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Greyhound Story #3 (Whatcha Reading?)


I thought I wanted to move to Austin, TX. I’d never been there, but it sounded like a cool place. I decided before actually moving there, I should visit so I could make an informed decision.

A friend of a friend had a room in a co-op house in Austin. Since he was more or less living with his girlfriend, he said I could stay in his room while I visited the town.

I took the Greyhound to Austin. I don’t remember anything about the trip. I don’t remember arriving at the bus station to depart the land of my birth or how I got from the station in Austin to the co-op. I must have taken a city bus, because I’m not the type to take a taxi, or maybe the friend of the friend and his girlfriend picked me up in her SUV.

I remember the room I stayed in.  It had cinderblock walls and was very dark. It was tiny and made me think of a jail cell or a room in a mental hospital, although at that time in my life I’d never been in either. The friend of a friend had left it messy, and I didn’t find it very welcoming.

I don’t remember much about what I did in Austin. I know I walked The Strip, the stretch of Guadalupe Street passing next to the University of Texas campus. The co-op where I stayed was close to the University, so I could walk to The Strip easily. One night the friend of a friend and his girlfriend had me over to her apartment for spaghetti. I didn’t go out to listen to live music. I didn’t go out drinking in bars. I didn’t join the residents of the co-op viewing Star Wars after I was invited in the kitchen.

[amazon template=image&asin=094148324X]I did go to Half Price Books near the community health food store. I enjoyed myself there. I enjoyed walking among the thousands of inexpensive books on the closely spaced shelves. I found one to buy for myself as a souvenir of my trip Sapphistry: The Book of Lesbian Sexuality by Pat Califia.

I’d recently discovered Pat Califia when my housemate introduced to the book Public Sex, a collection of essays about sexuality in late 20th century America. From there, I discovered Califia’s collections of BDSM themed short stories, Macho Sluts and No Mercy and her dystopian novel Doc and Fluff.  I enjoyed Califia’s writing style, and the sex scenes were hot, although I realized eventually that I wasn’t into BDSM in real life.[amazon template=image&asin=B012HUS90S]

I’d never seen Sapphistry, so when I ran across it for a few bucks at Half Price Books, I scooped it up.

Compared to Califia’s other works, Sapphistry was more of a how-to book for lesbians. There were no BDSM stories, no hot sex scenes. I was a little disappointed with the content, but as a budding bisexual with precious little experience with women, I thought perhaps I could gain some knowledge from the book.

Other than Half Price Books, I didn’t like much about Austin. I barely gave it a chance, I realize now, but in less than a week, I decided I hated the place and didn’t want to live there.

I got back on the Greyhound and headed home.

I’m not a gregarious, outgoing person. I mostly keep to myself when I can, especially in public, especially on the ‘Hound, so when the loudly talking man boarded, I hunkered down in my seat. I thought if I stayed low, kept my nose in my copy of Sapphistry, and didn’t make eye contact, he’d ignore me.


He chose to sit in the seat behind me. He leaned over into my space and demanded, Whatcha reading?

A book, I replied coldly, thinking I could give him a social cue that I didn’t want to talk.

He didn’t have a clue about my cue.

I know it’s a book! he exclaimed impatiently.  What’s the topic?

There are moments in our lives when we must make split second decisions between telling lies and telling truths. I was living such a moment. If I told the man I was reading a book about lesbianism, would he think I was a full-fledged lesbian and therefore off limits or would I open myself up to homophobic abuse? There was no way to know what telling the truth might bring.

I’ve never been a very good liar. Instead of trying to make up something about the book in my lap, I just blurted out one word: Lesbians!

The man sputtered and stammered and sank into his seat.

I thought he might come at me later with some negativity, so I prepared myself by putting on my headphones and listening to Tool for the next couple of hours. The angry hate music prepared me for battle, but the man must have considered me off limits because he didn’t try to talk to me again.

Lady Party


Sixties Groovy Female Symbol by GDJHow had I ended up at this full moon party with all these rich young women?

When I looked across the room and saw my roommate, Baby Dyke, I knew the blame lay squarely on her.

The hostess of the party was a friend of Baby Dyke’s friend from work. The work friend had invited Baby Dyke, then Baby Dyke had invited me and Big Mamma and a handful of other slightly dirty, more-or-less punk, full-on-lesbian or somewhat-bisexual, women-loving-women. I guess Baby Dyke didn’t know the rule about guests of guests not inviting guests.

The first indication we were out of our league was the gate…as in gated community. This was perhaps my first foray into a gated community, but I knew it was where the rich and fearful resided.

Not to worry, Baby Dyke reassured me when I questioned our entrance into a gated community. The house wasn’t actually the home of the hostess. The woman was simply holding the party at her parents’ house. That was supposed to make me feel better? As if somehow the woman’s parents were loaded and she had access to their house, but she was working class like those of us being brought in by Baby Dyke?

We found the house and entered. The house was huge, as I’d suspected it would be, and tastefully decorated. I’ve since been in houses as fancy, but that night was a first for me.

I don’t remember being met with any hostility. All of the friends of the hostess were very polite. I realize now, they weren’t the children of the uber rich, but they’d obviously grown up with access to advantages I’d never had.

We started the evening with sangria in the kitchen. The drink was served in delicate tea cups. I remember Big Mamma laughing about the little teacups disappearing in her big hand. She was a little more somber later when she said she’d spent the whole night worried some part of her big self might smash something expensive.

We took our tiny cups of sangria out onto the back deck where we were treated to a stunning sunset view of the hills.

It’s so nice to be able to see the hills, one of the friends of the hostess gushed. So many people don’t even know they’re here.

How could they know they’re here? I wondered. If the hills are surrounded by gated communities, only people living in the gated communities can see them. But being Southern and all, I kept my mouth shut.

To this party I’d worn a polyester blend, blue and white checked housedress with a zipper up the front. I can’t remember if I’d carefully chosen this dress to wear to the party of if Baby Dyke had breezed into our home and told me I was going to a party at such the last minute that this dress was the best ensemble I’d been able to pull together. If I wore such a thing now, I’d look like what I am: a middle-aged, fat woman wearing something loose and comfortable. Back then, I was young and thin enough to believe I looked cute in old lady clothes.

The dress, or course, had been bought used. More specifically, the dress had come from the dollar bin at a really hip little second-hand store near my house. Finding the dress in the dollar bin (one step away from the rag bag) definitely marked it as not quite as hip as the other items in the shop.

I thought the dress was a reasonable party outfit. It wasn’t a dressy party. Baby Dyke and Big Mamma were wearing trousers and masculine shirts. The friends of the hostess were wearing casual summer clothes. Nobody looked too fancy.

Did you get your dress at The Gap? one of the friends of the hostess asked me.

For years, I’ve laughed at the woman. How could she possibly think the dress had come from The Gap? Nothing about the dress indicated The Gap.

Now I wonder if maybe she knew as well as I did that the dress had not come from The Gap. Although I thought of The Gap as a place where rich people shopped, perhaps she thought she was putting me down by suggesting my dress came from a place where middle-income people shopped for poorly made clothes. I don’t even know. I was absolutely naive about the ways of the rich and thought the young woman was just dumb. If she was sending a cutting insult my way, it was lost on me.

Oh, no! I told her. I explained I’d gotten the dress our of a dollar bin at a second-hand store. Any judgment from her went right over my head.

At some point, someone suggested we sit in a circle of chairs on the deck and enjoy the cool night air. I can’t remember if we went around the circle and introduced ourselves, but I do remember someone suggesting we play a kissing game. I don’t remember who exactly suggested the kissing game, but I’m pretty sure it was someone from Baby Dyke’s crew. We weren’t just dirty, punk, women-loving women. We were dirty, punk, horny women-loving-women.

For me, bisexuality was new enough to be exciting. I was still nursing a broken heart after being dumped by my boyfriend, and I thought perhaps a sweet new girlfriend might ease my pain. Alas, no sweet lady ever offered me any sexual healing.

In any case, whenever I was invited to play a kissing game, I was ready to participate. Red Lips by kuba

The hostess and her friends seemed a little hesitant. Maybe they’d never explored the loving of women. Maybe they had explored it and decided it was not for them. Whatever their previous experiences with women, they all agreed to play the game.

As my fuzzy memory clears, I think it was Big Mamma who suggested the game and explained the rules. She pulled a big slice of pineapple from the bowl of sangria. We would pass the pineapple around the circle mouth to mouth. When the slice was passed to a new gal, the woman doing the passing would bite off the chunk of fruit she’d been holding in her teeth. When a woman was presented with not enough pineapple to bite, she and the woman who’d gotten the last chunk had to kiss.

The fruit started moving around the circle. When it came to the woman to my right, I turned and used my mouth to take it from her. There was only a small piece of the fruit left, and I knew I’d get to kiss the stranger to my left.

I turned and showed her there wasn’t enough pineapple for her to bite. I swallowed what was left and puckered up, but my kissing partner balked. I don’t know if she didn’t want to kiss me in particular or any woman at all, but her quick no offense in my direction did little to soothe my fractured self-esteem. She must have wanted to kiss someone in the group because she had agreed to play, but she obviously didn’t want to kiss me.

A second piece of pineapple was put into play across the circle. There was much giggling and whooping as women put their mouths close, separated only by a bit of tropical goodness.

The fruit made its way to the woman on my right. Again, there was only a small piece of pineapple to take from her. Again, I showed the small piece of pineapple to the woman on my left, chewed it, swallowed it, and puckered my lips. Again, she who was meant to kiss me balked. This time she accused her friends, You set me up! This assurtion was maybe true, since they’d started the pineapple with the same woman as the time before. She again lobbed a no offense or two in my direction, but she’d already shattered my fragile ego.

If she didn’t want to play, she shouldn’t have played. If she didn’t want to kiss me, she should have sat next to someone else or hid in the bathroom. It wasn’t like I was going to stick my tongue down her throat or expect her to marry me, but I suppose she had no way of knowing my intentions.

I don’t know how the hostess and her friends ended up feeling about the party, but the evening was pretty much a bust for me.

Images courtesy of https://openclipart.org/detail/282925/sixties-groovy-female-symbol and https://openclipart.org/detail/176576/red-lips.


Bill Clinton, Rude Lesbians, and a Hypocrite


Surprisingly, my time at the parking lot ended as it started, with some guy trying to talk to me about Bill Clinton.

The first guy was waiting for the rest of his party to meet him at the front of the parking area when he started telling me that in his opinion Bill Clinton had included too much land in the national monument, protected too many trees from logging. While I’m not fan of Bill Clinton (or any other President, politician, or pork barrel so-and-so), I am a big fan of trees, and I didn’t give a rat’s ass about why this guy thought folks should be allowed to cut down more of them. Luckily, a car pulled in, and I jumped up to help them, effectively truncating the guy’s impending rant.

At the end of the day, a group walked up to the front to pay their parking fee. (When they’d pulled in, I didn’t know if they’d have space to park, so I told them to pay after they’d found a place for their giant truck.) I’d already packed my chair and my backpack into the van, so I showed them the self pay envelopes and where to drop theirs once they’d put the money in.

The old man with the group looked at me and said, Were you here 18 or 20 years ago when Bill Clinton….

I interrupted him and said, Nope. I wasn’t here. I’m not from California. I’d never even been to California twenty years ago.

My rambling left the guy momentarily speechless, and I jumped into my van and made my escape.

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Discuss. Bill. Clinton.

In between the two Bill Clinton guys, I had two cars of rude lesbians. No, I did not witness these women engaged in any sapphic activities. However, I’ve spent enough of my life drinking at lesbian bars (RIP Charlene’s), going to lesbian potlucks, reading lesbian literature, and hanging out with lesbians searching for some sapphic activity to have a pretty good idea of what side of the fence these women were on.

The passenger in the first car interrupted my information spiel to ask if I could renew their campground car pass. I said no, that their camp host would have to do it. She told me in a snotty little tone that their campground didn’t have a host. I said she’d have to wait for a patrol person so do it because I couldn’t renew it.

When I tried to resume my information spiel, the driver said in an angry voice, I know all that! I’ve been here many times!

Ok, great, I said, handing her the day pass and trail guide and walking off.

Seems like if she’d been there many times, she wouldn’t have had to holler at me halfway across the parking lot five minutes later, asking if there were restrooms on the trail.

I said no, that the only restrooms were in the little house in the middle of the parking lot.

She yelled back, saying she knew about those restrooms, but wondered if there were any on the trail.

I just said no ma’am, and left it at that.

The women in the second lesbian car were not verbally rude, but they tried to zip around another car whose driver was paying the parking fee. Such attempted zipping around seems like an act of aggression to me. Even if they didn’t know I was collecting a fee (and plenty of people figure it out by stopping long enough to read the sign which states the fee), even if they thought I was just shooting the shit with the people in the car ahead of them, they should have waited for me to wave them on if I had no business to conduct with them.

The hypocrite was in one of the last vehicles I collected a fee from. He was driving a big truck, and between him and the passenger, I saw a tall piece of clear plastic which looked to me like the pitcher of a blender. I thought it was some sort of trucker blender one could plug into the cigarette lighter and use to blend on the road.

Are y’all making margaritas in here? I teased.

The driver and the passenger both seemed confused.

Is that a blender? I asked.

Turns out it was a lantern, hence the tall piece of clear plastic. The lantern’s battery had run out the night before, so it was plugged into the cigarette lighter (at least I’d gotten that much right), charging.

Oh, I thought y’all were making margaritas in here, I joked again.

We don’t drink, he said, and I thought oh great, I’ve stuck my foot in my big ol’ mouth again. Then he added, We’re Christians, the implication being (I guess) that real Christians don’t drink alcohol.

As all this talking was going on, he’d handed me a $10 bill, and I was trying to hand him back a five. When I pulled out the five, three more came halfway out with it, making it look like I might hand him $20 in exchange for his $10 bill. I said oops! and shoved the extra fives back into my little accordion file.

That’s when the man showed his true colors and said something about how he’d keep those extra fives if I handed them to him.

I said, No you wouldn’t because you’re a Christian. If I gave you too much change, you would return it to me.

The he tried to say he meant he would keep the extra money if I gave it to him freely. (I didn’t think in the moment to tell him that the money wasn’t mine to give away, so if I gave it to him, it would still be stealing.)

Give me an honest drunk over a Christian with selective morals any day.

To read more about the parking lot, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/09/parking/ and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/13/wackadoodles-in-the-parking-lot/.