(disclaimer... Please don't be offended by my use of politically incorrect terms... I love lesbians, I really do.)
On a walk back from Hampden yesterday into the nucleus of Charles Village normalcy, I couldn't help but notice that on every street stood two defunct Hampden residents: the tattooed smoker, and the tattooed dyke.
Hampden is swimming in dykes. I could choose to be politically correct here and offer you the words "lesbian," "queer," (or is it just a unisex gay now?)*, but I think the word dyke has a charm to it that most aptly describes the character of these homosexual women. Among the notable encounters:
1. In the hardware store, a short burly woman with a skull tattoo etched into her bicep, keys hanging off a tattered belt-hoop and a maintenance-free crew cut stared me down for a- coddling the store kitten on the front steps before stepping into tool heaven, and b- repeatedly expressing my utter lack of comprehension.** (I'm still not sure what I bought, but I know it involves the words mushrooms, head, and came out to $34.17).
2. Outside on the Avenue, two flirtatious dykes, both dreaded (very cool), both with excessively gaged ears (less cool), and both paint-stained and muscular, essentially groped each other underneath the guise of "stabilizing a ladder against a building's wall." These dykes were cool. They were sweet. They liked each other, or at least it appeared so, and they were minding their own business, doing their own thing.
My encounters with the tattooed smokers were more plentiful but for the most part unremarkable, most of which consisted of half-futile attempts to avoid the primitive attempts at flirtation by a wide array of nicotine feigns, some of which consisted of half-futile attempts to avoid asking one for a light. But among them, there seemed to be a fraternal bond, shouts across the street from one smoker to another, ninety-five percent of the dialogue based around "yo, dawg, yo." They reminded me of The Outsiders, of Gene Forrester and Finny in A Separate Peace; in their high-fives and denigrating calls the sincerity of their friendship was evident. Sometimes I envy the tattooed smokers in Hampden.
But you can tell, the dykes and the smokers love it in this quirky little enclave of Charm City. They love it because they have created it, with all of their eccentricities and their own insular lives, they have drawn a picturesque neighborhood where reciting bad poetry on the steps of Common Ground Cafe is perfectly acceptable, where shoppers can relish the delectable combination of shoes and chocolate next to the store whose mannequins are anything but the perfect 36-24-36.
A chubby twelve-year-old in a champion t-shirt and faux-hawk exchanges a high-five with my tattooed Gene Forester. I guess everyone's always trying to conform to something or fight against something else and place their own quirks in between.
* Apparently the word dyke is actually a staple of pride for the modern lesbian: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3027/a_politically_correct_lexicon/
** Note to straight, non-handy women: the pout and blink does not work on this particular type. However, it will come in handy with the 20-something scruffy boy behind the counter.