Vancouver
4 min

Mars and Uranus

And the golden rules of self-preservation

Credit: Xtra West files

So apparently, according to my astrologer lady friend, Mars is closer to the earth these last few weeks than it has been for, like, 60,000 years.



You know, the blood-coloured planet of war and aggression and whatnot-tempers will flare, she warned me, rash decisions will be made, the oil will boil, the fuse will live dangerously close to the flame.



But I knew all that already. I knew something was up, the rednecks especially have been restless, you can smell it in the air. I myself have been addressed in a less than polite fashion as a fucking dyke from someone in a moving vehicle on four separate occasions in the last 10 days alone. Sure, that one time I kinda maybe sorta cut that guy off in my station wagon because he wouldn’t let me merge and maybe I deserved a middle digit display or the like, but the other three occurrences were random, drive-by expletives, wholly unprovoked.



I thought about maybe calling the police/gay liaison to notify them of Mars’ position in our sky right now, and that they might want to be on high alert for the inevitable rise in homophobic violence that could very well be brought on by our current astrological circumstances. But then I remembered that the cops rarely raise an eyebrow at another bashing these days in these parts; they don’t seem to be able to muster up a state of mild concern, much less a high alert mode. Besides, after Mercury goes retrograde on the 28th, they’d probably just lose the email anyway, I’m told.



Anyhoo. All this got me to thinking about what exactly would possess a guy to lean out his truck window to scream the obvious at me for little or no reason, and what my most appropriate response should be, given the fact that I am Irish and not immune to Mars’ influence at the best of times myself, and have learned the hard way to avoid these kinds of situations.



I have to be extra careful, you see, because the kind of guy who screams “fucking dyke” at someone is also statistically proven to be the kind of guy who would scream “fucking faggot” at someone, and due to my God-given gender persuasion, I often find myself mistaken for either, in fairly even numbers. And what with both Uranus and Mars in Pisces for the next while, I hear, ambiguity will abound and things will only get worse for me, I fear.



I will have to remember my golden rule of thumb: do not get lippy with guys who think you are a guy, because studies show that men who scream homophobic insults from cars are twice as likely to pop you one in the head if they think they can take you. If they think I’m a man, then I am a small-armed long-eyelashed young one, with only 14 hairs on my chin, and according to the bicep-size-to-lippyness ratio, must not be permitted under any circumstance to mouth off to someone bigger than him. It is the code of the land of men, and must be adhered to, even when just passing through.



This can be tricky, as these kinds of guys will go ballistic if you scream something witty back at them after they call you a faggot, and outsmarting a reckneck in traffic can be done almost by accident, if you forget to think before screaming.



Example A: I am driving my car down the alley behind the houses across the street from me, along the edge of Trout Lake Park. There are cars parked alongside the soccer field, and there is only room for one car to pass through at one time. There is a guy driving towards me in a black Saab convertible. He stops, and waits for me to pull over or back up to let him by. I can do neither, due to parked cars and two cars waiting behind me. I wait for him to back up and let us all by, as there is space on his side, but instead he leans on his horn and shakes his fist. Nobody moves, and the guy behind me starts honking. I wait for Saab guy to come to his senses, and light a cigarette nonchalantly. This enrages him for some reason and he jumps out of his car and rushes mine, screaming youfuckingwhotaughtyouI’mgonna, until he is right beside my front tire and he stops, and realizes I’m not what he might have thought at first, whatever that was.



He raises his fist and mocks getting ready to hit me. “If you were a fucking man right now I would hit you.”



I speak without thinking: “If you were a fucking man right now, I would hit you.”



This was the wrong thing to say to avoid further conflict. Although humorous to recall later, it caused the man to move all his extremities in different directions at sort of the same time, feet still planted, as though fighting an evil demon inside himself who was telling him to smoke me in the head. His face was so red I was seriously concerned that he could have an aneurysm or stroke, leaving me somewhat morally responsible.



I had also broken golden rule number two: don’t count on the don’t-hit-a-woman (in public, that is) rule for men to apply when you are queer. Otherwise non-woman hitting guys will bend this rule and strike a dyke with far less consequence from other men than one might hope. Hitting a woman who looks like a man is maybe under a different sub-clause or something.



He might have given up and just let himself pop me one, who knows, because that was right about the time the guy who lives across the street from me came walking up with a shovel in his hand to see what all the commotion in his alleyway was about. His name is Dave and I have known him for 11 years. Dave and his buddy with the backhoe were digging something up in his backyard as usual, and so Dave stepped into the fray wearing steel-toed boots and held up a hand the size of a small family ham, in an attempt to calm the situation as only a huge man with a shovel can.



“This guy hassling you, Ivan?” Dave asked, eyeing the guy’s Saab with some distaste.



I shook my head, feeling safer in the shadow of Dave on my side.



“No, I think he was about to get his asshole self back in his Saab and back up and let the people through,” I responded, my heart still pounding, breaking my golden rule of self-protection number three: know when to walk away, and know when to run.



The guy got in his car and sprayed gravel in reverse and backed around the corner.



Dave shook his head at me. “Careful out there. I’m not always going to be standing there with a shovel.”



I nodded, then shrugged, and drove ahead. Dave was right, and I should know better. One can never be too careful, especially until Mars moves on.