|by Bill Sievert
|The Joys of Summer Travel 2008"And If You Need an Oxygen Mask..."
In this column three summers ago I expressed dismay at the high price of gasoline, reporting that I never thought I'd live long enough to see it reach $3 a gallon. I also quoted my partner as saying he hoped gas would hit $5 to teach a lesson to those who drive Hummers and "topple-over SUVs." At the time, the notion of such pricy petrol seemed completely over the top, but John's words have turned out to be yet another life lesson in "be careful what you wish for...."
Something else I never would have predicted is a $15 charge for the first bag a passenger checks on an airplane. While policies vary depending on the airline, additional bags can cost even more. This latest blot of bad economic news is outraging all red-blooded Americans, including our redheaded friend Diana. Knowing of John's and my plans to fly to Las Vegas to see Bette Midler in June, she immediately called with a way to thwart the system.
"Would you guys like to borrow that 42-inch bra I had on last night?" she asked, referring to the most outstanding element of the Mae West costume she'd worn to a party. "John does such credible drag, and he could stuff it with an overnight bag's worth of clothes."
Slim-built Diana began rattling off the items with which she had filled the braa sleep shirt, socks, three pair of panties.... "It'll fit just about anything, though I wouldn't try shoes."
I suspect that a lot of people who fly the not-so-friendly skies this summer will attempt to jam three suitcases of clothing into a single carry-on. And, oh the woe that awaits flight attendants when they must demand 15-bucks from travelers whose bag cannot be crammed into an overhead compartment because their water skis protrude through the door.
Here's hoping the new surcharges stop with luggage. Nonetheless, I am ready for some unprecedented preflight announcements:
"Attention, ladies and gentlemen. If you would like to purchase a seatbelt for your trip, we will be passing through the cabin to offer you one for $12.95. The FAA recommends that you use a seatbelt and keep it securely fastened except when you visit the lavatories, which are available at a low cost of $2 for each three minutes of occupancy. A change machine is available for your convenience.
"Finally, if you feel you might be in need of an oxygen mask in the event of any sudden decrease in cabin pressure, we have them available at $6 for adults and $3.50 for children under age 12. These are pre-flight prices only. In the event of an actual emergency, rates are 30 percent higher, depending upon availability. Now, sit back, relax and have a pleasant trip. And, remember, no tipping."
Speaking of a prior column, as I was way back in the first paragraph: In the April 4 edition of this year's Letters (available online at www.camprehoboth.com, where you'll also find a decade's worth of CAMPtalk), I offered you a list of the greatest gay-themed hit recordsand yearned for more out-front pop singers and bands. I forgot to mention one of the most exciting and openly gay ensembles in music today: The Scissor Sisters.
Led by exuberant and provocative lead singer Jake Shears, producer/writer Babydaddy and the enigmatic Ana Matronic, the Scissor's most recent (second) album Ta-Dah is full of song stories aimed squarely at our community (among them, "She's the Man" and "Kiss You Off"). If you haven't seen them perform, the Logo channel has been running their amazing concert video, Scissor Sisters Live, which was shot in front of a huge audience in London's Trafalgar Square. The band is fairly popular here in their native U.S., but they are a huge phenomenon in England where a wider audience embraces openly gay performersincluding a guy like Shears who strips to a thong for one of the best dance songs ever, "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'."
Someone who frequently does feel like dancingeven more latelyis Ellen DeGeneres, who was among the first celebrities to announce her engagement (to Portia de Rossi) right after the California Supreme Court's historic ruling that marriage is for all human couples. The announcement came on Ellen's popular daily talk show, where she again demonstrated leadership during a recent taping with GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting John McCain.
Ellen asked McCain about the Supreme Court decision and he said he believes marriage should remain a male-female thing exclusively. Ellen was polite but forthright: "There is this old way of thinking that we are not all the same," she said. "We are all the same peopleall of us. You are no different than I am. Our love is the same."
"We just have a disagreement," McCain replied, "and I, along with many, many others, wish you every happiness."
Retorted Ellen, "So, you'll walk me down the aisle; is that what you're saying?"
McCain just giggled. You go, girl!
We'll leave the Democratic nominee's position on gay issues for later; surely there will be an official nominee someday. But in the meantime I refer you to two other past CAMPtalk columns. Last summer (August 24, 2007), I reported on Logo's forum for the candidates, at which Barack Obama said that, while it is too soon for gay marriage to be a "realistic" federal goal, he would work in his first term to achieve "a situation in which civil unions are fully enforced, are widely recognized and [GLBT] people have civil rights under the law." Hilary Clinton described her view as being opposed to gay marriage but "very positive about civil unions...
I am absolutely in favor of full equality."
Finally, I would like to point out to Senator Obama (since I'm looking for a job with health benefits) that I was one of the first columnists in the nation to propose that he run for president. The idea was raised in my CAMPtalk column of September 15, 2006, when I reported on a dinner-party conversation with friends in Rehoboth about who should enter the race. At the time, I wrote, "By evening's end, my suggestion of the junior senator from Illinoisit's not too early and he's not too youngwas gaining momentum."Come on Barack; it's payback time.
Bill Sievert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 06 May 30, 2008