By Kelly Jean Cogswell
Do you know what fear is, that thing that has your breath coming in shallow little pants and your heart pounding and sweat beading up on your forehead?
It hits me in dark alleys, or when I think of where my country's going. Sometimes, though, it's just mice.
Like the one I found a couple of days ago in the basement. It was a soft grey thing no bigger than a key lime and stuck to a glue trap. Still, I got a pole to nudge it into the garbage in case it made a break for it, ran up my arm and bit me.
I could've called for back-up, but I've got my dyke cred to consider. It's more, after all, than just a hairdo and camo pants, and 'tude. It's pride, the swagger in your step after somebody tosses a beer bottles out the car window and yells "fucking dyke." It's the need to conquer your fear and take on mice single-handedly.
I've done it before.
Just after 9/ll when I was still getting incinerated every night in my dreams, and Bush was color coding alerts, and bombing wedding parties in Afghanistan, Marina and I went for a vacation upstate.
We slept in a loft bed where there was the sound of mice running up and down outside in the eaves, and the scratching of claws a couple of inches from our heads as they tried to burrow their way in.
I stayed up half the night panting hard, waiting for a heart attack, or for them to break through and run across my face. Sometimes I thought I saw them. Maybe I did.
If nothing else, I quit dreaming of fire. When it comes to terror, a mouse in the hand trumps Osama in the bush.
And in the morning, I'd give myself a big pep talk, climb up on the ladder, and reach out my hand for the peanut butter-baited traps stuck to the beams and total up the dead.
Call me Dyke Campeador, after el Cid who engaged Moors on the field of battle instead of mice, only I didn't gloat afterwards in long epic verse, just emptied the traps and tried to block the whole thing out.
You face your fear. Big deal. A lot of times your fear just stares back and what have you got then? A heart attack for no good reason. Wet pants. It doesn't help much knowing the mouse is afraid of you. If the furry thing were bigger, you'd be in real trouble.
Fear and loathing rule the world. And half of it is irrational.
Like with the presidential campaign of Segolene Royal in France. Early on, the Internet chat rooms were so full of vitriol if you dipped a toe in the water you'd draw back a bone. They said it was her politics they hated, but from the sound it, what they hated was her. Like a mouse popping out of a dresser drawer.
You get the same with Hillary Clinton. She's no worse than other Democrats, but the hate with which her name is spoken can knock your socks off. The worst comes from women on the left. I guess they expect her to be something more than a politician, and when she cuts deals, and maneuvers, backpedals and politicks it turns their delicate stomachs.
You ask me, post-feminism came too early, like post-gay. Sure, we've made a lot of progress, but not everybody. The few who have build cocoons, declare the war over when we're nowhere near winning equality.
Frankly, I'd be thrilled to have Hillary as our first woman president. Or Sego in France. Chile's got one. And Germany, too. It still makes a difference, the simple fact of their sex.
Not that I'm entirely comfortable in the woman camp. If I was on a sinking ship, and the captain called for women and children first, I'd pause. I'd get into the life rafts, definitely, but I'd pause first, just a second.
Maybe you would too, comparing me in my pink Timberlands and spiky hair, with Nancy Pelosi surging in the House with Manolo Blahniks on her feet and an armful of grandkids. Or size two Condi Rice who sleeps twenty-five minutes a night, plays concerts for fun, and directs peace and wars.
What's an East Village dyke got to do with them?
To find out, you have to do the Freudian thing. Go back a few years to childhood. Not all the way back to the womb, but when we began to walk and talk, maybe start to grow boobs. Listen then to the soundtrack of our lives, the recurring phrases, "You can't..." and "Girls don't..."
That's what we have in common. They didn't listen. Me either. And we all have something to prove.
Visit Kelly Sans Culotte at http://kellyatlarge.blogspot.com.