Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Story 12

I have been at the bar for quite some time now. I have made it through many hurdles as of yet and lasted much longer than most of my coworker’s expectations. I have now lost about 20 pounds of blubber. My waist is smaller, the hair is short, the curls chemically relaxed which makes life tough. Now I know why you rarely see black women in pools. Getting your hair relaxed is expensive and means avoiding rain, pools, sweating and any kind of moisture at all costs, just to keep the hair from frizzing up. It’s hard to keep pretty. I’m also not hiding my eyes with glasses anymore, traded them for contact lenses which adds another 15 minutes to my prep time for leaving the house. I also have a subtle sun-kissed glow now. I have traded Southern California and it’s superficial stereotypes for San Francisco because it’s just better. This city by the bay is supposed to be full of individual thinkers and people ready to behold each other’s iniquities. From hippies to bears, bull dykes to buttoned-up financial district accountants, all types are represented here. They are loved for their unique and eclectic charm and not cast out for not joining the masses. This is at least the way I would like to see San Francisco. In my head I like to keep it as this place, an oasis so to speak even if that isn’t true. While SF has just as many superficial, lame people, it also can be a place for some of us where we can just be ourselves without having to completely conform to society the way we would in any other US city.

The truth is that San Francisco will always have a special place in my heart, as it has been home for so long. It has always been one of those places that I have felt most people could live in comfortably if they come here with an open mind. It’s a place to find one’s niche, leave, move back feel at home, and feel comfortable just being. It will never be one of those places I can come back to after moving away. Here, I can feel the need to keep most of my moving boxes, all packed up in the closets and ready for the next city. San Franciscans often though, myself included, seemed to often look at this city as the center of the universe. While they come and go from city, there is this bubble that we often choose to stay in and subscribe to. Going the bridge and tunnel route as far as even Oakland, which on BART (local transit system) is less than 20 minutes away, even that seems thousands miles away. San Franciscans treat Oakland like it’s really on the other side of the continent, like they need air miles to get there.

While the city was often considered diverse for American standards, it’s odd how there are so many areas still very segregated. The gay men often stick to the gayborhood (The Castro), Polk Street, Select South of Market bars and a few bars in the not so Tender Loin. The poor lesbians of the city have an even smaller pool of places to choose from. There is the Lexington, the SF equivalent to “Lesbose,” the bar on Southpark, where even the most feminine woman have bigger balls than Rocky, rhetorically speaking of course, although I may be wrong. Then they have events bi-monthly at various gay-man stomping grounds where ladies can meet and get their clam taken for a ride or at least slapped, or whatever it is that women do. There are very few places for ladies to really go out and be as there are for us gay boys. Maybe that’s why they are pidgin-held to potlucks and staying in more here than in many other “large” cities.

The Castro bubble is so small that it is one of those places where you will see the same face over and over, and over, and over and over. Like a broken record, or more so like day-zha-vu. The weeks start to blend together, the faces much the same, yet different, but only slightly. All of our unique qualities that I originally thought San Francisco allowed us to keep in tact are seemingly becoming one homogeneous blob. We all are clones of each other, although we hate to admit it. We are all more like lemmings, It’s like staring at sea of those crash dummies from those early 90s commercials, where we all look the same but subtly different. It is funny because I too, being the individual that I would like to consider myself, I find that I too am becoming a part of this blob. As my jeans tighten the time I spent at the gym increases. The years of hiding behind baggy shirts have been traded with form fitting deep-v-necks. It’s funny how I am now one of them. Have I lost myself or is this just a part of the growing process?

Today I worked this shift with James. I work most of my shifts with him in the daytime, when it’s slow. James is a newer bartender and tends to work slower shifts. This is also how we really have got to know each other. During the weekday afternoon lulls we listen to each other’s drama and bond over common trials and tribulations. Near the end of this shift, right before the happy hour switches over (where the nighttime staff takes over for us), there is this guy who came up to both of us. He comes up to James, who would be one of those guys I would label as an eternal twink. It’s one of those “kiss, kiss, hug, hug,” faggy sort of moments. He, I guess has been out of town for a near year. He tells James that he looks more handsome than ever. He then asks who I am, like it matters. James fills him in. His response is to try to pull me aside, in front of the now moderately populated bar and ask me my name even though he has already asked James. He then asks me if I remember him. I lie, as one may do in these type of moments, and say yes not to hurt his feelings, although now I wish I just told it the way it is. He then says he remembers how “chubby and awkward” I was when we had first met, but now I “finally look alright.” He smiles while saying this backhanded compliment as though I should be grateful. He goes on to say that with a few more pounds and cutting of the hair more I would look great, once I loose the water weight. It’s hard to understand if and how that could be interpreted as a compliment. Not knowing how to process the situation, I proceed to smile, nod politely, walk away and tell him to fuck off under my breath. By this point, Aaron a.k.a. “Yentle”, one of that night’s bartenders was right behind me stocking alcohol for his shift. He over hears this conversation and then tells me that I should relax and take a cookie out of his locker, cause he like any Jewish mother knows that cookies always sooth the heart. He then tells me that I am much cuter with some “cushion for the pushin.” The question is whether Aaron’s comments where compliments or not.
Aaron is not the only one who doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks. His unique style could only be described as eclectic elegance married to punk rocker edge, with a Hedwig ambiguity. His tattoos all told a story. His androgyny was the most intriguing part about him. Unlike most gay men I know, the magical powers of those with abs of steel, waxed chests and foe-collegiate style do not in the least bit work for Aaron. His kryptonite is full of jelly and covered in a carpet of man fur and musk.

At this moment I realize that I will never be good enough. I will need to learn how to be okay being me, not the image people think I should fill. There must be some fine balance of me, and the persona I will create in order to survive. I needed to learn how to be confident with my looks, my body and if I ended up like the rest of the Castro lemmings, I am okay. As long as I keep true and intact to myself in the process, the rest doesn’t matter.

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to see that the bar hasn't changed one damn bit in the almost two years I've been gone. Not missing much. BTW, dyke has a "y" in it, not and "i." Kiss, kiss, hug, hug!



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