As some of you might recall, I’m currently traveling the Caucasus and Asia Minor with my dad, as one does.
I’ve loaded up the site with stories to run while I’m gone (social media and newsletter handled by the amazing Benji Feldheim), but there were still a few gaps, gaps I’m filling with revamped and refurbished stories from Getting Strange, a blog I wrote from 2008-10 for the now-defunct Windy Citizen.
So, from Aug. 5, 2008, here’s a tale of friendship, Speedos and the dreamy eyes of Colin Firth, a piece originally entitled “And now, the gays.”
I have recently acquired the one thing every 20-something white liberal craves and longs after but never quite thinks he’ll get – a gay, minority friend.
Envy me, all you people who go to Critical Mass on your Treks. Yearn to be me, fellow people who threatened to move to Canada in November 2000 and November 2004. Worship me, Utne Reader readers.
I could be the King of Wicker Park. Co-king with my gay, gay friend.
I do have to clarify that he’s not my friend because he’s gay. He’s my friend because he does a really hilarious impression of Heath Ledger as The Joker.
Marriages have been formed on less.
But on Saturday, this friendship offered me a glimpse into the subculture of subcultures, the Holy Grail of alt living. And, that night, I had my in to a whole new and tastefully decorated world.
Now, I’ve been to gay bars before. With ex-girlfriends. Who I had heterosexual sex with. Often. And never while thinking of Colin Firth.
But I have never been to so many gay bars before in my life.
Strangely, I had planned to stay in on Saturday.
I was doing some Windy Citizen stuff when “Jeff” (pseudonym at his request) Gchatted me to see what I was up to. I said that I was up to nothing and we went back and forth about whether there were any good karaoke bars in town. We decided to meet up with our friend “Lindsay” (Another minority! I am soooooo liberal!) and hit up one in Boystown.
Now, I am liberal and tolerant. But I’m also shallow and needy. So I decided to dress … a little gay. Getting hit on is getting hit on and I wanted some massive ego uppers.
I put on the nice jeans, a white T-shirt and an unbuttoned button-up short-sleeved shirt over it. Button-up shirt for no reason? Pure stylish affectation!
I show up at Jeff’s apartment. He looks at me and shakes his head.
“That’s not gay,” he said.
Damn. It wasn’t a good start. Once again, I had confused gay and Jimmy Buffett.
Now during the very expensive night, there were two cab rides and four gay bars. I’ll break down the gay bars accordingly.
Gay bar number one: The gay sports bar.
Turns out the karaoke wasn’t going on that night. I don’t know what to say here other than that I’m a really dangerous darts player.
No, I mean I’m really bad. One shot bounced into the other room.
Also, I lost at Cutthroat three times. But I came in ahead of Lindsay each time. I can’t beat gay Filipinos, but tiny Japanese women … heh heh heh. Feel my pool-playing wrath.
Gay bar number two: The gay bar with the dancing guy.
Now, I don’t know the straight equivalent here. There really isn’t one. It wasn’t quite a strip club because the guy wasn’t stripping. He came onstage in a Speedo, left in a Speedo and danced a lot in the meantime.
Also, there was only one of him. One guy. One stage. No Tiffani at stage number two, all right, let’s give it up for Tiffaniiiiiiiiiii!!! Coming up next on stage number three, Aaaaaaaaaamber!
But I really liked the place for one reason. I always like when the person serving me food and/or beverages calls me “honey.”
I like it at Waffle Houses, I like it when I’m back in Rockford for a family dinner and I even like it when an old gay man wearing suspenders over a T-shirt gives me two Long Islands and a Corona.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for affection.
Gay bar number three: The really nice gay bar with the atrium feel.
Nothing really to say here. It was a really nice bar.
This was the point in the night, though, where I realized I was more tolerant of bars knowing they were gay.
I wouldn’t have touched this place with the dancer from the last bar’s ten-foot pole if it were a straight bar. I would have said “fern bar,” “meathead bar,” “Get me back to the pool-playing bar where everyone just happens to be gay.”
But since they were gay, I was cool with it.
Dirty double-standard? Obnoxious white liberal pretense of tolerance? Desire to see if Colin Firth happened to be there? I don’t know. But I did have fun.
Gay bar number four: The dance club. With gays.
I like to dance.
Stop number five: The Golden Angel.
Despite the watersports-sounding name (Thank you, Dan Savage, for that term), this was just a diner where three friends ate breakfast food and shot the idiomatic shit.
We talked about grad school and we talked about people we know and we talked about why the hollandaise sauce on my Eggs Benedict was yellow.
Hollandaise sauce isn’t supposed to be yellow.
It was a great night. There was no lesson learned about tolerance and respect. My only lesson was to stop using my friends for blog fodder. We just hung out, no one got plowed and it was honestly one of the most clean, honest, fun nights I’ve had in a long time.
So here’s to Boystown. Long may she reign.