This past weekend, I went to the Oakland Theatre in Youngstown to see my friends Brooke and Elissa, who I went to graduate school with. They are two great ladies who I missed a whole bunch while I was in Japan. The reason why we went to the Oakland Theatre was because the theatre was holding a fundraiser, and Brooke is an actress (among many other things) and often acts at the Oakland, and was compelled by the directors to be there selling raffle tickets and also to help be the sound engineer for the fundraiser show. The fundraiser show was a drag queen show. As Brooke said that night, there's really no other way to be welcomed back to Youngstown than with drag queens.
The show was quite funny. I'd seen most of the queens years ago when I lived in Youngstown, so it was both fun to see them perform again, and also a bit unnerving. Like so many other things, I've noticed that not too many things have changed here in the past two years. For a lot of people, I think the unchanging quality of this area of the states is comforting. But for me, a life without change is equal to living death, zombification. My mother and father are fond of routines. I find routines are useful only for things that need to be done on a mostly daily or weekly basis. Everything else should be changeable. In any case, the drag show *was* a lot of fun, even if there was a bit of strangeness to see the same queens I'd seen years ago still performing. At least they do good performances.
Afterwards the audience members could meet the queens in a lounge and take pictures and talk with them, etc. As much as it was a fundraiser for the theatre, it was also aimed at educating the audience about drag queens and topics related to drag queens. Elissa and I had to wait for Brooke near the lounge because she still had many duties to do before she could leave, and at one point while we were waiting, someone shouted, "Make way for the queens!" and then the queens filed out of the changing rooms through the hall where Elissa and I waited. One of them stopped mid-walk as she passed me, put her hand on my chest and said, "Oh my, where did *you* come from?" She then also said a few more sentences that are a bit too embarrassing to write here, mostly about how sexy she found me, so I will leave that to your imagination. Drag queens are notoriously sharp-witted, and this particular queen definitely had the gift of flirting, though it was *really* forward. So forward, in fact, that I literally wilted at her comments about me and most likely turned red and laughed with embarrassment because I didn't know what to say back.
This is the real dilemma. Two years ago, I would have had a snappy comeback that would have made that drag queen take two steps back, both impressed and weary, but now I find myself hiding my mouth with my hand and giggling because I'm so embarrassed. Somehow my inner diva has been replaced with a delicate Japanese flower. My worry: how will I flourish in this brash American soil?!
And though brash as it was, it *was* a fitting welcome back to not just Youngstown, but America. I mean, really! Foul-mouthed drag queens! You don't run across that in Japan very often.