Sunday, December 31, 2006

Live-blogging the Hinterland

My grandfather died on Christmas Eve, and so on the 28th I was duty-bound to attend his memorial service. Not that I would have missed it anyway, as duty is something I enjoy. I'm like the Queen that way. And in that way only, you bitches.

I left Vancouver for the wilds of the deepest, darkest Okanagan valley -- Kelowna, to be more precise -- for just that purpose. Well, that and to cement my reputation as a eulogist, which is well-deserved.

[Spoiler Alert: It ends up I couldn't deliver my eulogy; writer's block and emotion got the better of me. - MSM]

Thursday, 10:38 AM -- I left my house to take my keys to my friend Doug's place so he can make sure in my absence that Pandora doesn't waste away to... Well, let's face it, I'd have to be gone alot longer than three days for Pandora to even waste away to her ideal weight. Still, I thought she might like a bit of company now and then while I'm gone.

11:24 AM -- I arrive at the bus station. I buy my ticket, get in line behind four racy old ladies, and wait for the noon bus to leave.

12:18 PM -- Still no sign of the bus, despite 114 people waiting to crowd onto a bus that seats 55 including the driver. As clusterfucks go, this is below the Iraq War but worse than Nipplegate.

12:45 PM -- The bus arrives and I shoulder aside the half dozen people who attempted to shoulder me aside. I do allow a pair of siblings on ahead of me because the brother of the pair is cute. I figure on a ride as long as this one I at least deserve a nice view.

1 PM -- I finally eat something. I hadn't eaten sooner because I sort of expected the clusterfuck at the bus station and didn't want to be all nice about it, since there's no way I was taking an aisle seat. The bus ride goes more or less as planned from there. It's a nice sunny day, and after we pass Hope there's snow in the mountains (until about 4:30, when the sun goes down). I listen to music, read the year-end editon of Spin, and a few chapter's of Miri Rubin's fascinating book "The Hollow Crown" about England from Edward II to Richard III (c. 1300-1485). As fascinating as this book is it's better than Ambien, and I manage to catch up on an hour of sleep (only 3,245 and I'll be caught up).

6:30 PM -- I arrive in Kelowna. It's changed even since September (the last time I was here). There are Christmas lights galore and every third billboard bears a reminder that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. I remember why I left.

Friday 1 AM -- Sometime during Craig Ferguson's monologue I drift off into a restless sleep.

10 AM -- I begin anew in my deliberations to write a eulogy, the end result of which (after three long hours) is a decision to ad-lib from notes.

2 PM -- I take my mother's boyfriend's dog for a walk in the hopes that the fresh air will clear my mind. It does, and I take some spectacular pictures of winter in the hideous built environment of Kelowna. Alas, no new inspiration hits, and I half-decide to improvise my eulogy, since I seem to be coping with the whole thing rather well.

[Redundant Spoiler alert: I still can't believe I wimped out. - MSM]

4 PM -- My mother and I go to the funeral home to set up. We put pictures on boards using magnetic frames. Mine is an organised cluster like the ones I have all around my apartment. My mother puts hers up will-nilly; I have to admit that, under the circumstances, hers looks better. It's fun and whimsical, whereas mine is tighter than Martha Stewart. Then again, I have always coped with chaos by imposing rigid order.

5 PM -- My mother goes to her nail appointment. I sit there and read the new Blender, which miraculously has appeared when I needed it most. Since there's no new New Yorker this week, and I've bought all the other new magazines, I nearly had to pass time in a temple of vanity by staring at a wall. One of the women has her hot boyfriend with her. I could have used my considerable powers of bullshit to spend time staring at him (under the guise of my keen interest in the hockey season -- yeah...) but I remember that, other than construction, Kelowna hasn't changed at all, and the Homosexual Panic Defense still applies here, so change my mind.

6:30 PM -- Back at home my mother prepares to cook the life out of a roast (also known as Grandma-style), which in itself is a tribute to my grandfather, who bellieved that the best way to cook meat was well-done. After all, it says what it is right in the name: well-done. She and I and her boyfriend hang around and talk, mess around with the dogs and cats, reminisce about the great man we've lost (my grandfather) while marking the passing of his opposite number (So long Saddam!) and enjoy a cocktail or two each. It's nice to be, despite our sad loss, happy.

9 PM -- Supper's over and a perfunctory clean-up performed. We all drift off to our respective sleeping areas in a meagre effort to defeat fatigue.

Saturday 8 AM -- I am awakened by a series of wet noses and furry bodies, alas all either feline or canine. Well, only half-alas, in the same way the glass is half-full, because it has to be.

9:30 AM -- With a minimum of grief we manage to get ourselves ready, and head off for the funeral home.

9:41 AM -- We arrive at the funeral home.

9:41:10 AM -- I start crying like a bitch.

10 AM -- The memorial service begins. I have so much wet Kleenex in my pocket it feels like an octopus in there. I keep telling myself other, similarly sophomoric, things to give myself the occasional break from crying like a bitch. What I actually manage to see of the service looks beautiful.

11 AM -- The service is over, I stick my face in the ice machine to try and bring down the swelling, and the reception begins.

12:10 PM -- The reception ends, rather too abruptly for my liking, and we clean up.

12:15 PM -- Checking the schedule at the bus station, it looks like we have ninety minutes to kill. My mother's boyfriend takes us to Kelowna Flightcraft, where he works. I learn what a "winglet" looks like. It's not even remotely related to the winglets I used to cook at Red Robin. I take some more cool pictures.

2 PM -- Back at the bus station, where I and a couple of hundred strangers are cattle-prodded onto a bus that seats 48.

2:30 PM -- The bus leaves, more or less on time. It occurs to me that if we go off the road on the way home some alien archaeologists centuries from now are going to have one big head-scratcher.

3 PM -- I vow that the next time I take the bus I will put my spine in my carry on luggage, where there's more room.

4 PM -- My iPod's been playing so long it's warm to the touch. This can't be good.

5 PM -- Though I can't see it, I know from memory that the scenery outside is spectacular, a veritable Hinterland winer wonderland. I start humming along to John Mayer's song, which I have renamed "Your Body is A Hinterland", mainly to amuse myself.

6:30 PM - That spot on the top of my right foot my Dayton's like to torture finally loses nerve function permanently. My leg has now not so much fallen asleep as swallowed a bottle of Seconal. My seatmate, despite being the twink fantasy of my dreams, makes his last homophobic text message to his buddy, whose nickname seems to be "fag".

7 PM -- Having stopped now half a dozen times, each time to bring more people on the bus than have left it, I volunteer myself for the overhead bin, where at least I'll be able to stretch my legs. We've stopped at hope, where for eighteen glorious seconds I have a seat to myself. I begin texting my friends in the hopes that if I can keep my fingers along I won't die and be disposed of at the Chilliwack bus station. The Chilliwack bus station was originally designed to be Dante's tenth ring of Hell, but was later scrapped on the grounds no one would believe anything so outlandish.

7:45 PM -- We have finally reached Langley, so I get on the phone and start calling people.

8:51 PM -- The lights of the city appear. I take a breath mint and apply lip balm in preparation for loving up the tarmac.

9 PM -- Back at last!

What happened next is between me, my conscience, and the RCMP (if they even care).
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Egregious Paranoia Department - The End of Gay

Recently Joe. My. God. posted this cheery news, topped (?) by a quote from Martina Navratilova:

" 'For the sake of the animals who will die unnecessarily in these experiments and for the many gays and lesbians who stand to be deeply offended by the social implications of these tests, I ask that you please end these studies at once.' - [written] in a letter to Oregon State University just published on the PETA-affiliated site Stop Animal Testing, in response to research being done on sheep that is meant to help scientists learn how to alter the sexual preference of gay animals.

"Ostensibly meant to help sheep farmers who are burdened by the 10% of rams that prefer to mount other rams, the research has vast implications for gay society. If scientists can discover the "gay switch" or how to prenatally influence the sexual orientation of animals, the switch to human implementation will be immediate, widespread and unstoppable. The "homo vaccine" may be as simple as hormone patch worn during pregnancy. A real-world Twilight Of The Golds could mean the end of homosexuality in this century."

Well I never!

Of course, this issue has been sticking in my craw ever since allegedly gay scientist Simon LeVay started his research into this field, which first came to my attention in 1992.

I responded with the following comment:

"They've been trying to do this for decades. The same Christians who can't condone abortion for any reason will suddenly have a change of heart.

"The best hope is that the human genome is complicated enough that it could be multiple linked factors which "cause" homosexuality.

"The minute they genetically "cure" gay it'll be our responsibility to take our best dyke friend down to the IVF clinic and spunk in a cup for her. Abort the straight ones and there we go.

As for curing gay sheep, I say just keep them away from the farmers and they should be alright. ; ) "

One of my more coherent comments, if I do say so myself, probably because I've had the time to develop some eloquence about the issue. In fact, I believe the straights have been tolerating us as well as they have for the past few years because they're close to making this breakthrough.

Now, I'm not ex-Gay, I'm post-Gay. I've always been a proponent of assimilation on our terms, and isolating the gay gene won't make me run back to the ghetto. I'd consider it my responsibility to continue my missionary work among liberals and single mothers who'd like a son who calls occasionally but does not create a teenage babymama drama. Maybe a gay baby will become a trend among celebrities, like Unicef adoptions and toy dogs are now.

In a world threatened by overpopulation, with more parentless children than ever growing up in foster care, a little gay doesn't seem like a bad idea. Not to mention what it'll do to beauty, fashion, and the stage. The stage will be hit the hardest, I think; metrosexuals might look like us, but they aren't half as bendy.

The most interesting aspect of the whole struggle will be the (initially) laboured justifications offered by religious fundamentalists. You know, the ones who oppose stem cell research and all that now. It'll be an about-face worthy of "Wrong-way" Corrigan.
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