There are certain pink flags each and every smaller blond half should pick up in the behavior patterns of their larger half: the anger twitch, the collar lipstick, the balled-up credit card receipts in the front pocket of his three-day jeans. The less obvious the evidence, the more lushly imaginative the jealousy screenplay; typically it's enough to make a girl who's actually a boy drink too much and get arrested.

Well, I need a drink right now, and I haven't even touched the laundry.

"Wanna go to the gun show with me?" Alan winds up his best Yosemite Sam. "It says here that ladies are ‘extremely welcome.'"

My Big Bottom Manual includes no "gun show fag" chapter, so I hastily phone up Savannah for a clue. "Tell Alan that if he'd just show you his muscles," she drawls, "we wouldn't need no gun show! Geddit?"

Ugh. It should be known that when I signed up for this role, I was well aware of Alan's NRA tendencies; that and football were the sum of his straight-acting/displacement-fantasy charm. In the ensuing five years, I've grimaced through golf, cringed through carpentry and howled through History Channel Hitler enough to be comfortable in my bed of contrast. But guns, real-live shootin' machines, present a different shadowing altogether. One with blood in it.

"Will there be a beer garden?" is the best defense I can muster, and arm-untwisted, I'm throwing one back and throwing myself in the passenger seat of my own car. So it's kind of like suicide, really.

What's more, I've agreed to go along full throttle, even allowing that I'll attend a concealed-weapons license course just so that me and honey, like, do something together. If this is the state of our romance, then perhaps I should have a gun, even a concealed one. Shoot me with your love, etc. And if I tell you that I'm a little aroused, you have to promise not to tell anybody, ever. Giggle.

"Join the NRA and get in for free!" squeals a low-cut Fox blonde from a table at the front of the fairgrounds line. Alan, of course, perks up. Me, I cower. There are some party lines I won't cross. So I'll stand among the men with guns in their hands while he saunters up and signs away our collective liberalism at an NRA table with Charlie Crist props and moonlighting Hooters waitresses with first-time pens in their hands. Now it's official: I am Tammy Wynette.

At least I'm not Katherine Harris. She's here, too.

Predictably, it's a heyday for ugly, white, male Republicans, those shaded consistently red on the binary code tip sheet of "issues." It's the kind of situation in which you're greeted at the door with, "Do you have a gun?", and gifted on the way out with a beef jerky sample. My very existence here seems to permeate like a fart in a closet, but the faint liquor buzz is keeping my smirk at work. Even if it means enduring the angry non-humor of right-wing bumper stickers. "PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals," reads one. "Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat," charms another. Only the "Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy" sticker gives me pause, mostly because I'm not particularly fond of Julia Roberts story lines, even when I might be living one.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle go the feet of the gun-shopping shameless. Simper, simper, simper goes my bleeding heart. The tragicomic duet continues until I look up and see one vendor that really stands out: A giant, throbbing organization of arms trading staffed by tattooed love boys who look like their aim has been crooked at least a few times.

"Every face," I put my hands to my face like an art appraiser, "every face is like a Gus Van Sant movie unto itself. I'm living in my own private bullet hole."

Alan then lets me in on a secret, a secret so big that I'll be shot if I ever tell it. So here it is: Oh, forget it. Clearly, I can find a gay bar rumor just about anywhere, one that makes me complete. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, we have night life.

But we don't yet have a license. Back in a peripheral social hall, we take our place in a line of about 100 losers to get our pictures taken against a beige wall.

"At least none of them look crazy," smiles Alan.

"Except all of them do," I frown back.

When we finally reach the front of the line, a cherubic Hee-Haw of a man squints over his camera at me. "Where you fro-uuuhm?" he gay-bars.

"Um, here," I fidget.

"No, really. That accent. Are you from England?"

"Aw, that's just my Southern twang. He rubs off on me," I point at Alan, gleefully outing him.

A class follows, one that includes such crowd-pleasers as, "You ever heard the one about the guy who showed up at the gunfight with his knife? If you haven't, he lost." Chortle, chortle, chortle as Charlie the Hee-Haw happy man of the NRA details stories of children accidentally shooting their parents. I opt not to continue my educational charade when I hear that it involves me driving to a shooting range outside the 33rd Street jail to earn my chops. But I do go through with the fingerprinting ritual, only because it involves a gruff, oversized cop grabbing my hands harshly and ordering me to "relax."

I got my pink flag and my drink. I don't need to actually be arrested. But could somebody please shoot me?

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