The cheese stands alone

Dear Housewives,

Do you often find yourself needing more cheese? Are you dreaming about unlikely sausage fillings? Do you think to yourself, “I wish I could whip up a batch of éclairs.” If so, you might be a queer housewife!

In my own quest to become the modern day, queer June Cleaver, last fall I took a cheese-making workshop. It was everything I expected it to be. The instructor regaled us with an account of his life living in an outbuilding on a goat farm and his travels around the province, teaching cheese-making and sharing niblets of his kefir culture. He offered us the inside track to buy a share in a cow. We made paneer and started a Camembert. I smelled mildly of baby vomit when I left thanks to the rennet, but it was an authentic experience, and I am the queerer for it.

This spring I enrolled in a pastry course at a small, local bakery. Who wouldn’t want to make croissants and get to know other hipster housewives in the neighbourhood? However, Portman might have missed the boat shoes on that one. Two women in the class have been married for longer than I’ve been alive. They are not hipsters, though it’s possible that one or both have had hip replacements. The other two ladies in the class are also my senior. What’s more, it’s impossible to tell if the instructor is a hipster as health regulations forbid beard-flowers in the kitchen.

I am the only one who dresses ironically.

Despite the ongoing lack of skinny jeans, the real trouble in class began last Wednesday night as we rolled out our puff pastry. During our introductions weeks prior, I hadn’t mentioned that I don’t have a husband. I thought it would be weird to say, “Hi, I’m Portman. I don’t have much pastry experience. Also, I’m queer!” My lack of outing myself came to the fore last Wednesday as a few of the ladies the began to complain about their husbands. Their complaints escalated. From their accounts, they are married to lazy jerks who expect their wives to be their slaves. What to do? Should I nod in agreement? Should I fake a complaint about my own partner? As we all know, housewives, queer relationships are inherently superior to heterosexual ones, but I felt that bringing this up to women wielding rolling pins was a bad idea. I didn’t chime in.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that one of the other women in the class had also remained silent during the husband-bashing. I had assumed that she was concentrating on her rolling or perhaps she didn’t have complaints against her husband. Maybe she was single. Maybe her husband died in the Great War. It was only after I got home that I realized the most likely possibility.

As she stood there each week with her shorn hair, boxy t-shirt, and ill-fitting, always brightly coloured pants, I had naturally assumed that she was originally from Winnipeg or Regina or something else awful. But what queer hasn’t played the game “Lesbian or From the Prairies?” (Also know in the U.S. as “Lesbian or from Michigan?”) After all, there have been scientific studies showing the correlation.


Venn diagram demonstrating crossover between lesbian population and women from Saskatchewan. (Labeled Fig. 26 in original study by Lindsey, Wagner, and Walenta 1967)


Next week, I am going to have to look for more lesbian clues. I don’t have many classes left to figure this out and then I’m off to my sausage class. Luckily, I’ve heard that it’s easier to read people who like to stuff their own sausage.



Portman Doe