Saturday, February 27, 2010

Story 4, Gina Saves

It’s a busy Friday night, I have just gotten in to work. While tired and unmotivated I decide that I will persevere. I am ready for the normal Friday hustle and bustle routine, song and prance that we get accustomed to working at the Labyrinth. This is in between rushes, during the expect Friday night 9-10pm lull. This is the time in between, where the happy hour crowd leaves the bar for a short intermission where they snort their evening hungers away, then come back out to the bars, drink their way to love and get plastered out of their gords. They get wasted enough to no feel embarrassed dancing like a fool to any Madonna ton as any sensible man normally would. The snorting part is just my assumption based on the fact that at night, many of the weekend customers can often be found grinding their teeth, with runny noses.

The first time I realized how prevalent and stupidly obvious cokeheads often are at the Labyrinth when I watched the third customer in a row order a drink while he had boo gars running down their face and into his numbed, overly lips that undoubtedly were covered in the cheeriest lip-gloss Claire’s offers. When I pointed out the mess on their face, similar to the way one treats a toddler, the customer smiled, told me to fuck off and then told the bartender they were ordering from that they had a cold. Then, a second later, as he was walking away, the bi-polar bitch told me that I was “adorable.” The second that he finally walked away for good, all I could smell was the hospital smell, like that of mothballs. It made me want a sedative or at least a magical brownie to tide me over and keep me from slicing the overly manicured faces of these lovely patrons around me.

As I come behind the bar James is cleaning his bottles and chatting with Johnny about how he had seen Johnny’s trick of the week out earlier with another guy. It’s moments like this that makes me call the bar Castro high. Then Johnny tells James that his guy is like every San Francisco gay man and in an “open relationship.” Come to think of it, in my infantile experience, this seems to be true. In San Francisco, for some reason most long term gay man relationships I am coming to find are actually open ones. These couples would be committed to each other, but also openly have some thing going on side. Why this is acceptable, I will never truly grasp.

As I walk past the rambling bar gossip, I go back to my Friday routine. I stock pint glasses at every station. Even though I try to be working away in my own cocoon, I can’t help but notice that everyone around me is gossiping. If it isn’t about their boyfriends of the moment, it’s tricks and various lovers. It is kind of making me sick just listening to it and less engaged in being there. All I can think about is how I want to somehow end up at a better job than this.
I am getting to the point where I am working, but mentally 2,000 miles away. I am on a far away island watching the tide. While my physical being is there, while my metaphysical self is working through that daydream. Then Gina quickly snaps me out of it… She comes up from her station to yell at me. At this point I am already in a bad mood and want to tell the bitch to relax and that I’ll get there when I get there, but actually say nothing. She point out that she is in dire need of cold pint glasses right away. She then adds in her Gina way, “you need to wake up and start paying attention for god sakes.”
In my head, at that moment I am thinking, “bitch, get your own fucking pint glass and stop being rude.”

Gina likes being the resident belabusta , which is Yiddish for bossy person who thinks they’re in charge, even when they aren’t. That person who always has to be the leader of the group or whatever they take part in, because that’s just how they roll. What I probably am not considering or caring about is that she really is trying to get her job done so she could make both of us money. She is simply calling me out for not focusing on my job, which today is true. But because she gives me honest constructive, criticism, I should for the moment, like my co-workers, write her off as being the bitch I want to be.
I also find out later, that Gina herself she is working, stepping on eggshells because she had just been reprimanded for apparently over pouring a drink a day or two earlier by one second. Our bar’s shot pour standard is 4 seconds then. The cameras apparently caught her and now somebody is out to get her. She probably just wants to keep her job because it does allow her a good standard of living. The over pouring slip/moment in question is of course caught on the surveillance camera of our elusive bar owner who is always watching us.

I rush over to Gina’s station to stock her precious pint glasses. As I reach into the drop down of her station, Nick the MD to be/bartender is performing for some customer, being the show off that he is and bouncing his big ass around. He’s one of those black guys, much like Wayne Brady. When he works he often is not aware of his surroundings. The rest of us have developed a third eye on the back of our heads that help us maneuver our way around the Labyrinth bar.

Nick has no idea about this third-eye business, nor does he care about those around him when he is working. Being the self-elected Jew of the bar (even though he was raised Baptist), he always focuses his attention on the person with the money in their hands that is within his hand’s reach. He is almost at good at guilt trips as my mother. He can guilt anyone to investing in anything he does, from cocktails to a date. The Goy has the skills of an old Jewish woman and the money sense of a Donald Triumph.

As Nick is hitting on some customer and putting a bottle back in it’s place which belong behind him, near his register. He did this without looking. In this course he also accidentally pushes me into the pint g lasses I is putting away. This causes a domino effect of problems. This is when the nightmare begins. This action, in turn makes one of the pint glasses shatter into a beautiful glittery rain that looks like an explosion around my hand of glass dismemberment, which drizzles everywhere. Then a huge shard of glass is then push into the skin about three inches above my inner left wrist. I am so in shock that, I almost don’t believe that this happening. As I pull my arm out of the drop down cooler, I could see a piece of my flesh just dangling. I can’t see how deep the cut is, but all I can see is blood. I drop everything and run into the back room. Nick is still chatting with the customer oblivious to what just happened.

On the way to the back room, there are little trails of blood to show where I have been. In a fluster furry, I open the first aid kit that the bar has. Like a cruel joke, it’s of course empty, full of just a pile of napkins and 3 tiny band-aids, and a tampon. I have a double take moment. Being that this is a men’s gay bar, a tampon is highly unusual in our first aid kits. I would more likely expect to find lube or even glitter before a fucking tampon.

I start laughing hysterically, while still unsure as to why I am laughing at a horrible moment like this. I am a person who tends to laugh at the wrong moments. I am the guy who laughs at funerals, any religious ceremony, any of life’s generally awkward moments, when I look at any full-length mirror and during romantic moments in movies when most people cry. I laugh at the sight of bad news, and most people find it revolting.

I pick up the napkins I find to soak up the blood. James walks by and ask if I am okay, while he stares at my arm from a distance. His face look horrified. James ask me if I will be able to work the rest of my shift, and whether I have insurance. I am getting even more upset by this point. I am starting to simmer by this question and the evening’s predicaments. The fact that he has the gaul to ask me such a bazaar question as I have a piece of my own flesh dangling from my arm is ridiculous.
I go from laughing like a crazy person to complete silence, give James an evil stare and tell, “yeah, I’ll work. We can turn this place into a fucking making bloody mary bar tonight.”

As I stare at my mangled arm I begin to feel a subtle sharp, throbbing. It is getting worse with every second that I stare at the blood-infused napkin covering up the glass battle wound.
I am almost in a trance staring at my arm as Gina storms in to the back room, which seem to just be adding to my angst. My heart starts beating faster and there now is a vein on my forehead popping up that I have never seen before. Gina asks me if I am okay. She then picks up the injured arm and looks at the dangling piece of flesh and inspects it. It’s like she instantly turned into the professor from Gilligan’s Island. Maybe she will turn my arm into a radio. Gina then goes to tells James who is freaking out to get us more napkins and to “chill the fuck out.” She looks into my horrified eyes, which are now more upset and worried about loosing my job, than the actual injury. She reads me very quickly even though I try to conceal my emotions from her. She tells me that I will be employed next week and have nothing to worry about. She says that I need to relax, then show me a scar in the same spot on her right wrist. I start to think great, she is trying to fucking bond right now and turn this into an episode of Oprah, get pissed and all of a sudden calm. Apparently she has too cut her self similarly five-years prior. She speaks calmly, petting my shoulder in a way that only a woman could and tells me that I will be fine because I like her am “tough as nails.” I don’t know how true that is, but for the moment she made me feel like a tough lesbian, which is way better than I had felt before this conversation and tougher than any man I know. She hands me $20 dollars and tells me to go take a cab to the hospital for stitches and to call her later and let me know how it all turns out. She makes it seem like it was just another normal day. She has this way about her that makes me calm down. From that moment on, the pain is gone and I have adrenaline that is getting me through this.

I am waiting for four hours alone in the emergency room to get seven stitches. It’s now 5a.m. and I arrived to this mothball smelling hospital ER an 11:30 pm the day before. I find a Vicoden that I guess someone slipped into my pocket before I evacuated the bar. I don’t know who the magical fairy is that left this treat was. I don’t event take a moment to consider where it came from. I of course take it instantly and start to choke in the emergency room. Needless to say, I got to cut the line right away.

The odd thing is that, if it wasn’t for Gina I could see myself freaking out in that cold sterile place that is the ER. Because of her, I don’t feel alone in the waiting room and know that all will prevail. I’m like a little kid, excited to see what kind of scar this adventure will leave me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

JLo And Her Record Label Broke Up

Check out the first picture for this story... It looks like her pants ate her...

JLo And Her Record Label Broke Up

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Story 3: Meet the staff

There are so many different kinds of people employed there. It’s an eclectic, cutthroat group that works there to say the least. Everyone is in their own realm when compared to greater society, yet there is something that makes us all similar and therefore creates a cohesive staff besides the fact that most of us are fudge-packing, Nancy boy queers.
I hate the word queer almost as much as I hate the word “partner,” when gays use it and especially when straight people use it. It makes people sound like they are talking about a business venture. If you are gold-digger and marry a person old enough to remember when the Louisiana Purchase was in escrow then, you should call your “lover” “partner.” To sleep with an old sack of skin for some of their fortune seems to be a fair deal when it comes to this kind of partnership. If you are a well-to-do hippy, now shops at the Mac store and Whole food get over the PC crap, because really, you already sold-out.
Back to the story, we all have become each other’s chosen/adoptive family. We watch each other’s backs when customers would gang up on us or even more so, when it is the owner of the bar. He is the be all and end all. He simply runs a tight ship and keeps that bar packed while keeping everyone within a camera monitor, big brother sort of a hand’s reach. All the alcohol pours are watch, record, counted and then scrutinized from his office at the bar. The cameras are even connected to his home computer. Keeping this in mind, we know that even when no one is watching, he could be watching us from home maybe right after an episode of “Golden Girls,” while smoking a double and maybe eating a pack of flaming-hot cheetos? We are observed like pandas at a zoo. We deal with the cage because we know there isn’t another bar in San Francisco where we would make the kind of money we are making there at that maze of a bar. Gay bars are much like zoos anyways. People dance horribly, like idiots on a dance floor to the latest Kylie or Madonna single and look for every reason to take their crop tops off in hopes that Mr. Right Now is watching. It’s very animalistic.
When it comes to each other, I have also noticed another approach my coworkers seem to have. We are all “friends.” We all keep our friends closer and then their enemies even closer. It’s hard for me to tell which of us playing this game and who is truly genuine. If they like you, they seem to actually help you from getting out of trouble with other co-workers, our boss and patrons. If they hate you, it’s like working with the little girl from “the Bad Seed.” For those who haven’t seen the film, it’s about a little girl who is a murderer, but no one suspects it because she plays this whole innocent act that people eat up like lifetime movies. We all keep a game face going while working. On the turn of a dime we can go from friend to killer. Most of the others have no problem stepping on a “friend’s” toes to save their ass or make a few more dollars. I guess time will tell who is a friend and who is a foe.
This is how I’m told it works here. People here either work at this place for a hot second, a week, maybe three, and others are there for years. While the barbacks and doormen employed here keep a revolving door open for new drifters, the bartenders seem solid. Bartenders would get fired for various reasons. Sometimes the reasons can be obvious and understandable like “over pouring” and giving away free booze. Other times the reasons are more vague is less reasonable and more superficial. There is though always a “valid” reason.
For the owner sometimes it looks as though we are just pawns, and maybe more like shoes. One could always have extra pairs of shoes in their closet, and then use them to walk from point A to point B. Then, when you purchase a new pair of sneakers, you start to wear them at all the times you used to wear your old sneakers. Then those old sneakers make their way to the shadows of the closet and eventually you may decide to get rid of them. This is all because they are worn down and or maybe just less shiny than the new ones. One day you could be his pet and the next, he could and simply make up reasons to get rid of the old and move the new into their spots. For all of us, keeping our jobs seems to be a calculated guessing game of watching each other’s backs mixed with a shit-load of luck.
The group of people who work there, are more interesting than words can tell. It’s because there, they all see the value in who they are to the bar. They know where they stand in the larger gay community. This is even if the rest of the world didn’t give a rat’s ass. While there, these individuals all seem to think of themselves as hot shit, most of them are recovering nerds and misfits. Most of us here are recovering kids that were teased in high school for being fagots and not being what hero-normative society tells us we are supposed to be and support. Here our uniqueness is applauded and precisely what people like about us. The shoe I hope is on the other foot. We now get to see what it’s like as the big kids on campus, it is just a different terrain.
Gina has been there for 2 years at that time. She is the resident, self-proclaim bitch and Queen bee. She is what I would call a career bartender, one of those who knows their job, does it well and doesn’t apologize for rocking. Being the only woman there, she demands respect from all of us and will not settle for anything less. Gina is about 25 years old. I guess the bitch attitude concept is her replacement for her lack of balls, literally speaking. She is a recovering party girl who went to San Diego State a few years prior. She is an ex-sorority, Capa-Delta-something. She was apparently the only lesbian there, so she said. Gina has a masculine haircut accompanied by curves that only could be described as feminine and gentile. Her frame and tits perkier than a bottle of adder often overshadow her rigid-masculine persona. I guess it is because she has to compete in a bar made for gay men, in a staff of men. The thing that many people misunderstand about her is the fact that they consider her a bitch and often write off the rest of her as being anything but. In truth, she is the most straightforward of the whole bunch. If she had problem with you, she would tell you. If she likes you, she will tell you, if not in words, actions. If you get in her way, she will make sure you get a good swift kick or step on a toe. The odd thing is that she actually does guide people whom she likes. Help them do better at their job. She always offers unsolicited criticism to those she loves and even worse critiques to those she hates to working with. When she walks through a crowd she demand attention and the same is true when she is behind the bar. Gina often offers management that doesn’t necessarily require her intervention. She is our know it all. What people seem to rarely understand is that is her way to help? She truly is the foster mother of the bunch, in a semi-butch sort of way. It is like she is the big sister I never knew I needed.
There is also James. He is a newly appointed bartender. He has been here for about a year and a half as a barback and has just recently been appointed to the ranks of bartender. He at is also roommates with Johnny, the “all American” guy from dinner. It is rumor that the two had dated at some point but I am not one to subscribe to rumor rubbish. James always talks about how he is at the bar just to pay off a few debts and then go back to traveling the world. It’s ironic since he has already been working here for a while. “It is just the mobile to get from point A to point B,” so he says. He is about 23, skinny, blonde, average height,. He seems to be of the type made for the Labyrinth. Everything about him screams it. He always jumps and waves his hands when his “jam” cams on, which is usually Mariah Carey or Kylie. He LOVES those bitches in a way that I simply can’t grasp. James does to not look like what I have imagined a bartender to look. At the end of shifts with him, he often offers to drive me home. I will admit that I do love these moments, although I would never say this out loud. We often roll up to McDonald’s late at night, get milkshakes, fries and soak our sorrows by listening to guilty pleasures of cheesy pop and talking about cute boys we meet or don’t meet throughout the week. We both pinky-swore and promise to never tell anyone about Mc Donald’s because it’s really a gross place and we don’t want anyone knowing that we ate from there. In San Francisco, going to McDonalds is like driving a Hummer there, it’s just asking for someone to slash your tires or throw red paint on it.
There is Michael. He is tall, skinny, with dark hair and light features that made him look somewhat exotic. He is a loudmouth who always assumes he is right. We are very similar in the fact that we are both pig-headed. Like me, Michael is the cynic, but in a different style. I consider myself more masculine, than Michael is, although he finds a way to bring out that part of me. He is a complimentary mixture of masculine, male hormones, with slightly feminine undertones, yet he himself is a package is more masculine than not. I love him for the fact that he is so comfortable with himself. I admire it and aspire to get there some day. He is like the jester of the bar. If he has something to say he doesn’t hold back and just says it. He is not one to hold back or sensor himself at any time in any way. No bullshitting, no blowing smoke up people’s ass. He is also the first guy I have ever met in a committed gay relationship. They have been together for 3 years. That span of time together is equivalent to a lifetime in gay years. Having been tied-down for so long, he always tries to live vicariously through me by pushing guys he thinks are cute on me even though our tastes differ vastly. We also have become friends over the love of our friend, Mary. She is would bring us up when we are down and down when we are up from the adrenaline of a long work shift going to the ladder parts of morning light.
There is also Aaron who is probably barely 30 years old by that point. He is the most exocentric person I had ever met. He is really tall and always commands that everyone notice his presence in a room. His outfits, jeans to the tiniest details where all custom made. His fashion sense is a mix of punk, high fashion and drag queen glamour. His hair would change color, shape and style more often than an infomercial. While he probably became a life bartender, I don’t think that this has been his goal. But, who end up doing the job or career they plan? He lives like a rock star. He parties with them and when he goes out he is treated like one. Going out with Aaron is like going out with rock royalty with a gay twist everywhere we went. I love working with him, I lately have started to call him “Gentle” due to the fact that he is the only other Jew other than myself who works there and has a love of Barbara Streisand. The only other person I know who loves her more than him is my mother. My mother will gladly sell her left arm to meet that woman. Aaron always fascinates me by hitting on every fuzzy little bear man who crosses his path. He always talks about how he loves their “chubby, mushy, furry, little, average bodies.” The first time I heard him say this, I didn’t know how to react to that comment. Now I just laugh.
Aaron is known for many, many things. The tag line, for which I will always remember him is the first sentence I hear him say during my first shift with him. “The human body is so resilient, I have been up for 3 days.” Aaron truly lives like a rock star. He is also a self proclaim – J.A.P. With taste more expensive and gaudy than any Jewish American Princess I ever did meet.
It is interesting how there are so many different types of people who work at that bar. Everyone works there for very different reasons. For some, it is a lifestyle, a career, a means to an end, a way to pay for their habits, a social mechanism, and for others a summertime job. It is like when I studied abroad. I’m living in Florence, Italy for a semester. I’m 18-years old. I am always fascinated when walking through the various outdoor markets of Italia and by all the random people I meet who work there. Many Americans live there, all there for very different reasons. Some come through on vacation and simply never leave. Others start off at a local university studying abroad and essentially defect there. There are some who stay for love, while others are running from the mob, or something back home.
Whatever the reason is, like Florence, the Labyrinth is a place many people run to in order to escape stuff in their lives for whatever reason, it kind of consumes people. You would start there, with one goal, end with another. Eventually you are just there and unsure why because your initial reason for being there is now irrelevant. The question al of us working here wonder is, why am I here?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is this really an argument against gay marriage? This lady obviously needs to get laid.

Every night I see this tragedy!

Every night you can see this stupid display acted out at gay bars across America. It’s just something that annoys me to no end. Often they fit this description. There is a queenlier gay guy and their slutty straight girlfriend. The girl often fits close to the following description give or take a detail or two. She is blonde with bleached teeth, so much that they have that blue hue that you can only stare at for a few seconds because the brightness burns the cornea of your eye. She almost always has big tits, sometimes real, but more often those puppies are real and borderline tranny status (where the fake tits look like they are floating up and away, Tori Spelling style). If they don’t have the tits they have thickly padded bras that hike their poor, defenseless, little ladies further up than they ever thought they could be. The girl often resembles one of those “girl next door” sluts. She is the type of girl who has been bleaching their hair so long that they may have developed some sort of brain damage. The type of bitch who has or would probably appear in a “girls gone wild ad” under the right circumstances. These are the type of sluts that will make out with another chick at the party not because they like it, but just to get douche frat guys to take them home, which is reason enough. She is not quite a “faghag,” but a girl who uses her “Gay” as her self-esteem booster when need be. She is possibly a good Christian girl. The type that “loves the gays” but when asked about her views of gay marriage, she smiles and talks about being a good Christian but just regularly gets gangbanged sideways on camera.
The slut/girl’s friend is often a little mousy Gay. They are not they gym bunny type, but usually more on the awkward side of life. They are really queenie and usually have great style advice. They are quiet in most moments until someone asks their opinion. Then, it’s like opening Pandora’s box, these lisp queen acts like fireworks are going on inside of them won’t shut up. They are particular in the way they order their drinks, three iced cubes, vodka, never well and ALWAYS, ALWAYS a twist, like a twist makes or breaks a drink. To me, the only way my bartender can mess up my drinks is if they forget to put booze in it, the garnish is just unnecessary crap to begin with, but we digress. Often these guys love to spend every waking moment being divas because they see themselves as. Their hair is always perfectly styled and dyed if need be. Their tan is often just a shade too orange to be natural and complimented by eye brows shaped too perfect to not have been plucked. These guys are usually every entertaining to watch in their natural habitat, be it Barney’s, a runway show or the local gay pop bar stomping ground. They are often what make these places so interesting.

After a drink or two, the queen always utters this sentence, “if I were straight, I would soooo do you!”
Really lady? You would sooo do her? How would that go down exactly?
She then keeps up with this charade, asking the guy “really?”

This barrage of compliments about doing each other lasts for usually at least 10 minutes, at which point I feel like vomiting. Do these bitches have that low of self esteem that they have to play this stupid game? She doesn’t want him to do her anyway and he probably feels ill at the smell of a vagina. The only way that those two are going to get down is with the intervention adult toys and we know that isn’t happening so stop it already! It is a well-known fact that women come to gay bars for the attention and the compliments, but this is going too far! Stop it already!

Spencer Pratt Wants Chest Implants?!?!

I really hope he gets implants so I don't feel like the only guy with huge pecs.

Spencer Pratt Wants Chest Implants?!?!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I almost peed myself when I saw this picture!

This site is a must see! It's so stupid, it's funny!

emHarry Potter/em And emTwilight/em Romance!

Am I the only person who has no idea who the hell these people are?

emHarry Potter/em And emTwilight/em Romance!

Erroneous On All Charges! Say Madonna's People

Really? Why do these women have to start all girl schools in another country? Madonna, Oprah... What gives these celebs perspective to do this? Why not do something to help children in your own country who really need it too?
Erroneous On All Charges! Say Madonna's People

Cameron Diaz's Super-Date

Cameron Diaz's Super-Date

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Story 2, The Bar intro...

I interviewed there about a week earlier with the owner of the bar. He was an interesting fellow who unlike most interviews I had been on before. This one, provided more questions than answers. He seemed to be a man of little words who talked with grumbles and eye contact only when absolutely necessary. He didn't once look into my eyes during this meeting. It seemed that he was looking right past me to something in the distance. I assumed that this was because my curly hair reminded him of Medusa and he had possibly never seen a jewfro outside of it's natural habitat, Lohman's. He would of course glance down at his drink from time to time and swirl the sliver of a twist and grumble. I wasn't sure if this was good or a bad sign. His elusiveness just made me more interested in working there. At the interview my questions consist of the following: “have you been here before?” followed by “what is your availability?” I of course lied, flashed my Kathy Lee Gifford/clone smile I had learned while working at Starbucks a few years earlier and told him that it was my absolute favorite bar in the city. In reality, this place was still a I had never been inside of until a month ago. All I knew was that I needed to make some cash to cover living in this expensive shoe box of a city that I have chosen to live in. After the questions, he just grumbled, looked at me, my resume, me, the bartender our of the corner of his eye, his watch, grumbled smiled and walked away as though I was supposed to know the interview was over. I left thinking that I had somehow bombed this time and went to the competing bar around the corner where I proceeded to drink my dinner in an effort to save money and calories until I felt better about the situation, after all I was on a budget.
He calls me about a week later asking if I could come in at 6pm. I got someone at the café, where I currently work to cover my closing shift so that I could check out the place. He says that I will be at the bar that day, for what he calls a “trial basis.” I am new to queer life at this point in my life. I have only one fag hag of my own, one-year “out of the closet” behind me, and one failed gay relationship turned hazardous roommate-friendship, 4 months behind me to call my own. Being the newbie, I figure that it’s my time to branch out, meet people, learn more about my community and maybe meet a man ready for a relationship. List is all assuming that I know what I am talking about, cause I really have no idea. Living in San Francisco, I presume that the Castro will be the best place to start this journey.
As for the decor of this place, the Labyrinth it’s a site for eyes. The walls are stainless steel and black. The bar itself has this aroma that I can only describe as euro-man, doused in cheap colognes. It reminds me of the smells one encounters on European buses, where the invention of deodorant is rarely utilized. There is this hint of: man-musk, alcohol, all blended with the Old Spice and cheap after-shaves all mixed into the air here. Video screens are on everywhere, with little neon lights strewn about the metal walls. This place is made up of several rooms with TV screens conveniently located at every direction the eye looks. All these lights light up to the beat of the pop music videos, playing on the screens. From Cher, to Kiley and of course then Madonna, the music blasts with beats and videos. I have never seen so many men in one place and who are admittedly listening to such shit music. I prefer emo-crap myself, but will bend the rules if I must for this place. Looking around, it really is an odd mix. The whole package of this place is kind of intriguing, liberating and embarrassing, all in one.
It’s a Friday afternoon on a brisk summer’s day, and of my second San Francisco summer. For those unfamiliar with SF should know that summer here is like fall in the rest of the world. Our summer is like a San Diego winter. It is often slightly overcast with temps between 50 and 60, where I like it, but we digress. I am a struggling college student trying to pay rent while getting though the grudge that is college. It’s still daylight outside yet, once you step inside the bar it’s like Vegas. This element for some reason reminds me of my grandmother and gambling. The woman is a lovable mess who loves dark glitzy places like this and Vegas. She would love the place, a room of men to compliment her on how she looks so young in her glittery vest and tightly pulled back face under the bright lights of this place. Add a nickle-slot or keno machine for her to play while she day dreams imagining herself to be a Gabore (she sounds just like Zha Zha). Maybe a buffet that she could steal food from and she would be set.
There is no concept of time inside there. There are no clocks. The only time markers there are flow of the crowd, marked by happy hour and shot specials posted with construction paper, all over the bar, in ill-matching font. While I’m walking into the bar daylight still peaks slightly through the bar’s window blinds. The bar is sparsely populated with customers. I go up to the first bartender I see within five steps of entering this place. I then, ask him where to go if it’s my first day. I kind of expect be greeted with a welcome-mat of a smile. Or a training manual like the ones I received when starting at most of my other odd jobs. Instead the guy just shrugs. He seems unimpressed with me, he smiles at me the way someone smiles at a small child that burped and says, “Stud, go down the hall and knock on the door, one of the boys will show you around.”
“Stud?” Surprised by that label, I wonder am I really seemed like a stud? Until this moment, I have never been called anything like that. A word turns me into a signalized person. I am a lot of things, sexy or a stud is not one of them. I am 21, and the guy that people love as a friend. I'm like the Kimmy Gibbler of people, without being that annoying. I am no one special. I don’t wear the average gay-shirt that's 1-3 sizes too small, complimented with extra tight jeans that make my ass fat leak over the waist. My jeans are loose, comfortable and I definitely do not look like a model. I am still wide-eyed, shy, timid and mousy. Many of the guys here have his glow about them. I don’t think I have that same presence. I will have to assimilate though. To look like I belong here, I will probably have stop wearing the black-rimmed glasses, which up until now were my signature that help me blend into into the wall the way I like it.
I then push the long afro of curls off of my forehead and march slowly to that back door. I am oddly nervous and have a slight bit of perspiration on my forehead. As I walk to that back door I encounter many interesting people. Being new to the gay game, this seems like an interesting place to hangout, although I personally couldn’t see myself here very often as a patron. Walking though this place is the closest that I have ever been to walking though a circus. There is one big man, who is somewhere between 35 and 60 is off to my side and he instantly catches my eye. This man had somehow has lasered off and numbed every sign of his age. He has an over-muscled body stuffed into a tiny extra-small Abercrombie shirt that looks like it is repelled by him as well, where he allows his liver-spotted, tanned, muscled arms to ooze out and connect to hold hands with this little tiny pocket gay sitting right next to him. The old man also is over compensating with brown hair, which clearly has white roots; it’s just too much for the eyes to handle. Abercrombie’s boyfriend or toy of the moment is this little bleached-blond boy that has the body of a skinny, starving, young girl, with huge platypuses feet. This boy looks like a Kate Moss, during the Calvin Clean days, but maybe about 10 pounds lighter.
The view of the bar from here makes me dizzy and wonder what kind of circus I am getting into. As I pass them, a random hairy Persian looking man pats my ass like that is normal status-quo. I am so caught off guard by this that I am silent and even more wide-eyed as I begin walking faster to that back door. The odd thing is that this man, resembles my Russian uncle being round, jolly and hairy, with just slightly darker skin. His body I imagine is made of large meatballs, black hair, and dough, at least that is the thought that came to mind. Trying to keep my cool, I scurry to that backroom with a bit of a sprint.
Once in the Labyrinth backroom, I find a small room filled with a time clock, beer boxes, people’s backpacks, beer kegs and bartenders frantically counting their piles of money. I have never seen so many crumpled one-dollar bills and quarters in my life. The only woman in room comes up, looks past me as though I isn’t there, and then pushes past as she sends a quick text message. She is what I label as soft butch. She has many feminine assets, yet they where somehow complimented with some masculine qualities that I had never seen on a woman until then. She then comes back, “sorry, I needed reception, Gina here… what’s your name? You’re first day? Cute, you don’t know what you are getting into…Just hussle, don’t get in my way and you’ll be fine.” She smiles and sits back in her money counting seat and doesn’t glance up again. It’s as though she never met me.
Everyone else just glances up from counting their money, piles of $1 bills and one at a time does a generic head bob, followed by a “hey man” or “hey babe.” Then a little Asian man popps up out of the shadows of this ominous back room, which by the way is filled with boxes upon boxes of beers. It’s a frat boy’s fantasy come true. The little Asian fellow talking to me has a dingy dishtowels hanging out of all his pockets, like the people at the car wash or that demand to clean your car when driving out of Tijuanna. He then says to me with a heavy Chinese accent, “Hi! I am Ricky. Yuuu… How you say name?” As I began to answer him, I wonder what his real name is. As I open my mouth he continues: “You are barback, pick up glass all over bar, be fast, carry many glasses, don’t have be nice, get done, keep floors clean and be fast for happy hour.” He hands me one of the dirty towels from his back pocket and a key as he shews me on to the bar floor.
My job is to walk through the crowds of drag queens, twinks, muscle daddies, manly women, lipstick chicks and more. I take their dirty cocktail glasses to wash. I stack them like legos and carry them to wash… It sounds like a job a monkey could do, but hopefully I’m better then a monkey. Within what seems like a matter of minutes, the bar is packed, wall-to-wall. I am busing all the tables, urinal rooms, bar tables, while looking over the general security of the bar. This will later mean kicking people out for being too drunk, rowdy or not paying. Some may find this job demeaning, I find it challenging and a great place to study all the millions of types of people who come to this place. After a few minutes, I have made several figure 8 circles around the bar and had an armful of pint glasses with old napkins in them. As I step to set the glasses with the other dirty glasses near the bar/dishwasher, a little shit man, short enough to be made by Matel, pinches my ass. This in turn makes me loose my balance with all the glasses in my hand flying into the air and then like suicide bombers diving to their impetuous death. Of course a scene is made. Everyone is watching as I dropped to my knees where I gathered the glass with a towel. They all just stare in aw as though they have never seen broken glass or someone clean it’s broken shards up. Then a few random people try to help, making it even more difficult trying to hand me a few shards of glass that they pick up with their drunken I feel like Cinderella, hands and knees on the floor to clean up other people’s messes. It is at this point and future moments like these that I am reminded exactly of what my roles is here, I am simply help.
After 3 hours of work, I am drenched in sweat, noticeably sweatier than everyone else working. I feel like one of those obese people you see on Maury that sweats from taking one step. Maybe it’s because the are used to it or out of shape? Jon seems to be just working away like the freakin’ energizer bunny, untainted, without a bead of sweat on him. It felt like I had been there for three times longer than the three hours I is assigned to work. One of the bartenders taps me on the shoulder, then wipes the sweat off of his hand on his jeans. He lets me know that I am done with my shift. This whole shift went so whirl-wind-fast that I am shocked to be finished and so tired and drenched in sweat from a mere 3-hour shift. As I follow him to the back he hands me my tip money for the shift and invites me to dinner “with the boys.” I have never made that much money within a simple 3 hours. I made $80 dollars in tips from just rushing around and stocking glasses. Feeling like celebrating I agree to dinner.
Having lived on campus until months earlier I apparently don’t seem to have the concept of going to big nice dinners in my head. To go home to my apartment with a crazy roommate who is now becoming a crystal mess is something I am at this time trying to avoid anyways, so I agree to go to this dinner. I assume that we are going to a near by taco shop with these new coworkers, who would later become the closest I would ever know to brothers. Instead, the boys take me to a real dinner with steak, calamari, and of course cocktails. I am quickly educated on the fact that after Friday happy hour they always pick a restaurant with booze.
There are 4 boys keeping me company at dinner, there is Johnny, a tall, boy next door kinda guy, tall, in his early 30s with muscles and a smile that contains a mixed of sex and apple pie. Next to him sits Paulo, he hails from South America, a beefy, built-mid-twenties type. When I say built, I mean, he looks like the gay stereotype with tight muscles, tanned body, light hair, perfect smile, teeth and a Latin accent complimented by a subtle lisp. There is also Anderson who is an average height. He is what I would consider a silver fox type. He has a slender build with blonde/grey-hair, he is the most down to earth out of the group, with a chic sense of style. He begins to educate me now on how one needed to always specify alcohol in their drinks to handle it right. His drink of choice seems to be cosmos with the best flavored-vodka possible. There is also Nick, a big handsome black man with a Montel Williams head, complimented by an ass the size of my head. It is a solid kind of posterior which resembled that of Michelangelo’s David with more muscle. He tells me about how he is near the end of Medical school and currently working on his residency.
By the end of the dinner I learn so much about everyone through the table’s gossip as I am the fly on the wall. I now know things that I wouldn’t normally car about like that Johnny is dating someone else’s boyfriend or ex who gave them a STD or a complex, I can’t follow this crap too closely cause there are so many conversations going on here. Anderson keeps on asking me the classic questions, where I came from, where I am going, followed by a cosmo suggestion every few minutes. Nick just nods, smiles, then too asks about school, where I am going, then ventures into a story about one of his patients or a guy he has been seeing. Paulo meanwhile, keeps on separating the carbs in his meal from the protein when he thinks no one is looking. By the end of the meal his place had meat pieces and bones on one side of the plate with a pile or rice and bread on the other all separated by a red sauce, creating a seascape of the red sea. Paulo kept on asking “honey, no boyfriend?” Then he would venture off into conversations about himself and his boyfriend who’s name kept changing every few minutes. Come to think of it, maybe it is different guys he is talking about and I can’t keep up.
The bill finally came after I had dined on a meal of salad, cosmos and gay drama. For me, it is better than a Novella, with prettier men and more intense storylines. I is trying to be thrifty, since this place is so expensive. Then Anderson tells me it will be $60 each. My eyes tear up. That is nearly all of tonight’s money. All that I could think of is about how much I am paying for just a fucking salad. Paulo sees the look of discontent in my eyes and suggests that I only pay $25 since I am not eating or drinking as much as the “big boys.” This is when I first realized that I am in a new game, new turf and I would have to play by new rules.
After a month of the Labyrinth, I am making an average of $6-900 a week and working around 25 hours and maintaining a full-time college student status. To me, then, this is equivalent to winning the lottery. I have quit the lame café that I had to work four times as much to make the same money. I am making enough to live in the expensive city and enjoy it. This is the beginning of when I learn what it meant to really have good taste and play with the big boys. The Castro makeover begins.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

The bus quick write...

The transit system ins San Francisco is ridiculous. For those who have never been here, or have never had the pleasure of riding the bus or BART here, it's a trip. Every day I ride 1-3 of these vehicles to take me where I need to go. On the bus, subway, BART, there are always the same issues. There is the same stale stench, of moth balls, old spice, sweat sock and old man balls. There is also always someone sitting on one seat, while they have a backpack placed on the seat next to them. This is a sign to riders telling them to stay away. So when you're looking for a seat, it's like the first day of school, where everyone tells you (me) that all the seats are taken and you feel like an extra looser for a few minutes out of the day. To take up extra seats during rush hour is greedy and pisses me off. I know who you people are, and I don't appreciate it! I understand why people do this, it's cause they maybe don't want to have someone sit there who get's in to their business and wont just up. The bus is not time to make friends. It's what takes you from point A to point B. The issue is this when you have had a long day of work, or in my case you're on unemployment and have had a long day of facebook stalking, you just want to get on the bus without a problem. Instead, when you enter the doors of a bus or whatever transit shithole you use, you take to get around, there is always some dick with a phone that they are using as double for a stereo system. It's like a little bit of soul train with you for the ride. They are booming, loud, grainy hip hop or whatever their forte is from their metro PCS phone and forcing those around them to listen against their will. I usually try to walk past these people in hope of finding a corner to hide in. Then you almost always pass the chick on the phone who has to be talking loud enough for the entire bus to here that don't know who her baby daddy is and repeatedly tells the person on the phone to "shut the fuck up." This bitch also has her feet up on one seat, her fake Prada on the other, while the rest of the bus is stuffed with wall to wall people, like a sardine can. You pass them so you could ideally make it through the ride without wanting to take the bitches phone and shove it up her ass only to be forced to stand in the corner of the bus next to some homeless, crackhead who smells of death, yet the smell is slightly reminiscent of my kidnergarden teacher. This guy is also playing with a hand full of lighters. At this point, I usually try to hold my breath for the entire ride, in hopes that I wont breath in the permeating crackhead stink or get scabies from standing too close to the fire. Now is when I put on my headphones and try to pretend I am far away from this mess. I usually play Nirvana to drown out the noises. Then some little asian lady has to push her little dolly/shopping card filled with cabbage and chicken heads right into my leg a good minute before the next stop in preparation to get off. The little asian bitches on the bus, don't get in their way. They will push and shove without thinking twice. You could lose a leg or finger. Then you can hear some 12-year old thug in the distance arguing with some yuppie about touching "his boo." They yuppie probably brushed against the girl on accident and didn't realize that this is an invitation for a fight. Oddly the fight starts and the lazy bus passengers just sit and watch. It's like they all took some valume and can't move. SF passengers are chicken shits in this sense. They just sit and let others get beaten to a pulp instead of intervening and trying to help their fellow man... Eventually it's time to get off at my stop. The doors to the bus/train open and the rinos flood out. I know that this is a bitter sweet ending since I will have to go through this again in 3 hours.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

About me. First Story

For those who don't know me, I am 25 years-old gay. I have lived in San Francisco for the past 6 years or so. The most important thing to know about me is that can barely make it through skipping breakfast and get cranky if I go more than five hours without food or booze, but we will go over that later. Word to the wise: DO NOT get between me and my food, cause it will get ugly. When I get nervous I have to pee every five minutes and sweat like a sumo wrestler. I am one of the most stubborn people you have ever met and will argue for the sake of arguing some times. I am that guy. It's in my nature, I am a Jew.

I am someone who hasn't lived through any major wars that I have experienced first hand. I have though lived Jewish family feuds, which for unaware goys (Yiddish for gentiles) can last for weeks and months. In my family, arguments/silence can last decades and sometimes lifetimes without lighting up. My parents came to the United States as refugees from the U.S.S.R. This explains the weird name. Yuri, or as the kids in my kinder garden through sixth grad class liked to call me, urine. Somehow they sounds the same to apple pie American kids. Unlike them, I grew up with a father who thought that hot dogs, potatoes, vodka and cigarettes were the part of any well rounded meal. I had a mother who thought that everything should be made in the microwave, and packed lunches like bread with butter or caviar. This was just one of the reasons that I rarely brought lunch to school. The dirty looks the other kids would give me when they would notice my stinky lunch was enough to make me wish I could starve myself. Instead I decided to compulsively eat, but that's another story and really the Russian oddness made me stronger.

Unlike my parents I have no real clue what it's like to live in any country that reprimands me for being a of Jewish descent. I have never really been looked down upon for being a Jew. I do though to have the people working at sizzler and any buffet stare at your group with evil eyes. My grandma would always put half of the buffet in her purse for later. She would then complain to the waitresses for the food being too spicy or too bland while my grandfather would be mumbling bad things about the waitress in Yiddish under his breath. My mother would then force us to change tables a minimum of 30 times upon getting seated at any restaurant, while one of my aunts would be talking about stuff and wave her hands so much it looked like she was conducting an orchestra.

Unlike my family, I only know what it's like to be an American. What it's like to live in a place that treats me differently due to my sexual orientation. Gay men can't kiss in a T.V. commercial here without everyone shitting a brick and making a big deal out of it.

I am just 25, still a boy as others have put it. At least that with what people tell me who are even a minute older than me. Maybe they say it to make themselves feel better about growing older? What I wonder is how long this will last. One can only be young for so long. Suddenly, you wake up and the conversations shift from, “you’re just a boy” to “you’re just…” followed by that uncomfortable silence in conversation. People already ask me if I'm tired all the time regardless of how much sleep I have had. I assume that by 45, the conversations will shift to asking me how much longer I will wait to have my droopy chin lifted.

It's odd to be in my mid-twenties cause really this is the turning point. The other day I noticed that everyone on TV is my age or younger. It's weird how that happens. You grow up with everyone seemingly so much older than you and everyone telling you that you have the rest of your life and then bam, it just stops. All of a sudden, you're not the same kid with pre-braces crooked teeth who has to recite their havtorah portion in front of a congregation of smiling people, even though we all know you sounded like shit. I mean it’s really cruel to make boys have to sing in front of a room full of people while their voice is changing and makes them sound worse than Carol Channing’s normal voice.

Regardless of what has happened since the day my mother gave birth to me, I am still the kid who started out as a small child, with skin so light, nearly translucent, to the point where you could see the every vein on my body. I looked like that guy from the movie "powder," but with a huge alien baby head. In time I just covered that up with a farmer's tan and sometimes a nice store bought one if possible. This makes it so that I can be seen without the need of sunglasses or lighting adjustments. I am still the boy who was born on the day that Mark Spits won the Gold in the smog-congested city of angels, where you could still buy oranges on the side of the road, before popping by a drive-through Starbucks, and possibly while on the way to a plastic surgery consultation or acting lesson. In Southern California, where I grew up, this all could be done in just a short afternoon. Where I grew up, it wasn't uncommon to for a young girl to get a boob-job for her high school graduation gift.

I have heard that with age comes some wisdom, although, I still see myself as the awkward big-headed, blue-eyed, little-Jew-nosed kid who was teased for being different in school. I was the kid with the weird name to jerky kinder gardeners, who is now I am growing into my own skin. I am still the same insecure, pleasantly plump, blubber, pink-cheeked boy that in elementary school had bullies follow me home throwing pebbles at my head for shits and giggles. To this day I don't get how that was funny. I do though understand the reason one would throw shit at my head. My head has always been kind of hard to miss, it's HUGE, like Charlie Brown style. In the third grade this kid Kevin would always remind me by asking how Snoopie was. I have a head larger than most people. I would look like an alien until I grew into it. Some men have large hands, makes everyone question what other appendages they have that match. I have a head so large that when I try on a “one-size fits all” hat it doesn’t fit. It’s so large, that when I worked at jobs in high school, which required a hat, they had to special order one for me.

Too bad no one ever says, “Damn look at that guy’s head, it’s so big, you know what that means!”

Instead they usually say, “look at the melon, on that one, and to make it worse he has the tiniest little feet and hands, how awkward…”

I am the boy that since then has learned to laugh at myself and those around even when it’s just not appropriate to do so. This has created a very cynical and often morbid sense of humor that is of an acquired taste. It has also turned me into the person that will snicker at jokes out of poor taste that offend racially, morally and individually. This in itself makes life’s trials and tribulations more bearable. I am a guy that pees in the shower when I am in a hurry. I am a person who tells people that I am 5’8 when I’m really only 5’7 and ¾. I am the guy that used to eat a whole ½ gallon of ice cream in one sitting, and everything under the kitchen sink because contrary to popular belief, food IS love at least while I am eating it. Food doesn't cheat on you. I am the kid that still rolls my eyes when I hear a really skinny person complain about how hard it is to be skinny and able to eat whatever they damned-well want without gaining an ounce. I am still the kid that is supported/raised by a single mother who did her best to support me. I am the guy who has worked ever since I was fifteen years old to get by because I had to even though no one forced me. I am the guy who put himself through school serving people coffee, whipping up puke, cleaning toilets, busing tables and later on by getting them wasted. I am a working class, blue-collar man. I am and will often be remembered by many as a bartender. I’m okay with that. Most people aren’t even that lucky.

Why should someone care about me? Many don’t and I assume that they shouldn’t. I am easily forgettable. I am a nobody with a degree in talking, literally a degree in Speech and Communications, which is only a few steps from a high school diploma, but attached to the loans which own me. I hope that some people at least see that I have a voice and what some may consider a unique point of view. I am just a gay-Jew-man who talks a lot. Maybe one might call my rambling a collection of "coming of age stories" about coming out in a harsh world, in what is often called a “gay Mecca”, with an unusual family both chosen and biological. I am just the help and can only enlighten readers with my point of view as a working class gay man who works as a bartender in San Francisco’s perplexing Castro District, in one of the largest gay bars there. Hopefully I gave shed light on what people think my life is like versus the reality.

I am am going on 5-ish years that I have worked at the “Labyrinth,” A bar in the middle of the peculiar Castro bubble. A bubble, is exactly what that place is. To my experience it has been much like that high school bubble that many of us survived from in our teens and if your friends were like mine, people eventually left that bubble for brighter futures or more often rehab and popping out babies. This bar has become my home in many ways. The bar metaphorically speaking has become my adoptive parent who adopted my orphaned self and nurtured me oddly. While we haven’t meant for it to be this way, life isn’t generally how we plan it. As I have grown, the bar restrained me. As I experience life, the bar has educated me. As much as I would like to say I hate this place for taking away my early 20s, and forcing me to work every major street-fair, holiday, week day, Madonna/Kylie/Pop nightmare cod-release party and weekend of these years. I in confidence will admit on occasion, this experience has actually made me stronger. Maybe I should leave San Francisco before I become too soft. The Castro oddly is the part of San Francisco that has softened me, while giving me the edge that we San Franciscans are not known for having. I am hard-boiled me, so to speak due to the weird shit I have seen bartending and living here. I would like to show others what the weird world I live in is like.

The First Post

I have decided to start this blog with the goal of using this as my creative outlet. I hope that those who read my words will find them to be funny, sarcastic, interesting or at least subtly amusing. I will use this blog to post short stories I have written along with commentaries related to my daily life here in San Francisco. I appreciate other people's constructive reflections/criticisms of various stories that I post. Even though I have survived many years of schooling, I am aware that my grammar and spelling are on par with a 5-year-old at times. I apologize for my fragmented sentences, comma splices and so on ahead of time.

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