Floating on an Exception:
I don't know if everyone feels as though they grew up in a weird place or at a weird time. I do. I know without a doubt that one of the places I grew up was weird. Very weird. That does not mean bad. Only unusual. It was vibrant, the strange and the fantastic entered the doorways and roamed the locker rooms and arcade and concession stands and rental booths and stockrooms. I spent a chunk of my youth at an ice rink. My mother had to work multiple jobs. In addition to providing another source of income to pay basic bills, her second gig at the ice rink provided her with something of a contained geography in which her children could more easily be watched—at least in theory—and exist away from home. We were very visibly the poor kids bobbing in a sea of wealth. Social flotsam.
If I merely skimmed the surface of my memory and paddled backward only a few strokes I'd have an endless supply of storytelling material born only from this one place. I would need nothing else. The Good. The Proud. The Wicked. The Wealthy. The Shy. The Brave. The Bad. The Harrowing. The Innocent. The Poor. The Dedicated. The Guilty. The Vain. The Hungry. The Starving. The Lonely. The Weak. The Strong. The Unspoken. These are background noises from that place, the ice rink. My memory is thick with them. I recognize some of the notes. Queen. The music was appreciated by most in the motley crew from my rink days. And Freddie Mercury was a hero to a few gay men who were a part of this group. I grew up with them. They were partners in crimes of mischief, chaperones who made lunch runs with me (I couldn't drive yet) as I went to get food to bring back to rink employees who had grown sick of popcorn and hot dogs from concessions or sandwiches from the vending machines, and they were participants in late night, impromptu, no pads & helmets hockey skirmishes. (P.S. this is not safe, kids. Don't skate at midnight sans protective gear and launch a puck around. (Although I must say I do have good memories.)) At first I did not know, or understand, why they idolized Freddie. I have never been much into celebrity or hero worship. I am not built that way. And then, I suddenly came to understand why. There was a time I pitied Freddie. I had no right to pity him. But I did. I pitied him not because of who he was but of who he hadn't been. And then I stopped. Freddie finally became Freddie, at least Freddie seemed to be the Freddie those gay men in my life wanted, or needed, him to be... himself.
One of those men eventually became my roommate in college. We lived together when Freddie died—on this day, years ago. During his mourning period, knowing I was not much for dramatic affectations but also knowing that I would never think to stop him from paying tribute, he would come prancing out of his bedroom in full on Freddie mode. Or, at least, his interpretation of it. He was never the most graceful. During this time my then girlfriend (now my wife) and I might be making dinner and his door might swing open suddenly and here he'd come, mimicking Mercury maneuvers as Queen blared from the speakers. If I remember correctly, an unspoken agreement between us had formed. A tacit agreement, an understanding. For a couple weeks after Freddie died my roommate stopped playing his Pat Benatar and I stopped playing my RUSH, and Queen became the de facto house music of our apartment until exams concluded and winter break began.
(last edited: 27-Nov-18)
My Brother- and Sister-in-law treated us to a movie last night, a special Thank You for taking good care of Doppler--known to me, his nemesis, By-tor, as Snowdog. We saw Bohemian Rhapsody. If you can afford theatre ticket prices I recommend seeing it. If not, put the movie on your watchlist when it comes to your fave streaming service. Perhaps your library will have a few copies of the DVD when it comes out. I suggest the library approach myself.
Author's Note: I busk online, for tips and grins. Tipping is always appreciated. Here's where you can. Thanks!