Toronto
3 min

Must lessies be skanks?

The French might force us to be

Credit: Xtra files

It’s the sound of leaves crunching under your feet. When the nights get cold and you put on that woolly sweater that you love. It’s the crisp smell of the air as the temperature dips and the desire to just get cozy under a blanket. Maybe you even think about getting the old fireplace going.



I’m speaking, of course, of The Summer Of 2004.



What happened? Two months of bad weather and it was over.



There we were, all set for summer. Woo hoo! It’s gay day every day in the summer. It’s all hot pants all the time in the summer. It’s patios and frosty cold beer and late steamy nights. Summer is when everything that sucked in your life is washed clean and at the very least one gets to show off one’s halter top collection. Not this year.



Speaking of halter tops, I went to Montreal this summer for the Just For Laughs festival and decided to do a smidge of shopping. All the men’s clothes were fantastic. The women’s clothes, however…. I needed to find a blouse to wear for some thing I had to go to, and let me just say that if the dress code had been “Day-Glo rags” I would have been in business.



Normally, if you can’t find something to wear in Montreal, you seriously have a problemo. But shop after shop had cut up shmattes with half a sleeve or one-tenth of a shoulder strap. Sure, if you’re stoned. But seriously – not asymmetrical and fuschia. One or the other, s’il vous plait.



And speaking of s’il vous plait, if you’re feeling pretty good about your French speaking, spend two days in Montreal. There I was with my bonjours as I walked into stores, wanting to participate. You walk into a store and they’re all fabulous and “fon fon fon” (the sound of French) and suddenly you’re enunciating like a fat Michigan tourist in Paris: “Hel-lo. And howw are youuu?” So, seeing the disappointment in their eyes from my overdone English, I was all determined to speak French. I started with a quick bonjouuuuuuuuur as I breezed by. The trick was to keep moving. Never stop. Or you’ll die. Like a shark. A quick bonjour and be gone.



And I could even follow it up. They’d be all, “Comment ca va?” By this time I was feeling a little full of myself. “Ca va bien,” I’d sing-song. Wow. Look at me! Maybe I’m almost passing. Suddenly I was almost a closeted Anglo. It was thrilling. Dangerous.



But just when I got a little full of myself… uh oh, they’d take it too far. It was too late. I forgot to keep moving and they’d smile and let loose with a “Fon fon fonfonfonfonf?” And I would just stop and stare like a deer in the headlights. “Uhhhhhh….”



See, it’s a slippery slope. Smoking pot may not lead to using harder drugs, but a cocky bonjour always leads to a conversation you don’t know how to have.



(I wonder how many gay men just scanned this column, saw the word “cocky” and started reading from the top, thinking, “Ooh. This looks good.”)



So that was all I could find in Montreal. But back to halter tops. My other thought about the halter top is: why? Why are they back? No, please, no. Please make it stop.



Thankfully as a lessie lady, I am under no fashion obligation to dress like a skank. I swear, I have never been so happy to be gay. (Although after a couple of watchings of The L-Word TV show, I could almost renounce.) I feel bad for straight girls. What terrible role models they have for fashion. Unlike we gay women who have… oh, wait… no one. Not that Ellen doesn’t wear white bucks with flair.



And there is one thing I do know, having grown up in New York in the 1970s. Straight girls today don’t know the terror that really is the tube top. And the fright and the danger is two-fold. There is the danger of the Big Reveal wherein the tube top is pulled down in the middle of the mall/school/church parking lot. And the more frightening thing is the sight of the tube top on some fat tough Bronx girl. Wherein the gi-normous boobs are barely contained by a straining stretchy strip of purple polyester. “Look out, it’s gonna blow! Get back!”



(That same gay man who skimmed and saw “cocky,” also saw “blow,” and is really going to start reading.)



So it’s September. Summer 2004 apparently came and went. All I have to show for it is a bright tangerine top with one short sleeve and one long sleeve. How do you say foxy salesgirl in French?