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Month: August 2009

Straight Girl/Gay Guy

There’s a man I meet for enchanting lunch dates. We giggle and taste each other’s food. He stands up when I enter the room, and looks me frankly in the eyes. He’s inexcusably handsome, laugh-out-loud funny, and whip-smart.

And when I leave for our rendezvous — wearing a smile, a flirty dress, and a spritz of mango body splash — my husband always comments, “Wow. Who are you having lunch with again?” When I answer, he says, “Oh! Have fun.”

You see, my delicious date is gay. Gay as they come. Dresses-better-than-I-do gay. Big-fan-of-chick-flicks gay. I fancy myself the Grace to his Will. The Madonna to his Rupert. (But not the Carrie to his Stanford. He’s not that gay.)

Apparently I am a fag hag. But I find the term tasteless-times-two, so I go by the gentler, more fashionable “fruit fly.” (The zeitgeist now also allows for “lesbros,” or straight men who covet the company of lesbians. A column for another time, no doubt.)

Lots of my girlfriends have cherished friendships with gay men, and the gay part isn’t incidental. These guys are not “girlfriends with penises.” There’s something about the breezy straight gal/gay guy dynamic that makes other friendships feel like hard labor.

Derby Dames

I was pretty sure I was bitchin’. Dope on a rope. Wicked hip. I was fairly certain I had “badass” scrawled all over me. Then last week I met the roller derby chicks.

Half-scrambling, half-gliding around a no-frills rink in a concealed corner of Earl Warren Showgrounds, the Mission City Brawlin’ Betties learned me that there’s cool — and then there’s roller-derby cool. And while I may take the occasional lap around the former, I will never so much as accidentally roll downhill into the latter. That’s cooler than a polished concrete flat track in the shade. That’s cool on wheels.

I’m no slouch on skates. An only (lonely) child, I spent entire Hollywood weekends shooting the moon in hot pink denim. So when a couple of girlfriends told me they were trying out for Santa Barbara’s new roller derby team, I strutted over to check it out.

Invented in the 1930s, roller derby is a full-contact sport in which knee-padded, hot-pants’d gals race each other around an oval track at break-bone speed, trying to block opponents from passing them. It was huge in the ’70s, selling out arenas like Madison Square Garden, and has enjoyed a recent revival, with more than 75 leagues across the country. Drew Barrymore’s much-anticipated derby flick Whip It opens in October.

Whose Getaway Is It?

I fantasize about it all year. The week when my kids go to Grandpa’s house five hours away, and my husband and I get rare, rapturous grown-up time. The luxury of sleeping late. The freedom of going to a movie on a whim. The enchanting silence and shocking simplicity of tidying up the house — and having it stay tidy. Day after day after day.

I crave it. I treasure it. I deserve it.

But when the time finally comes for our boys to drag their duffle bags out the door, I’m faced with a disturbing revelation: Greater than my need to be temporarily childless is my children’s need to be briefly, blissfully motherless.

You see, it turns out I’m a terrible shrew. A nagging control freak. A micro-managing ogress from the soggiest bog of Vex-and-Pester Swamp. As my kids prepare to leave, I chase them around the house like a cartoon mother, wagging a bony index finger and barking orders:

Did you pack your swimsuit? I know I already asked you, but last time you forgot it, so let’s be sure. How do you plan on practicing your drums without your drumsticks? Be sure to wear sunscreen every day. And shower once in a while, for goodness’ sake. Here’s a plastic bag for your laundry; please don’t make Grandpa pick up your dirty clothes every night.