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.