I remember when I first heard about wireless internet. I found it interesting, but it seemed a little ridiculous. Why would you want to carry a computer around with you? Surely it’s as silly an idea as a portable dishwasher that you can carry around the house with you.
I was wrong. I’m not very good at predicting things and life rarely turns out as I expect.
I don’t really know what to expect from Russia, and I’m leaving for there in exactly a week.
I know that it’ll be hot. The temperature in Rostov-on-Don is due to be 35 °C on the day I land there. THIRTY-FIVE DEGREES. The last week in Dublin has seen temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees and I’ve barely coped.
Every evening this week, when I’ve got home from work and/or college, the first thing I’ve done is to ready a basin of cold water. I strip down to underpants and a t-shirt and I grab the large tub of natural yoghurt from the fridge. Then I sit in my living room, I plunge my feet into the ice-cold water and then I proceed to smear my arms, neck and face with yoghurt to ease the burn that no sunscreen will prevent.
If I can’t cope with 25 degrees, how am I to do with 35?
Yesterday morning, I was lying in bed. Because of the heat, I had thrown my blanket off the bed and was lying naked on bed. This wouldn’t usually be a problem. Even though I don’t use blinds or curtains, I have calculated that there’s only one room in Hall from which you can see into my bedroom and even then you’d need binoculars, and I figure that anyone who makes that much effort deserves a show. Anyway, as I say, I was lying naked, sweltering in the morning heat when I heard a clinking noise. I ignored it. Then I heard it again. Crap! There was a window cleaner only about a foot away, cleaning my window, while I basked in all my unclothed glory. I grabbed my blanket and covered myself until he left for the next window.
As it happened, about 45 minutes later, I was in the local shop buying a bottle of Diet Coke. Who did I bump into, buying a sandwich, only the window cleaner? I squirmed and got out of the shop as fast as I could.
Summer really isn’t my season.
As I’ve mentioned before, though, I do like all the scantily dressed men that the hot weather brings out.
When I was a child, the 23rd of June was bonfire night in Cork (it still is). My parents used to take us driving around the (poorer) Northside of the city that night, because the bonfires in the more disadvantaged areas were always more impressive than our local, limp-wristed, middle-class bonfires were. Likewise, we still have a family tradition of driving around the Northside at Christmas time. People there always have better outdoor Christmas lights and decorations than in boring affluent suburbia.
These experiences have clearly rubbed off on me. The other day, I found myself getting into my car. The posh boys of Dublin 6, where I live, are no use to me. They tend to stay fully dressed in the sunshine. So I drove around the less advantaged areas of Dublin 12 and Dublin 8, to see the young men of those areas lounging around in nothing but Adidas short shorts.
I really am a terrible person, a pervert AND a toff, objectifying working class men like some awful Victorian marquis.
I really do need to get some action soon.
Speaking of which, I’m going to a provincial city in Russia. Russia, where homophobia is rampant. Russia, which recently passed a law banning “gay/bisexual/paedophiliac propaganda”. You know you’re on a winner when you’re grouped together with the paedophiles. Apparently, physical violence against gays is common and there are no legal safeguards against discrimination.
So, I’ll be hopping back in the closet for a month. I’ll be going back under the rainbow. I’ll be getting my Tom Cruise on.
This does make me sad. And I do feel a traitor. No fewer than three different Western straight men I know who have experience of Russia have given me serious warnings about this – telling me not to be flamboyant and to keep quiet about issues of sexuality.
And I’ve got enough sense not to wander around Russia in a ballgown and a tiara.
But I hope I won’t lie. I hope I’m not too afraid to be truthful if the issue comes up. I have very mixed feelings about this. I have very rarely experienced aggressive homophobia, so I really don’t know how I would respond, and I know I’m not meant to be a martyr or anything like it. But change only happens when people stand up. I really have no idea if it will come up, or what I’ll do, but I do hope I do the right thing.