I woke up at 5 a.m. to the smell of cat pee.
I don’t know of a word that accurately captures this smell; cat pee is its own world, and generally speaking, whatever reaction might happen after the discovery of it before 9 a.m. — short of killing — is the correct one.
Last week, I drove to Gulf Shores with my girlfriend and her BFF. The drive wasn’t bad; we tried listening to “Tom Sawyer,” but the reader was a man who sounded eerily similar to the narrator in “Waiting for Guffman.” We didn’t even make it halfway through; as far as I know Tom conned some people into painting a fence, and … The End.
It only took us 9.87 hours, which is not bad for a nice drink of sea stank. I will skip the arrival details and go straight to the part about the pool(s). The outside pool was the longest I’ve ever seen at a condo. Evidence that god exists. The indoor pool, surrounded by three hot tubs, was smaller — a good-sized Holiday Inn Holidome pool. There were tennis courts. Awesome, right? Little else is needed for a good time in Alabama.
Traveling alone, each of us look kinda gay; put us together and you have team wonderdyke. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? I mean, most people there looked gag-me-with-a-spoon straight, help-I’m-stuck-on-a-white-picket-fence straight. We looked our parts; the breeders looked theirs.
As a minority you get stared at. That’s part of the deal. Most stares fall in one of two categories: There is the “I’ve never seen a ____ person before” stare. Harmless, annoying stares can make the object feel uncomfortable, but are unmistakably harmless. The other kind of stare is the “What are you doing here?” If you’re never or are rarely in situations where you’re a minority, you can easily mistake a hostile stare for a harmless one. You see, the difference between the two is slight enough that even the most experienced teacher can overlook a violent stare between her students.
I’m no statistician, but my educated guess is that somewhere between 63 and 67 percent of the adult clientele at the resort in Orange Beach, Ala., thought we had released thousands of feral cats with exceptionally full bladders throughout the condo; roughly 20 percent of the adult population acted as though we bathed in only the finest cat urine. I’m not kidding. A trained eye would have thought that I had forced one of the toddlers running around the swimming pool to drink cat piss.
We didn’t just get looks or glances. We were gazed at (with narrow, beady eyes). The preteens flirting with each other in the indoor pool only looked and laughed at us. There is no excuse for the behavior of their parents and other adults. We weren’t loud or rude.
We were in bed every night by 9:30, with our TVs turned down to a barely audible level; we held elevator doors open and smiled as we passed the sun worshippers. In short, we were model guests. We didn’t play obnoxious country music on our radios sitting around the pool during the day. We didn’t play loud music around the pool at night, making it impossible to hear the ocean. We were most unassuming and polite — and yet, due to the hostility we encountered, which the evidence suggests came because we looked gay, we left after two days.
When we left we went to Pensacola. In 2000, my mother and I went to Gulf Shores, not too far from where I just was. I had blue, longish hair. No one looked twice.