Kate Clinton

Lady Haha Does Missouri

Filed By Kate Clinton | February 04, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Chicago, Dallas, lesbian, LGBT, Missouri, personal, Texas

"It's never like this," everyone said about the torrential rains for five days in LA. After they proudly announced, "We don't know how to drive in the rain." As they were driving. We were on our way to the 60th birthday of a dear friend, and had looked forward to a few days winter respite in sunny CA. I'm not whining. After the misery in Haiti, there was no room for complaint.

"It's not the rain but the snow cap in the mountains that really matters." Since there is no guttering in LA, the torrents laked the streets as it ran off into the Pacific. I thought of a new career: The Rainy Day Driving School. When I left LA the rains followed me to Missouri and I considered hiring myself out to drought-stricken countries. New career: Personal Dowser.

But instead we kicked off the first stop on our Lady HaHa Tour in St. Louis, Missouri. I love HoMos. (Homesexuals in MO, get it? got it? good.) I love St. Louis for its solid citizens, great food, Left Bank Books, great architecture and amazing city parks, especially Forest Park. And those giant nuclear goldfish at the Botanical Garden. The group Promo, an LGBT advocacy group produced a great show, another in my long history of appearances in St. Louis, starting with Connie Lane and Barbara Lau at the Heartbreak Hotel back in the 80s. That's 1980s. I was in the middle of my show there when the St. Louis Cards game got out next-door and the fans started pouring into the famous local after-game bar. Good-humored confusion reigned. Thank goodness.

On my way to the show, we stopped in at a reception for the Freedom of Choice Council Celebration of the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade at a local winery. Despite the debate about born gay v. chose gay, it does come down to choice. You can be gay and not chose to come out. So I was honored to meet some of Missouri's courageous co-pro-choicers and celebrate the front line work they do to keep open the only two clinics left in the state of Missouri. To get into the bar, we had to pass through picket lines of people with fetus fetish placards praying for us. I felt blessed.

At the show the next night in Kansas City, Missouri, produced by the indomitable Linda Wilson with Willow Productions, we were picketed by the Fred Phelps Family. Two for two! Though the crazy little women there all rolled their eyes in boredom, I was excited by the diss. But the Phelps signage was a disappointment, very generic. Outside a theatre full of lesbians and all we got was "God Hates Fags"? Are they saving money on poster paint? Is it the economy? You couldn't spring for "God H8Ts K8T?" Jeeze. It was not even worth an I-photo for our gorgeous new kateclinton.com. They left after ten minutes.

The next night at the LGBT Center on Halsted in Chicago, my string of picketed shows was broken. Nada. In the gorgeous new Center I did a two and a six o'clock show, which for those of you who follow such things, and you know who you are, exactly coincided with certain two semi-final football games. After a well-attended afternoon Women4Women cocktail reception, catered by Center graduates of a culinary training program in the Center's own kitchen facility, I did my show and then found a TV and found the NY Jets ahead for a minute. After the six o'clock show, I made it in time to the hotel to see Brett Favrereer throw a fatal interception.

Next stop Dallas, Texas to attend and emcee the annual Creating Change Conference, a raucous caucus of LGBT activists sponsored by The Task Force. Perhaps there will be Teabaggers. Is there not a gay man in the Republican party in Texas who might have cautioned against the phrase 'teabagger'? I land back in New York at 630p, and might make it home for the last half of the Super Bowl. My galpal is distraught, but I have pre-planned the snacks.

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There is more to driving in the rain in L.A. than there is to driving in the rain anywhere else.

Shortly after I moved to L.A. in August 1981 we had a foggy and rainy morning. I had been told about how the L.A. drivers didn't know how to drive in the rain. "But I'm from the Mid-west," I thought to myself, "and this weather is old hat to me."

Less than a mile down the road, a green light turned yellow on me. I hit the brakes as usual ... and skidded completely through the intersection as if I were on ice. Luckily, it was about 5 AM and there wasn't any cross-traffic.

It turns out that in L.A. they often go all summer without rain. The road surfaces build up with oil from the cars, plus a few molecules of rubber off of the tires. When the next light rain hits, usually in late August or sometime in September, this thin layer of auto deposits mixes with the small amount of rainwater and turns into a thin, almost invisible layer of slippery goo.

So I learned that the drivers in L.A. do not know how to drive in the rain ... and neither do the drivers from the rest of the country that visit or move to L.A.