The Observer has our regrets, just like everybody else. For example: last week, Yours Truly published a cover story on the increasingly ugly fight over Eureka Springs' Ordinance 2223, which is designed to protect a bunch of groups — including LGBTQ people — from discrimination in housing, employment, accommodations, cake buying, browsing, drinking, gut stuffery, knickknack purchasing, general cavorting, funny postcard mailing and all the other stuff one tends to get up to in the weirdest, friendliest, most magical little town in the Ozarks.
Though that story topped 4,000 words (yet another exhibit in The Observer's growing museum of long-winded tomes), driving to work earlier this week it occurred to us that there was something we should have put in, but didn't. These things happen, but normally the Way Homers don't provide such a perfect, missed coda to what you were trying to say.
The Saturday night The Observer, Spouse and Junior were in Eureka for the story was prom night. The streets were full of scrubbed, smiling young folks in their tuxes and fancy dresses and uselessly tiny handbags, giggling through rooms, the girls touching their $60 hairdos to make sure they were still there, boys standing feet apart and hands in pockets, grinning that grin one grins when he suspects he looks dashing, the kids smiling up and down stairs and smiling on and off elevators, all of them so young and beautiful. Our room was directly below the ballroom at the Basin Park Hotel, and — as the clerk warned us when we checked in — they pounded our ceiling long into the night with their boogie shoes.
Junior asked His Old Man the other day if it's possible for a life to be as full of as much symbolism and emotion as a novel, and we told him it can, if a person learns to keep his eyes open and to recognize The Important Stuff when it is happening. Some people never quite master that skill. Those folks, in The Observer's experience, have a bad habit of going to sleep at 25 years old and waking up on their deathbeds.
Given that we were in Eureka Springs to report on how the city has improbably found itself on the knife edge of the culture wars, The Observer had our eyes open, radar dishes out, flaps extended, fingers reaching from time to time to touch the pen and notebook in our pocket, full of scribbled bits of color.
The Observer and Spouse were standing in the lobby of the Basin Park Hotel, waiting on the elevator, when the doors opened and out poured a little gaggle of young people, all swirling fabric, white shoulders and burbling excitement. We watched them beam past, out the door and into the limitless possibility of the night.
And in that moment, The Observer thought: This is going to be your world someday, my friends. After all us old farts lay down our swords and clubs and head to heaven, where there are no fences to separate the gay folks from the straight, you're going to own this city, and this state, and this country. And if the polls are right, the vast majority of you don't give a good goddamn about who is gay or straight. And that is a very, very, very good thing.
They pounded our ceiling with their dancing shoes long into the night, Dear Reader. But The Observer slept like a baby.
Speaking of LGBTQ issues: For our money, the biggest revelation from the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC wasn't that Bruce is a woman, but that Bruce is a Republican. Given the GOP's well known, shall we say, reluctance on gay rights, The Observer can't quite wrap the ol' noggin around the idea of a transgender Republican. Horrendously narrow-minded, we know, but our first thought was that it would be something like meeting a cow who dreams of opening a Burger King franchise.
That said, Yours Truly is fascinated with all aspects of the great human parade, and would love to talk to an LGBTQ Republican for our annual "LR Confidential" issue. If you are that person or know someone who is: anonymity and zero judgment in exchange for complete honesty. Give us a shout at 501-492-3998.