Marla-and-company's cookout started at 4:30, and I headed out around quarter of five, which meant I got there a little after five. Sadly, it was like another hour before there was real food to eat. (Used to Layna's and Nicole's parties, which admittedly start later in the evening, I hadn't eaten before arriving.) There weren't a whole lot of people there, and no one was very talkative, so I kind of wished I hadn't come. By like 5:30 or 6 it had picked up, though.
There were a couple volleyball rounds, but I wasn't sure how athletic I was feeling, and there was lots of goose poop so I opted to stay on the sidelines. I had or listened to a variety of nice conversations. This guy Shelby was talking about having downloaded a collected X-Men from beginning (1963) to present and how he thought someone should -- if no one has already -- do Ph.D. work on how comics reflect the society of the time and watching that change -- like one of the early ones had a scene with the X-Men all practicing their powers in the Danger Room and Jean's practicing honing her telekinesis by sewing. He also was at one point having neck/back pain/soreness and sort of offhandedly said he needed a massage, so of course I got up and said, "What do you want?" and started massaging his shoulders and upper back -- for which I was rewarded by immediate orgasmic sounds.
By this point it was definitely getting dark (so like 8pm). Later, Sean said something to me about how he'd heard I had a good time on my Europe trip. I said I never know how much people wanna hear, so basically all I've been saying is, "Yeah, I had a really good time." He said that he'll never get a passport that says he's male (he's trans) so he'll never be able to travel internationally, so he loves hearing about other people's international travels.
He had been smoking a pipe and asked if the smoke would bother me and I said I'd be fine, that I'd survived that night at the club in Prague after all. So I talked about Prague and going to a Catholic church service in Czech, which led to talk about ecumenical church-hopping, and he mentioned Jehovah's Witnesses. He had a question which I obviously didn't have the answer to, and I said I wished I had a laptop with wireless [we were in the backyard] so I could look it up, and thus I learned that he is totally one of those people after my own heart who always wants to have a "fact finder" handy for those questions that randomly come up, even when just watching tv.
At one point, Will went up to take care of something, so Sean invited Jayson to "join the circle." The neighbors' dog Toby came by, and apparently Sean and the dog had had an "incident" earlier in the evening. Sean and Jayson were joking so matter-of-factly about having sex with a dog, which I never would have expected. Of course there were jokes about how we're an inclusive community, and Sean said that Tiffany did draw a line at hitting people in church even if you're in a consensual BDSM relationship, and I said I was there for that conversation. This led to my usual hobby-horsing about how we're inclusive of everyone except the stupid evil conservatives. Jayson said he thinks we need to draw a line, need to have standards, that we shouldn't be inclusive to the people who hate us. I said that I would have a lot more respect for liberals if they were honest like that -- though I would still take great pains to remind Christian communities that they are called to love their enemies and would encourage them to, as per Tiffany's sermon, be at table with them. He said he would love to be at table with these people, but that they refuse to let him be at the table -- cf. 1032, which allows pastors to deny membership to persons based solely on their being gay. I said I have no background with the United Methodist Church, so I can't speak to the validity of his feeling of being denied a place at the table, but conceded that even with my sympathy for the conservative theological arguments I have a hard time rationalizing the membership thing because regardless of one's opinion on homosexuality, isn't the church for the broken and the sinners?
Later, Sean and I were talking about his personal history (springing from my question about his pipe). Talking about Marla's husband, he said, "I was trying with Jake, and that wasn't working, because he's from Missouri and they're authentic there. Which is confusing, We're from New England. What does 'authentic' even mean?"
After the umpteenth time he lit a match for the pipe, I asked, "Is it supposed to take that many matches?"
Sean: "Fuck you."
me: "Do you wanna take this inside?"
It took half a beat and then he made some impressed approving statement about that line. He said he had wondered, "Are we at that point?" (where you can say stuff like that to a friend) and yeah, apparently we are. I said I considered him a safe person and he had permission to say anything he wanted to me. I also said that while I will complain about Smith, one thing I will happily credit it for is making me very sex-positive in sometimes inappropriate contexts.
He said, "I love that you traverse the spectrum from conservative to liberal and are sex-positive the whole way," saying that even in liberal circles there's some shying away from some of that.
About quarter of eleven people were cleaning up, and Sean asked if I wanted a ride home. I said that I was happy to walk home, but that if it would make him worry I would take a ride. (This is my response to anyone who offers me a ride unless I have a strong desire to spend more time with them.) He was like, "Don't make me examine the feminist implications...." I said it wasn't about that and we had some back-and-forth and I accepted the ride and tried to explain that I didn't interpret it as a patriarchal condescending thing, that usually the people who offer me rides are female -- since most of the people I hang out with are female.