I have arrived. The conference went well, as did my individual paper presentation (I think). The conference also created the opportunity to meet StinkyLuLu. As it turns out, he lives within a mile of my parents’ house. We also attended the same highschool (though at different times). Small blogosphere, eh?
Alas, TenuredRadical eluded me. For some reason, the American Studies meeting doesn’t have a central message center. In contrast, the American Historical Association transitioned from a bulletin board to a conference-based e-mail system. It makes it a lot easier to connect with people. Take note, ASA.
Since I was only in town for a brief jaunt, I didn’t get to see much of the city. The little I did see, though, reminded me that I missed being in a more urban venue.
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be at Big Midwestern University. Midwestern Funky Town also has a great deal to offer. Indeed, it is the funkiest of all the midwestern funky towns. Still, it is a town. As it turns out, size does matter.
Or maybe I am growing more concerned that the number-one recreational activity of the queer community in MFT seems to involve camping. I don’t mean “camping” in the fun Paul-Lynde sort of way, either. No, not camping that involves ironic quips about popular culture or the tragically ludicrous. I mean camping with a tent, sleeping bag, dirt, cold, and all that nature has to offer. Let me tell you, I am not that type of gay.
The number-two favored activity among gay MFT's seems to be canoeing. Don't these people spend any time drinking?
I understand the appeal of camping and other outdoor activities in the same theoretical way that I understand the appeal of sports. These things must be great for those who enjoy it. I don’t in anyway begrudge them their fun. For me, though, I can’t think of anything less that I would want to do than sleeping outdoors. I hated it when my father dragged me away to the mountains when I was a child. I imagine with 99 percent certainty that I would hate it as an adult.
Perhaps I also find the notion of camping in the Midwest even more perplexing. Maybe I am just too much of New-Mexico son, but why would one camp where there are no mountains? Rather than a rigorous hike up a steep incline to find a fabulous vista, aren’t you just basically sleeping outdoors? Your view is of . . . trees? I have those in my backyard and I don’t even have to open the door to see them (Thank you glass – another invention of nature-avoiding humans).
What I dislike about gay campers, though, is that they are always trying to change my mind. “Come on, GayProf,” they say, “You’ll looooove it once you are out there! Think of it as returning to nature.”
If nature was so great, why did we decide to build houses in the first place? I side with the homo-sapiens who first said, “You know what? This nature stuff sucks. The hell with it. I am inventing a roof.”
I don’t understand the inclination of some people who try to convince me that I don’t know what I like and don’t like. It’s not as if I am resisting sampling the thirty-second flavor down at the local Baskin Robbins. If it was something that I had never tried, I could see their point. I have, however, been camping in my life and I know what it involves: the aforementioned dirt, cold, hard ground, lack of showers and general absence of hygiene.
Why, then, do people persist after I tell them that camping is not my scene? I don’t try to convince them that they really hate camping. When somebody tells me that they are spending the weekend camping, I don’t respond with, “Wow – You are going to have a lousy time! If you have enjoyed camping up to this point, you have just gone with the wrong attitude or the wrong people! If you stay home with me, I’ll show you why that activity that you think you like is not at all what you really like doing.” I just don’t do that. Why do they believe that they can change my mind?
Camping is like some type of cult around here. If you don’t camp, you aren’t one of the chosen people. Maybe that was one reason I felt more at home in Boston. For most of the queer folk that I met in Boston, “roughing it” meant that they couldn’t get a cottage with a third bedroom in Provincetown.
Camping (or my dislike thereof) wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in MFT except that it narrows an already extremely tiny gay dating pool. Actually, it’s not really a pool. It’s more of a small pond – in the middle of a drought – with a serious algae problem.
Don’t get me wrong – It’s not that I don’t appreciate natural beauty. I love our nation’s forests – especially when they have been turned into Danish-modern furniture (It’s a joke – Please don’t send me environmental hate mail).
Nature for me, though, is something that you enjoy from a distance. Sure, I get enthralled by the spectacular sights that are devoid of humankind. Mountains, in particular, impress me. Oceans are grand. When I was in grad school, I also spent a couple of different afternoons at the dunes of one of the great lakes (which really was, as the name promised, a great lake).
Couldn’t we just see do those sorts of things in a day hike? Do we need to take up residence to enjoy nature? My feeling has always been that we could just do a quick walkabout and return in time for cocktail hour. Or, better yet, can’t we just skip the hike altogether and enjoy the view of the mountains from the bar patio?
What I need are the gays who are less into nature and more into . . . well, apparently, alcoholism. Yeah, yeah, don’t bother telling me that you can drink while camping. It goes without saying that I would need to drink because I was camping.
Such thoughts make me think that I’ll be alone forever in MFT. Or maybe I am just regretting that I didn’t spend more time chatting up the hunky guy who sat next to me on the plane ride home. He had a whole Anderson-Cooper vibe working for him. I bet he hadn’t been camping a day in his whole life. Better luck next time, I suppose.