I mark my calendar each year with the dates of the annual Colorado Springs Home Show, a dazzling event in which manufacturers unveil the latest cutting-edge technology and startling advancements in floor mops.
At the 1999 show, for example, I discovered Miracle Mop. For just $19.99 I got unbelievably clean floors and as a bonus could see the image of the Virgin Mary on my linoleum.
Then, at the 2002 show, a manufacturer really pushed the envelope with the Smart Mop, which cleaned my floors, did the New York Times crossword and corrected my son's calculus homework. (Sadly, Smart Mop has become Depressed Mop since Dec. 20, 2004, when he was watching CNN and heard President George Bush, in an actual speech in Fort Belvoir, Va., say: "And so, during these holiday seasons, we thank our blessings.")
Anyway, in my quest to stay current on mop technology, I got up early last Saturday and headed for our village's seventh annual Home Show.
Sadly, I didn't find any new mops. So, until Smart Mop snaps out of his funk, I'll have to clean my house the old-fashioned way: spraying End Dust on my Yorkshire terrier and kicking him across the floor.
At the home show I did, however, find Jai (it's pronounced Jay but I promise not to make any jokes about it) Rodriguez. He's one of the stars of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, the TV show in which five gay men give fashion, cooking, hairstyle, wardrobe and cultural advice to manly, non-gay men such as me.
Like I need their help. (Frankly, the whole idea of needing fashion and grooming tips made me laugh so hard I had to wipe my nose on my orange and green plaid, flannel shirt and re-comb my mullet.)
'Do you have a horse?'
'Do you have a horse?'
The home show was held in the Phil Long Expo Center, or "big aluminum shed," on the north end of town, very close to the headquarters of Focus on the Family.
(If Focus officials knew a cast member from Queer Eye was so close, they would have enrolled him in their highly respected gay conversion program, or "homo remodeling show.")
Jai (who was detained earlier in the day by local police for jaiwalking) is described as the TV show's "culture vulture." He earned this nickname in the first episode when he spotted a man drinking a cabernet with a sea bass lunch and circled him until the guy died.
Jai (last month I saw two bluejais at my bird feeder) appeared for his first presentation at 12:30 p.m. before a standing-room-only crowd of some 250 people in the aluminum shed's "seminar area."
He was quite funny, too, stopping the show at one point to discuss fashion with a big guy wearing a plaid, cut-off shirt and a cowboy hat.
Jai: "Do you have a horse?"
Fashion-challenged man: "No."
Jai: "You should get one."
He said the homes or apartments of all single, heterosexual men smell like dirty feet and they should, at least once a day, give the place a "Lysol spritz." (If I understood him correctly, if you do the Lysol spritz on a regular basis you don't have to wash your feet.)
Anyway, the 50-minute presentation was entertaining and informative. As you might imagine, however, some of the villagers around here weren't all that happy about having a Queer Eye guy at our home show. Villager Laurel Hill, for example, expressed her anger in a long letter to the editor published last Friday in the Gazette (motto: "Throwing The Word of God Down Your Driveway and Under Your Car, Just Like the Apostles Did").
Here now, some actual excerpts from Ms. Hill's letter:
"Should I have to explain to my children what or who the 'Queer Eye' guy is?" she asked in the letter.
The answer, of course, is no. She should not have to explain it to her children. I just hope she doesn't come crying to us when her kids are in their 30s and don't know a pillow sham from a duvet.
"I think," Ms. Hill continued in her letter, "people who want to take their families out to try to find ways to improve their homes should not necessarily have to expose themselves to the gay lifestyle."
I couldn't agree more. Especially on a day like last Saturday, when it was 18 degrees with a brisk north wind.
Ms. Hill went on to write: "Some of us never thought a home show would be something we would have to think about giving a PG-13 rating or having to give our children a 'celebrate diversity' talk beforehand."
I think all of us who are parents know how difficult that "celebrate diversity" talk can be -- especially if the little bastards start asking a lot of questions and make Mommy and Daddy late for the Monster Truck Pull.
Laurel's letter also said: "I thought a home show was about windows, floors, painting techniques and decorating, not the gay lifestyle."
Earth to Laurel: Windows, floors, painting techniques and decorating IS the gay lifestyle. Throw in 120 pairs of perfectly folded socks and you've got the whole thing covered.
More from the angry letter: "Sponsors should pick more appropriate guests. I don't care what cable TV thinks all of America wants. Sometimes it's just carpeting and paint and a way to make a better home for our children."
Yup. Carpeting and paint.
That oughta do it.
Listen to Rich Tosches Thursday mornings on KVUU 99.9 FM