Thursday, September 30, 2010

I love Dan Savage! Please support this project!

RIP Greg Giraldo

I truly am torn up about the loss of a comedy great, Greg Giraldo. I was lucky enough to watch him in action live and then meet him after the show. He will be remembered for many years to come.

Story 19 Edited and reposted (part 2)

About 10 minutes later, I come back to ask this man if he is alright and maybe needs a refresher. He then begins to tell me about how he had lived in San Francisco before my time although he makes it sound like it was yesterday.

“It was years ago… It was different place then. I knew Harvey Milk! We used to go to his camera shop!” He explains to me defensively and in an oddly loud tone.

He then smiles at me and again tells me of how handsome he thinks I am. He then asks me if I have any friends.
I smile, reply as cleverly as possible with, “everyone around here are my friends.” As I turn away with the half-smile of fakeness, I call this look the Kathy-Lee Gifford look and keep it intact while I pretend to be preoccupied with re-organizing glasses at my station. He then says something, a response is one that I will never forget.

“I used to have friends…their all dead. Do you know what that’s like?” His words are somehow cutting through me and adding to the awkwardness. As he twiddles with a new napkin this time as he hands me money for another beer.

As I came back with the beer he mutters, “they’re all dead.”

He then politely tells me, “fuck off, you don’t know me, you don’t know.”

I don’t know how to handle him. He is sort of creating a scene as my little crowd is slowly forming of customers. I try to change the topics to happy, funny, sexual innuendos that any red-blooded gay man can enjoy for shits and giggles, but nothing seems to work. Eventually the guy gets up from his bar stool, falls over, trips on his own foot, he then flips me the bird as he walks out the door.

Maybe he sensed the cynicism in my eyes. I am trying him in my own way but, I do realize that I am judging much of his character based on the dilated pupils and odd mannerisms. As he walks out, I realized that the reason he makes me feel so uncomfortable is because he is who any of us can relate to or become. Any gay man could understand his hostility and axe this poor man is carrying with him day in and out. The unspoken fears that we as gay men share and the concept of being both positive or negative men. This man is a one in a million person to this city, a needle in a hay-stack so to speak. This guy is the first of many I’ll meet like this, or at least that is what my coworkers tell me. These guys all share same scenario, some less crazy than others. These men all would tell me about their pasts. They all “knew Harvey Milk.” They all remember a romanticised version of the Castro that has been dead longer than I have been alive. They may have known Mr. Harvey Milk, but is his spirit long gone from San Fransisco?

Story 19, Edited and reposted... (Part 1)

I knew Harvey Milk… Not every story is funny..

It’s my first opening shift as a bartender. This is coincidentally the first time that I have ever been in the bar completely alone. There are no customers or coworkers in the bar. It’s the booze, the empty bar stools and me. The only thing to keep me company are the cameras which are set up through out the bar to monitor my every move I make while working. While big brother is watching, I am used to that. Being alone in this place is an awkward sensation, one difficult to describe. It’s like the episode of the Brady Bunch where they end up in a ghost town and all get freaked out that it's so empty, but luckily they end up having a great time, even though they have Oliver with them. My reference points are odd and random, I know. For some reason the concept of being alone in this place always has freaked me out. It is in the same way that little kids fear the deep end of the pool I guess. Seeing this place the way it is right now and without al the music and superficial drunken gays as far as the eyes can see, it's like seeing that girl who always has "cakeface" (the girls who wear enough makeup to cover up the fact that they never got enough hugs as a kid), without makeup on.

As an opening bartender there is often a period of time for about 2-3 hours on occasion where one is the only person in the big empty enigma of a bar. Often the shift starts slow. As the afternoon progresses, the place sifts through random crazy daytime drunks, harmless people coming in to use the bathroom, or get change for parking. In San Francisco parking is so expensive that change is like a whole roll of quarters.

After about 2 hours of trying to make an empty bar look like the happening place, a guy walks into the bar very slowly. I can’t tell if he is swaggering for some odd style, is cracked out, actually has something wrong with one of his feet, or all of the above. This man has this odd limp where he moves one foot and slowly drags the other behind. This guy looks nothing like LLCool J, he isn’t attractive, nor does he have rippling abs that you can see through his shirt, and he doesn’t seem like he will break into rap… So, I assume that there actually is something wrong with his feet. He slowly walks up to the bar, plops his tired self down on a chair and just sits there. He is wearing a Padres baseball cap, with stringy grey hair hanging from it like a mop, complimented with a tie-died tee-shirt with a Bob Dylan quote written on it and a dark blue James dean jacket that has a little green pin on it.

The pin reads: “ass, grass or cash, nobody rides for free.”

He also has an equality symbol-pendant around his neck. His cheeks are sunken in slightly and covered with mostly salt and lightly peppered hair that looks like sand on the bottom-half of his face. His lips skinny, yet visibly chapped, his skin is almost pigmentless like that of a vampire. I wonder if he even has a reflection. His eyes probably were once blue, now they are grey and look like they have lived some journey. He looks like he is in his 70s, but his demeanor tells me that he is decades younger. As he sits down, he picks up a napkin as though to make a spot for an invisible, future drink. Not once does this, he looks up at me. Then sitting, while fixated on the napkin in his hand he begins to fidget with it. He goes on to turn this little napkin into some sort of origami something or other. He folds it in fourths and then puts it in his pocket. I say hello three more times. He undoes his little paper crane and starts the napkin folding process without once looking up at me. Then I asked him if he is okay. He is quiet, takes out a five-dollar bill and asks for a bud light, he calls it “the piss of champions.” As I hand him the beer, he starts to fidget again. He then looks up at me with this smile that reveals all his dental work or lack of. The man has a mouth full of porcelain caps where you can see the silver at the bottoms of every tooth. His smile says Tijuana all the way. He reaches out for my hand as though we are old friends and I am about to console him on some problem. I can truly feel his loneliness at this moment. If feel sorry for him, even though I know nothing about him or even what plagues him. I want to tell him that he’s not a Cheers, cause unlike Sam, I drink but keep that thought to myself. Not knowing what to do, I put my hand out. He holds my hand as though he has never held one before. He smiles and just stares into my eyes. It’s one of those gazes where someone looks into your eyes for a tiny bit longer than normal. Long enough to make one feel uncomfortable. Through his eyes, I can feel the weight of the world and see how fed up this being is with life’s cruel deck of cards he has been handed. He then asks me my name. As I start to tell him. He cuts me off with a, “you’re beautiful.” Not knowing what to say, and being horrible at taking compliments, I change the topic. I am now trying to pull my hand out of his whithered hands that is now clamped on to mine. In the back of my head I feel like he is somehow trying to suck the youth out of my hand, like the witches in Hocus Pocus. Still alone, I asked him where he hails from. He is silent and looks down at his beer. I walk away for a few minutes to help the two new patrons who had just walked in.
(Part 1)

Friday, September 24, 2010

InLiving Color Sketch to keep you goin...

Story 18 (part 2)

My first time bartending alone in the bar is pretty scary. While I have been here for years now, I have never been in this place. All looks different from this point of view. There is this odd freedom that comes with bartending in a busy nightclub. Being the nerd that I am, and I guess still the boy with low-self-esteem, it feels great to be in this place. It’s like a self-esteem booster. I instantly feel more attractive once I am behind the bar, in my cut-off shirt and for this reason I am beaming smiles today. It’s a Friday night, unlike any other that I have ever known. It is also during one of the busiest times of the year for the bar. It starts out slow, which I am easily able to handle. Since I have the new kid at school advantage, having barbacked there for so long, I also already know the rainbow of customers. Since I am working next to Aaron, it makes life easier for just this night.

I have spent the past 2 weeks memorizing every drink I could think of. I worked through about 40 drink cards with various cocktail and shot concoctions, just so that I would be ready. I made sure to learned not only what a Manhattan was, but that shaking it was called bruising it, and apparently a way to ruin the cocktail. I also learned entirely too many drinks with the words orgasm in their title. These drinks apparently died in the early 90s with grunge, but I would learn that later. I also learned how to properly make a Singapore sling and various layered shots.

As my first thirsty parton approaches me, I try to look cool. Me looking "cool" at this moment is the same look a little kid has when they crap their pants and think no one else is on to them. I am ready and anticipating a complicated drink that I will make for this guy with ease. It will look like I have been making them for years. The truth is, that I only know the ingredients and that’s it. Come to think of it this will be the first alcoholic beverage that I will have made outside of a college kegger. The man who approaches me, opens his mouth and for some reason everything seems to be coming out in slow motion. By this point, I already have beads of sweat on my forehead since I realize that I am not an experienced bartender and a horrible lier. He asks for a vodka cranberry. All of a sudden, I am put at ease because he has ordered such an easy drink. I am so confident that I will make him the best vodka cran that I try to pick up the bottle with flare. I toss the bottle in the air just slightly, so that I can catch it upside-down to pour the booze required. The bottle is slipperier than anticipated, it of course gets into my grasp and slips from my little hands. The bottle falls on the ground, spills on my shoe and all over the floor. The bottle has not broken though. While I am horrified at what is unraveling in front of my eyes, I feel a laugh coming on. As the confused customer is now staring at me pissed off, not amused and checking their cell phone, I just start laughing really loud, smile, give a wink and tell the poor dope that he made me nervous. He seems shocked. The poor sap is eating it up. This is when I realize the obvious, that this job is not as hard as I am making it. Now one should ever take them-selves too seriously.

Luckily I have Aaron working next to me. He is on fire tonight and probably higher than I have ever seen him. I am amazed at how resilient he is. Every few minutes when there is a lull he pulls me aside and tells me about the new little furry bear man he is dating for the day. He then tells me about how he hasn’t slept in the past 3 days, has fabulous sex the night before and had just gotten back from a trip to New York where he partied with famous DJs like Cozwell. Getting caught up in his extravaganza of a life makes it easier for me to just let go and not take myself so seriously. Aaron has an interesting way of exaggerating in his stories that entertains and puts me at ease. After listening to one of his stories about his cub-man lover from nights prior, I turn back to my bartending station to a wall of people literally. I almost shit myself. All of a sudden I feel like I have to pee. I have been fine all night, but now I have to pee. It’s a nervous tick I have always had. Interviews, tests, long road trips, while I can make it a near day without peeing, the second I get in a pressure-filled situation, the bladder decides to hate on me. I know that I can’t leave now, because if there is a time to pay my rent, now is the time. I cork it. In my head I had imagined tonight to be so simple and unravel as such. I assume that I will have people throwing money my way simply. I would will have beautiful men fawning over and waiting for me. I will look amazing shaking shots, doing tricks with the bottles… That’s kind of how the night seems to be working out, minus the spilled vodka bottle and the 10 or 15 broken glasses due to my clumsiness. It’s fine until my station is insanely packed with people. I spill one drink on a customer. I tried to look cool while making shots for a round of girls and then I can’t get the pint glass out of the metal shaker cause I had put it on too tight. Then I continue to accidentally break the pint glass with little shards of glass sprinkling into the shot glasses. The poor girls looked horrified. Then a few minutes later I spill a pint of beer on a customer as I slip walking over to them. After that, I made a martini and accidentally break the martini glass stem as I am filling the glass. Essentially, the night closes with my back and arms in pain as though I just finished some aerobics class. I am also drenched with beer, wine, and a few hints of whiskey. The smell reminds me the white trash memories I left behind in East County San Diego.

It has truly turned into a classy night. From cosmos to lemon drops, I make everything that night. Most of them are made incorrectly, but that is the least of my problems. After an hour or two I felt at eeze, while still clumsy I learned that playing dumb worked in my favor. Turning a blind eye to my mistakes I make and just try to make it look like I am having fun. Aaron sees that I am having a stressful night, so being the big brother-type that he has to me, he hands me a cookie. Starving and stressed out I took a bite of his magical cookie, not realizing that I will be reeling from it’s mystical powers sooner than predicted.

Next predicament of the night to get through… Now that I have made it through a night of drink slinggin, I need to count my tip money. I have piles of wet one-dollar bills, quarters and stuff to organize and then get someone else’s register counted and balanced. I am too messed up by this point. It’s too late to save me. I am trying to keep my magical cookie predicament under wraps and focus on the job at hand. I am counting this money now for the fifth time and still things aren’t balancing out. Now Aaron looks over at me to see what’s taking me so long. He looks like he has seen a ghost.
Aaron quickly whispers, “that cookie has hit you hard girl… You should go.”

Aaron out of all people says that. If that’s the case, then I must be messed up. The night ends with me hopping into a cab, red-eyed, with hagen-daz in one hand and cab fare in the other.

Story 18 Edited (Part 1)

After two and a half years of working at the place of lost souls, graduating college, 4 or 5 blank page love affairs, getting laid off from my first professional job, and months of worthless interviews, numerous job placement agencies, I finally am being promoted at the bar. It's weird how once you're out of college and been in the real world for a while there is that "now what: moment. It’s an odd feeling to be moving up at a place that you never planned on being at for longer than college. My post college life is supposed to be career driven, and at a place where I am using my education ideally to climb some corporate latter of some sort of business. I’m supposed to become the Angela Bower of the 2000’s. She is my idol, even though she is a fictional person. I would then fit into the San Francisco "I spend a lot of money to look like I don't care" attitude that lives well here among those employed at good companies here. It would be years until I realize that this type of work, while great for most, for me is equal to a labotomy of my drain soul, but we digress. I should wear expensive casual clothing that looks cheap, but my jeans would cost more than 1 month of groceries. I am supposed to become a yuppie, someone who gets to a bar and orders a “pino-o-o” because they are too lazy to finish the sentence, assuming parched from all their white-collar conversations. I should be working on an account and casually updating my facebook with witty comments that show the rest of the world that I am a success, even though a real success doesn’t need this validation. I am supposed to be a walking, talking status symbol. I should be the guy that left my home town and didn’t give up on their dreams at 22 all because they the condom broke. In San Francisco, these yuppie-people spend a lot of money to look like they don’t care. For those who have never worked in a bar or restaurant, those who order their wine this way are often douche bags… These people often do not tip even though they sweat money. When you serve them in my line of work, they often make it very obvious that they haven’t worked a hard day’s work since that summer during their freshman year when daddy cut them off. At least pretending to be one of these peeps is what I have worked towards doing all these years. Why, I’m not sure. I just figure that is a way to break out of the only life if know which involves knowing too well the different ways to eat Top Roman.

Life doesn’t always turn out how we plan. I am making more money now at the bar than I would ever imagine making at any professional job right now. The question that I and perhaps every other bartender in my situation ponders, is how long this will last? Is it like being a model? Once the goods are dried and wrinkled up, you are through? Maybe one day, I too could open my own bar? Or become a brand like Tyra and Heidi? Then, I will not have to worry about an expiration date and live desperately on vanity, botox and anything that can keep my youthful disposition pickled and intact? While many questions fly through my head, one concept is certain. I am young and will not be young forever.

Now, after two years of busing every nook and cranny of this place, cleaning up vomit, dealing with nasty old men playing ass-grab while I am trying to get my job done, I am no longer a barback. I am a full-fledged bartender. What does this all add up to? I finally am now a part of the face of the bar industry. While this sounds simple, there are more ingredients to this position. To do well, one must create a persona. This persona is the one that one uses as the face of the industry. The face always has to look pleasant. This persona is a meld of one’s actual personality, mixed with that of a social partier… This persona is not necessarily different than one’s true identity, but it maybe. The point is, this persona character is who we bartenders become when we want to pay our rent and sell. Yes, the persona is what we in the field use to sell ourselves at least to a degree. Many will argue that this isn’t true. I will argue that in order to do well in this field, one needs to create a strong persona that is often more outgoing than their personality. Some of my co-workers have personas of “the partier,” they are always the life of the party. Some try to emphasize their skill and flare, while others completely rely on their looks and can’t have a conversation or make a proper drink to save their life. My persona is one that is to be very straight-forward and not blow smoke up people’s asses. I’m not overly nice, not afraid to tell anyone how it is and push the borders between clever and nosy. I try to keep the scene lively and as though I won’t take shit from anyone, this hopefully shows people that I won’t be taken advantage of.

Keeping up with the image of the persona, one should look happy at all times. Always be ready for a photo opportunity. While no one can be happy at all times, a good bartender must make it look like they are always be the life of the party. If your relative just passes away or boyfriend tells you he was cheating on you right before your shift, you still should remain smiles because you know that makes the gimmick work better. Not to say that we aren’t sincere, it was just a part of the game we knew we have to play to do well. Unlike barbacking, where one can just walk away from asshole customers, we stand there at our given stations, about 3-4 feet away from another bartender and work it for our customers. This is much like the way the hookers stand in their perspective windows of Amsterdam’s red-light district. There is a mix of confidence and desperation that we smell of.

When we work behind the bar I call it the cage. It is like being the panda in their zoo home a few days a week. It’s a place from which you can’t escape. Instead of escaping, for hours on end you would sing and dance your way to rent. Every move you made can and will be analyzed because there is always someone in the bar watching you. At our bar, if it’s not a customer it’s “big brother.” When you got the crazies at ur station, you can’t just walk away. This promotion truly is a test to my patience and social educate.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Story 17, Edited and resposted (Part 2)

While I didn’t have all that much desire to actually do physical activity, it was more because of the fact that I hated being picked last for games. For a fat kid, being picked last was pretty much the normal routine and always uncomfortable. Being the fat kid at sports always makes you the odd man out. I always felt like the fat guy asking to go somewhere else for dessert even though no one else wants any and as a result they just all give you dirty looks. Often, while lining up during PE for game like flag football I would wait to see the kids argue over who would be stuck with me on their team. I would sit there thinking about how much I didn’t understand the reason we were forced to run like barbarians and steal flags off of each other and compete so much. The goal of this game made no damned sense to me. Then, each and every time without fail there would be this kid. Always some cocky moot, kid that would see me staring past them and then yell, “hey, stop staring at me.” The truth was that my eyes seemed to take up half my head in those days and it probably looked to a lot of people like I was staring at them even if I wasn’t. This would escalade to “that fag’s looking at me.” I never really understood this phenomenon. If I was or wasn’t looking at them, why would it matter? I didn’t even know what a fag was I figured it was some sort of bug or something. That was the ironic thing about growing up with Russian parents, when they got angry, it was in Russian and pretty much never in English. I had no role model to learn “bad” words from. I didn’t know that “fuck” could mean more than just the act of penetration and made for a good adjective that would come in handy later. There were a lot of things I didn’t know then. What made me more odd was that I never had the inclination to fight back, verbally or physically. I would kind of just stand there. After a while they would lose interest and drop their stupid vendetta of how my big eyes needed to stay to themselves because I would bore them.

While I was a slightly pudgy little meatball of a boy, I didn’t notice that I was much different from the other boys. This was until, during recess, at the age of 9 or 10, I lined up with all the other kids to play basketball. As I got up to see if the kids playing would let me join their group, this little, Monique Tedesco yelled out to me 2 words that I will never forget. She asked me if I ever though of “thigh master.” Really? Apparently that was what I needed as a fourth grader? This was when Susanne Sommers was selling that shit like hotcakes. Then I imagined myself trying to use one of those things and got confused. Instead of yelling back at the little jerk, I just walked away. No fighting back, not jokes about her legs resembling 2 lines of rope or being as skinny as extension chords. No come back. I just walked away.

My whole life my father would always ask me, hey been in any good fights lately? I would always respond the same way. No. He used to force me to spar with him now and again because as he put it, “you always want to be able to protect yourself and your girlfriend,” assuming that I would have one. I had no desire to throw punches at anyone. I saw myself as the Nelson Mandela of the 4th grade. He would always be disappointed in my lack of desire for these fights. Whenever guys would pick fights with me, I would just talk my way out of it or simply make an effort not to react. This was when I realized that I could talk my way out of many battles.

By the 6th grade I made it without ever really getting into any major fights. When guys would pick fights with me, I would change the topic just as I had done in the earlier years. I figured talking fast and changing topics would simply confuse these macho retards and deflect their desire to pulverizing me. When I entered junior high I still elected to stay quiet most of the time. When I would get teased or told I was a fag, I would listen and every once in a while actually talk back. My comebacks were weak but confusing for the average 12-year old. While they would simply shout out “fag” or “Yuri, what a fag name.” I would come back a minute later, not understanding the word “what is a fag? You would obviously know. What’s the definition?” They would look so confused that I didn’t take their shout as an insult often they would walk away in their own bewilderment. I would answer everything with a question this actually got me out of these messes most of the time.

By high school I simply didn’t give a shit anymore. While I was still soft spoken, my quietness turned to talking without words more often. My actions spoke louder. Around junior year of high school I already was working a full week with school and my part time job I didn’t care anymore. The thing is that by this point, the years of not fighting back had caught up with me. I had this pent up anger against bullies and those who had treated me badly over the years. Eventually this would turn to an obsessive compulsive eating problem which later lead to and obsessive-compulsive gym addiction. This was because as I have said many times before, food shall always equal love. While I would like to blame myself for these issues, it would be easier to keep the blame on those put me down for years as a child. In return for those years of quietness I became a talker. I became loud. I learned to speak for my beliefs and stand up for those who couldn’t. As much pain as the silence covered up, I am thankful for all that happened to me, both good and bad. Being unique, fat and different made me a better person at least that is what my mother told me.

Story 17 Edited and reposted (part 1)

I was a quiet, soft-spoken child. Things like trick-or-treating, was a difficult chore for me. It was kind of the way many little kids saw brussel sprouts. While I knew that I was supposed to like it, it was very hard for me to do for some reason. This was during the short period of time where I was a very quiet. This way of being was, contrary to the current, unable to shut the F up Yuri that we all know and love, but I digress. I would get to the door, clam up and speak quietly. As they would open the door, I would start out saying “trick-O” and would fade to a volume frequency only audible to dogs and rodents. My father often would be a few feet behind me. He would be glancing at his watch, because the quality time we were spending together on the 15 minutes he had given us to trick-or-treat was getting in the way of his "stories." God forbid we took too long, because he wanted to make it home in time for a Charles Bronson movie which he had seen a million times that was going to be on KTLA 5 that night. This was odd for several reasons. One being that he already had the VHS player set to record the movie he had seen more than most men have seen a urinal. Two, being that he already had recorded this particular Bronson flick on top of one of my cartoon cassettes the week before. Three, all Charles Bronson films have the same story line. Bronsoorriseastwood, they all had the same premise.

On a side note, my father made it his duty to make sure he would show me what it meant to be a man like other fathers. Unfortunately he wasn’t sure exactly what it was that men did, so he used TV as an aid. He would make me watch Bronson, Norris, Eastwood and any other machismo bullshit hero he could dig up. He would also make me watch Tyson fights on a constant loop, because that apparently teaches a young boy how to be a man. It was along the same lines as the episode where Homer forces Bart to stare at the Virginia Slims ad. It was something to that effect.

Back to the story at hand, while exhaling his Benson Ultra-light, he would come from his cloud of smoke, in his harsh Russian accent, say to me, “speak up, if you don’t they won’t hear you.” This was his fatherly way or at least the closest to that role I ever knew him in. This would in turn make me blush, grab the candy and walk away with my head low. Actually, until the age of 12 or 13 that was my father’s response to every sentence that came out of my mouth.

In between houses, my dad would put out his hand trying to get me to spar with him. We both knew I was never going to be a boxer, nor be in many fights during my lifetime. He would still put out the hand that was not holding his cigarette and say in his calmest tone "nyoo?" This in Russian means "come on..?" I would engage for two or 3 hits of the his palm until I would eventually whine about how stupid this boxing crap was. My father of course would cut me off and tell me some story about how he got one of the many cuts on his hand over his many street fights as a kid in Russia...

"Yuri, you see cut my finger? I almost bleed to deathh. He beat the hell out of me. I was smoll and then work out, got big and no von bother me now."

I would be thinking, what the hell were you doing getting in street fights anyways? Also, if you are looking for fights now, as a grown man, while living in the suburban valley of LA, that's just sad.

In school I would sit as far to the back of the classroom as possible. This way I would avoid getting asked questions. I would sit quietly until called upon or picked on. Being a little, chubby boy, with a big head, pinkish-white skin so light that you could see my veins, huge eyes and a weird Russian name didn’t help my cause either. I kind of resembled a caricature until I eventually grew into my huge head years later. There The name Yuri, for some reason only got me associated with stupid nicknames and bodily functions that didn’t help my child-self much either. To American children my name for some reason sounded like the word “Urine.” On the first day of school, the torment would always begin once the teacher would take role and attempt to say my name, stumble and then spell it out. They would then proceed to compliment me on how unique I was at the time. While as an adult, the sentiment could be understood, to a child, this was anything but a compliment. To me, the concept of being different was like being telling me that I was an alien and proved what I had knew all along, that I didn’t belong.

Aside from being simply an awkward kid, I also had two left feet. While many boys were inclined to go play soccer ball or basket during recess I would often be found playing house or simply chatting it up with the girls. Even then, we should have known I was gay. I became ridiculously good at making macramé friendship bracelets and lanyards. I had few friends besides my cousin Nicole to give them too who was in the same grade and equally as awkward as myself. By the end of the third grade, my mom had so many of them she began to re-gift them to other relatives.
(the be continued...)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Story 16, Part 2

One word with these lurkers and one is stuck. They it becomes hard to walk or even talk away. Then they start to spin their rhetorical web around the guys they meet and make their prey.

Now, Mr. Lurker unbuttons the top of his Abercrombie shirt, to show his freshly wax, tann, liver-spott chest, complimented by a pookah-shelled necklace from Miller’s Outpost. He offers the boy a birthday shot. Within seconds of the shot, Mr. Lurker has the boy gathering his stuff as he offers this child a ride home. Hand in hand, and they are off.
This companionship can start out with a shot, an ear to talk to, or a hand to hold. The reasons for needing this type of companionship very I suppose. Within the time that it takes for a martini to be made, the lurkers can get a hold of their prey. Often their prey for the evening are so drunk or lonesome by this point, they are easy to hypnotize. They are ready to leave the bar with anyone who gives them the slightest bit of attention. Soon, the lurkers are gone with their new pet/flavor/toy/friends of the evening.

There is another lurker, who I on occasion have the privledge of watching work on many occasions. Once in a while, he will pirch himself at the very end corner of the bar. He is a rather large, depressingly unattractive fellow. To paint the picture a bit better, looks like a male version of Nell Carter as a man, with a mustache. He somehow always finds ways to sit there for hours going unseen. He also, will always come alone and then find a way to leave with enough boys to make Tonka jealous.

This lurker in particular will drink cavasiers or a “beautifuls” (Carvoisier with a touch of Grand Marnier) seemingly by the gallon. Often this type of drink is ordered by they type of fellow who idolizes Puff Daddy and others who may be found on a yacht pouring champagne on bitches. This man is not a one of cheap taste, in that regard, but cheap clothing. This one will catch dudes from all walks, young jocks, twinks, average handsome joes, right before the drink to blackout. He always tries to hold my hand when I am whipping the counter near him, as I move away, he then tells me that he can buy me a bar… I respond and say, I will buy my own. He then smiles and responds “precious,” you’re just too smart and beautiful for me.”
After numerous drinks, he will take out a few $100 dollar bills, set it on the bar He then proceeds to offer the guy and or his friends a round of topshelf shots. I watch this gravy-train unfold each and every time into a plain old shit-show. These poor saps will soon be off with Mr. Lurker. Like the Hamburgler with a sack of burgers, Mr. Lurker’ too will leave with a car full of blacked out, hot, dumb, young faggy boys, fill with enough alcohol, that they could probably start a fire with as little as a burp.

Story16 reposted and edited...

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Here in San Francisco, “people watching” becomes sport. It is the perfect place for anyone on a budget just sit and observe. There are countless different kinds of people who come into gay bars, all for different reasons. Watching one group in particular never ceases to amazed me. I like to call this group the “lurkers.”

We all have seen them, or at times met, or maybe even been lurkers ourselves, though few will ever admit it. These men and or women can be observed in their natural habitat, a bar. Here, the live, often, they hide in the shadows. There are two types of lurkers. One is the pure alcoholic type, they can bee seen sitting there for 8-10 hours at a time going unnoticed to the untrained bar-going-eye. Their camouflage is probably their lack of personality or at least that is what I assume. iI have personally observed one of these guys, a lurker kill at least 10 cocktails on his own without leaving his perch in the dark corner of the bar. When ordering his last round, he didn’t even stumble, trip or anything. Aside from the bad breath, one would never know he has been drinking. The ways of a lurker baffle the mind.

There is a second type of lurker. This type is the post-rehab type. They are often accompanied by countless redbulls, which they drink interchangeably with mineral waters and plain non alcoholic beverages. They two can drink enough redbull to give the average person a heart attack. They too are astonishing because they can sit for hours and go unnoticed… They somehow blend into the wallpaper. Both types of lurkers have similarities. Some wear clothing that would be better suited for their children, nieces or nephews, the type of shit someone may buy at the gap or Miller’s OutPost or Mervin’s (I don’t think that those stores are even still in business). Others dress in the blan, Wal-Mart-type of solids to help camouflage better in the bar shadow terrain. They sit, sip wait, move fast, swift and quietly once they have found their prey. These wallflowers look for any hint of attention or a warm body to feast upon and presumably suck the youth out of, like the witches in the movie “Hocus Pocus.” Although, I am sure that the entertainment value is lost without Bette Midler and her simantics.

When I first start working at the bar, I too never notice the lurkers who are sitting in the shadows. Some of them are even stationary during my whole shift, just watching my every move and observing my every mannerism. The day comes when I watch this cute little twink get ambushed for the first time. I watch in amazement as I am not really sure what is going on. This kid is the “barely legal type,” who just turned 21 or at least that is what he says and how he presents himself. He has the body of a young boy, and is so thin that I just want to feed him a sandwich to give him the strength to run from this trap. After a few rounds, his friends grow tired of the mid-afternoon ghost town that Monday happy hours often are. Before I know it, this kid is, more F- up than Courtney love at an open bar. It’s too late for this kid now. He has no idea what he is in for. It’s like watching one of those horror flicks where we all know what Is going to happen and want to yell at the bitch running from the killer to just shoot herself in the leg and get it over with… Within seconds, like a vampire, this lurker has swooped in to catch his prey, the poor, soft skinned, rail-thin twink. Within seconds Mr. Lurker, gestures for another energy drink from the bartender. He then smiles at the child/boy. To which, the kid respond with an innocent, “hey.” Again I want to tell him to run, but it’s not my place.
(to be continued)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ohhh Gaga...

I have posted this before and will say it again! Help Support people with breast cancer!

Hey Guys!

I recently found out that my good friend Mr. Joshua Blackburn's mother, Terri Blackburn is fighting breast cancer. Lets all work together to support her and the millions of other people out there working hard to become cancer survivors. They need our help though.

All donations support the San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure because I want to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. Please help me reach my fundraising goal by making a tax-deductible donation today.

You may donate online with your credit card by clicking the button directly above my fundraising thermometer to the right. Your support helps us get another step closer to a world without breast cancer.

The key to survival is early detection. Three simple steps for early detection are regular mammograms, clinical exams and breast self-exams. And, remember, breast cancer affects more than just the patient; friends and family need support too.

For more than 25 years, Komen for the Cure has played a critical role in every major advance in the fight against breast cancer ? transforming how the world talks about and treats this disease, and helping to turn millions of breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors.

Over the next 25 years, an estimated 25 million women around the world will be diagnosed with breast cancer if we don?t find a cure. Komen will not stop until we discover and deliver the cures. That?s our promise.

While I am a poor comic with a big mouth, I am writing this in hopes of helping make a difference and in honor of Terri. Help her make sure that she knows that she is not alone.

Please support and if possible donate Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Here is a link to help:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love this spoof!

Story 15 (part 2)

I am not someone who ever did the spin the bottle or the experimental teen phase. While many other kids were learning social and sexual education during teen years, I just sat and seemed to let that phase pass me by. I watched a lot of TV. By a lot, I mean that I know way too much about television from 1986-1997 than one should. This in part lead to my obsession with Rider Strong and his floppy hair. I loved him and wanted to have long, grungy hair that flopped all over like his. My jewfro just bounces....

TV was my date often and depression was my friend. At one point in my teenhood I defected to be and just hide amongst theater loving, “Rent” mimicking, school paper, down low nerds. While I had a long-term girlfriend in high school, the relationship was that of a different nature. It was that of a high school “Will and Grace” type. We connected on every level, she was even a Jewish girl that made the family happy. The only difference with us was, that we had no sex. When I say no sex, I mean NONE. It may have been because at that time, I didn’t understand things. I thought that boobs were the sexual equivalent to slinkies, fun to play with, but after a while I would wonder what else there was to do with them. At best, I could use them as pillows. They are called “fun bags” for a reason aren’t they? Then, when heading south of the Rockies I would realize that I barely liked oysters, let alone anything vaginas had to offer me. The smell alone made me wonder how babies could make it in there for so long. The only taco I wanted then were ones that came from a taco shop, covered in sour cream and not hair of any kind. I even went through a period of time from 17-20 years old, before I knew I was a gay. During this period I was pretty much A-sexual. No sex, no guys, girls or even potential anything. At the time, I had forgotten that I was intended to be a sexual being like everyone else. It would take me years to remember that I too was born human.

When go out to bars, I feel this a wave of liberation coming over me. It’s as though I am one of those kids who had never was allowed candy as a kid. Then, the one day, they try that first piece of chocolate or other gem of goodness, they then proceed to go ape shit. I am metaphorically that kid. I am ready to go nuts in a candy store, with pent up energy from years of all sorts of frustrations, mentally and sexually. It is now, at this point and for this reason the art of flirting comes in. This is where the bar comes in handy. All night I watch people flirt, some do it well and some strike out every time. This is my place to learn how to play this game. My coworkers, the bartenders are masters at this and truly prove that there is an art to flirting. I am coming to figure out that it really isn’t as much of a game, but at least for me, it’s a venue to show just how clever I am and that I am not an idiot.

I start going out alone. Oddly, being the lone man out is working to my favor. If I’m not alone, I go out with Michael, or other friends of the scene. Other times I can be found out at lesbian events with Gina or I would settle for guys I meet while at the bars over time. Most of the guys I meet at bars don’t even end up in as a hook up, generally it’s more of just playing the game of seeing how interested we can get the other into us. Since much of my income is cash, it seems perfectly logical that I spend it freely on the alcohol I consume, often of the people I meet throughout these nights and other miscellaneous crap. I always meet an interesting mix of the most interesting and strange people on these nights. The question I always ask myself when out is, what are these people doing out during the week? Don’t any of them work? My mother, being the voice of reason, tells me that the people I will meet while out during the week are just losers. She claims that they are not worth my time because they don’t have conventional jobs, which they hate to get up early for. From my point of view this is only half true. Some gay men simply enjoy going out, the booze, getting up early isn’t an issue for them or they just rely on the energizing help of a powdery friend.

Because I know every bartender in the area, often the night is met by drinks compliments of the bar or restaurant we are drinking. This also leads to an inflated ego. Coincidentally sex does become easier to find and get. It’s the admiration more than the sex it self that I got off on since sex with me is still too tangled in trust issues. To go out and be admired by an attractive man makes me feel special. While everywhere I go, I am either out with friends or in a crowd of sutto-friends, I should have feel so loved. I should feel amazing. In that crowd all I feel is numb and oddly alone as the nights soon start to get blended together and crushes become conquests that leads to disappointments. Like every gay boy that comes to San Francisco, I am looking for a love, but end up settling for trick treat or 3 to pass the time. I don’t fear being alone though, I fear turning into a drunken lurker day in and out.

Story 15 (part 1)

These days I’m going out pretty often. I've been seen out at gay bars more often than Margaret Cho... If I’m not in school pretending to get educated, I am at work. If I’m not at either of those, I am generally out and about meeting people. I seem to be making up for lost time I assume. My true entrance into adult-hood, bars, really growing up, has been much different than others I know. Instead of putting a toe in the water, I dived straight into this social pool. Actually, my action can best be described as a belly flop, one of those ones that while funny to watch, sounds painful and makes all the water jump out of the pool and soak all around. Most people seem to get inducted into this scene slowly, via a fake ID and years of fermenting one’s young liver in cheap alcohol that resembled rubbing alcohol. For me, being the late bloomer that I am, I have developed that nurturing relationship with the scene a little later and much faster. I have this odd feeling like I have a lot of catching up to do. I feel like the kid that got Mono in high school and missed a semester as a result and stayed out of the loop until graduation, but I was just a loner instead. One day, out of nowhere I am just there working right in the middle of a huge gay bar, in the middle of everything. While my post-teen counterparts get their pick of nights to go out Thursday-Sunday, these are when I generally have to work. I have never done the whole lets meet up and go out every Saturday night thing. My times to go out are the opposite of the norm for kids my age. Every week I do though end up going out, just not on that particular schedule. Actually, I go out pretty much any time I am not at work, school or sleeping. My days off are different every single week. My nights out are always different. Now when I do have a weekend night off, I have no idea what to do because I am so out of touch with the land of the living.

The Leo in me loves the attention that I get when going out and being seen. It makes me feel like a star, when I have lived my life as a shadow. Being noticed is so surreal that it makes me feel not necessarily attractive, but more so that it makes me feel like a different person, a character much cooler than the me who I know. I have never been known for being the attractive guy. I have never felt like him. I am also comfortable with the reality that I don’t have to be that guy. Some things in life would come too easily for me and often my words wouldn’t be taken seriously. In life there are often two types of people, we all have met them, the pretty peeps who rely on their looks to get by and the brains. Sometimes, a brains type can become the pretty type, but they work for it hard, they work to get noticed and acknowledged. The strategy as to how they live their lives is much different. People admire the brains for their character, their charisma and more so their words are taken more seriously because we all understand their struggle.

Now, when I go out for some reason I am getting noticed for working at the bars. I assume it’s because I have no shame, I will talk to anyone and not censor what I am thinking. I can pretend that I get noticed for me, but it’s more because they recognize me from the bar. There are complete strangers who treat me as though they know me and it’s odd. It’s a mixed bag of feeling adored and being skeptical of these stranger’s motives. The question remains, is it me or something else they are looking for? It’s like all of a sudden this all is happening and I don’t get what’s changed. My character hasn’t changed, just my outside has and my confidence level is higher.
(to be continued...)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Help Terri Blackburn! Give her a hug through the internet!

Hey Guys!

I recently found out that my good friend Mr. Joshua Blackburn's mother, Terri Blackburn is fighting breast cancer. Lets all work together to support her and the millions of other people out there working hard to become cancer survivors. They need our help though.

All donations support the San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure because I want to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. Please help me reach my fundraising goal by making a tax-deductible donation today.

You may donate online with your credit card by clicking the button directly above my fundraising thermometer to the right. Your support helps us get another step closer to a world without breast cancer.

The key to survival is early detection. Three simple steps for early detection are regular mammograms, clinical exams and breast self-exams. And, remember, breast cancer affects more than just the patient; friends and family need support too.

For more than 25 years, Komen for the Cure has played a critical role in every major advance in the fight against breast cancer ? transforming how the world talks about and treats this disease, and helping to turn millions of breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors.

Over the next 25 years, an estimated 25 million women around the world will be diagnosed with breast cancer if we don?t find a cure. Komen will not stop until we discover and deliver the cures. That?s our promise.

While I am a poor comic with a big mouth, I am writing this in hopes of helping make a difference and in honor of Terri. Help her make sure that she knows that she is not alone.

Please support and if possible donate Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Here is a link to help:

Monday, September 13, 2010

This is sooo funny!

Very Mary-Kate: Baby Daddy from Mary-Kate Olsen on Vimeo.

Story 14 Part 2 continued

As Michel begins to compliment Nicole on her lovely skirt they both begin to talk Jew. They talk about what synagogues they have gone to. They then shift to the different symbols, he has on his neck and she has tattooed on her busom.

I then start to daydream the way I do in every math class I have ever taken, which is why I got straight Cs in that subject. I start to think about how I have always wanted to be the famous people I read about in “Okay” magazine. I want to be in the middle of a crowd clubs, at all the hottest parties, with the hottest women, men and paparazzi just trying to get a glimpse. The public keeps trying to just figure me out. I will be bigger than anyone prior. My name could be on billboards. I won’t be able to stand inside of a Macy’s because I will get malled by people wanting take photos and get a peak. I will be working on my new album titled “Tender Yiddishy lovin,” after my latest blockbuster as a young pop-sensation. Because I would be so famous, I will be asked to speak for lobbyist groups on various things to the public and congress. BradJolina and I would have to work together even though we argue so much over little things and have a sound off on twitter for no reason. This is because as a famous person, my opinion matters, does in fact count and make a difference. I will be more than just a number on the U.S. census. I will have a charity in my name, which brings back art back to under privileged communities. People will be speculating about my sex life. “Is he gay or straight?” They will ask on the covers of the magazines at the check out counter. I will be linked from every Hollywood hussy to every hot leading man and keep them guessing. In my “E True Hollywood Story,” they will interview random teachers from my high school days who barely remember yesterday, but of course remember me. They will talk about how I stood out even as a child. They will interview other celebs about my crazy party boy habits. I will be known for making a mark at every event. Paris Hilton will be one of those interviewed, talking about how she thinks that I am out of control and crying for help, from Mica nos to Miami Beach. This, right before my production company makes me leave my hit television series to attend rehab for pain killers that I take from Robert Downy Jr. I will be the envy of all those who didn’t give me a second thought. Until now, I have spend my life in what has felt like an invisibility cloak, going unnoticed. Now I am the person everyone notices and wants to know. I will be empowered. It will be amazing. I will have a house in every major city then, move to London because I am simply too cool for the United States. In London, I will of course develop a quasi-Americano-British accent like Madonna. I will be the envy of so many. Then I too will matter.

My dreaming is quickly interrupted. Nicole is tapping my shoulder trying to secretly ask me to save her from having to keep talking to this Michel. It’s one of our nonverbal cues we have for one of us to save the other. We soon leave with bags of loot. Michel gave us mounds of various makeup and fragrance goodies. It’s almost like the bags that celebrities get at the Emmies.
That night, after that most interesting day of window-shopping complimented with a free gift bag, the I have a feeling that something bad is going to happen. When I get to work I am greeted by the doorman watching the bar’s entryway, who is walking a rather large gentleman out of the door. By walking out I mean that the doorman is hugging this larger guy, keeping his arms restrained and essentially pushing him through the door. This guy is sloshed to say the least. He slurs loud and keeps telling the door guy “honey, I love you, why you no love me? I give you gift?” The voice sounds familiar, but I am not sure from where. This moment is a disarray. As the doorman nudges him outside, the man falls straight onto his face. When he is picking himself up, I realized that it is good old Michel. I feel bad for the poor drunk who just hours earlier was so nice to me, but really can’t help him and am running late for my shift. I leave him there and ask the door guy to take care of the guy.

The irony in this whole event is that, a few minutes after he is carried out of our bar for being too drunk they try to put Michel in a cab. After about 10 -15 minutes, there is a new crowd in the bar and new drunks to be kicked out. Poor Michel is soon forgotten. He then proceeds to stumble half a block away into another bar which for some reason doesn’t seem to notice how sloshed the poor guy is, and gives him yet even more alcohol. I later find out that after chugging his shot and leaving that bar, some random unknown man comes up to Michel. This is all happening in front of the bar which is a block from mine. This is all right outside on a busy weekend night where the street is filled with people out. This man starts yelling at him for being what he calls a “damned faggot,” according to Michel, they proceed to beat the living day lights out of Michel’s face. Michel is hospitalized for 3 weeks after getting gay bashed right in front of that other gay bar. How can something like this happen in the middle of a crowded street, in San Francisco of all places and NOTHING is done? It takes 10 minutes for someone to call the police, even though there are several onlookers walking down the street. Yet, for some reason, none of the drunken fools remain for police questioning. There are no witnesses.

Story 14 Edited... part 1

I am about a year in to the game of working there, 15 pounds lighter, another belt loop in, the long curls are now short, preened and neat. My shirts have jumped one size smaller. I now wear completely sleeveless cut-offs shirts at work, which is a HUGE leap for me. This is big step, coming from the boy who went through his teen years avoiding pools and any event involving the expectation to be shirtless. Inside, I will always be that guy who would avoid these events with over-sized shirts to cover up my boy bitch-tits. I would avoid these events at all costs, kinda the way people avoid a bum on the subway with scabbies. I would work hard at not hiking, going to water parks, being in hot summer days, physical activity, anything that could lead to that because I didn’t want everyone to see me shirtless and discuss my boy-teets. The no sleeves is a no big deal for most of man kinda, for me it’s a huge leap step.

So, I go to Union Square with my cousin Nicole. It’s in the same fashion that we have shopped and hung out since we were little eleventeen-year olds by the food court. Then most of our purpose was to find Nicole cigarettes, stuff our fat little faces and avoid turning into mallrats whom we new both new and Nicole had made out with. Side note: mallrats most often than not, are stupid little rich kids who think the world doesn't understand them, but really they have ever opportunity in front of them, but I digress.

Now when we shop as adults it’s different that we are more cynical, both of us wear less black, are probably slightly less morbid and don’t go shopping as a beard so our parents don’t see us smoking. Another thing we do while shopping is that we pick a store, window shop, start from the men’s section and then work our way down to her favorite makeup and fragrance. This will be where she end up at the makeup counter and get her face done for free while never intending to buy anything. Only now do I realize that we single handedly keep the Jewish stereotype alive. She of course, then ends up purchasing one of the items and every time saying “I didn’t even want it, but the makeup girl made it look so damn good.” This happens time and time again in a most predictable fashion.

As we go up to one of the counters, Nicole is eyeing some hideous Cheetah bag that looks like a hooker had left it behind while running from her pimp. It’s one of those gifts with purchase. Nicole’s taste in fashion is pretty great even though I love to make fun of it. Nicole’s fashion is a hybrid of Anna Nicole Smith’s hair, may she rest in peace, Betsy Johnson’s randomness and a Sex in the City’s accessories all mixed together. As I am trying to pull Nicole away from the glass case with that ugly bag that looks like it must have been made to carry cocaine, a rather large Jewie looking man comes up to us. He is dark, round, tall and fuzzy like a tennis ball, with chest hair that pokes over his HUGE gold star of David which was covered in diamonds as it’s nestled in his large man-breast cleavage. It is so large that one’s eye can’t help but stare at his cleavage. Actually, he is behind both of us, trapping me by holding one of my shoulders. I want to yell for poor Nicole to leave me and save herself, but I am only too late. Both Nicole and I pause, looking at each other to see if either of us knows him. I then responded to the tab with an awkward grin and a “Hello.” He then introduced himself as Michel, from Israel. Michel explains how he has known me from his favorite bar and will love to treat us to whatever fragrance we like. My mouth dropped. I have never been recognized like that before. It’s like being a celebrity. He takes us to a VIP spot of the store where he then offers Nicole a large sample of her favorite perfume “Sunflowers”. Being the poor college students that we are, we jump at this freebie opportunity. In all honesty, college students or not, anything free we go crazy for.

(to be continued)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's time for a rant... Just sayin...

Just ranting and trying to flesh out a premise :P.

There is this weird phenomenon that happens to men who are gay that I don't completely understand, we always assume they are single. It's okay, we all do it. There are plenty of overly politically correct people that wont admit this, but it's true. They question though is why do we as people do this? Just cause I am gay doesn't mean that I have to be single. Is it because we as men often look happier than our straight counterparts? Cause, I'll tell you right now, that's just good eye cream and a gym membership. Why do I as a gay man have to be single? Just because my longest relationship growing up was with a watermelon with Uncle Jesse's face glued to it, second to a Mr. T chia pet doesn't mean that I have to be single. I could have boyfriend or husband, but not a partner. I hate that word, it makes gay people sound like aliens. Dating is dating and the terminology should be the same for all of us, but that's another story.

The way I know that people assume that I as a gay man am single is because they are always trying to fix me up. Usually it's straight women that do this. It's usually this type of girl friend that all gay men have at least one of around them. She is not really a faghag. I'll call her more of an acquaintance. The type of girl who has blonde hair, dark roots, perfectly bleached teeth and a Southern Accent, even though she is from somewhere like Orange County. She is the type of girl who refers to us as "my gays," like we are a gift with purchase from Lancome. When you ask her stance on gay marriage, she is the first to say that "it's a sin and Jesus died for our sins," even though she has been between more cock than a farmer, but that is a whole separate rant for another time. Essentially what I'm saying is that she has the makings of a Miss USA.

When hanging out or more like crossing paths with Miss Perfect, they will randomly have a gay buddy that will just show up. What's she expecting to happen? The first thing that usually pops into my mind at this moment is, "this is what she thinks I would date?... She me must think I'm a dog."

Are we supposed to ride off into the clouds like they do in Grease just because we are both gay? Just cause we are both gay doesn't mean we are both single, nor does it mean that we are automatically compatible. What's my pickup line going to be? "Hey Corkey, nice pocket protector. I hear you suck cock, I suck cock... Specansee Kylie Minogue?"

The point is this would NEVER happen to a straight man. I wouldn't use something general like sexual orientation to fix up my straight friends. Lesbians though, yes. I would fix them up based on something arbitrary like "she has a U-haul and likes to talk about her girlfriend all the time, hope it works out."

It's not like I would fix my straight friends up just because they both have compatible gentalia. I wouldn't fix up my buddy using that logic and say something like "Hey buddy, this is Ester... She is 82 and visiting from the home... oh yeah and she has a VAGINA." That would just be silly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Story 13 (Part 2)

Since the Heathers mainly hangout with other coworkers who work these good shifts along side them, they rarely let new people into their world. By rarely let people in, I mean they do everything they can to shut the rest of the world out. This is for two reasons; a new person could compromise their good schedule by taking their spot, another reason to watch out for the marbles. Get in the way of a Heather and their ability to make money or keep their job and one should always assume that they could be knifed at any time (not really, but kinda). Often the ones they are weary of are new bartenders, who get promoted astonishingly quickly. We will call them “Floaters.” They may be younger, prettier and have nothing to offer the bar other than a new “fresh” look. These are Heathers in the making that think they are at the bar just for a hot second while “getting through school” or “paying off a few loans.” There are Floaters that come in and out of this group every now and again without a scratch or getting sucked into the Heathers’ world. A world with late-nights/early mornings, a possible coke binge now and again and some other delights. Often though, soon these saps too are also stuck in the inner workings of this place we know as the Labyrinth. The said new said person/child, Floater could also divulge the Heathers’ secrets to the rest of the bar and find ways to get them fired. These people either turn into lifers or miraculously get fired by Phil for no reason. These floaters threaten the Heathers whole way of life. Again, another reason to watch you’re back in these parts.

Working there, there will always those who wish to be a part of the Heathers. We all want a piece of the pie. Some of us want this more than others. James, being promoted only a few months back, barbacked like myself for years. Keeping this in mind, while he always claims to be there just to get by and pay off some bills, he always has had the key makings of a Heather. He would/will do anything it takes to become one of them, even if that means getting rid of one of them. It’s really not as viscous as it sounds since all of them would do the same to cute little James if they could get him out of their way. At the time, there were a few obstacles in James’ way of becoming the Heather king that he knows he can be. There is the current bar’s manager, a coked-out, condescending guy with the style of a one George Michael, and the sass of a one Charro, but with an ass the size of a baby watermelon. I mean this guy’s facial hair looks like is so manicured its ridiculous. His eyebrows are insanely plucked to divert ones attention from his natural uni-brow. He is one of those people that likes to bite on other people’s style. The guy that sees you wearing a jacket he likes and the next day he is wearing the same one, a replica or even your jacket if you don’t watch your stuff close enough. Not saying he is a thief, but wouldn’t be surprised if things happen to disappear around him. Greedy coke heads sometimes will do that kind of thing, but we digress. We will call him Julio for this story to protect anyone from getting offended. While Julio, is an asshole to work with, as king of the Heathers he also is one of the best bartenders there. He is good at the bartending part, but as a “manager” he is greedy as hell and if he doesn’t like you, he will make your shifts unpleasant and long. It is though understandable why he gets all the best shifts based on the bartending skill alone and he helped write the bar’s schedule where he could help keep his other Heathers close by for support. Gina is a floater who soon becomes friends with Julio, the other Heathers during Julio’s reign and in turn becomes one of them for a period of time. On many a occasion, I bump into the two wasted roaming the aisles of the Castro. This is something to remember for later.

While many of us aren’t keen to Julio’s ruling of the bar, we are still all family. Correction, we are all family if your family has a couple members who will turn on ya’all every now and again. We all are brothers and sister at this place. If you ran out of cash and need a few bucks to go get a coffee or a beer, any of your coworkers here will give you a few bucks. No questions asked. We all trust while at the same time stay skeptical of each other at the same time. It’s insane.

We all tease each other as siblings do, with the occasional back handed compliment, something along the lines of “your boyfriend is adorable, was he in Life Goes On? What was his name? Corkey?”
Or something as simple as “love the jeans, they really make it look like you have an ass.” To which one replies with a smart backhanded compliment or downright insult.

Like I have said in other stories, it is important to have a thick skin to handle this place. While it sounds like abuse, this often is harmless teasing, but it is more often how friendemmies talk. This is often how the Heathers treat James. He takes the trash they dish and sometimes gives it back, but it’s because we all know that he is Phil’s pet. He is the only one of us that gets notes on his timecard telling him of how he is doing such a great job. He also is the only one besides Gina who can request time off of any kind without repercussions or getting punished with months of shitty schedules. While this may not be completely true, it is how it looks to me at the time.

I come to work on a regular Friday night and am ready to bear it all, Julio, the Heathers, the bar and all its perks. As I glance at the bar schedule to see who I will be working with besides the Heathers, to see who the Floater of tonight’s shift is, I am shocked to see that Julio’s shifts are whited-out. Confused by this I double check to see if I am still scheduled/employed at the bar, which I am and go on with my daily duties. One by one everyone scheduled that day shuffles in. They all take a moment to check the schedule as I do. They all have that same look of confusion/relief to see Julio not scheduled to work this Friday night. Did I forget to mention who is scheduled to take Julio’s spot on the schedule? It’s James. Until now, he only worked the daytime, no big deal shifts. James’ attitude now drifts from bar employee-drifter to a lifer. The question is, is he now one of the Heathers? While another one bites the dust, we are used to this aspect of the bar, people disappearing and getting fired for no reason. We all go on with our nightly duties and the bar goes on as though Julio never worked there.

Story 13 Edited and reposted (part 1)

The Heathers.

Working there provides a very interesting and what I suppose some would consider a unique dynamic. By unique, i mean plain bazar. While the bar is in fact a business and like many businesses all over the world in other patriarchal societies, this place too is also run by men. The thing is, that working in a place made for, maintained and supported by gay men sometimes makes me feel like I’m in high school all over again. While the rest of the world seems to want to relive their youth, I never want to be a teenager again. I could barely stand teens when I was one, for this reason alone I know that I will never be that man with the little red porsche and tupe (at least as long as propecia is in existence). The bar is like every cliché after school special, Mean Girls, and some random episodes of Parker Louis Can’t Loose all mixed together. I know I seem to say that a lot in these stories, but it’s true. High school was nothing in comparison to my experience at the Labyrinth. In high school we at least know that we are young and stupid. Here, some people just stay young and stupid for life. It's something that happens when alcohol mixes with the bad Kylie Minogue remixes I suppose.

In high school I had no life, little drama, really it was depressing. For most of it I was pretty A-sexual and was okay with it. I assumed that eventually life would just fall into place within 30 minutes and eventually I would join a cool click and have burgers at the Max with Kelly and Lisa by sophomore year. Who was I kidding? I really just wanted to hang with Zack, by hang, I wanted to be his best friend and eventually have that awkward moment where we made out in Mr. Belding’s office which would make him have to leave Kelly for me. Instead, I watched others around me have a lot of drama, sex and lives and I was just there. I was the observer. My high school life was metaphorically speaking like I was that fat guy that just sat at home watching reality TV for years while getting fat, eating twinkles and living vicariously through those I watched. The guy who never got off of his lazy ass and let the years go by and others experience everything.

There are the popular ones here at the Labyrinth, much like those you see in high school based TV shows. We (by we, I mean I) will call them Heathers for the time being and novelty purposes. Instead the high school girls all named Heather, with their blond hair, big-tits and short skirts who are a dime a dozen and run the school and it’s a similar social hierarchy. Here, Heathers are men who have a specific mix of sass, sex appeal and often find their way to squish their fat asses into Diesel jeans 2 sizes smaller than they should just to keep up with the Joneses. Working here has a way of hypnotizing one into forgetting that there really is a whole world outside of this disco shimmering, limp-wristed maze of a Castro bubble. Like the Heathers of high school, they too can make or break someone in my shoes who has to deal with them 4-5 nights a week.

Within the 5 years that I have spent there, I have always noticed a clear clique that has remained constant during my time, the Heathers. They are Phil’s favorites. They often do not embody the specific, stereotypical image one may imagine a bartender to portray or look like physically. While being very different form one another, the quality that they all share is that they bloom in many ways via working at the bar. There are people who have worked there often for some time, some longer than others. Others have put it like this, “Phil likes to take wilting, unlikely flower buds and give them a chance to grow, just to eventually toss them to the curb or kick them out of his house.” It’s like this group represent the closest thing he will ever have to children that he can control. Often they go from quiet, mousy wallflowers to unlikely bartenders, who are cocky, sometimes money/and or coke hungry individuals (if not for a long period of time, at least for a small period of time most, but not all try the ski slope). While in my time there, I have seen many different Heathers groups manifested, they all have the same elements in common. Every 6 months or so this group changes reformulates, a new king emerges while another is dethroned or banished from the place all together. The Heathers are the ones who get the core best shifts at the bar and this is when they get sucked into the nexus that many bartenders fall into, somewhere between dawn and dusk, where your world is the bar. I just want to get one thing straight though, getting sucked into this world often has nothing to do with a lack of education, means failure at the “real world,” in my opinion it’s about comfort for most of us. The majority of their shifts are Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday. They end up making more money in cash per week than most blue-collar people like us can understand and more than most white-collar people make a week at the same time, where all the money goes, that is a whole separate topic. The Heathers are Phil’s favorite bartenders at the moment. When bartenders end up in this group they live in their own parallel bubble of reality. They/we live the lives of vampires, rarely seeing the light or life of day, but without stupid young teenage girl fantasizing about us. Often it is hard for the Heathers to maintain functioning, relationships lasting longer than the time it takes for someone to zip their pants. It’s hard to date one of them/us for this reason and hard for anyone to get past the trick title due to our incompatible/ horrendous schedule. I can attest to this personally, but that is a separate story and for another time, maybe a whole book of it's own. Since they work every time the world around them lives, they get stuck in the inner-workings of the bar. This becomes their air, water and life before they can realize it.
(To Be Continued)

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