daily preciousness

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

pride

Last year, I didn't have my pride. I was prideless.... I know, I know. It's tragic beyond words that I would be without pride, but it happened. Here's how.

We flashback to one year ago on a blustery Thursday night. I realized that I had to work that Saturday. But wait... Saturday was the day of the big 'mo pride parade! I felt like Michael): I was stuck doing inventory at the Q-Mart on the one big gay day of the year. (All of gay Pittsburgh will be out having fun while I'm stuck stacking toilet tissue rolls into a pyramid display!)

Should I risk my job (and steady income) at the Q-Mart by calling in sick and attending pride, or should I (gulp) just swallow my pride and dutifully stack that Charmin?

I sat and thought about what I should do, waiting for a sign -- some hint I could carve out of happenstance -- to justify my urge to dump the Charmin and go squeeze something more interesting.

What to do? A zephyr in the sky that night was calling to me... Saturday was the day of big parade and pride party. Now, just to give you some background, with my old job, I only had to work a few weekends a year. But it just so happened that my weekend to work fell on the same day as pride. Which is totally unfair....

I mean, if you think about it, it was like asking a black person to work on MLK day. Or a Muslim to work on a Holy Night during Ramadan! I really felt like calling in sick. But I swallowed my pride -- every last salty ounce of it -- and went to work, head held low. I had to work it, from noon 'til dusk. Alas, the music of my soul was silenced that afternoon. I made a silent promise, though, the day the music died, to never EVER work on pride again.

This year, I was fine! Home free. I was relieved. My spirit was ripe with fruity expectation (which actually tastes like peach/white cranberry juice, in case you were curious). I felt... like I just got home. This year, I felt... pride.

To start it all off, I even went to a pre-pride parade party. There, I met Matthew and Doug, a sweet and cheerful couple.



They took me in, ever so generously. They fed me and they plied me with drink. They showed me their rainbow pride lamp of laughter and forgetting.

Most importantly, Matthew and Doug didn't mind it at all when I asked a tough question: Should pride really be considered one of the seven deadlies?

Why should it? Come on, is it really so bad that it should be characterized as a sin? I hedged the question a bit.... No. I framed it: Is it a sin? No -- not if it's only once a year, right? I mean, if God really loves us, then shouldn't He be pleased that we're joyful for being ourselves? What is the point of being a fully realized human being if you cannot be proud of yourself? What kind of screwy paradigm would not allow being pleased with yourself?

I don't know. So I resolve to find out. I'm gonna find the answer to the question. I'm gonna avoid the cliche'; I'm gonna suspend my senses. I'm gonna shake up the system. I'm gonna destroy my ego. I'm going to close my body by opening my mind. There's so much more to know. Vanilla coke and vanilla vodka coats the lining of my stomach, is absorbed into my bloodstream and blocks the synapses of the brain while I interview folks with this ridiculous, pseudo-intellectual poser line of questioning.

The answers vary from ignorance to indifference: "Pride is a sin? I didn't know that," said one guy with big knuckles and a bright blue cocktail. Another dude with a tighty whitey T-shirt and blue-green eyes retorted, "Why do you ask, you gonna report me to your priest?"

When I broadened the topic to all the deadly sins, one guy told me that he had no idea that sloth was a sin. He thought it was just an animal. I acted completely outdone with him and exclaimed, "Duh... who do you think gave sloths that brand name? Of course it's a sin. Every morning I sleep in 'til 10, I say to myself, 'Now it's time to wake up ... slothfulness is a sin!'" He asked me if it worked. "Well, am I in bed now?" He just smiled nervously.

The party was fun and friendly. I'm glad I found it. I got some help on the way....

On the way there, I happened to notice some red, white and blue balloon toting types walking down the street. One looked distinctly familiar as he puffed out his cheeks, puckered up and blew, whitey Louis Armstrong-style. Quicker than a ray of light, I asked him if he needed some help. "Look -- that's my Jeffrey," Todd replied, greeting me with a kiss and a smile. A few more steps and he had rapidly and neatly applied the requisite political stickers and buttons to my person.

After just a dozen or so drinks, some vegetable nibbling and a whole lot of tongue wagging, we found ourselves perched on a rail watching the parade go by.

Every bit the spectacle, the parade didn't disappoint. Let's keep it together:
- Dykes vroomed their bikes and had fun wagging their little leather handlebar tassles.
- Married couples with top hats and bridal trains chugged along on top of convertibles.
- A famous local drag queen threw out bananas, as is her shtick.
- Rainbow queers hoofed along on horseback (saddle and bareback).
- There were political types handing out bumper stickers and buttons.
- I liked the dykes for visibility, with a pink carnation and a pickup truck.
- Some cute cowboys even danced around back of a flatbed. (I just had to shake my head and worry for them... I mean, after all, you know what they say: friends don't let friends line dance.)
- The mayor (whom I met years before at the marathon) threw out necklaces and candy.
- I also spied the famously friendly Cornelius, the head of the Whitman-Walker Clinic (whom Emmy and I call "Urkle" because of his manner).


They all paraded past, wanting, needing, waiting for the crowd to justify their love. For the most part, the crowd responded. It wasn't the outdated party that people complain about. It wasn't the display of wild hedonism that cynics reject. It was simply a local street party for the neighborhood. It reminded me of the wonderful Baton Rouge tradition of the Spanish Town parade, with its delightful blend of ridiculousness and ridicule.

At one point, a friendly group of out-of-towners walked over and asked about my headphones. (I almost always wear them around my neck after I listen to them on the metro into town.)





Before I could answer, Todd chimes in. "Didn't you know? Where's your head? This is one half of Internationally renowned Music group Thunderpuss. This is the man who will be spinning tonight at Nation. Fellas, meet your DJ."

The guys were suitably impressed. One felt as though he was impressed. (That's what I felt, anyway.)

Ribbon rained down, along with a few showers of candy and beads. The views were nice and the company was excellent. Except for some bitch that tried to steal Todd's attention away. He held her and whispered into her ears until she was resting in the arms of unconsciousness....




That, in a nutshell, was pride. It had a quaint, "this used to be my playground" quality. The entire atmosphere was that of a relaxed, neighborhood parade: a simple gathering of like minds (or, for the cynical reader, like mindlessness). All in all, the three men I admire the most, the father the son and the holy ghost didn't seem to mind the pride.

And that's the story of how I got my pride back. 2004 was the year of prideful reclamation... of laughter and forgetting. I took to the streets and took back my pride. Silently and conscious livingly, I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that I'd kept the promise I made the year before. (Right thoughts lead to right words lead to right actions... you know the drill.) Pride, this year, was like a dream to me.

Little did I know, as the last floats rolled away, that the pride was just the beginning of fun for June. The memories I made surrounding that pride weekend are far sweeter than I could've imagined.

More to come.... like a muse, a dream and a prayer....

4 Comments:

  • I only give you 50% marks on celebrity photos. Her fabulousness can not raise him any higher. The dog was cute though.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 25, 2004 3:49 PM  

  • Yowza! Pride is not a sin. It is a wonderful thing -- in the right context. Go ahead and hang your head high, Jblend!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 28, 2004 12:16 PM  

  • Hang your head high? Sounds dangerous or kinky, perhaps both.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 29, 2004 12:13 PM  

  • Puh-lease! You call that Pride?!? :-/ Gurrrl, be more proud next time. I liked the DJ earphones, though. :-]

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 10, 2004 6:48 PM  

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