Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mennonite confusion

“You mean like vegetarians? I sure do. George has a friend that is a vegetarian,” I answered.

Christina laughed and said, “No, Anna, not like vegetarians. Well, actually, Josh is a vegetarian, but not all gay people are vegetarians.”

“Okay, so what do they eat then?”

“Well, it's not so much about what they eat, it's more about who they are. Did you notice anything different about Josh from other men you have met?”

“Well yes, he is a lot nicer than most men I have met, and he knows a lot about women’s clothes. I liked him right away, that has never happened to me before.” 

She laughed as she got up, picked up a picture frame, and showed it to me. She said, “Anna, this is Josh’s boyfriend. His name is Jose. He is from El Salvador, he speaks Spanish, I think. He is Josh’s boyfriend like Richard was my boyfriend, not like I am your friend... you know what I am saying?”

I looked at her sideways and said, “Ahhh… okay, what? No, I do not know about gay people.”

“Okay, now we are getting somewhere. You know the club Sins, the one Josh invited us to go to tonight? That is a gay club,” she said as the pizza man knocked on the door. Christina opened the door, took the pizza, paid for it, and closed the door.

She put the pizza on the coffee table, took the magazines off, and put some napkins down for us. We sat down, and quietly ate pizza, as I was eating I was processing the word “gay” and what that meant. Then I remembered the time my mom ate pizza and how funny it was, I giggled out loud.

“What’s so funny?” Christina asked.

“I was just remembering the word ‘pizza,’” I answered.

“Why is that so funny?”

“Well, we are not allowed to say pizza because in Low German pizza sounds very close to a man’s body part. When my mom visited me, we went to eat pizza, when the man yelled ¨sir, your pizza is ready,¨ my mom burst out laughing and she couldn’t stop. It was so funny. ”

“Wow! That is funny.”

After we finished eating, Christina put a movie on and we both laid down on the sofa. A few minutes into the movie she started snoring again. I began dozing off while thinking about gay people. “Anna, you have nerve problems because you are gay,” said the nurse at the walk-in clinic. Bree stood beside the nurse and said, “Anna, could it be that you are gay and you don’t even know it?”

“Wake up, sleeping beauties, it’s time to get dressed up and go wreak havoc on this town,” said Josh.

I jumped up and started laughing. Christina got up, looked at me asked, “What’s so funny Anna?”

 “The word Josh just said, ‘havoc,’” I answered.

“Well, Anna, what do you think? Do you want to go to Sins, the gay club?” asked Christina.

“Yes, I need to go. I am curious about the place, and I want to see it for myself.”

Josh clapped his hands together and said, “Okay then, you heard the lady, what are you waiting for? Let's get beautiful and go.”

 “Okay,” Christina answered.

“Anna, do you ever wear makeup? You have the most amazing eyes, can I put some makeup on you?”

“Ahhh… I put lipgloss on a few times.”

“Okay, come with me,” said Josh. I got up and followed him to his bedroom where he had a huge mirror. He got a chair for me and said, “Okay Anna, have a seat here and relax while I turn you into a beauty queen.”

I sat down and said, “Okay.”

“Just rest your head on the back of this chair and close your eyes.”


I began to feel strange about it. When I felt that first soft brush stroke across my eyelid it tickled all the way down to my toes. It tickled so much I couldn’t keep it in, I just had to giggle.

“What’s so funny, Anna?”

“It just feels weird, no one has ever touched my eyelid before.”

“So I am your first?”


“Awesome, thanks for letting me be your first. I won't let you down, I promise.”

It was so relaxing, I had to work so hard to stay awake while his soft hands were rubbing makeup all over my face.

I thought “Nooo!” when he said, “All done, you want to see?”


When I saw myself in the mirror I thought, “Ha li dietschjat, this doesn't even look like me!” 

“Wow, I love it. It's perfect, thank you,” I said.

I went to the living room and showed Christina. “Wow, Anna, you look amazing,” she said.

I felt like a brand new person because of the way I looked and the way I felt around Josh. I was fascinated by him. I had known him for a few hours and I already loved him. I loved the way he talked to me, I felt so comfortable around him. I just wanted to follow him around wherever he went.

“Well, I guess I will have to get all pretty too, then,” Christina said as she grabbed her dress and went to Josh’s bedroom. I took my black lace top, went to the bathroom and put it on very carefully so I wouldn't mess up my makeup.

Shortly after I sat down in the living room, Christina walked in wearing her new dress. She looked incredible, just like I remembered her before Richard died.

“Okay, let's get this party started,” said Christina.

“Yes! That’s my girl,” answered Josh. We grabbed our coats and walked over to the club.

When I first walked into Sins, it wasn’t much different from the club we visited the night before.  Josh and Christina dragged me to the dance floor and I pretended to dance by moving side to side.

While I was on the dance floor pretending to dance I bumped into women with short black hair. I said sorry and continued, but she turned around and said, “Anna?” Then I saw her face. It was Bree.  

“Wow what a surprise to run into you here,” she said and looked around to see who I was with and if George was there.

“So you’ll come here with Christina but not me?” Bree asked.

“This is the club you invited me too?” I asked.

“Yes,” Bree replied, and I thought, Okay, now I get why George told me to ask Bree what club she goes to. Bree’s friend pulled her back to dance with her and I went back to pretending until Christina had enough and asked if I wanted to go sit down for a while.

We went and sat down at the table where Josh’s friends were sitting. Christina introduced me to all of them, they were all laughing and telling jokes that I didn’t get. I had a great time in spite of that. I was the one staring at people again, not the other way around.

I enjoyed myself, especially because at that club I could relax -- I didn’t have to worry the whole night about running into someone who would gossip about me in Mexico.

Christina decided that we would go home earlier than we did the night before. We got a hug from every single one of Josh's friends when she told them that we were leaving. We walked back to Josh’s apartment and collected our stuff, picked up a coffee, and drove home.

I had a hard time sleeping that night, wondering about the dream I had and how much more I would learn about life outside of my colony. I felt scared and confused about everything again.

When morning finally came, I called my aunt and uncle and asked if they could take the gifts to Mexico that I had bought for my family. My aunt said, “Okay, yes, we will pick them up on our way through town. You called just in time, we are leaving this afternoon.”

I packed everything neatly in a box that I had pre-wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. When they got to my apartment, my aunt gave me the side stare about how I was dressed and said, “Anna, why don’t you just come along with us? We have room for you, that would make your mom so happy.”

“I know, and I would love to, but I can't leave school. I am going to grade nine soon, I need to do a lot of catching up before that.”

She shook her head, grabbed the box and said, “Well, I will tell your mom that that is the reason you didn’t want to come,” as she walked off with the box.

“Please tell her I said hi and that I miss everyone,” I shouted as she walked away shaking her head.

I tried to do my homework, but I couldn't concentrate. I felt awful about my encounter with my aunt and I thought of how I should have handled that differently. I was missing my mom so much. I decided that it was time for me to look through my box of books again that my mom had brought when she visited me.

I picked up the book into which I had copied many Bible verses and turned to the page that had ink smeared on it. I tried to read it, but I had no idea what I had written in it or what any of it meant. I was so frustrated all over again, remembering my Mennonite school days.

I decided right then and there that it was time to throw that book in the garbage. I took it outside to the big garbage bin and threw it in there as hard as I could.

The next day I couldn't stop thinking about my book and how much I regretted throwing it away. I decided that as soon as I got home I would climb into that garbage bin and get it back. But sadly, the garbage bin was empty by the time I got to it.

I still wish I had kept that book.

A couple of days before Christmas, while I was doing my homework, my cousin Susie Peters from Glencoe called and invited me to spend the Christmas holidays with them. She said they were coming to pick me up. I got so excited I throw my pencil down immediately and packed my bag.

Susie and I went to the Galleria Mall in London to do some Christmas shopping for her siblings. We decided that we would treat ourselves to a cup of coffee at a place called The Second Cup. Susie ordered a coffee for each of us, and when we heard the total amount for two coffees we looked at each other and I asked, “Ha li dietschjat, did we just buy this coffee shop?”

Susie laughed and said, “No, Anna, that is how much the coffee costs at a place like this.” We both took a sip, looked at each other, and shook our heads. We agreed that that was the last time we would treat ourselves to that kind of coffee and that it was way too strong for instant coffee drinkers anyway.

While we were forcing down our expensive coffees, we reminisced about a time we tried to impress a couple of Mennonite boys in the village where Susie lived. While proudly riding past the boys with grandma’s horse and buggy the horse decided to stop and take a dump right in front of the boys. If it was posable to die of shame Susie and I both would have never lived to experience Canada.

While I had Susie's full attention, I worked up the courage to ask her a very important question. I asked her if she knew about gay people and she said yes. I was so relieved and thought, “Okay, I can tell her anything, even that I went to a gay club.” I was so nervous my Low German and English got mixed up as I went for it.

“Susie, ah… I went to a gay club the other day, and I fit right in with those people. What if I am gay and I don’t even know it?” Click here to continue reading my story.

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