I'm sort of cheating here because a one-page splash panel is easy and quick to draw. I'm just killing time really until I have to draw the next three pages. The next three pages are going to be HELL! There will be a lot going on and it will involve soldiers, cars, trucks, tanks, guns, and other machines that are really fucking hard to draw. Hating it already. Plus I can't even decide if the soldiers should be speaking Hebrew (realistic, but dramatically bad for my English-speaking audience and grammatically bad for any actual Hebrew speakers who may stumble upon my humble little blog) or speaking English (unrealistic, but dramatically awesome for my English-speaking audience). Ah, me.
Plus remember that in this comic the Hebrew is written as Hebrew, the Arabic written as English and the English written as sorta chunky English... as I tried to portray it in an earlier page from Bethlehem, Palestine.
So I gunned it and turned the ambulance at the same time. I felt the ambulance clearly start to shift to the right as my instructor suddenly braced himself against the dashboard yelling "Wait! Stop! STOP!"
"No, I mean drive STRAIGHT! Drive straight past the bleachers."
"Oh, sorry, sorry."
"Okay," my instructor said, "Just go straight from here, gun it to 35 miles per hour and then jam the brakes so that you stop the ambulance to within one car length."
I did just that, but it was still pretty unsatisfactory. I saw my instructor shift uncomfortably in seat in the way of someone about to deliver bad news, so I quickly flashed my friendliest smile and gave him two thumbs up. "Gentleman's 'C?'" I asked.
He laughed a little. "Yeah, okay," he agreed and we shook on it.
So now I am a confirmed ambulance driver! And, unlike a CNA or an EMT license, an EVOC license is for life! It never needs to be renewed! You can't strip it from me, baby! Or, at least, you can't strip it from me unless I move to another state. Then I need to take the damn course again in order to be licensed for my new residential state.
And, naturally, where there are twenty-something guys there are a lot of gay jokes. One lieutenant loudly quizzed our instructor about whether he wanted "portals or hatches" at their "furry party." Immediately afterward the lieutenant (who outranked our instructor at their fire station and was ostensibly monitoring our instructor during the EVOC course) loudly joked about how he and our instructor had a romantic date scheduled for later that day.
"Tonight," said the lieutenant, "A little wine? A little incense? Some scented bath oils with a shared tub? What do you say?"
"No bubbles," our instructor said, "I want to see everything."
Everybody laughed at that, including me. It was a funny joke! Even the two girls got into the act. "Didja know this one fire medic at Station 23?" said one blond who was clearly sleeping with the instructor, "This one girl? Omigod, I so thought she was a lesbian! I swear! But she has, like, two kids!"
"Lesbians can have kids too," the Texan paramedic said quietly, "Sometimes they adopt and stuff."
"AND gay men!" I said, turning towards the Texan behind me, "Some gay men adopt children too!" I didn't want anyone to get the idea that only women have the impulse to parent children. I always fight gender stereotypes... especially in a class full of firemen.
The Texan paramedic looked towards me, a peculiar look of fear on his face.
"Like, a few guys," I mumbled, realizing that my contribution to the conversation wasn't being appreciated, "I had a couple of friends in Los Angeles who wanted to adopt, guy friends, y'know...." I turned away, hoping that nobody would notice my talking.
The rest of the class went blissfully smoothly and let out four hours early. We strolled out of the building, ready to enjoy the rest of our afternoons.
I saw the perfect triangular torso of the Texan paramedic in front of me. He waved to me as I walked out the door. "Oh hey!" he said, "Gorgeous weather, right?"
"Yeah, totally," I said, "But that's 'cause it's autumn. Wait until you experience the summer here in Florida! It gets hot!"
"Oh, I know," said the Texan paramedic, "I was born here in Florida but my partner and I decided to move to Dallas a few years ago. Now we're back here again. The culture is better here, y'know?"
All throughout this conversation I was hearing the tell-tale lilt that sometimes imbue the voices of gay men. The mention of the Texan paramedic's "partner" clinched it: he was gay!
Suddenly it all made sense! The odd look of fear in the Texan paramedic's face when I mentioned gay men, the reticence he had shown in class among the joshing, gay-joke-cracking classmates.... he was keeping his head down! When he saw me turn and look at him while mentioning gay men he thought I had been sending him a message. "I know who you are!"
Being outed as gay among an ultra-masculine environment like a Fire Rescue crew could spell career death. No offense against our brave fire fighters but these brave men do not tend to be the most tolerant of LGBTQ people. The Texan paramedic knows this probably more than everybody. When he thought I was sending him a subtle message he got scared. "Oh God, please don't out me! Please don't!"
I immediately felt sorry for unintentionally frightening the guy. Sorry pal! We're both kind of unconventional paramedics here.... what with me being a tubby female and you being gay. My apologies!
I didn't actually say that though. Instead I said, "Whelp! See you tomorrow!" And we parted ways. His way towards an effortless EVOC passing score and me towards almost rolling the ambulance. Still, I'm hoping to get my certification in the mail soon.