Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Southern Hospitality Part 2

Stacy Says It - Stacy Snyder -Southern Hospitality Part 2
“I can handle this,” I thought.  “It’s not a big deal.”

Our first “big deal” arrived in a word-of-mouth package from one of the Oklahoma transplant neighbors, Sarah, who had admitted to us that she’d never thought she’d actually be friends with a gay woman, much less a gay female couple and that she was proud of herself for treating us like anyone else, even though she knows other people don’t feel that way.

Like any couple with a new baby, our first line of business was forging a relationship with a babysitter.  Although forward in her admission of having no lesbos in her friend base, our neighbor couldn’t help but present herself as salt of earth. She was friendly, funny, non-judgmental, and would do anything for you; thus, a friendship sparked.  She had kids who were surrounding the age of our daughter, so I asked her for referrals for babysitters in our ‘all too perfect’ neighborhood, as she and her husband went out frequently and left their kids with a sitter.  She gave me a few names off the top of her head and said she’d get back to me with contact info.  After a few days, I asked her again and then yet a third time to no avail.  Finally, on a walk one day, I asked her what the scoop was with the sitters and she said that she felt badly, but that she felt obligated to contact the teenage babysitters’ parents in the neighborhood to make sure it was okay to give out their number to a lesbian couple in the neighborhood.  Once warned, the parents decided that they didn’t want their children to babysit, so as not to be influenced by “our situation.”  Just like that, the neighborhood sitters were out.

To this day, I don’t know if it was Sarah projecting her lack of comfort regarding “the situation” to the parents or the parents actually said that.  Hell, I don’t even know if she ever called the parents, as we quickly learned that Sarah, like many of the residents in the neighborhood, had a tendency to “stir the caldron” at warped speed in an attempt to cause a ruckus and render attention.  Bottom line, I felt like shit about the situation and got a bit of a chip on my shoulder from that point on.

The babysitting incident led to lots of discussion between me and Katie, me and my family, and pretty much every person I ran into that would listen, as I was just flabbergasted.  I'm assuming it either had the same effect on Sarah, or else she was excited to finally have something of interest to talk about.  She was a stay-at-home-mom, always looking for things to happen.  It wasn't two weeks later that Sarah referred me to Eduardo, the hairdresser (gay, of course) in a neighboring city that might have some connections for me in the babysitting world.  It was just like being referred to Bruno at the back bar of a gay club in the 90's, whom you ask if he has any video head cleaner and he provides you a treasured bottle of poppers for $20 - except different.  Since I didn't have a local salon to frequent, I decided to take a chance on Eduardo.  He hooked me up with a new Dallas blond "do" as well as two families' phone numbers that had kids who babysit for gays.

I never made it to the second family to call, as I hit the jackpot with the first.  The family matriarch, Tisha, had three daughters, all within babysitting age range.  I felt as if I were Uncle Tom rapping on the door with the secret knock as I explained to Tisha how I had gotten her number and why I was calling.  As if she got this type of call all the time, she started into a rehearsed speech that began with a personal apology for all the people of Texas and the way they would treat me and my family.  She went on to say that her sister is a lesbian and ultimately moved to Austin, as the climate in Dallas was just not conducive to her same-sex relationship with her life-partnership. Tisha told me Austin was much more gay-friendly and that her sister didn't have as many problems there.  I thought the speech and its content a bit dramatic, but I clearly was not prepared for what lie ahead.  Tisha's teenage girls ended up being very conscientious and sweet girls, perfect for babysitting with one exception...they lived one town away!  This meant we could have a night out, but we couldn't catch a buzz, as we had to drive one of the girls thirty minutes home and thirty minutes back to our house, which couldn't be done safely with a few cocktails under our belts.  Dammit!  We used the girls a few more times before we tapered off our affiliation due to the sheer distance and pain-in-the-ass drive.

Luckily, my sister lived right down the street.  She was ‘with child’ when we moved to Texas, so not much into going out, and happy to hang out with her niece.  She and her husband gave us a few nights out on our own during that first few months while they watched our daughter.  Later, after they had their first child, we got into somewhat of a routine of switching off weekend nights or any night, for that matter, with babysitting back and forth, as we all missed our freedom. More than that, Katie and I missed our network of friends always willing to babysit our daughter, as she was such a precious addition to a group of gay women that hung out at The Closet, where our pre-baby lives consisted of working, socializing, drinking, and partying with our friends.  Don't get me wrong, we missed our friends for the sole purpose of having good friends, too...not just for the babysitting.  However, we were still basking in the newness of suburban living and still hopeful for the potential of new and improved friends in Dallas.  Basically, we were too stupid to miss what we had in Chicago, as we thought we could just recreate a new community of friends as good as the last.  Not so much.

----excerpted from my yet-to-be-published memoir Y'all Are Gay? How I Made It Out of Texas Alive, which chronicles all the crazy, ass-backward people and things my family and I encountered in our five year residency in a northern Dallas suburb.  The real story, though, pokes fun at my own ridiculous ideas of what the world is and how I fit into it.