Her most recent book, An American Queer, a collection of “The Amazon Trail” columns, was presented with the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Society Award in Anthology/Collection Creative Non Fiction. This, and her award-winning fiction, including The Raid, The Swashbuckler, and Beggar of Love, can be found at:
I suppose I’m at my dorkiest about my stuffed animals. I have my first teddy bear, Buzz. I have the two cats Carol from Connecticut sent: Elga Wasserman (after my first attorney) and the appealingly homely Samo. Of course, I’ve kept the last one my mother gave me, a high femme rabbit in an extraordinary Easter bonnet who I may finally name. I’m thinking: Karin Kallmaker.
It’s Patty the Publisher’s fault. I never thought of myself as dorky until she told me the ways she’s dorky. Not that there’s anything wrong with a grown person traveling around North America and Western Europe to visit Hard Rock Cafes for the sole purpose of purchasing empty, Café branded beer steins.
This could be a whole new industry: Dorky Travel Destinations Unlimited. Bigger than Olivia, bigger than RSVP, bigger than Royal Caribbean and Holland America combined.
I have no fear of becoming a hoarder, and no shame. It’s a requirement of dorkiness to feel no shame.
The dawn of dorky came early for me. I have not been able to discard a post card since I was an adolescent, a time when I should have been at the peak of coolness. The cards have been sitting useless in gaudy cookie tins for decades, but recently, my sweetheart came upon a sweetheart deal: free card racks from a bookstore going out of business.
Yes, I married another semi-pro dork. Postcards are one of the common passions that brought us together. A 1950’s giveaway postcard of a boring turquoise and pink motel will have us beyond ourselves with excitement. If the motel’s neon sign is included, that’s a definite bonus: the Sea Breeze Motel, the Hillcrest, the Silver Moon, the Summit, the Oasis—all time-honored humdrum names glamorized by neon.
Dorkiest Confession: I loved the film “Napoleon Dynamite.” I even possess Napoleon Dynamite, The Complete Quote Book. In mint condition. Jealous? I’ll share a Dynamite quote: “I like your sleeves. They’re real big.”
Some of our kind friends send postcards from faraway places; Brussels, Orkney, Barcelona, Devon. When my sweetheart and I travel, which mostly means local jaunts, we might stumble on a town so small it doesn’t have a traffic light, a flashing yellow light, or a stop sign, but maybe it has a handwritten poster board advertising an EVENT. This summer we found one such EVENT which turned out to be a combination flea market, craft fair, and what-have you. The only customers, we tried to buy an item from a local junk metal sculptor, but it was already spoken for and the only other one he had was in a relative’s yard. The relative was, unsurprisingly, in the same booth, selling odds and ends and okay with letting the piece go. The artist was sprawled in a lawn chair, pretty clearly not up to the driving a couple of miles to make the sale.
Wherever we go, we turn into our dorky tourist selves. I’m still talking about the International Police Museum in tiny Rockaway Beach, Oregon. We got the t-shirts—not exactly matching. That would be too dorky. We were even more thrilled to snag their Junior Police stickers. Check it out, the museum web site says the curators (read: town volunteers) are planning an exhibit of dental forensics and while there, you can take your own fingerprints.
Yes, naturally we dressed up our late dog, Beastie. We wouldn’t be very dorky if we hadn’t. She had a jester’s hat, antlers, a faux shearling-lined black jacket, and a t-shirt identifying her as a security guard. Yes indeed, I commissioned a portrait of Bea after she died. It was for my sweetheart, who may have loved little Bea more than she does me.
Further dorkiness: because we’re so well accepted in our heavily non-gay community, we not only attend and work at, but enjoy the monthly potlucks, ladies’ lunches, ice cream socials, men’s breakfasts, and other shockingly fun activities. If the neighbors could only have seen me as a teenager in butch drag, underage, smoking, drinking, dancing at The Sea Colony—well, I guess they all have pasts too. They certainly know how to enjoy dorkiness.
My sweetheart did me one better. Our first potluck cemented her in the community forever when she joined in on the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time since high school. Come the winter holidays, she was over the moon singing Christmas carols with the neighbors who, like true dorks, notice these things.
When Patty the Publisher enlightened me about my true nature, she also owned up to a collection of shot glasses. She doesn’t drink. Now that’s dorky.
I didn’t admit to decades of longing for one of those hokey Kitty-Kat clocks with moving eyes and tail. My sweetheart gave me one a couple of years ago. True dork-love.
“There’s no fear when you’re having fun,” wrote mystery writer Will Thomas.
There’s plenty to fear in today’s world. The antidote? Make time to watch “Jeopardy” daily, play Mahjong every other Tuesday, visit the floral exhibit at the county fair. Be your inner dorky queer. It’s as okay to do what we love as it is to love who we love.
But hands off my Napoleon Dynamite book and Karin the high femme rabbit.