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It's deer hunting season north of here. So I hear.
My first copy editing job was for a fishing and hunting quarterly. When I took the job I was sad that unlike campus or advocacy work, I wouldn't be around queer people all day.
I met a number of hunters. Listened to their tall tales. I listened to learn what they wanted in a magazine, to what they wanted in Bass Pro Shops, and to what they wanted in a hunt. I learned how to shoot a shotgun, how to walk fencelines to flush quail, how to behave in a deerstand and in camp, and almost how to stay warm. I learned to discern between different patterns of camo and the mating calls of turkeys. I learned that some hunters approach hunting season as an art, others as science, others as escape, or as a mission, or as work, or as a spiritual practice, or as connection to conservation, or as an homage to heritage or as a thrilling hobby. They all had their reasons. They had tricks, too, most of them put time and money and thinking into tricks, strategies, superstitions, plans and obsessions.
I knew deer hunters who bathed ritualistically, to erase themselves by removing their man-scent. They carefully dressed in their special wardrobe and spritzed themselves with the scent of apples or with actual or synthetic doe urine. They moved cautiously, thinking like a doe, walking where she would walk, mimicing mating calls or the scrape of her hooves or the antlers of lesser bucks who didn't deserve her. Their entire focus was seducing a buck, the bigger the better, wanting nothing more for hours and hours and days and day on end to pass as a doe, to pull that big buck close close closer. Close enough to possess him.
That's when I learned that we're all pretty queer, just about different things.
You Won't Believe the Shocking Thing This Woman Did, and Then Didn't Do, and We Don't Know Which Is Worse
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by selfies, liking autocorrect lists,
dragging themselves through the digital streams at dawn looking for an easy click,
curiousity-gapped headlines drooling for the pageview heavenly connection to the traffic peaks in their analytics accounts,
who buzzworthy and upfed and status-eyed and liked sat up Tweeting in the timezoned Tweetdeck of long-dead quips scheduled along with notes of contests and easy giveaways,
who broke their blogs to Pinterest or pledged TED and became inspiration spraying unneccessary advice like Iyanla illuminated
[stay tuned to view the rest in a 40 part slideshow gallery]
Here's a mystery.
Years ago I ducked into a Six Flags gift shop to wait for my kids to finish a ride and to avoid the park heat, despair and abundant metaphors for the sweet fakeout that is the American Dream. It was a specialty gift shop. The specialty was special candles, like massive sand castles that would dominate an entire shelf of an entertainmentment center and required six wicks that you know the owner would never allow anyone to use.
The southern bank of the store was a dipping station. A couple in Harley t-shirts drew my attention because they were loudly groaning and going on about the cold water their hands were submerged in. They looked, as the saying goes, rode hard and put up wet. Her hair was peroxide-lift red, and as crimped and bushy as his beard; his jeans rough and wrinkled like her neck. They seemed happy. I was rooting for them.
The candle shop girl dried off their arms and forearms and applied globs of grease. She laced her fingers through each of their hands in turn to work in the lotion. They she commanded them to hold hands and they did, thumbs and fingers each finding their rightful place. She then silently guided their joined hands in and out of a tank of hot waxy plastic stuff, building up layers, in and out, maybe twenty times. They took her lead and stood silently while it dried. Then she walked them back over for an ice water dip before carefully helping them deliver themselves like infants from the holding-hands mold.
A small crowd of us held our breath. The mold did not rip or break. The couple laughed and leaned in to each other and held hands again.
It was a large lumpy thing I couldn't imagine anyone wanting, but I'm sure he could recognize her fingers in the wax, I'm sure she could see the bend that was his thumb. I left the store at that point, so I don't know what happened next. I hope the wax made it home okay. I imagined it becoming an ornament on his Harley, magically impervious to the Georgia sun, a testament to the idea that maybe Icarus could have succeeded if he had a good woman at his side.
Why do I remember this, when I've forgotten so much. That's what I really want to know.