An evergreen mountain laurel known as ‘crow’s foot’ by many grows in the forest behind my childhood home. I used it to decorate the support beams of the front porch at Christmas. My mother loved it–such a gay child I was– all that interior-design, creative ability bursting at my seams. I couldn’t help myself. It was so pretty, especially when I braided strings of lights into the crow’s foot before wrapping it around those black poles, like a candy cane stripe.
“For God’s sake Charlie. You should have been a girl,” my brothers said. “Come play football with us.”
“Sorry Bill. I hate football and you know that. Barron can walk now. Play with him,” I said as I ignored my brothers for the sake of Christmas spirit.
Mom wouldn’t let me touch the good lights. They were for the tree. There were lots of tangled up Christmas lights in the garage. I was permitted to use those. I unwound them all and decorated the black metal porch support poles with crow’s foot and blinking lights. The place looked like a gingerbread house when I was done.
The scene was breathtaking.
No one in the family applauded, screamed in delight, nor did they shout, “Good job, gay boy,” although they wanted to.
The family just stood there with their mouths wide open when I plugged my design in. Even Bill and Barron put down the football for a moment to come worship before my craft.
In the distance, at the next door neighbor’s house, a nativity scene glowed in the snow. Years of re-use had made their Christmas decorations look shabby and honestly, they were simply tacky compared to my crow’s foot decorations.
“Charlie. Come play ‘smear the queer’ with us,” my big brother begged.
“I will if you tell me my decorations are nice.”
“You know they are nice. Charlie, why don’t you join the football team? Coach Nipaper thinks you can be just as good as me. He’ll probably put you on first-string.”
“I have crow’s foot,” I explained, but spent the next hour tossing a ball just to keep Bill happy during the holidays.