watching your mouth

One never knows when one might have a small run in with the police.

And so it was on Monday, when we fled my ivory tower and ran to the Starbucks we watch from my window.  A doppio for The Dane, an iced chai for me.  And Madeleines. Proustian. -ish.  The guys behind the counter were familiar:  one is just-a-guy, the other is rather odd.  He and I initially bonded over our hair, which we consider mutually fantastic.  This had happened in the middle of the street a few months earlier:  I saw him, he saw me and we said, simultaneously:  “I love your hair.”

He is young and slight and more pale than I am.  His mouth is a small and frighteningly angular cupid’s bow.  As for his hair, suffice to say he knows his way around a flat iron.  And he’s what The Dane has come to refer to as one of my “fanboys”:  a small collection of young gay men who seem to have made me their own private Liza.  I view this with gratitude, because I never had fanboys until a couple of years ago, when I began to attract them like flies to honey.  They’re always young.  Somewhat outrageous in appearance.  And comfortable in their own skin.  Getting comfortable in my own skin was a very, long road with a lot of weird turns, so I cherish their acceptance.  Or acknowledgement.  Or kindness.  Whatever it is, it’s precious.

And I digress.

Fanboy made our drinks and while the doppio was fine, my chai was hot, not iced.  (Stay with me.)  I pointed at it, horrified:  “I’m sorry, darling.  Did I get this wrong?”  I was assured it was absolutely no problem to change, but both just-a-guy and Fanboy told me I was no longer welcome in their Starbucks.  “Never come back again.  You will not be served.”  This was in jest, mind you.  They were being cute.  I swear.

The Dane was sitting at a high top, Madeleine melting in his mouth, smiling.  I rolled my eyes, not really wanting to know if I’d mis-ordered or if they’d mis-steamed.  I’m not into blame shifting anymore.

It was then we noticed the Chicago Police Officer.  It was impossible not to notice because when he reached for his frappucino (and here a note to Officer Rodriguez:  you should lay off the whipped cream, sir), Fanboy gestured toward my untouched hot chai and offered sweetly, “Would you like to take this?  Maybe for your partner?”

I don’t put other people’s things in my mouth.”

His words stomped like jackboots on the little Monday camaraderie between a gentle boy, just-a-guy, a Dane and a dilettante.  Thumped our levity.  He rotated on a squeaky heel and marched off.

“Ohmigod,” I said to The Dane, and we turned to see Fanboy staring at us from behind the counter.  His cupid’s bow mouthed the word, “Right?!?”  And we two nodded.  Just-a-guy slid over. “Did he just say…?” and we three nodded in unison.

As we left, I told Fanboy that I was going to see if I could find some used gum on the sidewalk.  He asked if I’d pick up a cigarette butt for him.  We smiled, but in truth my knees were a little weak as I detest unnecessary meanness.  By the time we got home, I was fully incensed.  And felt compelled to call the police.

The Dane occasionally thinks I’ve gone mad.  Occasionally, I believe he’s right.

I complained to the woman at the 1-800-police-misbehavior-line, but realized she thought I was complaining about Starbucks.  “Stay with me,” I asked, and then explained how I live in a unique neighborhood:  a landmark district where it’s become too expensive for me to buy my own condo, amidst a new university center housing the (gazillion) students attending downtown schools.  A block south of Chicago’s Loop.  Near Immigration Services.  In the heart of the tourist corridor.  We’re diverse and I told her we celebrate our diversity by being really, really nice to each other.  And not saying hateful things.  Or making crude innuendos.  Especially when they’re uncalled for.  And furthermore, I pointed out, this officer was outside his district and thus was, in essence, our guest.

How did I know this to be true?  The Dane got his badge number.  Clever habibi.

The woman asked if I wished to formalize my complaint and have it turned over to Internal Affairs.  She may have been trying to intimidate me, but as I have affairs neither internal nor external for which I am inclined to be intimidated, I provided everything:  my name, address, phone.  The sign of my zodiac.

The Dane was amused and took me to dinner.  Returning home later, we saw just-a-guy and Fanboy still working.  And so we went in.  And told them what we’d done.  Well, what I’d done.

“You are such a BAD ASS!” Fanboy mouthed/whispered/silent-screamed and otherwise shot at me with that odd and angular cupid’s bow.  And I knew I’d just risen to the rank of she-hero.

As we walked toward my building, The Dane remarked upon the day’s event by saying that in Denmark, what the cop said would have been considered quite funny.  But Fanboy calling me a bad ass would have been an insult to all.

Multiculturalism knocks.


About sherchez

A busy little dilettante: obsessive, sensualist, Chicagoan, Odensian, wanna-be Berliner. Designer, lover, traveler, ex, mother, sister, daughter, ex. Maker of thin lines, teller of stories, patron of the stage, collector of words I can’t pronounce in languages I don’t know. Occasional blonde and owner of dubious sanity. In a world that now seems too twisted for words, I seek diversion in this ivory tower. That’s my bicycle. And I need to ride.

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