We were standing outside the State Capitol at a rally for an endangered insect, when Greta turned to me, and made a shocking announcement.
“I’m signing us up for a softball team,” she said poisonously, making every syllable sound like a threat.
As I sputtered helplessly in response, I was dealt another blow. The leader of the rally reluctantly stepped up to the podium, and told us he had just learned that the insect (a type of spotted beetle whose name I’d rather not mention, because I’m so disgusted with it) is not really endangered. It’s not even threatened.
“Rather,” he said, coughing nervously, “it’s troubled.”
“That makes two of us,” I whispered to myself, as Greta took my measurements for a team jersey.
I had learned about the rally a week before from a cute member of an extremist entomology group who was passing out flyers about the bug.
“This little guy really needs your support,” she said, staring soulfully into my eyes, and caressing my palm as she gave me the leaflet.
I convinced Greta to attend the rally after promising her that it would be populated with lots of hot lady biologists.
“And there are sure to be plenty of suburban gardener-types, who are lightly insane and passionate about things that live in dirt,” I said.
“Just my type!” she said.
But when we got to the rally at 8 AM on Saturday morning, we were greeted by a gaggle of anemic looking middle-aged men with straggly beards who looked in desperate need of mothering.
“Where are the women?” Greta asked.
“Women?” one of the men said, as if he never had heard the word before.
“This is the last straw!” Greta exclaimed. “I’ve had it with your cockamamie schemes to meet girls.”
And then, she said the terrible thing about joining a softball team.
I belonged to a softball team very early in my career as a lesbian. On my first day of practice, the coach gave me the once-over, and asked me what I was made of. I told her I was made of about 96 percent water, and the other 4 percent was pure cowardice. So, she planted me in left field, and told me to stay out of trouble.
I liked left field. It was peaceful and quiet. I would spend my time in the outfield singing Noel Coward songs to myself, and trying to make friends with squirrels.
I was quite happy until one afternoon, as I was reciting a haiku to some ants, I heard a strange whizzing noise. I looked up to see a white object screaming toward me. “Meteor!” I yelled, as I dropped my glove, and ran off the field in a panic. It took the centerfielder several minutes to run over and pick up the ball, which had landed with a thud at the exact spot I had been standing moments before.
Following the game was a small, painful ceremony where I was drummed out of the lesbian softball community, and told never to return.
Back at the rally, a disgruntled entomologist wadded up a picture of the troubled insect, and tossed it to the ground. I picked it up, and stared at the sad-eyed bug.
I wondered how long into the softball season it would be before my face appeared on a flyer with the word “endangered” spelled out in hysterical bold print over my ball cap.