Sunday, November 21, 2010

What made me gay

What made me gay? My mother made hamburgers. While pregnant. Specifically it was the process she used to make the patties that did it. She would take a cut of meat out of the refrigerator and push it in the meat grinder clamped to the kitchen counter. As she cranked the moist pink meat came out of the bottom of the grinder in squiggles. A hamburger press then came into action. A hamburger press is two pieces of circular wood about an inch thick hinged together on their flat end. The inside of the top one is convex and the bottom is concave. She placed a piece of waxed paper in the bottom one, rolled some meat into a ball and put it in the hamburger press. She pressed down. It was at that moment I became a homosexual.

During college I developed a test that people could take to see if they were gay:

  1. Was your mother a cub scout leader?

  2. Did you ever want to go into the ministry?

  3. Have you ever taken Valium?

  4. Do you like Better Midler?

  5. Did your mother have a hamburger press with a rooster on it?

The last question was a deal-breaker. If someone answered "no" to all the questions, but their mother had a hamburger press with a rooster on it - they were gay. Period.

Because of the quiz my friend Jaz began collecting hamburger presses. All of them had roosters on them because all hamburger presses have roosters on them. This collection was profiled in the LA Times Magazine about strange collections. It was in a museum show in Fullerton. He read about the collection recently at Smackdab, a queer literary and performance open mic at Magnet in San Francisco's vibrant Castro district.

When Jaz went to the mic he brought a hamburger press along for show and tell. It had a rooster on it. A very proud rooster puffing his chest out, followed by two little, yellow chicks. The words cock of the walk were painted below the illustration. It finally hit me. Why all hamburger presses had roosters on them. Cooking hamburgers was dad's job, on weekends, on the backyard grill. Imagine an advertisement for a grill with dad in the back yard wearing a chef's hat, mom playing with two children, a boy and a girl. A dachshund looking up at the grill.