“Which of the Village People would you have been?”
I was driving and turned my head toward the passenger seat to glance at the source of that odd question. The quizzical look on my face led him to repeat it. “Which of the Village People…”
“OK, I heard you. The Leather Man” I responded after a beat.
“I knew it. I knew you’d be the butch biker.” Dan exclaimed.
Truth be told I never bought any albums by that gay disco group. The Biker was the only one I could remember. Back in the day I had a thing for that type, a dozen years before entering my own biker phase.
Since I had answered that question it was only fair Dan should. “What about you?”
“Construction Worker,” he quickly answered, “Always the construction worker,” then added, “My friend George says he would’ve been the Indian, I don’t know why.” He’d played this game before.
He paused, then continued wryly, “I hope this doesn’t sound too gay.”.
“It depends on who you’re talking to.”
“Yeah, I know.” he chuckled. “Anyway, I always thought the Construction Worker was the best looking of the lot. That’s not gay, is it?
“From you? Nah”.
I continued driving, absorbing the conversation. These incongruous questions are commonplace when I spend time with Dan.
“I’m comfortable telling you that.”
I was telling him about the one night I stayed in Wyoming a month or so earlier on my trip across the country. I had spent the day in Yellowstone National Park caught behind RVs and minivans stopping to take pictures of the bison, the elk, the bears and the lone wolf alongside the road. Every pull-off was jammed with cars and the roads were choked with buses, campers and vehicles of all sizes and types. At the end of a very long, frustrating day, and after I had crossed the Continental Divide one last time, I headed toward Dubois, Wyoming, a cowboy town.
I pulled into the gravel parking lot of the Black Bear Inn. This was small town Wyoming, a town originally named Never Sweat. I wasn’t expecting fancy. Wyoming plus cowboys and bears equals rustic. A pair of older gentlemen, in their 60s I was guessing, was leaving the reception desk in the cluttered front room of the old motel as I walked in. A dark-haired young woman, likely still in her teens, an electronic tablet in hand, asked to see my license and wanted to know my phone number and email address. She quickly handed me my key and emailed me my receipt. After traveling for over a month at this point and staying in hotels, motels and inns from Ohio to Oklahoma; Las Vegas, New Mexico to Las Vegas, Nevada; Oregon to Ontario, this was the first and only place that was totally digital. Dubois, Wyoming.
A couple of Latino, or Native American, laborers was sitting in plastic chairs in front of two rooms closest the office as I walked past. Opening the door to my room I considered rural Wyoming, cowboys, Indians, Grizzly and Black Bears. I counted eight pillows jockeying for position at the top of the bed, various sizes and shapes in shades of red and taupe and rose, several festooned with ribbons. The mismatched lampshades were pink. The bathroom was large and a handwritten message above the faucets in the tub read: “Contractor Dyslexic”. As expected the water coming out of the faucet marked H was C instead. Just beyond reach of the toilet was a pink-tiled counter with white, pink and brown towels and several booklets espousing the love of Jesus. And for the love of God a bear was nestled among all those pillows on the bed, a plush teddy bear decked out in doll’s clothes, a dapper suit with a plaid vest and brown shoes, likely a decorating affectation of the young girl who checked me in.
As I told this to Dan, he quipped, “Maybe she got a gay vibe from you.”
“I doubt it,” I said. “She had just checked in those two other guys. They were riding bicycles and wearing matching outfits. Well over sixty and in spandex, for God’s sake.”
Dan chortled. “A different breed of biker.”
“And one was British.” I added for affect.
“You were definitely the butch one in that group.”
So in my pathetic story about Wyoming: cowboys and Indians, bears and bikers, it was only fitting that Dan ask which of the Village People I would have been.