I was laughing so hard, I almost peed my pants. Which would have been bad enough, but I was traveling on a train in a foreign country and people were looking at me. He had to stop being so funny!
It’s so like my gay boyfriend: turning on the charm and the snark, just to get a laugh, and then once he has you hooked, he turns it up. More. He should get a job as a stand-up comic, because he’s that good.
My gay boyfriend and I had crossed paths on and off for the past few years. Friends of mine would rave about him, talk about how funny he was, how much I would like him, not believe we hadn’t been introduced, that kind of thing. From all that I heard, he did sound funny, but he also sounded full of himself and perhaps on the far side of snarky. It didn’t seem right for a minister-wannabe to be spending too much time with that level of irreverence and cynicism. So I kept my distance, didn’t seek him out, and that was that.
Then, in the not too recent past, I went on a trip that involved a quality of human dynamics and interaction that can only be labeled, “O.M.F.G.” (You can look it up on urbandictionary.com if you don’t know what it means. I won’t be surprised if, when you do, you find a picture of me, on that trip, as an illustration.) My most repeated prayer during that trip was, “I wish David was here, a little angel sitting on my shoulder, narrating what was happening, helping me get through this *%^&#.”
Given that I am a minister-wannabe, am I not supposed to have a treasure trove of prayers at the ready? Perhaps a little 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd…”? Given that is not my religious tradition, it never occurred to me.
In the weeks before that trip, I had consulted a Buddhist teacher, one of the most able I have come into contact with. I asked her for guidance about maintaining equanimity (I anticipated it would be taxing). She gave me a beautiful mantra that mixed metta (lovingkindness) practice with a pinch of “I am responsible for me, you are responsible for you” and indicated it was centuries, if not millennia, old.
It never entered my mind.
Perhaps it should be reported to the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, that during this period of ministerial formation, the solace and comfort I kept seeking came in the form of calling for a snarky gay boyfriend to be at my side, bringing grim and ironic humor to what was a difficult experience. It shouldn’t be surprising, though, that this is a source to which I turn. When I was laid off my dream job of eight years (by an executive director who spoke of how hard it was for her to lay me off), my one request to my direct supervisor was that she find a guillotine to mark the occasion. To my great astonishment and appreciation, she found me a rather elegant one and presented it to me at the going away party. Now, that’s gallows humor.
According to the Reverend Dr. Kate Braestrup, Unitarian Universalist minister, Laughter can be courage for anyone called to embark on an unknown course along the bitter edge of life — which is to say, laughter can be a prelude to prayer and courage for us all.
So who can blame me? My gay boyfriend should get a job as a stand-up comic, because he’s that good. Literally.
When I came home from that trip, tales I recounted to my husband and friends would end with, “I really wish David Sedaris had been there with me.” Yes, that gay boyfriend. So, okay, he’s not really my gay boyfriend. He’s more like Hugh’s gay boyfriend. Well, he is Hugh’s boyfriend; Hugh being his partner to whom he refers in many of his comedic sketches. I call him my gay boyfriend because my dear friend and blogger has a different gay boyfriend, who is equally but differently charming, and it’s fun to say and I want to be like her in many ways.
My husband, progressive Bohemian type that he is, is so supportive of my having a gay boyfriend (well, this gay boyfriend) that before this recent trip to Europe, he uncharacteristically bought me a present: the audio version of David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. I got to bring my gay boyfriend with me! And no messy affair that I had to keep secret from my beloved, but fully sanctioned and encouraged.
It turns out that the New York Times reviewed this book and found it wanting, giving the review the pithy title of, “Oddball Travelogue that is All Detours.” There are others on the interwebs who share disdain for this book, compare it unfavorably to Sedaris’ others. Who cares? You’ve heard of buzz-killers? These folks are trying to be crush-killers, but it won’t work.
As I noted previously, I nearly peed in my pants listening to one part (Standing By). Once my husband joined me for the second part of the trip, we listened together in our rented car. After listening to David’s description of buying a home in West Sussex and spending his days picking up trash, we couldn’t see trash on the ground and 1) not invoke David and 2) pick it up. Happily. As an act of synergy or kismet, I wrote my blog post on toilet technology before listening to David’s description of defectation in China, which brought tears of mirth to my husband’s eyes and a sense of kindred spirit to me. While in London, when we explored Camden Market – which turned into Stables Market, and a few other horse-relatedly-named markets – we happened upon an antique booth that had two stuffed owls. How could I not think of David and his romantic pursuit of a stuffed owl for his beloved Hugh, thwarted in both France and the U.S. because taxidermied owls are illegal there, but not in England?
Turns out my gay boyfriend is good company, not just for me, but for me and my husband. That sounds pretty kinky, but really, it’s not. It’s actually good clean fun.