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    Ann Rostow Food for Thought

    By Ann Rostow–

    Food for Thought

    I’m trying to avoid a lengthy commentary on the High Court’s religious freedom rulings. After all, I spent my entire column last time on the (worthy) topic of our astonishing Title VII victory, and I feel that I gave short shrift to random musings of little relevance to the fate of our valiant community. 

    In an effort to rectify this imbalance, I have delved into an email on the topic: “8 Gross Animals You Can Eat in a Survival Situation.” I was led to a listicle, where I learned that hungry desperados can forage for worms, grubs, snails, cicadas, and crickets. Under extreme circumstances, we can also eat possums, rodents, and seagulls. 

    I’m so easily irritated these days and now, the authors of this exposé have annoyed me further by seemingly picking insects and animals at random. Why seagulls? If we’re trying to survive near the coast, can’t we have some eels, barnacles, or some other unsightly sea creature? And if we can eat seagulls, why not doves, partridges, grouse, wild turkeys, or just any old bird? Why not put “birds” on the list instead of “seagulls?” I know the headline refers to “gross” animals, but seagulls are no grosser than any other avian species.  

    Likewise, if we can eat opossum and rodents, why not other mammals like rabbits? Perhaps again, rabbits aren’t considered gross. But they showed an adorable mouse under the “rodent” section, so I’m just saying. And isn’t a possum a rodent? 

    As for insects, they’re all gross, so would-be survivors should be urged to eat any insects they might find. What’s so special about a cicada, for God’s sake? Indeed, the day after I read the listicle, I stumbled upon another one with ten insects we can eat, including bees, ants, and pill bugs. Basically, we can eat all insects, period. So, the idea of selecting a handful of them for approval is nonsensical. It displeases me.

    Hard Things

    Moving on down some other side streets, there’s an ad for a podcast on MSNBC that features John F. Kennedy’s 1962 remarks in Houston: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

    This quote has always bugged me, because it doesn’t make any sense. Of course, we don’t make goals “because they are easy,” so that’s a straw man. But second, “because they are hard” is not a motive for action in itself, nor is it inherently admirable to attempt hard things. I wouldn’t choose to make Julia Child’s bouillabaisse because it was hard. I’d choose to make it, despite the difficulty, because I wanted fish stew. 

    Additionally, the reference to doing “the other things” is Trumpian in its imprecision. I retrieved the speech so I learned that “the other things” referred back to examples of ambitious projects such as: “fly the Atlantic” and “climb the highest mountain.” But still. Kennedy should repeat them in the sentence, not ask his audience to fill in the blanks by recalling his earlier words. 

    I’ve long wished to share this little bete noir with you, dear reader, but it seems so petty considering the incredible achievement that the moon landing represents. Also, it has nothing to do with our focus on GLBT news and views. And finally, we know what Kennedy was trying to say. There is indeed inspiration in taking on a seemingly impossible challenge. But to start and end with this speaks more to testosterone than anything else. Ditto flying the Atlantic and climbing the highest mountain. We didn’t go to the moon because, like Everest, it was there. We did it to expand our reach as scientists, engineers, explorers, and human beings.

    Rant over! 

    What’s Up, Doc?

    I’m thinking I could write this whole column without mentioning any GLBT news. Every time I review my most recent GLBT topics, I feel a wave of ennui. Conversely, I am strongly drawn to inconsequential tangents and feel a powerful urge to share them with you. 

    For example, here’s an article off the front page of The New York Times science section that describes a microbiologist named Peter Timms. Timms, the Times reports, “has spent the last decade developing a chlamydia vaccine for koalas,” which has got to be one of the most arcane professional descriptions I’ve ever encountered. Can you imagine being at a cocktail party with Dr. Timms and asking (because we are rude Americans), “What do you do for a living?”

    Where do you go from there? I can see myself, balancing my gin and tonic along with a wet piece of shrimp on a napkin. “Really! Um, I didn’t know koalas could catch chlamydia.” 

    “Oh, indeed yes, Ann,” he nods seriously. “Chlamydia can be carried by many, many species. You might say chlamydia connects us all.” 

    That last observation came straight from the Times article. There’s something profound about it, n’est-ce pas? Oh, and I’ve decided to sprinkle little French phrases throughout this column because I’m writing on Bastille Day. Mel just put the French flag up on our house. We had the rainbow flag up for June, the stars and stripes for early July (because it’s our country too), and now, the tricouleur. Before that, we had a banner that said, “It’s Party Time,” but sadly, the irony was too painful. 

    There Oughta Be a Commission!

    Let me pause to address those readers who have had enough of this silliness and crave gay and trans news. This is, after all, a GLBTQ newspaper, they huff. 

    Okay guys, do you care that Thailand might someday recognize same-sex unions, that Poland reelected its antigay president, or that the writer of the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie intended the character “Velma” to be a lesbian? Perhaps you want to hear about Mike Pompeo’s upcoming speech that will lay out America’s new human rights policy? Hint: it’s not pretty. And, as I mentioned, we could always analyze the High Court’s religious freedom opinions from last week, when they ruled that church employers could ignore civil rights laws and that businesses could block birth control insurance on a whim. 

    How about the Russian bureaucrat who worried that a rainbow branded ice cream could undermine morality in the country where “promoting” homosexuality is illegal? According to Reuters and the RIA news agency, Ekaterina Lakhova, the head of the Women’s Union of Russia, told Putin that she was concerned about the impact of the ice cream with the brand name “Rainbow,” along with the message that was sent by the American embassy where a rainbow flag was raised for Pride.

    “Even indirectly, such things make our children accustomed to that … flag, the one that was hung up by the embassy,” she said. “It would be very good to have a commission to make sure that those values that we enshrined in our constitution are upheld.” I should add here that Russian voters just passed a series of constitutional amendments that not only let Putin remain president for years and years, but also define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. 

    What else? Let’s see. J.K. Rowling has made another controversial comment about transgender boys and girls. I’ve been avoiding this never-ending subject because I would have to put some effort into figuring out exactly what she has been saying and exactly what context she’s been saying it in. This seems like a lot of work for a story that centers around one, albeit prolific, author. 

    Oh, and the guys have been partying up a storm on Fire Island, where the idea of social distancing during a gay beach weekend is not exactly catching on. They are no worse than the other imbeciles that have driven our infection levels sky high and forced us all to relive the quarantine days of March and April. 

    Quarantine Redux

    Mel and I stayed home in May and June, even though we had the possibility of going out for a few oysters and some wine on the patio of our local seafood spot. We mused about the prospect almost daily, but in the interests of caution, we decided to postpone our degustations until it was truly safe. Now we’re stuck again. We also had to cancel our incredibly cheap tickets to Scotland for the second time this year. Two of our adorable grandchildren live there. The other three live in Connecticut, which like Europe, has banned us from visiting. 

    Meanwhile, I just saw a discouraging article about how alcohol is not that good for you after all, but, like Trump voters who pick and choose which news items to believe and which to belittle, I have rejected the conclusion of this latest scientific effort. 

    It’s not as if we’re drinking more these days, but we are drinking differently. I have found, for example, that almost anything can spur creativity in the age of the coronavirus cocktail. The other day I made Bloody Marys out of something in the refrigerator that I later learned was a tomato soup. Yesterday, Mel made a fig and strawberry jam and I managed to convert its dregs into a tequila surprise. 

    Part of the problem is that given the fact that we are trying to limit our shopping, when we hit the liquor store, we don’t just get some wine or gin. We pick up anything and everything that looks good, including things from the close-out shelf. Just to give you an idea, the close-out shelf was the source of a repellent bottle of cinnamon alcohol that has sat in the cupboard for well over five years. The shelf invariably contains some very poor choices, such as the 150-proof rum I bought recently that is simply imbuvable. I haven’t given up on it quite yet. I’m thinking I might mix it with the fig jam syrup.

    One Hundred Ninety Days

    Like many of you, Mel and I ridiculed Trump’s boastful claim that he aced his dementia test, a routine diagnostic including “what year is it?” that normal people should not even be taking to begin with. He was particularly pleased at having remembered five words, an accomplishment that drew me up short. Could I remember five words? I’m not so sure considering I can’t remember why I went into the kitchen just now or how you spell chlamydia even though I just used the word several times. (Thank you, spellcheck.)

    But Ladies and Gentlemen, the word “moron” does not begin to describe the blithering idiot grinning behind the wheel of what is now an out-of-control American tractor-trailer, barreling down a steep grade past disaster and towards oblivion. His pathologies cannot be itemized; they are too numerous and have entwined themselves into unnamable patterns unique to his disordered mind. 

    At this point, I am focused like a laser on January 20, when the man leaves office. (No, I’m not being complacent. I simply cannot and will not concede that Trump might win a second term.) All those executive orders, all those anti-GLBT policies, whatever the unctuous Mike Pompeo is up to, the transgender service ban, the transgender health care loopholes, all of this will finally be over. Yes, we’ll still face massive economic problems, and the virus will no doubt still lurk. But the fog will lift and the horizon will appear. And most importantly, he will be off the stage along with his insufferable family and his sycophantic aides.

    My wife has informed me that she would vote for Biden even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue. In fact, she added, she would vote for Biden if Biden shot her on Fifth Avenue, assuming it was not a fatal incident, of course. I agree.

    Published on July 16, 2020