Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
I don’t think we give enough credit to the pageantry of this time of year. I mean, there’s obviously the nature aspect of it--trees kitting themselves up in full drag of flowers and doing a dramatic reveal of leaves after the first heavy rainfall. It’s literally giving Sasha Velour and she should sue.
It’s also noteworthy that this tree drag creates allergy misery for everyone; is there anything more fierce than being gorgeous and also wildly inconvenient? Suzanne Sugarbaker behavior! Obsessed.
Tulips and daffodils are also too extra but they're not drag queens. No, tulips and daffodils are those friends who show at your place up for a night on the town on time and ready to go. The unmitigated gall, honestly. They’re fully dressed and famished and annoyed that you’re still having a shower beer. They didn’t bring a coat to the club because it didn’t match their outfit and they refuse to coat check but then they whine about being cold all night. Of course you’re cold, babe, it’s March 1st! There's snow on the ground. Let's examine our life choices.
But, more than the extraness of nature, today I'm thinking about the flamboyant pageantry of the spring holidays. I mean, hello, an Easter bonnet? High drag. Going to J.C. Penny's to buy a little pastel-colored suit you're going to reveal at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning? This is what made me gay.
I wish I'd grown up in a tradition that incorporated The Haggadah. A little dinner theater story performance that you do every year? Sign me up! I wish every meal involved reading from a dramatic text that involved plagues. And I love the Four Questions you ask at a Passover Seder--rhetorical and dramatic brilliance. Tony! Award!
This is the kind of pageantry I want in my life. Spring Religious Observance Pageantry. It's instructive, it's inscrutable, it frequently involves food.
I don't know as much about the traditions around Ramadan but I did read that one of the ways of thinking about the month of fasting is as a time when "the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked and the devils are put in chains," which is giving high drama, it's giving scene, it's giving conflict and resolution. Ramadan rolls around and all the devils are indicted by grand juries.
I suppose I'm also drawn the pageantry of spring holidays because my birthday is at this time of year. (Yes, that's right, I'm an Aries, and that probably tracks for you if you know what that means. I do not know what it means but I ascribe all of my best and worst traits to it whenever it's convenient for me. I'm stubborn! I'm passionate! I won't send my food back at a restaurant but I will yell at your ex! I have no idea.)
This year my birthday fell on Good Friday, i.e., last Friday. It's always a little bit of a thing when my birthday falls during Easter Week because 1) hard for me to upstage and 2) my husband, the pastor, is very much otherwise engaged.
When I turned 40 during the pando, I didn't get to have a party and I told myself that I would just have a 40th birthday party at some later date because I don't like for people to know my precise age. This isn't a vanity thing. I just told you I'm over 40. It's more of just a general chaos thing. Aries behavior!!
To wit, I have nothing to do with my Wikipedia and don't even know how to edit it, which is as it should be. I didn't even know I had a Wikipedia until recently. But I was delighted to find that even the authoritative source is a little hazy on exactly how old I am.
Child, not the circa! They gave me the Dead Sea Scrolls treatment!
I love this. I am not even trying to be cagey about my age but now that the opportunity presents itself, I'm going to put more and more disinformation into the world. Going to start tweeting about how I was born during a screening of Titanic. Aries behaviorrrrr!
All of which is to say, I had a lovely lowkey birthday this year, but I didn't have my party. So, instead I'm throwing a 40th birthday for myself sometime in September. True chaos. It's not my birthday, I'm not 40, bring your brightest pastel suit, lock up hell, and prepare to answer at least four questions. It's pageant time.
Let's hang out!
In conversation with Nicole Chung for the launch of her new book, A Living Remedy at Greedy Reads, Baltimore - April 12, 7pm - REGISTER HERE
In conversation with Zachary Zane for the launch of his new book, Boy Slut at Greenlight Books Prospect Park, Brooklyn - May 8, 7pm - REGISTER HERE
In conversation with Chasten Buttigieg for the launch of his YA memoir, I Have Something to Tell You at Sixth & I, DC - May 16, 7pm - TICKETS HERE
Random Thing on the Internet
There's a new anthology series on AppleTV+ called Extrapolations, which looks at the effects of climate change on different characters over the course of decades. It's v. depressing, yes, but I've also been so compelled by the storytelling. The second episode, especially, is simply extraordinary and employs a device which should not work but absolutely does.
Oh! And I had the extreme pleasure of seeing my friend Erika Rose give a masterful performance in Tiny Beautiful Things at Baltimore Center Stage last week. That show has since closed, but I just found out that the play--about Cheryl Strayed's advice column Dear Sugar--has been adapted into a Hulu series starring Kathryn Hahn.