Me: “The Hanky Code was basically Grindr before there was Grindr. Each color represents a specific sexual preference or fetish, and the hanky itself is worn in either the left or right back pocket to indicate top or bottom.”
SFF: “Oooh, like those bracelets we wore in high school!”
Me: “Wait… what?”
SFF: “Yep, just like them.”
And then they left, and a) what the hell kind of bracelets was she talking about, and b) what the fuck was going on at her high school? I mean, we had slap bracelets when I was in school, but those just meant “I am dangerously close to severing an artery.”
Oh, and in middle school, we had those handmade friendship bracelets that I could never figure out how to weave. One of my teachers used to call them germ catchers. I don’t judge, but it kinda sounds like this chick was wearing germ catchers, too.
Me: “Yes, short for ‘Fellowship of Leather and Kink.’ It’s a local leather club.”
Customer: “Nice! I’ve never been there.”
I started to clarify that FoLK was actually a group of like-minded individuals and not a seedy gay bar, but then his boyfriend wandered in and was all, “Wow, great porn shop! I love it when these places have porn shops,” and suddenly I didn’t feel helpful anymore. Must’ve been the weather or my sinuses or something.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.