A and I spent our Memorial Day last Monday taking a relaxing, leisurely, music-filled drive up into the Texas Hill Country, with stops as far-flung as San Saba, Lampasas and Killeen. But the highlight of our journey was a layover in Llano, Texas, a quaint li’l burg roughly a half-hour north of Fredericksburg that, I quickly surmised, had rarely hosted the footfalls of gay men prior to last week. (This conclusion wasn’t difficult to reach based solely on the looks we got from the fine folks at the town’s Dairy Queen, who sized us up with the same scrupulous scrutiny one might reserve for a pair of stranded Martians who missed the last shuttle back to the cosmos. And to be fair, we wouldn’t have even attempted to grab some grub at the DQ, but A has this slightly psychotic notion that the only time he is allowed to eat chicken strips is while he’s on a road trip, and I had a hellacious hankerin’ for a dipped cone, so the Queen was the only available eatery that checked all the aforementioned boxes.)
The best part of our day (for my money, anyhow) was a visit to Llano’s local Alco store, which, even though I live in a reasonably metropolitan city and thus have easy access to a multitude of stores and shopping experiences, is always such a supreme treat. If you’ve ever patronized an Alco, then you know exactly where I’m coming from on this, but if you’re a newbie: it’s essentially a Wal-Mart in miniature, selling everything from sheet sets to school supplies to clothing to luggage to household tools to Blu-Ray players to the latest Pistol Annies CD, with perhaps a greater concentration of kitschy home decor items that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else on Earth. A quick visit to Alco’s website informs me that they operate over two hundred stores, mainly in smaller cities (populations between five and ten thousand) strewn across the nation’s heartland clear from Idaho to Florida, and if you ever find yourself in the vicinity of one, you should pop your head in and take a look around. Even if you end up purchasing nothing, you’re sure to find the store’s offerings fascinating, and you never know what you might find.
To wit: while ambling through the housewares section in the back corner of the Llano store, I ran across what is quite literally the gayest pillow I’ve ever seen. Oversized and made of a soft and fuzzy velvet-like polyester blend (or so the tag tells me), this pillow is adorned — liberally — with rainbow-colored glitter and star shapes. A was instantly mortified by the pillow’s ostentatiously loud fabulousness, but I was immediately entranced, and though he tried in vain to convince me I didn’t really need it, it quickly found its way into my basket. The poor cashier lady was visibly trembling as I laid it upon the counter for her to ring up; it was as though: a) she really had never seen a gay person in her lifetime (see: my postulate in the first paragraph above), and b) she couldn’t quite wrap her mind around the idea that someone would actually have the balls to walk into her store and purchase this pillow.
I’m madly in love with this furry, grandiose glitterbomb, and though it has yet to find its final resting place inside my home one week on — A is a bit intimidated by its relentlessly cheerful, cosmic facade and has absolutely barred it from the bed — I have no doubt that whichever sofa it ends up gracing, it will live out its days there with fierce, freakish grace. (If you’re wondering what exactly a gay pillow looks like, please allow me to direct your attention to the photograph below. May it suffice to say: if gay heaven doesn’t look something like this, to paraphrase ol’ Hank Jr., I’d just as soon stay home.)