Holy hush-up

By Kate Clinton

Originally published on Advocate.com August 14 2005 11:00 PM ET

Great news! I
have identified my next career. I had always planned to
become a librarian after I retired from being a comedian.
After years of trying to make people laugh loudly, I
thought it would be fun to go around, index finger to
pursed lips, bug-eyeing people into silence.
Ironically, librarians are some of the loudest, staunchest
supporters of free speech, so my activist needs would
also be met. But with Amazon and Google people
don’t go to libraries much anymore, and I
don’t do house calls. So I despaired of ever
finding a second career.

After a
delightful Greek cruise with Olivia’s offshore
lesbians, it was in Italy that I found my next
vocation. It was quite a culture shock to go from
seven days of feeling free with my sea gals to plunging into
Italian art and commerce. I tried to preserve that lovely
presumption of lesbianism for as long as I could. We
like to think the best of everyone. But when the voice
on my self-guided-tour headset kept telling me to
admire the deft brush strokes of painting 47 without ever
commenting on the grisly content of the rape of the
Sabine women—or to note the well-executed
detail in painting 49, the massacre of the
innocents—I knew the illusion was finished.

At first we were
cheered by the faded rainbow "PACE" flags strung from
Roman balconies, but they were more about peace than gay
trendsetters. We oriented our gay-positioning systems, found
the gay bookstore, and asked Claudio, the very patient
manager, where all the gay people were. In English far
better than my ciao-prego-ragu Italian, he explained
that the closet there was huge, churchlike; that there was a
gay village Tuesday nights, six-euro entrance fee; and that
the Rome gay pride march was the next weekend. Given
the new pope, Claudio said that the march was more
important than ever.

We were unable to
get an audience with said new pope and Harry Potter
hater, the Widow Ratzinger. No sleeveless shirts, no shorts,
no service with Il Papa. So we toured the Vatican.
More marble busts of men with no eyes. More steroidal
statues of ancient circuit-party boys. More tapestries
of sandaled he-men, glowering like Russell Crowe.

Finally, we
reached the stifling Sistine Chapel, mobbed with touristi,
hailing the very gay frescoed ceiling with their upturned
cell phone/cameras, their yakking towering to a muted
roar. Suddenly a sharp, hissing Shh-h-h!
stopped the din mid-Babel. The Sistine Shusher! It was
as if the crowd had received a holy bee-yatch slap. Every
time the bedlam built, the Shusher slapped it down.

Obviously this is
the job for me. Of course, I’d secularize it. Instead
of shush, I’d say sheesh. “We do
not know where that leak came from, do we, Kardinal
Karl?” Sheesh! “As a Supreme Court
judge, John G. Roberts will not legislate from the
bench.” Sheesh! “We’re
strong and resolute on the war on terror.”
Sheesh! I’m just practicing, and I feel
better already. This job has health benefits!