Kathy Briccetti



You, the man in the darkened storefront doorway, spit the words, “Fuckin’ Lezzies,” and when she and I were a block away and my heart had settled, I thought, what do you know? You were gray with dirt and grease, and your words slipped out sloshy and you stunk of unwashed hair and exhaled hootch. She and I were walking home from the movies, walking at a clip because it was later than we liked to be out at night downtown, even though there were two of us, even though nothing had happened before.

You think you recognized in a glance who we were to each other when we passed your cardboard divan that night. We were not holding hands, we did not have boy haircuts, wear work boots. We did not walk bowlegged or with particular heaviness. Was it our purposeful strides? Our synchronized gaits? Did we walk a little too close to each other? Maybe you spit those words at all women parading by your boudoir. If the shoe fits.

Don’t you realize in what town you’re shacking up, dude? This is Berkeley, man, you know, Bezerkeley, and here in Berkeley you don’t spit out that word or the others. Fag. Queer. Butch. Dike. I don’t call you a fucking homeless squatter alky or call the cops to run you out of town. Who the hell are you calling me a Lezzie? Or anything. Anything at all.

Kathy Briccetti’s memoir, BLOOD STRANGERS, is forthcoming from Heyday Books (spring 2010). Her essays, opinion pieces, poetry, and book reviews have been published in Sojourn; Under the Sun; Dos Passos Review; upstreet number three; So to Speak: A feminist journal of language and art; The Bark, Literary Mama, Chicago Tribune; The Writer; San Francisco Chronicle Magazine; hip Mama; Brain, Child; Teaching Tolerance and others. She has read her essays on public radio, and her work has appeared in several anthologies including The Maternal is Political (Seal Press, 2008); The Writing Group Book (Chicago Review Press, 2003); and The Essential Hip Mama (Seal Press, 2004). Awards include a Pushcart Prize nomination, and a residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

(author retains copyright)