Home on the Range

Wade Rouse may be thought of as the gay love child of Henry David Thoreau and David Sedaris, but toss him into the forest with a lover and a smorgasbord of curious neighbors, and you have a wicked black comedy.




You have a chapter dubbed "Tanorexic." What are your thoughts on gay people's interest in tanning and working out?It's interesting. I was really heavy at one point in my life. When I came out -- I don't want to sound like Dr. Phil because you'll want to slap the crap out of me, but I did lose a lot of that baggage that came along with the weight. In doing that, I learned that there was a lot of pressure in gay culture to look a certain way -- to be tan and be fit and to wear the right clothes. One of the things I learned from moving is that there is a much larger gay crowd than I had first known. And this sounds terrible, but when we moved and met some gay couples in Michigan, I thought, Oh, gay people get older. It sounds terrible, but...

Who knew?Who knew? It's sad to admit. I do think we tend to get too caught up in that. I make fun of it in this book. And I am one of those people... I put myself on the front lines regarding that. I am significantly shallower than I thought. But I stopped doing that...and it's amazing the amount of money we saved; amazing that outside of the huge city gyms I can find that same peace running along the lakeshore.

The book is loaded with life lessons. "Lesson Four" is about embracing your rural brethren.The life lessons unfolded at the beginning really, when I had this freak-out moment in a coffee shop. I started over a quad-shot latte, putting down these lessons that were not only routed in Walden , but in things that I wanted to achieve -- to have the simpler life, and overcoming some things from my rural childhood. I tend to remember, or had remembered, my childhood, maybe, a bit more harshly than I should have. Because then I moved to the city and was surrounded by all of these people, and sadly, I didn't know any of them. I didn't know our neighbors unless there was a smell coming out from under the door. We're surrounded by so many people in the city that we tend to ignore them. I don't think people slow down anymore and take a breath; ask themselves if they're happy. And that's what I tried to do. We moved and all of our neighbors have been incredibly nice. I think I came here with more prejudices than they had against me. They were much more advanced than I was. I wanted to break the pattern.

You quote Thoreau in the book and you have been compared to him, so I have to ask: If you were single, what would be the best thing about dating Thoreau...if he were into dating you?[ Laughs ] Oh, my God. Interesting question. We would probably have similar quests for balance in our lives. Here's a guy who came from a family with a successful business and he tried his hand at it, was not happy, and left to find himself. In many ways, I think he succeeded -- and he failed. He inspired so many people, but he ended up going back to the city very quickly. He headed back to the city more than what he notes in Walden . I think that's the similarity -- that you can be filled with all these flaws but still be able to find happiness and success. But..I think the two of us would fall apart because he was able to live off the seven acres of beans and I don't particularly like doing anything with my hands that involves manual labor. [ Laughs ] He liked to cook over an open fire. He liked raw animals -- so, yeah, that would have sucked pretty badly, I think. And his hair was not good, so that would have been a deal-breaker for me.

He could have used some product.A hell of a lot of product. And some thinning shears.

There you go. So, should more gays head to the woods?[ Laughs ] A lot of the gays do head to the woods. In a lot of ways.

Wait a sec -- aren't there a lot of bears in the woods?A lot of "bears." We even have a gay resort, but that's another story. But I don't know if gays have to head to rural America. So many gay people in America tend to be running from something in their lives. Too many of us, I think. It's a matter of asking ourselves if we're happy … and asking ourselves what we want. And going after that. And if that is moving to the city, that's great. If it's taking a break from the city and heading to a park every Sunday to find some peace, that's wonderful. I do truly feel you have to get lost, metaphorically, in the woods once in your life so that you can find yourself. We all tend to just kind of go along. I found out, with my mother's recent passing, this is a really short journey and we better well be damn happy with where we're headed.

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