The last few days were spent on the beach. Yes, I had a girl’s get away with my mother and sister in South Carolina. Staying in a rental property my parents renovated, it was originally planned as a celebration for the fall birthdays. Mainly, it was my mother’s. However, sometimes they tack me on too because we are both fall babies. However, my father was unable to come because of some drama at work. Of course my brother Wendell and sister in law Veronique could not score the same days off. So it became a nice pool party break in October.
Shy of two weeks ago, Skipper became engaged to Boomer. Often I say these two are the Lover archetype in Tarot and Commedia Del Arte. With a love that is pure and untouched, one is the other’s sun, moon, and stars. Sure, their public displays of affection are more sappy than a Vermont Maple Tree during syrup season. However, as a duo they are also endearing and thoughtful, always the first to reach out to others when they achieve a goal or to wish happy birthday. I can safely say like Odysseus to Penelope, it is Skipper to Boomer. Yes, they are soul mates is what I am trying to say in a conceited, intellectual, academic, and overeducated kind of way.
During one of our many beach walks, Skipper gave us the inside details of Boomer’s proposal. In order to drop the surprise, Boomer planned a lavish romantic weekend on the tropical isle of Key West. However, in an effort to get the ring insured the agent informed Boomer it could not be covered under his home owners. It wasn’t his property, it was Skipper’s.
Thus Boomer came to pick up his future bride at 4:15 AM. Skipper, always with impeccable hygiene, was brushing her teeth as Boomer was pretending to make sure all was in order. Then with tooth paste running down her mouth, Boomer popped the question. “Skipper, will you marry me?” He asked, dipped down on one knee, oblivious to the drool. This was daring, since my sister is not a morning person.
Skipper for once didn’t care about the early bugle. Seeing the ring she yelped, “I DO!!!”
While the trip to Key West proved romantic, Boomer had looked at the scenery rather than the culture. Translated, Boomer got whistled at. While the gay men were respectful of the newly engaged hederos, they did jokingly ask Skipper to pass on Boomer’s number when she was done with him. This did not put a dent in the vacation of The Lovers. Rather, their love was so deep and this new step so immense nothing could put a black blob on their pastel painting.
As we walked on the beach, Skipper informed us Boomer picked the ring on his own. We marveled at Boomer’s straight queer eye. While a man’s man, Boomer loves camping. He and Skipper also spend time at the rifle range. Skipper has a head eye for a target, but Boomer can give her a run for her money. Sure, he wears the same shirt over and over, but like all dudes in love, he strikes gold every once in a while. His pick was better than the one Skipper originally wanted. It was glamorous, beautiful, and like their love would hopefully stand the test of time.
Like a curious child, Skipper smiled silently as she realized her ring glowed a heavenly color in the noonday sun. Lost in thoughts of Boomer, my mother and I continued to chatter until we came across three Canadian fisherman up ahead. Three of the men looked like they could be swing members of ZZ Top, and one even had the beer belly to match. Two were much younger with matted hair that looked like it had not been washed in days. There was no woman around to supervise these untamed beasts. On second thought, maybe they were tamed, just allowed out of their cages for the occasional recreation.
My mother decided to strike up a conversation with them. Part of it is her social butterfly status, and in part because she believes despite my fan base being mostly male that I don’t talk to men. Skipper then snapped out of her Boomer induced trance and played hype woman to my mother. It is because Skipper always is, but also Skipper is slightly afflicted. Translated, like any people in a serious commitment, she now feels like she has to pull any and all single people into the net throws of her freedom losing cult. It’s not her fault. It’s almost something one has to sign in blood the second they put a wedding or engagement ring on. While some calm down, others eternally throw arrows at their single friends and family members.
On holiday from Toronto, the men relayed they were on the beach trying to catch sharks. Apparently, they had some luck. Right away, they were ready and willing to brag. “Caught a tiger yesterday.” One of the young ones said holding a photo. He wore a Parris Island United States Marine Corps shirt. He wasn’t a Marine though, because if he was he would have told us that the second he saw us. Marines are like that, they feel they need to get it off their chests.
Speaking of chests, ZZ Top 1 then changed the subject. “We are having some issues over here.” He relayed, beer in hand. “You see, we want to know what women prefer, hair on the chest or no hair on the chest?”
Yes, women we have never met, this matter is of urgent importance. We realize there is the usual genocide in the Sudan and a war in the Middle East, but this matter is number four on the list of our worries because economy has to be number 3. This is life or death, please advise.
My mother, despite being affable to male company, is still a married woman. In all correspondences, verbal or written, she always considers my father’s feelings as if he were there watching like a hawk. I suppose this is what helps keep her union with my father going strong as it is. There was no way she could be their Solomon. Then Skipper stared at her ring as a reminder of the absence of her beloved Boomer. While in reality he could not get the time off to accompany us, from the look in Skipper’s eyes, Boomer had gone off to fight a war possibly never to return. So the duty fell upon me to settle their debate.
The second ZZ Top pointed to the middle where I was to stand to settle this matter. Chest hair wasn’t just chest hair, it was everything to these men, Goddamnit. So, as if I were a wise tribal chief, I stated, “It’s not the hair on the chest, it’s the man behind the hair or lack thereof.” It was a noncommittal response to their plaguing question, and that way their fragile egos would not be crushed by a complete stranger.
Our neighbor’s to the North seemed satisfied and let out a loud whoop. Then my mom said, “She’s an entertainer in New York!” My face turned bright red. It felt odd already talking to these randos and settling their masculine debate. Now I wanted to jump into the ocean and have a shark eat me. There is nothing like trying to have your mother force you to flirt.
“That’s awesome! A singer too!” One of young, unwashed slurred in his drunken state. That is when my mother posed me with the young man who hugged me afterward. He was nice looking. Perhaps I would not make myself shark food today.
After we wished the Canadians well, I asked my mother what she was thinking. My mother explained that she was trying to initiate “the hook up.”
“That’s trashy. I don’t know them.” I protested.
“That just means to say hi.” My mom said. “I heard them say it on TV.”
“Mom, it means to have sex. Never use that word again.” I told her.
Skipper agreed. Then we switched the subject back to the chatter at hand. Yes, the stupid things men fixate on. Chest hair and penis size. The luxury of being male, especially a straight white male. Always on the upper end of the paradigm, sexism is a real and lifetime struggle. Suddenly, I felt the feminist in me boil up and got ill. I confessed in my next life I wanted to come back as a man and enjoy the perks. My mother told me she used to feel the same way, but then she explained, “Then I realized there was a lot of chest pounding involved and that might get old and hurt after a while.”
Then we began to wonder why men got caught up on these stupid things like chest hair and penis size. Skipper then relayed that during her job at the hospital, she encountered some Japanese men who suffered from Shrinking Penis Syndrome. These men did very real and dangerous things to ensure their Johnson was not shrinking. While the condition was psychosomatic, they believed their Love Wand was disappearing.
Skipper also explained that there were also penis implants available. She made the hack joke and explained an ER patient of hers requested a black penis because he thought his luck with women would improve. Then Skipper also informed us that a man came into the hospital requesting a horse dong but this could not be done because it was species to species.
As my sister chatted away, explaining to us that she met Boomer while manually retracting an anus, a phrase she uses serious and sober as a judge to tell the story of her meeting with her fiancé, she looked like a princess. Skipper was marrying her prince. They were The Lovers. Of course, it made me think of the time I was engaged and how that ended in disaster. Then of course I also recalled Holden, the fugitive I played house with for several days before he had to leave the state. I would have married Holden in a heart beat.
As I looked at the ocean I know in my heart I got close to being married but never did it because I know it isn’t for me and may never be. No man owns me, and hopefully he will never tether me by making me take his last name, a brand of slavery under the boot of an oppressive overseer. Yet at the same time, my sister was taking the plunge into forever with Boomer. While it is brave to defy convention, it is also brave to say the words “till death do us part” and really mean it. Granted, maybe you will be wielding an axe when they leave this world but still……
Is Swashbuckler a sexual preference? Yes, I am a swashbuckler. The ocean is like me, untamed. Adventure is my middle name. I would have gladly found the Canadian fisherman myself if my mother had not made it so awkward. Still, my swashbuckling and adventuring gives my trunk full of puppets and closet full of costumes lots of stories. A swashbuckler belongs to the wind and world. My art is my first love. No man can rip me away.
Just then I remembered good old Robert Louis Stevenson, the ultimate swashbuckling adventurer despite is consumption, was reeled in by Fanny Osbourne and had his butt kicked frequently by his combination wife and mother. Maybe there will be a time that I stop my swashbuckling. Maybe I will feel the need to stop my sword swinging, adventuring, and storytelling life. Maybe I will want the wind and the world to give me up to one man. Maybe I will let the paradigm make me it’s minimum security prisoner. Nah…..
So I looked over at my sister. Skipper’s ring continued to emit light like a heavenly orb. Prince Boomer could rest assured no harm would come to his fair maiden. My father could also rest assured no harm could come to his queen. They were in the company of a true swashbuckler.
Thus the three of us continued to comb our way down the beach: The Princess, the Swashbuckler, and the Queen Mother in between them. The entire way, we talked Skipper’s wedding and gossiped about the simplicity of the male species.
And with no men around we lived happily ever after.