Emergency Preparedness – The Advocate, 5/30/2003

First, a few disclaimers: I love my country. I hate what’s happening. I’m for peace. Since when did saying you are for peace, get translated into, “I think I’ll have that darling Saddam over for dinner”? Is that a French translation? I support the troops. In this economy, it’s good to know some people have found work.

Here at home, the war mission creeps into daily life. After three Kafkaesque days on the phone with various Verizon service representatives, I began to refer to them as “The Evil Empire,” even though some of my friends are embedded in that corporation. In nightly life, FYI, a good foreplay line is not, “But, honey, whatever happened to that coalition of the willing?”

In my relationship, I have noticed a creeping unilateralism. I’m not proud of it. My forward leaning posture says, “Because I said know best.” And I have come to believe that if I repeat anything enough times, it becomes, perforce, true. Paula Zahn said we’re winning. Paula Zahn said we’re winning. . .

My governmentally sanctioned my-way-or-the-highwayism is an excuse for all kinds of bad behavior. I nod yes, yes, yes and then do whatever I damn well please. How do you think we got a couch in “Patrician pumpkin?” “Why did you buy that couch?” “God told me to.” “We cannot afford it.” “Trust me, deficit spending is good.” “Why that color?” “May I remind you we are in an orange alert?”

I had stonewalled my dear partner for weeks on our operational readiness prep, but as the MSNBC countdown clock ticked down to just how far Cher turned back time, I relented and we followed the orders of Homeland Security Bear, Tom Ridge. And they say women are hysterical.

To quell the “@#$% duct tape?” backlash, Tom had appeared in what looked like an old cardigan from Jimmy Carter, and urged people to go to Ready.gov for their instructions. That’s great for “we the people” who own computers, but it leaves out a large part of the truly unwired population. With some string and tin cans from the three days supply of stored food, they can make a phone! If they only knew they were supposed to.

Ridge also said we should talk to our families and return to normal. That leaves out a large part of the gay population whose families have not talked to them in years and who have always had a problematic relationship with “normal”. Though not the HBO movie with – yum – Jessica Lange.

According to Ready.gov, to get our preparedness mojo up to code, we had to do two things. First, pack two kits, one for home and one for travel. Second, make a plan to communicate with friends and family in an emergency.

Well, there’s nothing like planning your emergency phone tree or packing an Armageddon outta here kit to highlight your priorities. It’s one thing when “If you could bring one thing out of a burning house, what would it be?” is a fun parlor game. [Hint: The fire.] But when you’re living in a worst case-scenario handbook, your own unreality show, it’s a kick in the gut.

However, since my galpal and I travel so much, we are seasoned frequent packers. If worst comes to worst, stick near us. Chances are, if I don’t have what you need in my dop kit, my girlfriend does.

Basically, in our home kit, we have enough water and canned goods for three days, and of course, a lot of batteries. I insisted we also have as many Skinny cow silhouette bars in the freezer as will fit next to the bottle of vodka. Our emergency plan is to do whatever it takes to get back together and begin drinking the vodka.

Because that loud sucking sound you hear is the bombalicious Donald Rumsfeld draining any treasury he can to support his habit, gay orgs among others are in dire fundraising straights. A sure sign is the sad state of post benefit dinner goody bags. After a recent fundraiser, my goody bag contained a sample lemon Pledge-saturated dust mitten and a picture of some Manolo Blahnik shoes. Who could run for cover in those shoes anyway?

Hey, here’s a thought: An enterprising gay organization could combine goody bags and emergency kits for gay people. Isn’t that a funny premise? Ha ha ha, whoo-ee. Evian water for three days!! Kiehl’s new exfoliant for the quagmire. Zany, huh? And it is all dust in my mouth. Especially when I look at the names on my emergency phone tree: my dear friends, cherished gay family. The tree roots go deep and are entwined with the roots of the terrified Iraqi people, all precious beyond measure and I have no punch line.