Atlanta Airport

So what do you do when you’re two hours early for your flight? Read, think, sleep, watch people, eat bad food, look for drama, make to-do lists (which I’ll lose somewhere), write an email, cruise on-line, create a new workout for the gym (which I’ll forget about by the time I get home), outline a play in my head, think about the next class I’m teaching – in short, I take a mini-vacation on a large linoleum floor.

Sunday morning I was sitting outside of security, killing time, grazing on overly dry jerky and wondering if it’s too early to transplant Hostas in the northeast. A guy catches my eye: he’s cylindrical –a fireplug of a guy wearing LL Bean khakis to tight in the butt, a tan shirt and a wide, black belt that chokes his belly button and is damaging at least two internal organs. I get this image of a human cigar in my head and smile. When he looks my way, I quickly look down; don’t stare, Gary, don’t stare. “You got the time?” I look up to find the Cigar Man looking down at me. I feel guilty for some reason but don’t let on.

“No, I’m sorry,” I say, “I don’t wear a watch. Wait, I have a phone.” Never mind that we’re in an airport and there are clocks EVERYWHERE. I search my pockets, then my back-pack and just as I’m about to lift my phone out, Cigar Man says: “You one of those guys that likes guys?” he almost whispers. I’m only a little alarmed.

“Yeah. What gave me away? Did a rainbow fall out of my mouth when I answered your question?” I smiled to let him know I wasn’t offended . . . yet. He flips an index finger at my neck. “Your powder-blue winter scarf.” “It’s just a scarf,” I sort of laugh.

“Yeah, but, you know, it’s powder blue,” he volleys back. I laugh out loud; he’s really not trying to be a jerk, I’m pretty sure. But the thought that there’s a universal color wheel with clear demarcations of straight colors and gay colors seems very Liberace-informed to me. Now Cigar Man is rocking on his feet, looking nervous and no longer looking me in the eye. I brace myself for the worst. He blurts out:
“I gotta a good friend coming through that gate in about five minutes. Last night he calls me. He tells me he can’t wait to see me and go on our annual camping trip, see? And then he says he’s got something to tell me. He’s GAY, for God’s sake! And he wanted to tell me in case I don’t want to go camping with him anymore. I’ve known this dude for 30 years and now all of a sudden, he’s gay. So Gay Guy to Straight Guy, what do you think I should do?” 

I don’t hesitate: I’m brave with this stranger, empowered by the magical, gay blue scarf. “Tell him everything’s okay. Tell him you love him. That’s what he wants to hear.”

“He knows that.” He’s panicked.

“Maybe so, but he needs to hear it now more than ever.”

Cigar Man spots his friend breaking through the crowd. “JOEEEEEYYYY!!!” He races to his friend, and this power house of a fireplug grabs Joey, lifts him off the ground, shakes him in the air like a salt shaker, drops him and hugs the breath right out of him.

#LoveWins #TheLiberaceEffect #ItsNotILoveYouAnywayItsILoveYouMore