Badass

My father was an unconditionally honest man, obsessive in his habits. My mother was a saint, helpful to everyone, never a harsh word. I’m an only child who aspired to be a badass, but I had no role-models.

I look terrible in black; not so much vampirish as weak, sickly, possibly contagious. My tattoo fantasies are shattered by the fact that I’m prone to keloids. I’ve never owned a gun. I get loopy on a second glass of wine and I’m too clumsy to wear sunglasses in the dark. When I speak loudly or too much, I lose my voice. I can’t eat red meat because, apparently, I’m deficient in an enzyme required to digest it. When I break rules, I hear my mother’s voice. I want to be Patti Smith but lack her style and talent. I admire Tom Hanks. (And Keith Richards—so there! ) My competitive instincts are deficient. I’ve been frightened by my husband’s old brown shoes, thinking they were an animal lying in wait.

My favorite tai chi teacher assumed I was a “second sister.” I’m not sure why I lack the outer poise and self-assurance of an only child. My parents did their best to assure me that I was clever and capable, but I never quite believed them.

However, once I chased down a purse-snatcher with no regard to what I might do when I caught him. (Luckily, others arrived to help.) I have spoken out, when I probably should have kept my mouth shut. I’ve stood my ground (quietly) in awkward situations. I’ve offended people I don’t like—on purpose. I’ve embarrassed myself in countless ways, married a boy everyone said was wrong for me, and have no regrets. Though I don’t think of myself as courageous and conduct myself unobtrusively, there is a line I will NOT cross or allow others to traverse in my presence. I do not tolerate bigots or bullies, but I don’t argue with them. I’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good, better to walk away, block, unfriend.

I’ll never be known for bravery or boldness and, alas, there is no glory in being a connoisseur of daydreams, a gifted flaner, cloud visionary, or adept wallflower. The impression I make is amiable, entirely reputable. But make no mistake, in my heart I’m bad to the depths of my tawdry illusions.

Gay

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