snaps. “Don’t make this hard on me, or I’ll blow you off. I can always find something else to do. I’ve got plenty of quality people I could be entertaining right now.”
“Crossword puzzles with a traveling salesman?”
“I prefer Sudoku.”
“You know, there’s a guy here that’s working for a guy back east that’s really been chapping my ass,” the sombrero’ed stranger wastes no time in mentioning. “If I were to encounter him, I’d give him a message. I’d message him something good.”
I am handed a small digital video player.
“We’ve got a few minutes before I have to check in,” he chimes, “so we might as well make this entertaining for the both of us.”
I press the “Play” button and am greeted by a chubby kid, around age 10, dancing around a coffee table and singing along to Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth.”
My abdomen gurgles loudly.
“You wouldn’t happen to know a much older, taller, fatter, possibly bearded individual that resembles this… this head-sick Shirley Temple from the depths of Hell, would you?”
“I’ve got a great one of this other fat kid, right. This one’s in his teens. There’s a karaoke machine set up in the middle of this auditorium, and he sings this Bob Dylan song at least three times! The same one! Over and over! What the jiminy?! Which one was it? Oh…”
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35?”
“That one! Good guess, Mr… You’re a lucky man. You ought to see this kid, though. He could be having a seizure, for all I know. Looks a right fool.”
“‘Hey! Maybe it was one of those karaoke machines that has recordings of famous musicians’ on-stage seizures, and you ‘seize’ along to them. EhhhhH?”
The stranger looks towards the ceiling for a brief moment, takes a deep breath, and shakes his head. Just then, Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” with fat kid vocal accompaniment, begins to play from the video recorder still cupped in my right hand.
“There goes this sorry sack’s political career,” I quip.
“Of course. Now, I am curious to know how a man who defends, with a veil of privacy, his right to have sex with other men, will turn around and use a vote to deny men that love men, and women that love women, civil rights.”
“Look. If that man were me, I don’t think whatever it was that swallowed my effluent last night at the Flying J should have the same rights as I do.”
“Really? Even an American citizen?”
“Unless,” he quickly continues, “he’s got a kiss from a loving wife, and not some depraved, sex-addicted, oogy, hairy man waiting for him, too, on his return to his cave, or under his rock, or wherever it is the cock-gobbling concubine class go when they’re done relieving my stress.”
I cradle my chin on the back of my hand like I am Barbara Walters at Glamour Shots, as if to say “Do continue! This is most riveting!”
“Do continue,” I say. “This is most riveting.”
“A mouth is a mouth, but it’s the soul around that mouth, and the chromosomes that the Creator giveth to that soul to create and maintain that mouth, that determine whether or not that mouth is worthy of full citizenship in God’s America.
I, as a 100% not gay, married man, have a long record of faithful public service and all the benefits and advantages that complete the ensemble that is my stellar set of personal circumstances. I am straight. Straight people connect the parts that are meant to be connected to make families. Families are the foundation of a healthy society. I choose to marry the woman I love because it’s God’s way, and the right thing to do. We let two men have sex nowadays, but they don’t get the benefits of marriage to go with their glory holes, their back rooms and their glitter-and-ketamine orgies. UuuUugh. It’s just… not right. Marriage is about love, and all I think about when I see a man is cold, emotionless blowj–I mean–a person that belongs partnered with a woman for life, and maybe a man in between flights, if he finds himself so inclined, but definitely not for french-kissing non-stop and feeling up each other’s groins next to myself and my wife and kids at the IHOP.”
I roll my eyes.
“You’ve never loved a man, Mr. Sombrer-Oates?” I ask.
“That’s balderdash,” he snaps so quickly it truncates my question mark.
“Look,” Oates continues, “gays don’t belong in the public eye. Fine: Consensual sex, gay bars, designer furniture stores, lucrative hair salons that do our wives’ hair, brightly colored alcoholic beverages… all fine. I may swing a little to the ‘other side’ on occasion, I’ll admit, now that my career is ruined–Democrats at least get the Hoovering they’re being run out of town for by my party–but whatever they think is love is false. It’s twisted. It’s unholy… and–and perverse. It makes me uncomfortable to think about it. I don’t want it out in the open where so-called perverted ‘feelings’ and sexual acts can infiltrate our society and–and dd-d-destroy families.”
“How would genuine, affirmed love between two people not in any way connected to you do a damn thing to your family?”
“Would accepting that it sometimes happens between citizens, taxpayers, human beings of the same sex in any way change the way you live your life?”
“…If every coupling of consenting, capable adults; legal entities; had equal access to rights and protections afforded those that are, as you put it, ‘100% straight,’ regardless of what genitalia, whether factory or aftermarket, is installed? Would it really affect you at all? What about their kids?”
Silence, still. I become increasingly tense.
“There are gay people that raise kids, you know. What about their kids? Do–”
“–Hey, why won’t you answer me?”
A nanosecond of eye contact is all it takes for his answer to transmit.
“Jiminy,” I utter, weakly.
The man with the synthetic caterpillar affixed to his upper lip, and souvenir sombrero atop his head, turns and silently walks away. The video player, still in my sweaty, trembling hand, can barely withstand the pressure from my squeezing it.
My deep breaths, along with a horribly mangled “Buffalo Stance,” echo weakly through the garage.
“I think we’re alone now,” I say to the boy on the screen.