In the past, I’ve remarked about my distaste for the sanitized “Church St Family Fair” over the “Church St Fetish Fair,” my main grievance being that you’re assuming that families can’t appreciate some good ol’-fashioned people watching in the middle of a street fair dedicated to all things kinky.
Take, for instance, my grandmother. She will henceforth be called Granny Feist for the sake of formality. Granny Feist is well into her 70s and has never touched a drop of alcohol in her life. (Although it should be noted she’s asked me numerous times if I knew where to buy weed. I have no clue, but if you want to help a 70-year-old woman get baked out of her skull before she dies, be my guest.) She’s the kind of woman who swears in the middle of Church service and who will stand on her own cemetery plot and laugh at God in the middle of my Nana’s burial.
Granny Feist does not give a fuck. Granny Feist is too busy being a fabulous fucking bitch.
I had the pleasure of taking both my mother and my grandmother to the last Church St Fetish Fair, back in 2010. As far as I can tell, both had a wonderful time. Granny Chick got to ogle a beautiful corset from Northbound Leather — guess what she’s getting for Christmas? — and my mother got to grope some gay pornstar twins, something that to this day I refuse to let her live down.
Since it was Sunday, and because I was pissed and I needed someone to vent to, I called Granny Chick after her Sunday Mass, ever the Irish Catholic, to pick her thoughts. This is our conversation about the Church St Family Fair, which I present in traditional Irish truth. (Read: this is the general gist of what we talked about, but I spiced up the language a bit. Once again: IRISH. You know what you’re getting yourself into here.)
Me: Hey, Grandma!
Grandma: Oh, hello there, Jeremy! How are you?
Me: A little sore — I just got back from the gym. You?
Grandma: What about church?
Me: Grandma, there aren’t any churches in Toronto. (Ed’s note: This is a lie.)
Grandma: Ah yes, that’s right dear. What’s new over there? Are you taking care of yourself?
Me: Yes, I’m fine. Hey, do you remember when we went to the fetish fair a couple years ago?
Grandma: What’s that, love?
Me: The fetish fair. Remember, two years ago, you came to visit after I moved here? There were naked guys whipping each other, and a topless lesbian spanked me, and Mom felt up twin penises?
Grandma: Ah yes, dear, that’s right, I remember now. We had a lot of fun that day, didn’t we? Gorgeous day, too. Did you know your Aunt Trish used to train to crack a whip?
Grandma: Yes, it was a long time ago, dear. Long time ago. Are they doing that again this year?
Grandma: Why not?
Me: Because they’re doing a family day instead.
Grandma: What do they have at the family day then?
Me: A ferris wheel and some bouncy castles.
Grandma: That’s fucking bullshit. Why would I want to ride some goddamn ferris wheel? I can go ride a ferris wheel whenever I want. How often am I going to see a fire flogging?
Me: Don’t you have the internet?
Grandma: Don’t be a smartass, dear.
Me: Well, what did you like about the fetish fair, specifically?
Grandma: It wasn’t what we did, specifically, that I thought was fun. I just enjoyed getting to spend time with you and your mother. It’s not often we get together, so I always enjoy coming up to Toronto with her to visit you. I had a lot of fun seeing everyone all dressed up, but getting to do it with you both is what made it even better.
Me: And the corset?
Grandma: What’s that, dear?
Me: You saw some corsets you really liked, and I —
Grandma: — Oh God, yes, the corsets. Those were just beautiful. Do they still make those?
Grandma: Be a dear and bring me one, won’t you?
Me: Will do.
Grandma: And some marijuana.
Me: Love you, Grandma.
Grandma: I love you too. And I want marijuana.
My point here is that you can’t just slap the word “family” on an empty ferris wheel and call it a day. It’s possible to appreciate seeing people take pride in who they are and how they show their love with your family, rather than simply taking in the most sanitized and politically correct aspects of people who are different. It’s still possible to make the Fetish Fair something you can enjoy as a family, regardless of how you define family.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find Granny Chick some weed. It’s for her . . . glaucoma.