|Paul McHugh and Jay Viescas|
Jason ushered me into the Judge’s room. I was chanting my Bear History in my head. I was tired and the sudden attack of nerves was not something I could easily overcome. I thought briefly about shaking everyone’s hand but that felt too much like pandering and I wanted to appear confident and self-assured. I nodded to each judge politely and tried to give an engaging shy smile. David McHugh the elfin judge who lived in London was to my left. The placid silent Jay Viescas was sitting next to him. The judge I remembered from Friday night, Terry Bryant, the big Daddy Bear from Canada was smiling almost sadly at me I thought. Huh? He sat to my right. Sitting directly in front of me was the local guy Tony Hart and Eduardo Medeiros from Washington DC. Something was wrong. I didn’t know what and I didn’t know exactly why, but something was off. In school I read “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin. It was the story about a white man who had taken something to darken his skin and lived in the South as a Black Man. He refers to the “hate stare” that the bigots gave him. I suddenly knew what he was talking about. I am very perceptive-call it a gift from being so over-sensitive all these years. It was very clear that Tony and Eduardo radiated hostility at me. I took a breath... I began to distrust my instincts and blamed it on being tired. Perhaps I was mis-reading them?
They asked questions. My “ya know?”s got a little heavy as I prattled on and on about how the community is changing and how we need to change with it. Having a 46 year old be International Cub would be a great message to send out there ( ya know?) since many of the young uns think a cub is supposed to be 20 (ya know?) So I would in a way... personify the values of acceptance and tolerance...and uh... and since the Bear community defies description (ya Know?) I think I would be a great role model. I talked about Bearlesque and my dreams for that. I may have stumbled a bit. I wasn’t exactly “Joe Mannetti” brilliant. In fact I am quite sure that I came off exhausted. Which I was for Crissake! Hey you try being in a fundraising contest that operates nearly 18 hours a day and date a Puerto Rican and see how much sleep YOU get! David appeared to be listening me and Terry gave off that sad basset hound look as if I was headed off to the gallows. Who knows what Jay was thinking? Tony would roll his eyes in with a flicker of exasperation as if I was talking too much. He even went so far as to cut me off a couple of times. I figured they were running short on time and that’s why he cut me off -impolitely and unceremoniously. Manners? Short supply here at the judges table I guess.
Eduardo suddenly and a little more loudly than any other question barked at me, “ Why didn’t you sell US any raffle tickets? “ All the answers that leapt to the front of my mind didn’t seem appropriately contestant-like behavior.
Oh? Were you there at the events? -seemed dismissive
Who knows? -seemed apathetic
Because you are a dick and I only sell to friendly judges like Terry -seemed flat out wrong
All that came out was a look of confusion because the antagonism was glaringly apparent and I didn’t expect to find this kind of bad treatment at the judge’s table. I hemmed and hawed a bit and came out with a pathetic “ I’m really not sure.” I looked to Terry for support and he looked at his shoe. The truth was I don’t recall seeing ALL the judges at every event we sold raffle tickets at. Terry was really the only one I remembered. Eduardo and Tony bore down on me like McCarthy and J Edgar Hoover. There was an implication that I didn’t sell that many tickets, What?!! That’s not true, we sold as many as many of the other contestants. What did they want us to do? Were we supposed to yank wallets out and extract the money? I have already told you about the crappy attendance at these events. But no I just looked bewildered.
There was another implication that Orlando and I hung out and simply chatted with our friends. That was a load of bullshit too. O and I didn’t know hardly anyone at the events and we WERE SELLING RAFFLE TICKETS CONSTANTLY!!. The 2 0r 3 people that we DID know bought at least $100.00 worth of tickets from us. But no I just sat there and looked confused at the judges.
The last accusation left me spinning. Eduardo asked, “Did you only sell tickets to the attractive men?” What the fuck? This had to be a test of some sort! They must’ve missed the twisted little monster in the leather shorts that I measured an inseam for. He had an unusually tight dog collar and his tongue was darting in and out of his mouth like a spastic lizard. What about the craven soul in the Muu Muu that latched on to my boyfriend’s nipple like an infant craving it’s mother’s milk? What the hell was going on here? Didn’t Tony come up to me smiling last night and purchase $3 worth of tickets? Was Eduardo really THAT upset by the salami incident? Who WERE these men and why were they being so harsh to me? I had a choice. I could’ve gone off on them and told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine or I could keep my cool.
I carefully and as neutrally as I could, informed them of my raffle sales strategy. Due to lack of people to sell to, I chose to meet the ones that had already purchased tickets, (or already declined) from other contestants. I spent time and got to know them. Socialized and after the socialization I asked if they would support me by purchasing one ticket. Admittedly -alot of work for one dollar but I am willing to bet Orlando and I made a friend or two. Over half of them purchased 5 dollars worth from us. David Hughes latched on to that like a life preserver was tossed in to the water, “Oh! you were talking to them!”
He said it to Eduardo and Tony with a certain emphasis. As if “ See? he’s not the crappy contestant you think he is!” At least ...that’s how I perceived it. I think I fell a little in love with David right then and there. I can’t remember now, but I am not sure if I told the judges that George and Matt and I sold and bought tickets from each other. I was so whipped by them, I couldn’t remember anything. I came out of the room feeling like shit. I felt devalued and unappreciated- I know what you are going to say..blah blah blah we are in charge of our own reactions yeah yeah I know. I just did not expect in any way to be abused after working so hard to make IBR successful. What brought that on? I was feeling too low to get angry as Jason wrapped his arm around me and we headed back to the rehearsal. It hit me that I wasn’t going to win anything. I considered letting Jason know all this, but I had been informed by others that he wouldn’t do anything about it anyway. He murmured comforting sounds to me as he lead me up the stairs and all I could think about was the Nurse who says, “There There...that didn’t hurt a bit did it?” -AFTER she had stuck a very large very sharp needle in you.