Made him smell them

January 11, 2012

Everyone loves to laugh at them. So it seems. On television. But not in the supermarket. And not in the local pub. At one point when my hair had grown to the middle of my back my mother was afraid that I was becoming one. Gay. She wanted me see a psychiatrist. I reminded her that Jesus had long hair. Sometimes its not worth winning an argument. One of my best friend’s brother is gay. Funniest guy you’d ever meet. Like Larry David in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. He was in a restaurant one time. When he went to the washroom he discovered that there was no toilet paper. Demanded to see the manager. He held his hands up to the manager’s face.  Made him smell them. And demanded to know what he was expected to do now.

This story is just about people in business together. It doesn’t matter if they’re gay or straight. Or any other arrangement. You gotta love anyone who can make you laugh.




Big Bob bit down. First saw James Garner with Doris Day. Didn’t know what the attraction was. James was better looking. Doris didn’t smoke. But there was always a cigarette. On his lip and looked around. What a sight. The aisle of the drug store. All that product. Moving. As fast as it could be stocked. Maybe it wasn’t James Garner. Could have been Rock Hudson.

“Was this necessary?” Bob asked. Bob looks like Rock. Same overwhelming height. And broad shoulders. Women looked like dwarfs next to him.

Tom Payne was Bob’s friend. He was short. Like Tom Cruise. Who he looked like.

Tom and Rock. Same good looks. In different sizes. Like Macdonald’s.

Tom Payne looked at the pile of paper towels. Stacked like the Alamo. Oh look, there’s Davy Crocket up near the air conditioning. Tom winked. And stretched. Reaching for the top package. But could not. Big Bob took a two step. Put one foot in between two of Tom’s. And grabbed the package. He handed it to Tom who put it in his cart.

“Was that necessary?” Tom asked and shook the long brown hair of his wig. Was there a knot? Was there something he had forgotten. To wear. To do up. To surrender.

“You!” Big Bob tried to explain. “Dressed up like…”

Tom was dressed in a dress. Bob was miffed.

“You don’t mind me dressing up in the apartment.” Tom had his own arguments. Mostly aimed at excusing his behavior. And he was thirsty. Shopping did that to you. More than once Tom had felt on the edge of exhaustion. Should have brought a bottle of… something. Too exhausted to say what.

“That’s different.” Bob retorted. Bob was big on retorts. He’d always wanted to be a lawyer but his grade eleven marks weren’t up to snuff.

Tom looked at Bob for a moment and shook his head. Why can’t he enjoy this moment? Tom turned and grabbed a bottle of dish detergent then gestured to another stack of potato chips. Bob grabbed one, than two, of the packages.

“It’s no different,” Tom dropped the dish soap on top of the potato chips. Sure to crush them. Or make them into chicken feed. Tom checked his list again. “I think we’ve got enough cat food.”

“We should have,” Bob replied. “The cat died last month.”

Tom looked at Bob. His voice breaking. A tear ran down his cheek and slipped into his mouth. Where it hid. For the time being. Later to slide out and run down his chin.

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“What was there to say? Hair Ball was eighteen years old. She had her day.”

Tom took a tissue out of his purse and blew his nose. God, he felt like shit. He missed Hair Ball.

“I would like to have known.”

“You hated the cat,” Bob said.

“No matter. Hair Ball was family.” Tom sniffled. “You don’t have to like family to feel close to them. You don’t understand what it means to be family. Brought up like you were. Almost an orphan. Eating food directly out of tins. Never cleaning pots. Couldn’t your father have learned to cook?”

“What else is on the list?” Bob asked impatiently. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Why do you have to rush me?” Tom shook his head. “You’re always in such a hurry. You miss so much in life if you don’t take time. All things are enjoyed slowly. That’s something else you could blame on your old man. God, did he ever take you to a ball game? A dad should take his son to a ball game.”

Tom didn’t sound like Tom Cruise. More like Tony Randall. And Bob didn’t sound like Rock Hudson. More like Tony Randall.

“This can’t be good for business,” Bob said. And wondered why he had said it. It wasn’t business they were talking about. But the argument still held some water. So Bob was reluctant to give it up.

“You’re always so worried about what other people think. You have to live for yourself, Bob. All the time we’ve been together and you never learned a thing.”

“This is so exhausting. You’re so exhausting. It’s like you’re purposely trying to drain me of my last shred of patience.”

“You’re so afraid of intimacy,” Tom said, sniffling.

“And you’re living on Hallmark cards,” Bob replied. “Our life has come down to a series of melodramas. We’ve become the stereotypical flag raging faggots. It’s too stupid!”

“At least I’ve got my feelings.” Tom wiped his nose. “What happened to you, Bob? So cold. So out of touch with your…”

“Tom, you’re dressed up… in a dress.” Bob shook his head. “People suspect that we’re a gay couple but you don’t have to rub their nose in it. You’re not going to wear that dress in the shop, are you?”

“Of course not,” Tom responded. “I have a lovely pokka-dot item that I thought was more appropriate. And cross-dressing has nothing to do with one’s sexual preferences.”

“God, Tom. Wake up. We’re running a hardware store.”

“What’s that got to do with it?”

“Hardware!” Bob sighed. “Guys come in looking for nails, hammers, screws, don’t want to see you in a dress.”

“You don’t find me attractive?”

“I didn’t say that.” Bob took a deep breath. And looked around the drug store. “Could we have this conversation at home?”

Tom stared at Bob. And then smiled.

Actually Tom sounded just like Doris Day. And Bob like James Garner.

“Oh you little devil,” he said and smacked Bob’s hand coquettishly.

Bob glared at Tom.

“Don’t push this, Tom. I’m begging you not to push this.”

“Oh, don’t be silly, Bob. You always overreact.”

“Quit dismissing me!” Bob cried.

Tom laughed and waved his fingers in Bob’s face. Bob turned and before he could stop himself, sent Tom to the floor with one blow.

Bob looked down at Tom who was out cold. His mouth dropped. He dropped to his knees and leaned over to make sure that Tom was breathing. When he discovered that he was still pushing germs out, he lay on the floor beside his friend.

“Move over darling,” he said. And fell asleep.


One Response to “Made him smell them”

  1. Very very funny. I’l go to sleep now…smiling.

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