This is Part 1 of Chapter 35 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "The Culture of Desire", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Gus, Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Tracy.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian takes Gus and Justin out shopping at the Big Q-Mart. Pittsburgh, May 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"What the fuck am I going to do with Gus all day?"
"Playground? Kennywood? Chuck E. Cheese?"
"Those sound like places YOU want to go, not Gus."
"I'm only suggesting."
I pulled the Jeep up in front of Lesbian Lovefest Central. "Well, start thinking. Because we have to keep the kid entertained the whole fucking day."
"Afternoon. It's almost 1:00 p.m. I've already been to a lecture and my studio class -- all while you were still in bed."
"I'm supposed to be on my vacation! I can stay in bed if I want to. And I wanted to."
"While you forced me to go to school."
"Next time I'll call the truant officer."
"PIFA doesn't have truant officers."
"Maybe they should. Whip those artists into shape. Give them a little discipline."
"Now you're talking...."
Melanie always knows exactly how to kill the beginnings of something. Of course, since we were parked in front of her house on a main street, I guess her interruption was probably warranted. But still....
"Ready for an exciting day?"
I got out of the Jeep and walked up towards the house with her, Justin trailing along behind.
"I have loads of fun activities planned." Justin snickered behind me, but I didn't dare turn around and swat him.
Melanie glanced at me. "Good. Then Lindsay won't have to give you that list she made up. I told her it wouldn't be necessary."
"Oh, things that Gus needs. A shopping list. She thought you might find that an activity you could handle."
"I can handle all kinds of activities. You know, I know how to do a lot more than just shop!"
"Yeah, but Gus is too young to be introduced to the only other thing you do best. So, I'd stick to the shopping."
"You realize you are wasted here in Pittsburgh? I know an agency out in Beverly Hills that would he thrilled to have a shark like you swimming in their tank."
"Give me their name and I'll think about it. Maybe we'll move out to L.A. and try to get Gus into the movies. It can't be too hard -- I mean, if they'll take YOU."
"A pleasure, as always."
Lindsay was waiting at the door. I'd talked to her on the phone everyday since I got back, but this was the first time I'd actually seen her.
"Hair looks a little different."
"Mister Bob down on Liberty. He thought this would be a better look."
I surveyed her from all angles. "I like it. That thing with all the hair clips and booby pins was just too 1964 -- even for a fucking WASP!"
"I'll take that as a compliment." Lindsay opened the screen door. "Come on in."
We walked into the house which, as usual, smelled like vanilla candles, baby powder, and laundry soap. I guess having a kid in the house means you have to do a load of washing, but Lindsay is like laundry queen of Pittsburgh. My mother was about as anal as anyone gets and even she never washed as many clothes as Lindz.
"Tell me, Lindz -- are you taking in wash, now? Don't I send enough to cover the necessities so you don't have to get out the scrub-bucket and slave away all day on people's dirty underwear?"
"I cover the 'necessities' -- in case you didn't know. And we like to be clean around here. We don't have two goddamn MAIDS to pick up our shit all day," Melanie glowered.
"Okay. That's enough. I'm sure Brian was just making a little joke. Weren't you, Bri?"
"Of course. I'm just practicing for my part in the new Tom Greene laugh-riot, can't you tell?"
"I think we better get going," said another voice.
I looked up to see Justin, with Gus in his arms and the bag with all the baby shit slug over his shoulder. He took my arm and guided me to the door. "We'll be back before dinner."
"Do you have the list?" Lindsay called.
"In my pocket." He pushed me through the door, which I then held open for him and Gus. "Bye!"
We proceeded down the walkway.
"You fall into this role of happy housewife a little too easily. You are fucking scaring me."
"Somebody has to do it."
I struggled to get the car seat strapped into the backseat of the Jeep. "Jesus, I hate this thing!"
"It's for safety."
"I know, but when I was a kid they didn't fucking care if you were hanging out of the window or clinging to the trunk of the car. Now there are eight million laws that tell you when a kid is allowed to fart -- with or without being lashed into a medieval torture device."
"Is it secure?"
"I think so."
"You don't want Melanie coming out and checking up on us. She's watching from the window, you know."
"I know! It's secure. The astronauts weren't tied into the Apollo capsule this tightly."
Justin jiggled the thing around. Satisfied that it wouldn't come flying off in mid-ride, he put Gus into the seat and strapped him in.
"Okay. What's the agenda?"
Justin took out Lindsay's list and unfolded it. He read it, sticking his tongue out slightly and frowning.
"You're not going to like it."
"What do you mean?"
"The Big Q-Mart. She has a whole pile of things. Starred."
"Fuck that! I'm NOT shopping at the Big Q!"
Justin looked at me, pityingly. "You said you'd get the stuff on the list. Here's the list."
I give up. "What's the closest fucking Big Q?"
"The one on Buckley."
"Where Mikey used to work? Do we have to go there? It's polyester city!"
"Brian -- ALL Big Q-Marts are polyester city. It's the nature of the beast."
I wasn't sure which was worse -- actually having to step foot in the door of the Big Q and sample their shoddy merchandise, or having Justin and Gus have such a good time there. It was making me physically ill watching them ooh and ahh over packages of cheap cotton underpants and gigantic boxes of toddler-sized Huggies.
And I felt like Dagwood Bumstead pushing the plastic shopping cart.
"Could this be any more humiliating?"
"Why? Everyone is doing it." Justin gestured to the masses of contented Big Q customers, happily pushing their Big Q carts, sucking on their Big Q Slurps, and dragging along their Big Q-appareled offspring. "It's just what normal people do in their boring, normal lives."
"And that's what you want to be? Boring and normal?"
He turned and regarded me. "Sometimes."
I fucking pushed the fucking cart.
"Hey! The doll aisle!" Justin rushed other, dragging Gus after him. "Look at all these Barbies. Some of them are wild."
"I wouldn't know. I never played with Barbie dolls."
"Molly has a huge collection of them. Of course, when she was really little Mom would get her these really nice, beautifully dressed Barbies -- and Molly would immediately take all their clothes off, toss the clothes in the corner, and play 'Nakedy Barbie.' She had enough for a Las Vegas showgirl revue."
"Molly sounds like my kind of girl."
"Once someone gave her a Ken. She stripped him and threw him out the window."
"Oops -- sounds like Molly may be joining Lindsay and Melanie in Munchers' Paradise one of these days. Your mother will luck out once again in the sexual identity sweepstakes."
Justin moved down the shelf. "Brian. Take a look at these."
I looked over his shoulder. "Going to get her another Ken doll? Maybe you can change her mind before it's too late."
"Not with these!"
He pointed to a row of different Kens. It was like a little display for a gay chat line. The Surfer Ken. The Boy Band Ken. The Perfect Date Ken -- if your idea of the perfect date was going to the opera with Ted Schmidt. And my personal favorite -- Palm Beach Ken. I'm not fucking making it up. He looked all ready for a Circuit Party, from his sandals to his muscle shirt to his bleached blond hair!
"You have to buy this for Gus."
"You've got to be kidding. Lindsay would murder me. Aren't dolls some kind of fascist plot to impose sexual stereotypes on impressionable children?"
"Not these dolls. They're gayer than Emmett on Gay Pride Day. Besides, that's only for girls."
"So, G.I. Joe doesn't reaffirm macho stereotypes?"
Justin shrugged. "I don't know. I always thought G.I. Joe was hot."
"Really? This is something that may need to be explored...."
"Hi, guys! Fancy seeing you here!"
We both turned around to see a young woman standing there. She was wearing a hideous Big Q jacket or smock or whatever it was, and was holding some kind of pricing device.
"I'm Tracy. Remember? Mike's friend?"
Shit! The girl at the birthday party. Have you ever had one of those moments when you'd rather be anywhere else? Facing this woman gave me that horrible feeling.
"And who is this?" She began with the goochy-goo stuff. It has to be in the chromosomes.
"Gus. We're shopping for him." Justin held out the list. Well, at least he was thinking. This girl could definitely expedite this experience.
"No problem. We can get all this stuff without any trouble. I'll show you around."
Justin hoisted Gus onto his shoulder and he and Tracy took off. All I could do was push after them with my cart. I felt like I was back chasing after Carmel and Maria.
The two of them were chattering away, referring the list, poking at Gus, and -- occasionally -- looking back to see if I was keeping up. Meanwhile, the cart got filled.
"We have some really cute shirts here for toddlers." She pointed to the racks. "Girls over here. And boys here."
Justin set Gus down while he and Tracy pawed through the racks of tiny baseball shirts and tees with pictures of Spiderman.
I noticed that Gus was heading in the other direction.
"Hey!" I went after him while he made a beeline for the other section of the department. The girls' section. He went directly to a rack of Hello Kitty shirts, shorts, and purses -- and began grabbing for them.
"No! Gus. Those are for girls!" But he didn't care. I tried to put one of the tops -- with the horrible visage of Hello Kitty outlined in glitter -- back on the rack, but Gus started howling.
I was in a fucking tug of war with a two-year-old and he was winning. I turned to see Justin and Tracy smirking at me.
"I think he knows what he likes," said Justin, matter of factly, while the girl giggled. A couple of Big Q customers looked around to see what the yelling was about.
"My son isn't going to grow up to be the next generation's version of Emmett Honeycutt -- and that's final!"
I picked up Gus -- still yowling like a cat -- and dumped him into the childseat of the cart. "I think we are finished here. If you would be so kind to show us to the checkout, Tracy?"
"Of course." She and Justin were both laughing. Gus was still crying for Hello fucking Kitty. And we swept through the checkout line and out the door.
Tracy followed us out to the Jeep.
"Say hello to Mike for me. How is his store doing?"
"Great," said Justin. "I work there part time. You should stop by and see him."
"Maybe I will. I'm glad he's following his own dream -- he was wasted here. The people really can be assholes."
I thought I saw her sneaking a look at me when she said 'asshole.' Or maybe it was just my paranoia.
Continue on to "Sugar Daddy II -- part 2".
©Gaedhal, June 2002
Picture of Gale Harold and Randy Harrison from Showtime.
Updated June 21, 2002