Monday, March 8, 2010

Story 5

Being there is like living inside the eye of a traveling tornado. There are always new people flying in and out of that place. Often it seems like more people have gone through that place than Starbucks. Besides the drifters, there are the core people who have been there for years, they seemingly keep that place together like the cheap bricks hiding inside the walls of the place. These people, though they would never admit it, are what I call the lifers. We don’t get to this place intentionally; we just end up being a part of the foundation that holds the place together. This is until we reach our expiration date. Like modeling, bartending at this bar means that eventually you will be replaced or phased out by someone who is younger, maybe prettier (but not necessarily), naive boys and girls who will be the jaded bartenders of tomorrow. Often lifers are the ones who help keep this bubble we work/live in intact. This is until they themselves are fired. Almost nobody quits this place. The ones that do are few and far between. It’s a good gig, why leave while the getting is still good? After they quit, they often come crawling back begging for their jobs because as reality has it, the real world sucks far more than living in this suds-reality of the Labyrinth and the Castro bubble.

Besides the lifers, the rest of the staff hasn’t been there long enough for me to remember their names. As a result of this, I just call them lemmings. It’s been nearly a year that I have been at the Labyrinth and I still don’t know everyone here. If I don’t know a person’s name, I usually call them Michael or Chris because it’s generally a good guess. There is always one of those two in a crowd and it sure beats calling the guys “hey you.” It’s like when you’re taking a multiple choice text and you know if you pick C, you will be less likely to pick the wrong answer. On my SATs, I did this and ended up getting probably the lowest score in my high school.

I am usually lucky enough to get at least a shift a week where I worked with Michael who soon since has become one of my best friends. Michael is an interesting guy to say the least. He isn’t the type that you would expect to be a bartender. I guess the longer that I work here, the more that image in my head of a bartender changes. He isn’t cocky and is definitely not a beef-cake jock. He is normal, slender and genuine. He is a video game playing, trekie-loving, introvert that on first glance seems to be best suited for a different line of work. Once he goes behind the bar, it is like another person awakens inside of him. This person is outgoing, loud-mouthed and without any internal censors much like myself. This is what we all love and respected about him besides the being completely devoted to and in love with the man he says he will marry once it’s legal. They are of the few gay male couples I know who are not in “open relationships.” They are absolutely devoted to each other. Mikie is known for being that person that will talk about others behind their back, but in front of their face. It’s much in the same fashion that old Jewish women talk about each other. At least that’s how they work in my family so that they can eventually gang up on you and make you sure you feel inadequate. They will with make sure that someone is chatting about your problems and keep your insecurities alive.

For Michael, if I would point out an attractive guy in the room, Mike would shout out “what? You like who? Cover his face and you’re good.” He would say it just loud enough so that others could hear. The best part is that he simple doesn’t care about others accepting him. He is a treckie who isn’t ashamed of being vocal about his love for conventions, Vulcan ale and all sorts of nerd crap that I would never admit to liking. He doesn’t give a shit what others think of him. I aspire to get to this point.
While Michael is an example of one of the hardest working individuals there, he also has showed me how to have fun and really make the most out of this place. He often finds a way to be playful with the people we meet while working. He casually asks hot guys that we meet to show off their “man hood”. Whenever I hear him say that I wonder what the fuck he is talking about. Sometimes I’m like a small child and need some time to connect the dots. Then I get it. He’s talking about their dicks. He gets these guys to whip out their dicks. Color, size, width, cut, uncut, he gets anyone to do it. Usually this is done strictly for entertainment value alone because really we aren’t aloud to drink while working at the bar, so we got to get our shits and giggles somehow. Now, it becomes game of sorts. It’s way more fun than Blackjack and less costly. Whenever there would be a hot guy asking Michael or myself for a free drink, Mike would ask how they wanted to earn it.

He would then go on to tell them “sweetheart, nothing is for free, we all gotta work to get what we want.”
He would then turn to me and say, “Just cause I am married, doesn’t mean I don’t have eyes and a pulse. I can look damnet. It’s like being on a diet, you can still look at food!”

While Mike plays good cop, I take on the persona of the bad cop. I casually respond to Mike’s comments with a “he is shy” or “he doesn’t have anything to show.” The fact that it’s so easy to play these men is both funny and really sad. What’s funny about some men when their drunk, the second you make a comment about their dick size being sub-standard, they get so defensive and over-protective. While stupid, the game often will entertain us and our coworkers while these boys step up to the plate for a free drink in the name of honor. It isn’t about the final result of seeing the little or big piece of flesh hidden inside of a man’s trousers, although that alone is worth it. It’s more about getting there.

During fleet week we have a slew of marines come in the bar. Michael is like a kid in a candy store. He always uses single me as bait. After one shot, these boys don’t even need to be challenged. They will do it willingly. It’s like one of those “girl’s gone wild” videos, but with hot and some not so hot men. Well actually, mostly hot men. The less attractive and short the guy/marine is, the more likely they are to step up to the plate. Maybe it’s due to their little man syndrome? They are those guys who probably drive little red sports cars to make up for their lack their of… Be it gay, straight, cut, uncut, black, white, red, blue, ginormous and microscopic, we see them all.

Besides the games, since Michael isn’t single there is that whole element of competition that are taken out of the mix. He is very sure of who he is and isn’t. Unlike many single gay men, he is sure of where he could has love and doesn’t need to go looking for it. This energy from him on that level is very empowering to me.

After finishing work at 3 or 4 in the am we often then head to his house. We get milkshakes or burgers and hang with our friend Mary. She helps us relax. We spend many a night watching TV and talking about everything from politics to bar gossip. Michael has become my backbone in some ways. He is also the first friend I have from this new bar lifestyle where I feel like I could just be myself without putting on a show or entertaining. There is no game face needed with him. I am not worried that he will stab me in the back. For some reason I have a soft spot for him. He is like the perverted big brother I never had.

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