A few years ago, when I was in search of geeky gay folks to hang out with, I attended a book group at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. I announced to the dozen 45- to 60-year-old men in the room that I was just trying out the group and hadn’t read that month’s book, a gay historical fiction novel by a female author. Nevertheless, the group leader kept turning to me and asking for “a woman’s perspective.” I never went back.
This Saturday marked Book Group Attempt #2, organized by AK’s college friend Joel, who’s now a seminary student. AK told me to expect a bunch of fresh-faced, young, Christian married couples. I figured that if the queer folks had let me down, maybe common demographics weren’t all they were cracked up to be, and agreed to read Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle and bring a tropical snack.
AK and I stopped by Trader Joe’s, where we asked a curly-haired clerk in tight jeans and Ugg boots where the tropical drink mixes were. TJ’s apparently has no such thing, but that didn’t stop her from playing bartender.
She led us to the juice aisle: “Now, just mix some of this cranberry juice with vodka and either pineapple juice or this mango nectar and you’ll have a great sea breeze. Garnish it with a little lime, and don’t forget the ice.”
She turned to a middle-aged woman trying to maneuver her shopping cart around us. “And I bet you have a favorite drink too,” the clerk said.
“No,” said the woman. “I don’t.”
“I like how you tried to form a little community there,” AK said to the clerk.
Two bottles of juice, one bottle of vodka and one bag of limes later (we didn’t forget the ice, we were just too lazy to buy it), we were mixing drinks at Joel’s. AK tried to hand one off to a fresh-faced, young, married seminary student who turned out to be pregnant.
We filled plates with Joel’s amazing fried shrimp and gathered for what turned out to be a very smart and un-theological discussion of Cat’s Cradle, which is all about the founding of a religion that proudly proclaims its own bullshit. I actually could have used a little more theology, a little more Christianity vs. Bokononism. I was in a room full of overly modest experts. But at least no one turned to me and asked me for a semi-heathen’s perspective.