Dieter Saves the Day
"So," Hendrick said, as plates were passed around and chicken and rice were spooned up in generous portions. "How was your Pride?"
"Not to boast," Dieter piped up excitedly, "but I saved the day. Twice!"
"Really? What else did you do?" I asked.
Hendrick shot me a look. "Yes, what else?" he echoed.
I told the tale, with frequent (and exaggerated) interjections from my cousin. My husband and I had gone to Pride along with Dieter and Axel, and enjoyed the sights and energy of the crowd. But our day had been marred by an act of homophobic ugliness.
It wasn’t the occasional sad-looking, sign-bearing protester, usual for Pride events, that had been problematic; rather, it was a drunken and quite raucous straight couple that had provided some distasteful drama. We’d glimpsed them here and there, jeering at the gays and sniping at each other, but not thought much about it.
Then the wife (or so we assumed, anyway) boiled up out of nowhere to confront my husband out of the blue:
"You faggot! You pansy! You’re a bad man!" she shrieked.
Why she thought he was a worse man than any of the other pansies at Pride was a mystery; she didn’t bother to explain it to us, though. She simply kept on screaming, her red, contorted face a worthy image for any anti-gay placard. Yes, her twisted, enraged features would be right at home next to a legend reading, "This message approved by..." It’s a picture that’s worth a hundred thousand words. More ugly still were the alcoholic fumes pouring from her.
"Faggot!" she screamed again. "You stay away from me!" For someone worried about catching a gay germ (or whatever her problem was), she was acting more than a little deranged. He should stay away from her? Then why was she advancing on him, step by step, practically pawing the ground like a crazed beast? Why had she interjected herself into our afternoon in the first place?
To his credit, the man who was with her, though appearing equally drunk, seemed to be trying to hold her back. But his efforts were futile: the harpy shrugged him off and continued to berate my astonished husband.
I suppose that sometimes the best thing one can do when confronted by lunatic abuse is to own the situation, and I was proud beyond measure when my husband did just that.
"Hell yeah, I’m a faggot," he told the twisted-faced harridan. "You got a problem with that, lady?"
At that moment, a police officer intervened--summoned, as it turned out, by Dieter, who had spotted a uniform in the crowd and acted swiftly to bring the verbal attack to his attention. The woman’s drunken fury shifted to the cop, whom she similarly began to upbraid ("Fuck you! I’ve done nothing wrong!"). In the end, several cops were needed to quell the disturbance. As her husband looked on, the screaming woman was loaded onto an ambulance and taken away.
"What, are they taking her to a hospital?" I asked, outraged. She belonged in lockup.
"Probably a psych ward," offered Adalbert, whom we’d met up with shortly before the outburst.
"Or a church," put in Axel.
"My god," Hendrick said, as we finished our account.
"Actually," said Axel, sitting across the table from Dieter, "what I said was they were probably taking her back to her megachurch."
"You didn’t tell me you went to Pride," Manda, Dieter’s fiancée, put in.