It was nice to file a claim that didn’t involve me being the one to crash into the shoreline for a change.

Hi from Houston. Let’s do a quick check-in.

The place where I live took in about two inches of water, just enough to destroy the floors and baseboards, but other than a couple of leaks in my bathroom ceiling, there is no other evident damage. The floodwaters themselves covered the street and the front yard and came up over the porch to the door, so we couldn’t leave the house for several days. However, we miraculously never lost power, and we were well-stocked in the non-perishable department, so we were and continue to be okay.

The apartment I sublet to a friend of mine is located in one of the few areas of the city that somehow didn’t flood, so while neither one of us has been able to get over there to inspect it, we’re hoping for the best. My parents (who live in town) are safe and dry, as is their home. Many of my friends made it through the storm without incident, and all of them are accounted for.

My car ended up about halfway underwater and is inoperable, and the office where I work during the day is closed “until further notice.” But the Forge is still standing, so at the very least I am somewhat employed, and for that I am extremely grateful.

In the midst of the whole disaster, I didn’t really pay attention to what anyone outside of Texas was saying about the hurricane or its aftermath, assuming it was all thoughts and prayers or whatever. But then I noticed the following comment on a friend’s Facebook timeline, and I realized that not everyone across our great nation was impressed with Houston’s resilience and can-do spirit:

I find it difficult to sympathize with people who saw a “historic” storm headed their way and chose to stay put. Pure stupidity!

Far more talented writers than I have composed thoughtful, eloquent articles detailing the mechanics of Houston’s extensive bayou and retention systems, and the impossibilities of safely evacuating 6.5 million residents (the most thorough of which can be found here), and I applaud those authors. I myself am neither thoughtful nor eloquent, but if no one objects, I’d like to go ahead and throw in my own $0.02 on the subject.

Here’s the thing, Cameron From Idaho. It’s not that you “find it difficult to sympathize”: it’s that you don’t care, but on some level you feel bad that you don’t care, so you need it to be somebody else’s fault that you don’t care, which is where we Houstonians come into play. And you know what? It’s okay. Really. We all have uncomfortable feelings bubble up sometimes — it’s like the time a friend called me to tell me his partner left him, and all I could think was, “I’ve never really enjoyed your company.”

The point, Cam, is that there are people who do care, and those people are literally saving lives right now, so the pressure is totally off of you. You can rest easy knowing that your dissonant yet self-indulgent lack of compassion has no impact whatsoever on the victims of Harvey, and you can go back to doing whatever it is you do best… which, from what I can tell, is judging people on the Internet from the safety of your parents’ basement.

We don’t have a lot of basements in Houston, on account of they tend to, y’know, flood. But I hear they’re cozy. So stay safe and warm down there, Cameroonie! I’ll bet it’ll make an excellent shelter during whichever force of nature demolishes your hometown every decade or so.

Anyway, back to my hometown. For those who want to help, some of the Misfits are raising money for the American Red Cross, and the Forge is raising money for the Houston Food Bank. You can donate to the Montrose Center, which has started an LGBTQ disaster relief fund, or, if you’re in the area and want to do something in person, you can find a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities here.

As bleak as the situation seems, there is no doubt we’re going to get through it. And regardless of what you are or aren’t individually able to do, just knowing that most of the country is rooting for us is pretty awesome in and of itself.

So thank you for that. Thank you for caring. I promise that everything up to and including kind words is beyond appreciated. I promise it’s making a difference.

#HoustonStrong
Danny is actually in Dallas, but he definitely says thank you as well.

ETA: I came across this video after watching a tropical storm eat my car, and it gave me a little hope during a moment of insane powerlessness. Just wanted to pass along the encouragement.

Hands Down Statuesque

It was a typical afternoon at Le Forge du Montrose’s main store: Dozer was manning the sales floor; I was in the stockroom taking hankerchief inventory (we have 153 dark red ones, if anybody’s running low); and Rok was at his worktable, altering a pair of chaps for a client who wanted to wear them as shorts but still have cushioning for his knees during Southern Decadence. The usual.

[Ed. note regarding Rok and Dozer: Everyone in the Houston Leather Community has a tough-sounding nickname. Just ask my Misfits brothers Snowflake and Twinklebear.]

I’m not sure exactly how or when we got on the subject, but we’re gay, so it was inevitable that we’d start discussing award-winning actresses.  “I recently heard someone call Bea Arthur a handsome woman,” said Rok. “And now, whenever I hear the word ‘handsome,’ I immediately think of her.”

“Well, shit,” I replied. “I text Danny ‘Hello, handsome,’ every morning. Associating him with Bea Arthur is going to put a damper on the romance.”

“Could you try associating him with a different handsome woman?” Rok asked. “How about Jodie Foster?”

“Jodie Foster is definitely handsome,” I agreed. “And I like how she quietly freaks out in her movies. It’s like, you’re waiting for her to snap, and then you realize she already has.”

Rok nodded sagely. “On the scale of handsome women, Jodie Foster is the midpoint between Bea Arthur and Geena Davis.”

“Does Geena Davis really fall into the handsome category?” I asked.

“Yes. She’s got a non-traditional yet undeniable beauty, and she’s like seven feet tall.”

“Good point,” I conceded. “Geena Davis is very handsome.”

“Plus she’s got those broad shoulders. If they ever remake To Wong Foo, she could play Vida Boheme.”

“Oooh, which makes me think of Stockard Channing. Also a handsome woman. I loved her in Practical Magic. I cry buckets at the end when the witches jump off the roof and float to the ground. I used to watch it all the time, and my ex would run into the room to laugh at me as soon as he heard Stevie Nicks start singing.”

“Interesting. Do you have the same reaction to the ending of Thelma and Louise? Starring another handsome woman, by the way.”

Rok was just about to launch into an explanation of the cultural importance of Susan Sarandon when Dozer jumped into the conversation.

“Doesn’t the word ‘handsome’ come from horse husbandry?” he asked. Rok and I looked at each other blankly.

“I think it has to do with measuring the height of horses by hands,” Dozer continued. “Like, ‘this horse is x many hands tall’ or whatever.”

We took a moment to digest that. And then Rok said, “Well now that we’re talking about actual hands, all I can think about is fisting Geena Davis.”

Personally, I was too busy wondering if we’d been unintentionally comparing famous women to horses and thereby participating in passive misogyny to worry about fisting Geena Davis, but to each their own, I guess. I mean, I’m a little surprised that that’s where his mind went, but then again, we do have 153 dark red hankies in stock.

Huh.

If anyone happens to know someone who knows Geena Davis, could you get a message to her and strongly suggest she not include Houston in future travel plans? Or, if she’s more affable than anticipated, maybe just let her know that she’ll want to shower before she gets here.

Know Thyself. Clock Starts Now.

Me: “Hi, I’m here to pick up a prescription.”

Pharmacist: [looking at computer screen] Sure! What’s your birth date?

Me: “September 18.”

Pharmacist: [still looking at screen] “Okay… and Thomas, what’s your first name?”

Me: “Um… it’s Thomas.”

Pharmacist: “Great! I have one prescription ready for you.”

I’m glad said scrip was for my anti-anxiety meds, because that totally felt like a trap.

Exeunt

Customer: “Ugh. It’s the same old merchandise you always have.”

Me: “Yup.”

Customer: “Ha! I’m just fucking with you. Who’s that?”

Me: “Who’s who?”

Customer: [leaning over the counter, trying to see my phone] “Who are you talking to?”

Me: “Oh. I was looking at Facebook earlier.”

Customer: “Uh-huh. What’s your husband’s name?”

Me: “Uh…”

[Inner Me: Say Danny.]

[Other Inner Me: But Danny and I have only been dating for a couple of months. I mean, I like him a lot, but I don’t think either one of us is ready for that level of commitment.]

[Inner Me: Wow. You’re retarded.]

Me: “… Danny?”

Customer: “Relax. I’m just fucking with you.”

Me: “Ah.”

[One of the Ripcord barbacks enters.]

Barback: “Hey, may I try on these pants?”

Me: “Sure.”

Barback: “Great, thanks!”

Customer: [leering] “Mmm. Do you think he needs help with those?”

Me: “No.”

Customer: “I’m just fucking with you.” [Without warning, he steps behind the counter and slides his arm around my shoulders.] “So hey there…”

Me: [evasive maneuvers] “Whoa, buddy. You’re getting a little too close.”

Customer: “Okay. I’ll leave.”

And then he walked quickly out of the store and left the bar. I almost felt bad for him, but at the same time, his prompt departure suggested that he’s crossed boundaries before, and has had to suddenly remove himself from situations when the consequences of his actions escalated. The fact that he’s aware of said consequences and still tries to cross boundaries really tells me everything I need to know about him.

But hey, at least he stopped fucking with me. Carlisle would be proud.