Tag Archives: Fundraiser

Where Am I?

The question isn’t is this embarrassing. No, the question is one of degree.

Just how embarrassing is it to get lost in your own “hometown?”

Even worse, this isn’t the first time it’s happened to me. I’m beginning to think I might have a problem.

The first time was when I was in junior high school. (For those of you unfamiliar, that was the school between elementary [k-6] and high school [10-12].)

We had some friends come in from out of town. They wanted to go to Six Flags over Texas, which was just outside of the small suburb of Dallas where I grew up.

We managed to make it there all right, with only a few minimal disruptions. The problem came when we headed home and there weren’t any more signs leading us to our destination. This was (way, way, way) before cell phones or the like, so we were on our own. The older kids from out of town didn’t know which way to go and they looked to me for answers.

I turned around to see who they were looking at behind me. I had a vague notion of the direction to go, but it wasn’t all that good of a vague notion. I was asked — repeatedly and forcefully — how I could live in a town and not know my way around it. Mostly it was because I wasn’t driving yet and spent most of my car time with my nose buried in an actual paper book.

We didn’t starve to death. We eventually found our way home (hours and hours after curfew, but the parents had been too busy partying to really worry) and all was good.

Until the last weekend when I got that horrible flashback feeling. My friend, Pitt (who I’ve known since high school and who recently moved here from Pittsburgh) and I were headed to a fundraiser put on by the P Strong Foundation to raise money to support research into rare cancers.

I was in the driving seat, a position with which I was intimately familiar considering I’d been driving for more than three decades. I thought I knew my way around Charlotte. Turns out, I was wrong.

Pitt, who’s been here less than two years, knew where the event was. It was Pitt who knew where to park and how to get from the parking garage to the Bal Masque Gala at the Marriott City Center.

The first one I can blame on youth. The second time? I’m still going to blame that one on youth. Not my own, of course, but my young dudes. See, I’ve been so busy rearing the young dudes since I came to Charlotte fifteen years ago that I never got a chance to really know my way around the city. Unless you counted the areas around the Chuck E Cheese and other young-dude attractions.

That counts, right? You dudes are buying that, yeah? Right?

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Neutral To You; Slightly Terrifying To Me

by Richard

There’s very little that will induce the startle reflex quite like that engendered by standing at a urinal, letting it all hang out and then — midstream — hearing the light, tinkling sound of a woman’s laughter. Coming. From. Right. Behind. You!

All of which goes to say: Sorry, Mr. Bathroom attendant. It wasn’t my fault.

Or maybe it was. I was the one who ignored the sign put up at the insistence of the Human Rights Campaign during its recent fundraiser in Charlotte, NC.

Here. I snapped a picture. Of course, it was after I’d been startled, but at least I got it at some point.

Pardon me, ma'am, but do you always stand while peeing?

The Human Rights Campaign, HRC, (Go there and give the dudes some money. Amendment 1 here in North Carolina is as vile and pustulant a piece of legislation as has come along in years and they could use some help in fighting it.) is an organization working to establish equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals in today’s culture. As you might imagine, that’s a tough sell to a lot of people in the south.

Now, me? I’m right on board and willing to give money. I think it’s a stupid cause, if only because it’s so self-evident that people are people and if one person has a right so should the next person. Until you do something explicitly against the law, you all should get equal protection under that law. If some gay folks want to suffer through marriage like the rest of us, I say the let’s spread the misery.

So, down off my soapbox there.

That sign was what greeted me when I went creeping through the long lines to the restroom. That should have been my first clue. I mean, when was the last time at a large gathering of men and women, was there an actual line out the door of the men’s bathroom. I was busy chatting and so didn’t notice the sign until, in passing, as I went inside.

Since I’d seen no actual women (or wasn’t paying close enough attention, I guess) I thought it was just a cute attempt at showing us how far we had to go. Surely not in Charlotte, the button-down capital of the world, the women and men would not share a bathroom.

I forgot, of course, just how much women hate waiting in line for the restroom.

After wandering over to the urinal (how you could tell this used to be a men’s room), as I said, I was using it for its intended purpose. When that nice lady behind me laughed, it caught me by surprise. And, almost, by zipper.

I’m sure I must have presented a scary sight as I turned almost completely around above my belt and didn’t move (well, didn’t move much to be fair. Again, sorry, Mr. Bathroom attendant.) below, my eyes bigger around than the rough white cakes sitting at the bottom of the urinal. Fortunately, I was able to recover relatively quickly and didn’t start in a round of laughter actually directed at me, rather than just uttered near me.

The two ladies wandered to a stall of their own and thence to do their business. I zipped up and stumbled to the sink to wash my (among other bits) hands. I got bumped from behind. Then from the side. I kept getting bumped. I looked into the mirror and saw a huge crowd of men all pushing toward the sinks, all suddenly done with their business now that the women were in the stalls taking care of their own.

Crowd surfing turns out to be less fun than I imagined.

It definitely was a learning experience. With a little preparation, I was able to go back and be much more swave-ee and de-bone-er this time around. I actually held the door open for a nice lady with whom I’d chatted while waiting in line. Turns out she was as nervous as I had been.

See? All just people. No matter how different we are, we’re still a bit nervous about going to the bathroom in front of someone of the opposite gender. Hey?!? That’s not bad. Do you suppose the folks at the HRC thought of that when they made these gender-neutral bathrooms?

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