Louis and I are back by the soda machine shooting the shit.
“Check this out,” Louis says, “Did you hear of that new gay TV network that’s starting up?
“I heard something about it,” I reply
“Well they called me.”
“My twentieth high school reunion is next month. No one in my little New Mexico hometown knows I’m gay. The network wants to fly me and Bill out and film everyone’s reaction at the reunion.”
“To your being gay?”
“Yep. Coming out reality TV.”
I have an uneasy feeling in my gut.
“What’s Bill’s take on this?” I ask.
“He’s not thrilled about the idea.”
“How do you feel about it?”
“I don’t know. It’s an all expenses paid trip plus a speakers fee,” Louis says.
Louis is one of the nicest and funniest waiters I’ve ever worked with. But I know being funny sometimes flows from a wellspring of pain. Louis keeps that part of himself very private. I wonder if him being on TV is the best idea.
“Well, if you want my opinion,” I offer, “I’d take a pass.”
“No matter how tastefully it’s done – TV is TV. Gay network or not, they won’t have your best interests at heart. It’s still about money.”
Louis is quiet for a moment.
While he’s thinking an old Dylan lyric pops into my head,
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in.
That’s reality TV in a nutshell.
“Don’t whore yourself out for a TV show,” I say gently, “Don’t gargle in the rat race choir.”
“You might be right,” Louis murmurs wistfully.
“So,” I say changing the subject,” what other programming is on this gay network?”
“Lots of Golden Girls reruns.” Louis says.
“Golden Girls?” I bluster, “Can you please tell me why gay men love that show so much?”
“I have no idea,” Louis says shaking his head.
“I mean why do gay guys the world over watch that show? I think some big gay alien is beaming messages directly into your brains.”
“YOU WILL WEAR ARGYLE SOCKS AND LOVE SHOWTUNES! I, BEA ARHTUR, COMMAND YOU!” I mock bellow.
“Oh that’s fucked up,” Louis chuckles.
“Why the Golden Girls? Why THAT show?” I wonder aloud.
A sly smile spreads across my face,
“Why not, let’s say oh….. BJ and the Bear?”
Louis stares at me in astonishment.
“Oh man, that has multiple meanings doesn’t it?” I say cracking up.
Wiping the tears from his eyes Louis says, “Brilliant, fucking brilliant.”
“Well they should have the truck driver and the chimp on the gay network,” I hurumph.
Out laughter subsides. We’re quiet.
“I like bears.” Louis says suddenly smiling.
“I’ll bet you do.”