Pride Month — What’s past is prologue

Once upon a time back in the disco era, I was the night manager of a Dennys restaurant on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I wore Angel Flights in those days because the common wisdom was they made one’s derriere appear more attractive to the opposite sex, and as a recently single man, I was up for any advantage I might create for myself simply through my chosen work attire. It pays to advertise, they say. Polyester, yeah.

One night a group of eight or 10 gay men clad in cowboy gear stopped by for breakfast after a night on the town. Nothing unusual there as many disco revelers of both genders generally just let their freak flags fly. As they walked in, one of them danced back and forth in his chaps, raised his cowboy hat high and let out a large howl which I dismissed as just another dumb drunk having a little noisy fun with his friends on Saturday night. Nothing unusual there, either.

A few minutes later at shift change as I went to collect the cash register drawer, he howled again. None of the customers seemed to mind, so I headed back to the office to count the till and do my paperwork. I was still stuck on the dumb drunk having fun with his friends explication.

But when I returned to the dining area from the office, he howled again, louder and longer this time — his head tilted to one side, smiling straight at me like that infamous Cheshire cat only with bloodshot eyes, obviously trying to attract my attention. I marched straight over to his table.

“Are you howling at me?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, I am,” the man responded with enthusiasm.

“OK,” I said. “Why are you howling at me?”

“Because I’m so vicious,” he replied as a round of infectious laughter overtook the table.

My eyebrow raised higher than Mr. Spock’s.

“Well, here’s the thing, pard,” I said. “If you howl at me again, you’re going to be out there on the range while your friends are in here eating breakfast. Don’t howl at me.”

Well, he didn’t howl again, and all was as well as it could be at Dennys the rest of the evening.