Ever since I pulled off an epic victory in the first Running of the Gays last year, they've been there: the sensible size-13 pumps I wore to exact that win, a little battered, one heel broken, smelling of vinegar and stale beer, perched atop my cabinet like a weird trophy. And that's where they should have stayed.
At the time I won, I speculated that it either meant a victory for heterosexuality or that I was the best gay -- either one of which I was okay with -- but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago, as I was preparing for this year's race by eating a steak on top of a steak on top of another steak wrapped in steaks, that I was informed that it couldn't have been the latter. "What shoes are you going to wear this year?" cartoonist Kenny Be asked me.
I paused for a second to chew my mouthful of steak, then ate another mouthful of steak and chewed that, too. When I was done, I said, "I don't know. The ones from last year?"
"Then you're not the best gay," he told me. And perhaps I should have listened, because it was ultimately that decision that proved my downfall.
Yesterday morning, I was mentally and physically prepared to take on the challenge of beating the gays at their own game: I was toned, ripped and full of steaks, and I had selected a lovely pink dress -- all that remained was for me to swing by the Westword office to grab my shoes off my desk on the way, and it'd be smooth sailing from there. Except... it wasn't until I got to my office that I realized I had forgotten my keys, and I would have to run all the way home to the west side (Barnum what!) to get them, then come back and get the shoes and then go to the race -- and by the time I got there, it was too late. The race had already begun, and I was hopelessly behind.
If I had gotten a new pair of heels, this never would have happened.As it was, though, I'm not going to say I lost, but I didn't win, and I was forced to eat my words of hubris and also this Rice Krispie treat on a stick that had bacon in it, which the two girls from Treat-on-a-Stick were kind enough to offer me as consolation. Art from Ashes (the organization that hosts the race to raise money for its poetry work with troubled and disenfranchised gay teens) executive director Catherine O'Neill Thorn, however, was not nearly so consoling. "Ha ha, Mr. Macho, you didn't win!" she jibed at earliest opportunity, in spite of the fact that she's been trying to tell me since last year that the Running of the Gays is not a race. So which is it, Catherine? That's a pretty convenient about-face, if you ask me.
All the same, the race was an overall success: The estimated number of attendees more than doubled since last year, and although Art from Ashes doesn't yet know how much money it raised, organizers are estimating it was a goodly amount. Plus, everybody had a good time. So in the end, once again, everybody won. Including me. So I won. There.