The American Alpine Club Probably Hasn’t Seen a Fundraiser Like This

So, I was looking at the American Alpine Club’s web site today, and I learned that in regard to the campground they are building at the New River Gorge, they are giving front page billing to the horses pulling out logs.  Very studious looking horses:

“I’m hung like a horse. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m average. Maybe not quite average. But when I see the other horses on the nature shows, I don’t think anyone seems to enjoy it anyway. Maybe we should talk about this log we’re both pulling here.”

I wonder if the AAC has been made aware that we are throwing them what is probably going to be the most interesting rock climbing fundraiser ever.  I can’t even tell you yet all of the reasons why it’s going to be interesting, but let’s look at the evidence that is admissible…

First, it’s being hosted by a drag queen:


Our very own, Porsche Ferrari.  We didn’t even have to hire one, we already had one.  See those climbing arms?

But that’s not all!

We at Homo Climbtastic were concerned that it wouldn’t take long for other climbing clubs to throw fundraisers with drag queens–they do perform for dollar bills after all–so we made sure that we got a drag queen who can wear stilts:

When they told you that Barbie was a lie and that it was anatomically impossible for you to have long legs, they were just lying to make you feel better about yourself.

We really can’t risk being outdone.  If I had some non-stilt-wearing drag queen, and then Tyler Wilcutt went and got a stilt wearing drag queen for Beg Borrow & Steel, I would not be amused.  He may climb way harder than me, but fuck if he’s going to throw a better fundraiser. (His fundraiser pays for the permadraws I cheat up at Fosters so I encourage you to go to his too.)

So we’re taking over the Cantrell’s pub in FAYETTEVILLE, West Virginia, on SATURDAY NIGHT, JULY 28th, 2012, from 7:00pm on to 9pm (or so?) with an AUCTION to benefit the AAC campground and its two studious horses.  Not only will we be auctioning climbing swag, but also Homo Climbtastic tee shirts, all to benefit the AAC.  And it’s open to the Fayetteville community at large, so we’re hoping all you local residents out there will come join in on the fun.  Perhaps you’re straight and looking for something entertaining to do besides hitting up the Oak Hill Dairy Queen, or you’re gay and the other 8 people on Grindr aren’t looking.  Whatever the reason, you should come and hang out regardless of whether you want to bid on stuff.

And if Porsche isn’t enough to bring you out, well, A) fuck you, but B) we got more! Lots more!  We also have…

Madaleine Sorkin and Lizzy Scully.  Picture of Lizzy:

Lizzy knows that it’s important to be color coordinated when climbing dihedrals. Otherwise, you might as well just stay home.

Madaleine, just the other day, and by just the other day I mean two fucking days ago, sent a 35 pitch 13b.  Cause that’s just how she rolls when she’s prepping for a big queer climbing convention.  I know that’s how I start my day: “I’m gonna go climb something that Rock & Ice is going to report on cause it’s still a month until I co-host a climbing club fundraiser with a drag queen on stilts cause that’s just how I fuckin’ roll.”

Actually, for me it’s more like, “I’m gonna tool around in my bed on Grindr for two hours and talk to guys I have absolutely no intention of meeting anywhere ever and then maybe I’ll write some contracts and file a lawsuit and take a nap.”  Sometimes I play Mass Effect. Oh fuck you, I enjoy my life.

Picture of Madaleine:

Thirteens on trad you say? Don’t mind if I do! Why don’t we just do it thirty-four more times and make a day of it?

Lizzy is her partner/manager/love-muffin who, if there is any parallel to every other dirtbag/non-dirtbag climbing relationship that exists in the entire universe, keeps Madaleine from turning into that little monster in the Lord of the Rings trilogy shouting “precious!” when Madaleine sees two ounces of pesto remaining in a jar in the trash that she subsequently loses in her tent because there’s so many unemptied pee-bottles everywhere that you can’t see anything.  Instead, she’s probably living somewhere with running water and has no idea what state she’d be in if left to her own devices.

So, you have them.

Third, you have yet another co-host, Jim Logan:

The green route is ok, but the purple route is faaaaaaabulous.  Although Logan did the red route.

Ok, so obviously that isn’t a picture of Logan.  But it is a picture of a first ascent that Logan did that wasn’t repeated for 29 years, which, I assume, may have something to do with the fact that it’s one of those climbs where if you find out you can’t pull one of the moves halfway up, you can’t get down, so you freeze to death.  I thought cute straight boys were a great source of motivation, but obviously I should be giving them guns to shoot me if I grab the draws.

That the fundraiser is in the middle of the world’s largest LGBTQ and friends climbing convention in the world, with all of its wacky participants, is just icing on the cake.

Also Nancy is hiring a famous band to play music after.

So there you have it: the most shit-awesome climbing fundraiser you have ever seen.  SATURDAY NIGHT, JULY 28th, 2012, 7:00pm.  At Cantrell’s pub, in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

How to Dirtbag the HC Convention (and alternatively, how to live the high life)

For some odd reason, people keep asking me if there are discounts available to attend the HC convention.  But I can’t give them one, because the HC convention is FREE.  No charge.  We don’t make a dime off this thing.  We don’t even accept swag from vendors.  We actually spend money driving around to places and hosting this web site and so forth.  We do accept meals and drinks from people attending though.  Feel free to buy us food.  I’m hungry.

You don’t need to rob banks to attend the HC convention. But if you do, hips back, shoulders forward, pursed lips, couture pose!

Anyway, since many of you live out of vans, I figured I’d give you the heads up.  If you’re trying to get through the convention on the cheap, here’s pretty much the minimum to get by and still have 99% of the fun:

  1. Make your own food, but save $9 to get breakfast at the Vandalian on Sunday morning.  Cantrell’s is preparing breakfast for those who pre-order it, but everyone will be moseying around together eating at the campground regardless of whether they eat the Cantrell’s breakfast.  There’s a nearby Kroger and Walmart south of Fayetteville.
  2. Skip the rafting on Friday.  You won’t be able to see me, because I’m going rafting on Friday, but more people will be climbing than rafting, so you won’t feel left out.
  3. Camp at Cantrell’s.  Yes, you *could* camp somewhere else, but the $7 a night rate is the cheapest camping available.  So you might as well camp with us.  If you’re REALLY scrimping, there’s free rustic camping offered by the NPS, but you’ll spend more in gas driving your mattress-carrying van to and from us than you’ll save.
  4. Don’t forget any gear.  This is probably what nails people.  For less than $45 you’ve covered your camping, and you’ll probably need another $50 for a week’s worth of gas and food depending on your tolerance for ramen, but coming all this way to Fayetteville only to discover you left your climbing shoes at home will instantly nail you for more than you were planning to spend the entire trip.
  5. DON’T SPEED ON INTERSTATE 19.  This is the most heavily ticketed highway in the universe.  West Virginians LITERALLY DO THE SPEED LIMIT.  If it says 55, you drive 55.  60 and they literally might pull you over, 65 and they will definitely pull you over.  Again, whole price of the trip = 1 speeding ticket.  More than ten over here and in West Virginia is a misdemeanor or some bullshit.

But what if you want to enjoy the fact that you’ve been working a real job?  What if you want to live a life of luxury?  Well, there’s certainly nothing stopping you. Based on my visits to the New, this is what I would throw my money at:

  1. Buy a t-shirt.  Fact: The most effective way to buy happiness is to spend money on planning experiences, having experiences, and remembering experiences.  So it won’t be just an object, it’ll be an object that reminds you of all the routes you crushed.  Pick one up Saturday night at the pub, or any other time you see Madaleine running around.
  2. Pre-order the Thursday-Saturday Cantrell’s breakfast and the Saturday night Cantrell’s dinner.  Nancy’s cooking is really good y’all.  And hell, eat out all the time!
  3. Go rafting on Friday.  It’s fun, and you won’t feel weird about not climbing for a day, because this is the New after all, one of the most famous rafting destinations ever.  Worth the $89 if you have it.  Also it includes lunch.
  4. Stay in a cabin.  Maybe a really nice cabin.  Forget bugs and heat!  The on-site cabins are more basic, but in Fayetteville, you can get as fancy as you could possibly want.  Multi-million dollar cottages over looking the gorge?  Why not?
  5. Drive fast anyway.  Fuck ’em!


WV Part 4

Inevitably, there is a day on every climbing trip that becomes known as the death march.

There is no logic to the death march.  Perhaps you have one climber who has climbed ridges in Austria, and the other has hacked her way up a series of ice pitches punctuated by snowy dunes.  And yet, somehow, a thirty minute–

Laurie: “It was an hour.”

An hour long–

“Probably more.”

An hour, or so, long hike on completely level ground–

“Not at the end.”

Except at the end, becomes known as the Death March Wherein Alex Forced Everyone To Go to An Area That Only Had Climbs He Could Do.

“None of the women could do.”

“I refuse to contemplate gender in this matter.”

“Half the group couldn’t do, plus another guy.”

So there were a lot of climbs that only me and Jon and Nathaniel and Josh Cumberland could do.

“You were the only one able to lead any of them, except for the one on the left that Nate put up.”

But how often do I run into Josh Cumberland?  Not often enough, and I figured, if there’s ever a time to see if I can cry, cheat, and scream my way up Skull in the Hole, I might as well do it with a cute straight boy to impress and nobody available to get my draws down to give me that extra piece of motivation.  Which worked, by the way.  The crux went perfectly fine, and I pulled the move after one kind of test hang, but for reasons that I don’t quite understand, the most anxiety producing fall is also the safest, which is the one from pulling over the lip.  I blanked my memory what I did exactly to hang on, but whatever it was, it required a lot of being all butch after to show how not about to shit my pants I was.

And for those of you out there about to tell me that Skull in the Hole is soft and just used by losers who need a soft-rated overhangy route to impress people with, FINE.  You CAUGHT ME.  GUILTY.  Maybe the route should be called Dick in the Hole because that’s what you’re using it for.

(I can imagine my homo readers writing down “Skull in the Hole” in their list of “Twelves to make people think I climb twelves” list, now that Rochampeaux got the axe.  P.S.: Skull in the Hole is easier!)

But I don’t deserve that much animus, because it wasn’t like there was anybody there I could conceivably have sex with.

“No, but you’ll climb it later and pretend you flashed it when there’s some hot gay guy with you.”

“If I was planning on doing that, I certainly would not be blogging about it so potential hot gay guys would find out I had to grab draws to get up a soft twelve.”

“Nobody reads your blog.”

It’s true, you’re one of like, thirty.

“I mean, I read it, but only cause I’m in it.  The other ones I just skim to see if I’m in it.”

No one seems the least bit concerned that I slogged through all those mountain biking trails yesterday.  For whatever reason, I find biking on the road more entertaining, maybe because there’s a constant change in scenery.  When I’m mountain biking, it’s just trees.  Followed by more trees.  But really, I’m not even looking at the trees, I’m looking at rocks on the ground and the bottom of trees.  Don’t hit this.  Don’t hit that.  Don’t hit this.  Don’t hit that.

Mountain bikers are weird.  They will actually stop you on a trail to discuss how fucking exciting it is that in the middle of this one trail, THERE IS A BANKED TURN.  Or after biking for four miles, YOU CROSS A CREEK BED.

These are the Orgasms of Mountain Biking.

Jon and his junk in front of one of the many Fayetteville landmarks. Me blocking out the sign to say “assware” was just a happy accident.

Afterward, when the four of us were having a grand ole time at the campfire, I got to thinking about what brings friends together.  Me and Laurie don’t technically do the same things.  It’s not that you are able to come to some kind of agreement as to how to split your days up, with one day mountain biking and another day death marching to Meadow River, or that you can poke fun at each other about it.  It’s not even that afterward, you can get drunk and smoke cigarettes beside the fire.  It’s that you can get together, around that fire, after the fun-poking, with your beer, and your cigarettes, surrounded by people you’ve been through thick and thin with, and talk shit about people you all hate.

There.  I said it.

Jon: “Don’t talk about who.”

“You act like there’s only one.”

Laurie: “Bwahaahahaahaha!”

Yes, there’s nothing like that end of the day, drunken rant, “lllllleeeeeeeeeeet me tell you about [redacted].”

Nathaniel: “Y’all should see what [redacted] still puts up on [redacted’s] Facebook wall.  It’s like, ‘Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me! Somebody please recognize that I exist!'”

Me: “I thought you quit Facebook.”

Nate: “Yeah, that pissed me off, one of my professors required it for a class, so I had to rejoin, so every time I log in to check my work, it’s people talking about how they’re pregnant, or talking about how much fun they’re having, and I’m thinking, if you’re having fun, you’re not on Facebook. And I don’t care that you’re pregnant.”

Pretty much whoever I’m with climbing, at the end of the day usually, there’s a fun moment when we talk about ex-husbands, ex-girlfriends, friends turned stalkers, and the like.  Once, when I was on the road with Susan and Sean toward Little River Canyon, I had an epiphany:

“I don’t see why people enable him, I mean, isn’t it obvious how much of an asshole he is?  Why do people put up with it?”

Me: “You know how we always get to talking about the people who abused us?”


“Well I was thinking about what those people say about us, if they’re ever in their cars, analyzing our motivations, making fun of how we operate, and I think I’ve figured out what they’re saying.  They’re saying, my god, all these people do is hang out way too long with people who treat them like shit, and then spend hours and hours and hours with their friends analyzing the motivations of the people who abused them, when they could just stop hanging out with assholes.”

Susan: “If they were smart or introspective, and they’re rarely both, because that’s not the abuser personality, then that’s probably what they would say, if they talked about it, which they of course wouldn’t.”

“It’s probably the whole being introspective and smart thing that gets you abused in the first place.”

“Yes, that’s been documented.”

So we climbers stumble through this world like very, very ripe tomatoes on legs, and climbing trips are like big soft tomato fests free of sharp objects.  And we sit around the fire with our beer and our cigarettes, and I realize the friends and beer and cigs are also at home, and thus, take note of the real reason returning there is so scary.

Between the Yellow Margins

I hate getting HIV tests.

I actually hate all of the blood tests I get.  I get one for my liver every six months, which I hate even more, I suppose because the consequences of that coming out poorly are much worse, and there’s not a whole lot I can do to eliminate the chance that what feels like pounds of epilepsy drugs are destroying my liver.  I flinch every time I tip my head back and swallow them all.

Part of the reason I sometimes pay $20 at the doctor’s office to get one of these things rather than at the free clinic is so that I can avoid all the survey questions they ask at the free clinic.

Survey guy: “Have you used a condom with every sexual encounter since your last HIV test?”

Me: “Does having one break count as a no?”

“I’ll put down ‘no.'”


I think there’s something ironic about the condoms given out at parades and festivals and the like being the ones that are exposed to sun and heat all day long for weeks at a time. Which that one was.

He moves down to the next section of the form.  “Have you had any sexual encounters with men?”

“Oh…” I lean back in the chair, “yeah.”

“Did you engage in receptive anal sex?”

“Would I go to a fancy French restaurant and order a burrito?”

“I’ll put down yes.”

“Put it down twice.”

I look around the office.  There’s lots of posters.  It feels like there’s piles of lube and condoms where decorative plants should be.  I wonder why they’re not also hanging in a basket from the ceiling.  I pick up a brochure titled “Myths About Condoms.”

I read the brochure out loud while he fills in boxes I’m not privy to: “Myth #6: Sex feels better without condoms.  Fact: Sex with condoms is just as pleasurable as sex without condoms.”  I put the brochure down.

“Yeah, I’m not sure about that one either.”

“Who wrote this? Has she had sex before?”  I wished there was something more interesting to look at, like copies of National Geographic.  I could look at the pictures of the naked women with the drooping titties or the diamond mines or the neck rings and forget that I live in this world.

He finishes checking some boxes.  “Are you White, African American, Latino, or other?”

“Is this white in the sense that I’ve gotten all the advantages of looking white?”

“The question doesn’t really go into specifics.”

“Do I have to pick one?”

“Just take your best guess.”


“I’ll put down White.”

I am thankful that I brought something to play with during this conversation, and it’s my favorite thing even, which are rubber bands.  I’ve dismembered a lot of paper clips during tedious moments, but comparing paper clips to rubber bands is like comparing Advil to time release morphine.

“I guess I’m fine with White.”

“How old are you?”

“27.”  It occurs to me that I’m one of the lowest-risk age brackets, and the fact that I’m  seven steps away from the highest suddenly makes me feel old, in a way unlike anything else has.  It occurs to me that my preferred name for my generation is also an explanation for our HIV rates, the “When MTV Was Good” generation.   I find my moniker far superior to “Generation Y “or Z or some other bastardization of a Douglas Coupland title.

“Have you had sex with any transgender women, that is, people who were born men but now identify as or look like women?”

“Finally an easy one.  No.”

“Have you had sex with any transgender men?”

“Umm… I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I mean, I never asked.  Is that something people ask?”

“You would probably know.”  He stared at me.

“I’ve never asked someone to wait for the gel electrophoresis results before I stuck my dick in their mouth.”

“I’ll put down no.”

“I guess that explains all the micro-pipettes I’ve been seeing at the Eagle.”

He filled in some more boxes.  “Since your last HIV test, have you had bareback sex after drinking or using drugs?”

“Well I was unfortunately sober enough during that whole condom breaking thing to go into a four-hour Google searching panic.  So no.”  The edification of said Google panic is that nobody knows the actual statistical likelihood of getting infected from having sex once.  “What’s the next question?”

“Again, these are all since your last HIV test.  Have you had any anonymous sex?”

“Define anonymous.”

“Well that one should be pretty obvious, someone you don’t know.”

“Do you ever really know anyone?”

“No.”  I could tell he immediately regretted responding quickly.

“Wouldn’t that make it all anonymous?”

“Well, have you had sex with someone you just met.”

“Define just-met.”

“You know…” he sighed, “you just met them, at a bar or over the internet, and then you have sex.”

“So,” I said, “five or six dates is not anonymous.”


“But sex in the Eagle bathroom with a blindfold on is anonymous.”


“What if they take you to Waffle House first?”

“I’m just going to put down yes.”

“I still feel like I knew him better than my last boyfriend.”  I keep snapping the rubber band.  “We saw each other again after that.  Does that make it not anonymous?”

“Since your last HIV test, have you had sex with anyone you knew to be HIV positive?”


“Did you confirm that all of your partners were negative?”

“I don’t see how it would be possible to know that.  I mean even the test you’re giving me now has a thirty day latency.”

“Well, what I tell people is to assume if they haven’t confirmed it is that the person they’re having sex with is positive.”

“I just assume there’s a possibility that they are.”

“Well that’s fine too.  So long as you’re taking protective measures.”

“I mean I do, I just had a condom break, so… here I am.”

“Do you want to get tested for other STDs today?  The full panel does have a charge.”

“Well my understanding is that the only accurate blood test is for syphilis and hepatitis.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty much the case.”

I snapped the rubber band again, and thought back to a conversation I didn’t have a paper clip for.  A guy told me that he didn’t have any STD’s and that he just got tested and he said he wanted to know if I was confident that I didn’t have anything:

* * *

“Well,” I said, “technically no.”

“No?”  His polo caught the side of his torso as his body twisted, like a sail disconnected from a line.

“Well I got the hepatitis vaccine in high school and I get tested for HIV, but for most STDs if the infection is dormant, you can’t test for it.”

“I dunno dude, maybe we shouldn’t hang out.”

“You realize we’re just making plans for dinner, and even if you had notarized test results from yesterday, and for whatever reason I was so horned up from one date that I wanted to do it, I would still use a condom.”

“Yeah but I don’t think I’m comfortable going out with someone who isn’t sure that they’re, you know, clean.”

“Setting aside my feelings about the word ‘clean,’ I think I would be more justified in worrying about someone who thinks a blood test will identify a surface bacterial infection.”  I know things have really started to spiral down the drain when I’m using phrases like “surface bacterial infection”.

“I kind of have a lot of work for school, maybe I should do that instead.”  I felt the immediate pang of regret that comes from failing to set more shows to record on the DVR.

* * *

I snapped the rubber band again.  I was back in the free clinic.  “What did you ask?  Sorry, I was zoning out for a minute there.”

“It’s ok.  Do you know how to rub the swab around in your mouth and all that?”

“Yeah, I think I got it.”

I took my seat in the waiting room.

I watched twenty minutes of The Mask on the television until the beeper went off.

“Congratulations, you’re negative.”

“Well that’s good. How frequently are you supposed to get these things anyway?”

“The CDC recommends once every 3 months.”

I stepped outside the brick building. It was so bright outside. It reminded me of leaving an East Berlin nightclub at 6am. I wondered if the LabCorp office was still open, and if I had time to go get my liver checked.

Three months. I snapped the rubber band. Three months. I looked out the narrow driveway on the left, and at the endless array of “no parking” signs on the right. Three months. I calculated the date in my head for my return. It was still the fifth of February, 1918.

Bagdad Cafe

In anticipation of the convention, I decided we should scope out some less traveled places where people could go to climb 5.7—in other words, somewhere to take noobs without the Bubba City power line death march where the pot at the end of the dusty rainbow is a slew of face melting slab climbs.

Such a place exists, but is being kept “secret”, as Area 51 once was; 51 is now in a guide book, although people are rarely concerned about a 5.12+ area getting crowded. Enjoyable, safely bolted 5.7s you say? Do tell! Or don’t, unless you want your dick chopped off.

The routes were actually pretty fun, but there was the early interruption while I was belaying Laurie.



“I have to take a shit right now.”



This was not one of those “leave no trace” ethics shits. There was no twelve inch deep hole in the ground, at least one mile away from running water, located ahead of time to find a place where I was confident nobody climbing might look down and see me sobbing and wiping. This was a “harness removing while running, desperately crawling through briars, pull the pants down and pray you’ve leaned back far enough that nothing lands on your boots before you feel the sweet release of death” kind of shits.

It turned out that Jon only had three panels of single-ply toilet paper left, and my diet for the last several days had consisted mostly of Reeses’ Pieces and Slush Puppies, so needless to say, this would be the last surviving day for my pair of boxer shorts, which started to feel more like briefs, and not in the good way. Didn’t stop me from flashing some overhangy route though, which made me happy, because the distraction of the chemical waste hazard in my underpants definitely added several grades.

Turns out they look the same way going in as they do coming out. Delicious!

Later, after showering (a lot) and changing clothes, me and Laurie went to Cantrell’s pub and started getting drunk on whiskey. Kenny showed up, and demanded that we play pool.

I had established an early and commanding lead, and I thought I had cemented Kenny’s mental panic by dancing. But Kenny got his head back and took control of the table and left me with two immediately behind the 8 ball, at which point I knew I was screwed. I danced anyway. Kenny hit me with his pool cue.

Me: “Don’t you Nancy-Kerrigan-Tonya-Harding me!”

Kenny: “I’ll do what I want.”

Me: “I’m not getting with you Kenny.”

Kenny: “Hey, I’m not getting with you either.  I am totally homophobic.  I am 99% straight, but totally 100% homophobic.  It’s been the case ever since I got hit on by a dude while I was walking around that place in DC… what’s it called…”

Jon: “The Fruit Loop.”

Kenny: “Yes, the Fruit Loop.  Ever since then.  Scarred for life.”

Kenny is 99% straight and 100% homophobic, which makes him 0.5% conservative republican lawmaker. Remind me to have a talk with him about that later.

It was around this time that Samantha walked up, who had blond curly hair, was tall, probably Australian, and absurdly good looking. I’m pretty sure she was there to hit on me or Kenny, but I wasn’t sure which one.

Kenny hit me again with his pool stick. “Kenny, I’m not one of your sub bottoms. If you hit me like that again, I’ll throw this ashtray in your face and I’ll show you how much I remember from high school jiu jitsu.” Which wasn’t much, but with an ashtray in the face, you don’t really need it. I turned to Samantha. “Who are you?”

Samantha: “I’m Samantha.”

Me: “Well maybe you can get along with him better,” I pointed to Kenny, “if you like dom tops.”

Samantha: She made that face that mean rich people in high school make when you tell them you shop at Target. “I don’t know what that is.”

Me: “If you don’t know what ‘dom-top’ means, there’s no way I’m having sex with you.”

It was at this point that she gave us the hair whip, as much as you can hair whip short curly hair, and stormed off.

Kenny: “That’s probably not the first reason you wouldn’t have sex with her.”

Me: “The first is that she doesn’t have a sense of humor.” She left to talk to the guy with the grey pony-tail and the leather vest. “What kinda guy is she trying to pick up anyway?”

Jon: “I think she’s just trying to pick up a green card.”

Kenny: “You totally just killed any chance I had with her.”

Me: “I don’t care, she’s not good enough for you anyway.  And if I wanted to kill any chance you had with her, I would have told her the story about how the Roger’s campers duct-taped a six foot long image of a spewing cock to the top of your van.”  This happened. As legal counsel, I advise against property damage, but I still climbed on top of the van to laugh and take pictures.  “Since we’re going mountain biking early tomorrow morning, we should probably go to bed and sober up a little.”

Jon: “It’s 1:00am.”

Me: “Fuck my life.” I looked up at the television to see some tropical storm barreling directly toward, of all places, Pensacola.  I grabbed Kenny. “Kenny, look!  I was gonna go there!  And there’s like a tropical storm or hurricane or some shit!”

Kenny: “Why should I care about this?”

Me: “I dunno. It seemed important yesterday.”

Kenny: “Well it isn’t.”

Nathaniel decided to shift the juke box music from the country that had been playing; Nancy, the manager, had loaded the juke box up with dollar bills for whoever to pick music, so Nathaniel picked some Nas or Nelly or some rapper whose name starts with N.  That’s when Nancy and Richie (the owner) came out, and everyone moved to the side of the dance floor, and Nancy and Richie started grinding on the dance floor while everyone cheered.

Richie came up to us afterward.  “You see, it starts in the ankles.”  And he started moving side to side from the ankles.  “And then the knees.  And then the hips.  And then a little bit of the shoulders.  And then you’re dancin’.”

Me: “Is it ok if we have a documentary crew while we’re here in July?”

Nancy: “Oh totally, we had a reality show film here once, it was hilarious.  Reminded me of how thick my West Virginia accent is.  I like the marketing, although I don’t want the place to get too big, I like it the size that it is.”  She called over some of the bartenders.  “Hey guys!  This is Alex Rowland, he’s the one with Homo Climbtastic coming in July!”  I shook a lot of hands and there were a lot of names but my register is only so large after several jiggers of whiskey.  “We are gonna be so ready for you guys in July, we have a band ready, we’re gonna have food stocked, the bar stocked,” she waved her hands at the walls, “everything.”  She told me about how she used to live outside of West Virginia, and came back here to retire.

Although there had been signs of it already, (e.g. the discounts she offered that I didn’t ask for), it occurred to me that her hosting the convention had absolutely nothing to do with money.  She would have done it anyway if it was guaranteed not to make money.  She was part of it for the same reason that I was part of it, because it was going to be fun, and to hell if she was going to miss out and let some other campground have more fun.

And then when I thought about it more, I realized that had been the case with most of the business owners I had “negotiated” with.  The people who had supported us over the years had supported us because they were the kind of people who couldn’t be bought.  They were there to carve their own space in the universe, and money was just an occasional means to that end.

I had heard a theory once, that one of the possible reasons the queer rights movement had advanced so quickly without sit-ins and firehoses (aside from the prevailing reason, that we tend to get born into every family, including the most powerful ones) was that we queer people tended to have more money and fewer children, and thus more money to throw around at, say, political fundraisers.

Tuxedos are fun!

No.  It’s not true.  It’s not true for the same reason that people who flee Georgia for New York and California return disillusioned.  For the same reason the people waiting around for organizations or groups to accept them live off crumbs until their spray-on optimism cracks and they implode.

We never found success fighting for (or throwing money at) acceptance, or that incredibly grotesque idea whose name I shudder to put in print, “tolerance”.  We built a society so much better that we no longer had a reason to ask to get in somewhere else, and left the formerly “enfranchised” clamoring to access ours.  We gave people the realization that if they didn’t join the club, they would be left behind.  Even the sit-ins of the 1940’s through 1960’s, while facially targeted toward admission to the target venue, drew their power from the embarrassment suffered by a populace forced to confront the depths it would plumb to guard a lunch counter.  We still ruffle our feathers over the lagging legal recognition of us as people, but the thought exercise of imagining yourself living as one of those idiots afraid to have sex outside of the missionary position just seems… so much worse (and we’ve succeeded in getting the general population to have the same thought exercise).  Which is by no means to suggest that we should be content with our position, but as an explanation for why some fronts in our battle for happiness have been more successful than others, and to explain why a group of people as geographically disparate but as culturally cohesive could win so decisively.  It’s not about asking, or fighting, or trying to prove we can be like them, or waiting for them to accept morality or reason.  Our meiosis not only efficiently destroys the enemy, but avoids sacrificing our happiness and our lives in the process.  It’s about creating a media, an arts scene, a society, a college, a philosophy about sex/expression/being, a venue, a concert, a club, a space, a life–at first an escape for us, but ultimately a vacuum that eats the foundation of our oppressors, until your only enemies left are poorly supported wackos and figureheads, closeted homo legislators, and some fat woman who looks and sounds like anthropomorphized turkey bacon whose son writes musicals for a living.

You got it sweets!  Some would say it’s wrong to disparage your enemies ad hominem, but she’s not an enemy, and I can’t resist an opportunity to use the phrase “anthropomorphized turkey bacon”.

Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate the ghettos from the enclaves from the new societies, and whether the defining characteristic is just your attitude going in.  I watch Nancy return to the jukebox to feed more money in, and look up toward the weatherpeople chart the path of the tropical storm bearing down on Florida.  There’s also a hail storm heading toward West Virginia.

Me: “Robert Wright had a different view.”


“He thinks that in the future, people won’t all move in one direction or another, toward something more and more progressive, they’ll become more and more self-segregated, as technology makes it easier for you to find people all across the internet who are exactly like you.”

“Is that what you think is going to happen?”

“I suppose,” I held my glass up, “you’d have to ask yourself if the people who show up came prepackaged like this, or converted upon entrance.  Difficult to say.  Can’t it be a little of both?”

“You talk about really odd things when you’re drunk.”

“You eat my vagina.”

The Boy Scouts Have AIDS

We had breakfast in the morning at the Vandalian. Porter and I are fixed to the same astrological clock of moodiness, so he was cranky that morning. I yelled to him through the order window.

Me: “I’m going to order a water and use your bathrooms and not buy anything.”

Porter: “This sink is loud. I can’t hear anything you’re saying right now. It’s probably better that way.”

Me: “Porter’s cranky right now.”

Nate: “Who is Porter?”

Laurie: “Porter is the most famous route developer on the east coast.”

Nate: “When y’all do your HC convention breakfast here, I’m going to make t-shirts to sell that say ‘I had breakfast with Porter and he was crabby.’”

I think back to last summer, when I was swimming in the lake above the Summersville dam with Porter and Belinda, and Belinda snapping a picture of me with her boxer, Clover, as the sun set.


The memory of it is happy, and laps at the mood I’m in this morning, yet I know the three of us were just as pissed at the world then as I am (we are?) now. I remember trading stories about how people complained about how Porter had equipped his routes “you go up there fucker and bolt it yourself!” and how I had run Homo Climbtastic “if you want a guide to show up with gear go hire one!” But in retrospect, the memories of those conversations just make me laugh, like the ones watching Porter smoke on one of the floaties that Kris left behind while I ate my leftover potatoes without flicking the ants off first (you can’t really taste them).

* * *

After breakfast, me, Nathaniel, Laurie and Jonathan were supposed to go mountain biking, but we were one mountain bike short of four bikes, so we stopped by the bike rental shop. Nathaniel found a brand new bike on the floor for rent.

“Can you give us maps to the new Boy Scout trails?” I took out my credit card to pay for Nathaniel’s bike rental.

“When you pay for the bike rental, I’ll give you the maps.”

I wondered to myself if trail map mooching was a major problem at Fayetteville bike stores, although considering the bikers go into the restaurants to take whore baths, I wouldn’t put it past them.

“Ok. Great. Well, this is my credit card. Now give me the maps.”

“Are you familiar with where the trailhead is?”

“Yeah, I looked back there one day last year while they were building it.”

“Then you were the one who got it shut down for two weeks.”

“I doubt that someone looking back there would cause them to shut down for two weeks.”

“They did.”

“Uhh, were they worried about people getting hit by the construction gear?”

“No, you were part of the group they were angry at. The Boy Scouts are really anxious about their property. They don’t even allow people that aren’t part of their group on their other property, they’re worried about child molesters or something.”  I couldn’t figure out if the group he was referring to was people scoping out the trails on foot, or the HC convention.  Nathaniel wasn’t sure either.

Nathaniel finished filling out the rental agreement and I signed my credit card receipt. “I think I can figure the map out.”

Me and Nathaniel loaded up the car. I told Laurie I had gotten a copy of the map.

Laurie: “I’m going to run in and grab another copy, so that we have extras in case we split up.” Laurie ran into the shop.

Nate: “He probably won’t give her one. He’ll probably blame her for giving the Boy Scouts AIDS.”

So we went mountain biking.  Nathaniel has obviously been working out, because the last time he went mountain biking with Laurie he vomited, and this time he was going way faster than me.

(As an aside, because you know I’m not actually writing this down while we’re mountain biking, but afterward at Cantrell’s, Nancy (the Cantrell’s manager) makes a chocolate-pineapple martini that’s strong enough to cause you to lose feeling in your right arm.)

The trailhead triggered memories of seeing buses full of Boy Scouts driving through Roger’s parking lot last summer, reminiscent of prison buses full of prisoners out on work-release programs on GA Highway 316. They were probably very excited about whatever badge work-release earns them. If I had been a Boy Scout, I probably would have been the one who earned the badge for sitting in the corner being crabby.  (The Boy Scouts are a difficult organization to harbor resentment for–although I obviously do–because the people in charge are very far away, and the agents are typically local children with no power. I still condemn any adults involved in the organization for enabling their policies, in particular for their failure to found another organization that isn’t pinned under the vice grip of a despicable group of people.)

There isn’t much to say about the mountain biking itself, other than that people were friendly and afterwards, everyone’s taint felt sore, except for Laurie, who wears some kind of padded onesie singlet like an eighties teen pop star. “It was a gift when I was sponsored, so I wear it whenever I can.”

We pulled up in front of the bike store to return the bike.  Bike store guy was hanging out on a bench.

Nate: “Hey.”

BSG: “How was the biking?”

Nate: “It was good.”

BSG: “Yeah?”

Nate: “Yeah.”

I lowered the bike rack and opened the trunk.

Nate: “So, uh, I have some bad news. I got the trails shut down.”

BSG: “They’re shut down?”

Nate: “All of them. Nobody’s gonna be able to use them again. Because of me.”


“Yeah. I ran into the Boy Scouts. Caused some trouble.”


“Yeah.” Nate nodded. “I gave them all AIDS.”

Laurie: “That’s not the only thing we gave them. We also gang-raped the scout master.”

Me: “How do you put this rear tire back on?”

BSG: “I’ll show you. I just have to check it and make sure there’s no damage.” He spun the tires and shifted all the gears. “Yeah, it looks good.”

Me: “Well, there is one thing you should know. About the bike.”

BSG: “What’s that?”

Me: “It has AIDS.”

Nate: “You better disinfect it.”

BSG: “The woman in the bike shop earlier when you guys were renting the bike was part of the Boy Scouts leadership, I just was trying not to offend her.”

Me: “Obviously.”

We got in the car and shut the doors.

Me: Do you think we were too hard on him?”

Nate: “Nah.”