Monday, June 30, 2014

I spent Pride 2014 in the medical tent so you don't have to

Yesterday, I blacked out in a crowd of several hundred wearing nothing but a tiny striped sailor shirt and a pair of shorts with an inseam that definitely reached my cervix, and nobody sexually assaulted me. In fact, me and my bicycle were more or less crowd surfed over the safety barrier to the nearest cop, an old white dude sporting the mysteriously unstylish haircut of a lesser Backstreet Boy. He cradled me in one arm while pulling my bike with the other. After we took a few steps away from the crowd, I could peel my sweaty head off his shoulder; he set me down and half carried, half led me to the medical tent on Halsted and Belmont, where I sat down and drank a red Gatorade on a cot across from two wild-eyed middle-aged women the blonde of fried eggs who took turns mouthing things behind the attendant's back, while a dude in handcuffs sat glumly outside the tent in the sun.

Crowds are monsters, and Pride kind of blows. I knew there was a reason I've skipped the last two years, and that reason is because every time I go, I inch closer and closer to murder. Not, to be clear, in a hate crime way, but in a "This tipsy bitch just spilled Stoli down my crop top and now I have to scalp her, I guess" way. And that totally sucks, because I love dancing and I love being nude in public and I love minority folks taking up a space generally occupied by the majority. I'm very fond of all the sexuals, homo and otherwise, and I love that Dykes on Bikes makes me cry (???) almost as much as PFLAG. I love that during the first Pride I ever attended I saw two young Latino women quietly watch the floats with strollers in one hand and each other's palms in the other, but holy fucking Christ, if I never again get my toes stepped on by some frothing drunk queen furious at me and the world for accidentally stepping on his boa or his weave, it will be too soon.
Baby Pride, Kalamazoo Style. 

I don't have the constitution for it, and it's not because of my fainting spell. That was just sheer stupidity. I'm 26, 9 months, and 22 days old, and I knew the fuck better than to bike 9 miles in 92 degree sunlight hungover and with nothing in my stomach but three cups of coffee and a Zoloft. But honey, this crop top ain't gonna wear itself. And it was bright out, and my hair was doing that late-night-out big blousy thing that can be oh so flattering, and I haven't just people watched in awhile, and I figured it would give me something to write about. I put on Madonna and D'Angelo (I know that D'Angelo isn't traditional pride music but godddddddamn if you haven't seen this scene then you haven't really lived) and danced around until I felt relatively sure I wasn't going to throw up on myself. And then, I put on the world's tiniest shorts and teeniest shirt and hit the road.

And what a road! Halsted is potholed beyond belief, but Sunday's ride was car-scarce and brilliantly lit, so I had an easy time of it until about Halsted and Barry. I got off and walked, hoping to get around some side streets to loop to Newport. A cute young man in a crop top smaller than my own reached out and lightly touched my shoulder. "Honey," he said, "I just LOVE that lipstick." We smiled at one another, basking in our respective shorts and sass.

Up ahead seemed to be throughway. We parted so I could walk forward. And then, I did something my mother has always warned against: I followed the crowd. That is how I got led to a dead end, pressed butts to nuts with strangers and their glitter pens and shouty faces, all the while apologizing to everyone who could hear me for ramming my tire up their ass. One particularly pissy, sweaty man wasn't sure if I felt stupid enough. "Huh huh," he said, in that laugh people fake when they want to underscore their disbelief, "You really should not have brought your bike to Pride Parade. I don't know what you were thinking. That was an unbelievably bad idea."

I stared at him. Less than two minutes earlier I watched a man and a woman, total strangers, hit each other for standing too close. A small hero wearing nothing but his underpants had stepped between them. "You guys," he said. "Not in this crowd. It's too big and too hot. Please stop." I looked back at my aggressor, still staring at me, his sunburn as bright as his blue eyes. I didn't even want to be at this parade: I was trying to get to an air conditioned condo a few blocks across the street.  Look, you wrinkly old queen, I wanted to say, it's not my fault your younger boyfriend thought it would be cute to make you come out here in that appalling tank top.

Instead, I said, "Now is really not the time to tell me what to do, sir." Obviously, bitch isn't my strong suit.  I also work in customer support and will sir or ma'am you to the bloody, bitter end. He blinked at me, said nothing, and like everyone else who wasn't afraid to shove those in front of him, somehow moved on. The young men and women to my right touched my hair. "Ignore him, honey," said a man. "You just stand here as long as you need."

By then, my hands were coming loose on my bike, and I could feel my eyes wanting to slide back. Everywhere, bodies pressed. At one point, my feet weren't on the ground. I looked back at my bike seat and it was purple with glitter. I wanted to start laughing, but I couldn't breathe. That was when I saw the Lesser Backstreet Boy. We locked eyes. Help, I mouthed. I can't breathe. "She can't breathe!" yelled one of the sweethearts to my right, and suddenly the crowd near riot became a crowd near angelic. Done with my own pride, I picked up the bicycle and cared naught for whom it would hit. Someone else caught on to what I was doing. A moment later, my bike went up, and I followed. Dizzy, I watched as my U-Lock swung from the handlebars, wondering if it was going to drop and clock someone on the head. Suddenly, I was at the fence, and then over the side and into the arms of the law.

Self care is a journey. Although I do fuck it up, I am not a fragile damsel. This is the first time in my life I have ever fainted/had a panic attack, and I know that last is hard to believe. Like orgasms, I thought I had had one before, but honestly wasn't really sure. Now, after Sunday I can say with certainty that I have; for, as with the Big Sneeze, there is no mistaking THAT. This is what all you other anxiety-ridden freaks were talking about all these years. I don't need saving: I carry a Swiss Army knife, and I vote so Democrat.  But, in the moment when that man lifted me AND MY BICYCLE from that seething mass of sweat and flesh and glitter--if he would have asked, today I would be Mrs. Cop.

I didn't end up at the actual parade. Instead, I texted Meg to tell her there wasn't a chance in hell I was going to make it to her party. When I finished my Gatorade, I went to find the ever steady Brian, passing him by half a block in my fever. It's always good to run into your coworkers wearing a pair of shorts that look like they were partially eaten by your own vagina, but luckily for me, Brian is a dear friend as well as the dude that sits directly behind me. After he told me I worried him when he had first got my text, we went back to his blessedly air-conditioned apartment. There, we ate ice cream and rainbow donuts and a massive slice of pizza and cooed at his plants. In return for the ride home to Pilsen, I bought him chillie rellanos and took him to my favorite murals. Before he left, we ran through the spray of a fire hydrant with a bunch of giggling little kids, and that made way better use of my bathing suit bottoms hidden under my shorts than the parade ever did.

And for the record, one of my coworkers called in sick today because yesterday he was twerking and tipped off a stage. THIS SHIT IS DANGEROUS, I AM TELLING YOU.

1 comment:

  1. HAHAHA thank you for not telling me any of this over the phone last night so I could read it all here.

    Amazing. I am glad you are okay.


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