Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Werk it!

             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 was never a social butterfly growing up.  I was more of a caterpillar that loved staying home, eating hot pockets, while watching crap TV, living vicariously through various sitcoms and after-school specials.  My true entrance into adult-hood, bars, really the essence of 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. A word of advice to those in my place: when jumping into a gay pool, bring lots of hand sanitizer.  This may come in handy later.   Also, word to the wise, wait 30 minutes after eating before diving into any gay social circles, you’ll look leaner.  Actually, my action here can best be described as a belly flop, one of those where while funny to watch, it sounds painful, makes all the water jump out of the pool, essentially escaping to freedom and soaking 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 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, missed a semester as a result and stayed out of the loop until graduation, but I was just a loner instead. I spent ages twelve through seventeen one Hot Pocket and gallon of ice cream at a time.  Applying at the Labarynth, I didn’t know what I was getting into.  I just needed a job to pay bills, buy pot and feed me through college.  It was just one of the many jobs I applied for.  I came in with no expectations and hopes that I would come out of this job being able to afford cable.  Now, all of a sudden, out of nowhere I am just here working right in the middle of a huge gay bar, in the middle of everything.  I get hungover and self-conscious just thinking about it.  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 let’s meet up and go out every Saturday night thing.  Even if I did, what would I do? Prior to this job it wasn’t like I could afford to go out and get a pizza.  I had my priorities in order.  I would take out twenty dollars or so on Friday and hope I could stretch it till Monday.  Now I can afford to go out and really paint the town with glitter (I would say red, but glitter sounds better).  My times to go out are the opposite of the norm for kids my age. Every week I do 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.  Its sucks though cause I can’t let myself eat an entire pizza to myself, followed by cookie dough ice cream cause I need to stay thin and make money.  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.  I may develop a fake British accent just to fit the star package.  Being noticed is so surreal that it makes me feel not necessarily attractive, but more so like a different person, a character much cooler than the guy I am maybe Joe Camel or Roger Rabbit, at least they get laid. I have never been known for being the attractive guy.  I have never felt like him although I have imagined feeling him.  I am also comfortable with the reality that I don’t have to be that guy.  People that rely too much on their looks seem to be crazy as old people and not in the fun-fart all the time and telling pull my finger jokes way.  They seem to have a tough time learning how everyone else does things, working, using our brains and not getting free drinks for being beautiful.  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 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 or possibly it’s cause I tip in twenties.  That happens when you work in the service industry.  You start tipping insane amounts of money hoping that like karma and taxes, it will come back to you.  I can pretend that I get noticed for me, but it’s more because they recognize me from the bartending. 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 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.  If I was more clever I would include a joke at this point but can’t think of one.

        I am not someone who ever did the spin the bottle or the experimental teen phase.  At least not with anyone else. 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 that one should about television from 1986-1997 (see losing virginity far later than in cool by most accounts and general squareness). 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 of a different nature. It was that of a high school “Will and Grace” type. I wish I the Karen of the group cause she got all the funny lines.  Unfortunately I was the Will of the relationship.  We connected on every level, she was even a Jewish girl that made the family happy. The only difference with us was, 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 I go out to bars, I feel this wave of liberation coming over me.  This must be what Lex Luthor felt like when he discovered kryptonite.  It’s as though I am one of those kids who never was allowed candy as a kid (even though I was). Then, the one day, they try that first piece of chocolate or other gem of sweetness, 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 feel like Dolly Parton in that “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.”  Look it up. 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.  It sucks cause I often get confused for a Female to Male person and get these ladies very disappointed.  I have large pectoral muscles for a man.  I get it.  Eventually I will settle for guys I meet while at the bars. Most of the guys I meet at bars don’t even end up in a hook up, generally it’s more of just playing the game of seeing how interested we can get into eachother.  It’s hard to get into someone when they are constantly on their phone during the conversation which is 90% of the guys I meet.  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 awkward and strange people on these nights. The question I always ask myself 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 where we are drinking. This also leads to an inflated ego. Coincidentally sex does become easier to find and get.  Thirteen year-old me would be very jealous but he was too busy trying to get all the cookie-dough out of his half-gallon of ice cream without eating the cream part.  It’s the admiration more than the sex itself 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 pseudo-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, which is most people’s reason they settle for shitty relationships.  It’s like they are looking the peanut butter to their chocolate or vice-versa and then just settle for the diabetic version that’s flavorless but close enough.  My fear, besides fitting every gay male stereotype is turning into a drunken lurker day in and out.  Those guys that live in the shadows of the bar presumably to suck out other people’s youth.

Monday, November 12, 2012

2 Jews & Window Shopping

 I am about a year into the game of working there.  I say game, because the reality I live in here is so beyond real.  It’s some place between reality, and a John Waters movie.  It’s like I’m constantly working to save the queen, like I did in “Super Mario Brothers” but the second I get to the castle she is already somewhere else.  I am the queen and Mario all at the same time though.  I feel like I’m constantly working to get 15 pounds lighter.  I’ll never be satisfied.  I am another belt loop in, the long curls are now short, preened and neat. My shirts have jumped one size smaller. By smaller I mean that I can wear a small shirt without side-tit and or looking like my body is trying to escape the shirt. I like every other gay man, am trying to fit more than belongs in a smaller shirt. I now wear completely sleeveless cut-offs shirts at work, which is a HUGE leap for me. This is a big step, coming from the boy who went through his teen years avoiding pools and any event involving the expectation to be shirtless.  I think the last time anyone say me shirtless was at my Briss and that was a once in a lifetime event.  I would spend the pool parties with girls who would lie about being on their “time of the month,” so as not to swim and end up hanging out near the chips.  Essentially, this was where I would meet the future fag hags of America, one pool party at a time.  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.  I would do so the way people avoid a bum on the subway with scabies. 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.  Side-boob was all anyone would ever get out of me.  Even though, I am no longer that guy, and probably thin enough to wear a sleeveless shirt, I still in the back of my head think I’ll have side-titty getting in the way, as was the case in my youth.

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 the mall rats whom we both new and Nicole had made out with.  It was at this point that we both should have realized that low standards should not be a life-mantra.  Side note: mall rats more often than not, are stupid little rich kids who think the world doesn't understand them.  In reality, they have every opportunity in front of them.  I have no sympathy for them, but I digress.

Now when we shop as adults it’s different.  We are more cynical, both of us wear less black because as adults we both have realized that silence is the new black, as Nicole eloquently explains it.  We probably are slightly less morbid and don’t go shopping as a cover so our parents don’t see us smoking.  Correction, it was a cover so they wouldn’t see Nicole smoking and me pretending I knew how to inhale (the only thing I knew to inhale at that time was a gallon of ice cream followed by a hot pocket). 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.  While I hate shopping generally, I do love people watching and making up stories for the situations one sees in department stores.  Like the bitch who shoves herself into a dress that is 5 sizes too small. When that lady asks the sales person about her look, the response is always some bullshit like, “you look radiant,” while I’m thinking more like Rhino in heels. I love the sales ladies working the make-up counters.  They wear so much makeup that they make look like human claymations.  It’s free entertainment!  Add beer and popcorn I would never leave!

Anyway, back to the story.  The way we “shop’ is Nicole ends up at the makeup counter and gets her face done for free while never intending to buy anything.  We are Russian-Jews and the make-up counter is like a buffet for Russian girls, especially the samples.   Only after the fact 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.  It’s also coincidentally where we learned about credit debt.  As long as you look pretty who cares though?

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 with a love of animal prints (something passed on from Russian mothers to their daughters).  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.

This Jewie dude 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.  First thought is that maybe he works there.  He doesn’t have a name-tag on but is well dressed.  Second guess is that he is just a shopping feend.  Then I notice once the way the people working around the counters around us all of a sudden seem to be working, cleaning and fake-smiling, so maybe he’s a boss?  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 tap 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 manages the whole fragrance section, or at least that’s what I think he says.  He has a heavy Israeli/Frenchish accent (the two are so similar) and used the sound “ahhhh” a lot to show he’s describing stuff.  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.  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 bosom.  They are the epitome of the modern Jew.

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 crowed clubs, at all the hottest parties, with the hottest women, men and paparazzi just trying to get a glimpse. The public keeps trying to figure me out, like who I’m dating, why I didn’t show up for my Barbara Walters interview.  I will be bigger than anyone prior.  I mean larger.  I actually mean famous and not larger, not that there is anything wrong with that.  I just have put so much effort in being thinner and don’t want to lose momentum.  My name could be on billboards. I won’t be able to stand inside of a Macy’s because I will get mauled by people wanting to take photos, just to get a peak of me. 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 will 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. Even if my points in interviews and speeches are redundant and moronic, that won’t matter because I’m famous.  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. I will have a hired cigarette lighter for when I go on tour even though I don’t smoke or know my talent.  Paris Hilton will be one of those interviewed, talking about how she thinks that I am out of control and crying for help, from Mikonos 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 spent 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, I have a feeling that something bad is going to happen.  I ignore that feeling the way a city person learns to ignore the homeless guy who sleeps near their dumpster. When I get to work I am greeted by the doorman, Richie who is watching the bar’s entryway.  He 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 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 Richie 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 poor Michel in a cab. I could have sworn they got him into one too.  I assume that cab took him home.  It actually just stopped a block later and let him out in front of another bar.  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.  They do though have no problem giving 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. 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, then proceeds 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.   It takes 10 minutes for someone to call the police, even though there are several onlookers walking down the street. This all happens in front of a bar known for over pouring their patrons and not being keen to legal constraints.  Yet, for some reason, none of the drunken fools remain for police questioning. There are no witnesses. How can something like this happen in the middle of a crowded street, in San Francisco of all places and NOTHING is done?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Can't Sleep

I can't sleep.
I work to be.
I can't sleep.
I need to be.
I can't sleep.
I'm full of jokes.
I can't sleep.
Is this a hokes?
Insomnia is my middle name.
I want to go on the road,
but am feeling lame.
I need to sleep.
I tweet instead.
The scene is in my head.
I need the stage but need the time.
I don't know how,
I'm shitty at the rhyme.
I need to get paid to be able to eat chow.
Maybe I tweet and let my mind wander.
I need a job,
yet know my assignment.
I need a boost but hate to say it.
I need to roast but need to forward pay it.
A poet I am not,
just an insomniac waiting for it.
The stage keeps me up all night.
The stage keeps me up all day.
Money is nice for a rainy day.
To a shitty job I can't stay.
My true passion is known.
My true passion has grow.
Insomniac am I?
I need to sleep.
I need to dream.
I need to be awake for the dream.
Shitty poems are not my scene.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Heathers (new version)

Chapter 18
 The Heathers
Working there provides a very interesting and what some may consider a unique dynamic.  By unique, I mean plainly bazaar. You can’t make this shit up type of odd.  At the end of the day, most people forget that the bar is a business because it becomes this larger entity.  This is a place run for and by men 98% of the time. The thing is this, 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 just want to get past it.   I will go further on that statement.  Anyone who utters the sentence, “high school was the best time of my life,” scares me.  If I hear that, then frankly, I’m not sure if we can be friends.  It’s just a matter of opinion, like people who have little children and talk about how wonderful it is.  I’m sure that miracle is glorious.  Young parents often say stuff like “when he-she-it was born, it was the best time of my life!”  You know what the best time of my life was?  Traveling Europe on that cruise with all my disposable income.  Some say tomato, others say ketchup.   It’s just a different viewpoint.  On the topic of high school again, I could barely stand teens when I was one, for this reason alone I know that I will never be that man.  The one we all know and have met.  The ones with the little red porsche and tupe (at least as long as propecia is in existence), who tries to relive their youth vicariously by pretending to be 25 for 30 years old or surrounding themselves in young guys.  Those guys always remind me of that witch in Hocus Pocus who inhales the children’s youth.

The bar is like every cliché after school special, Mean Girls, “California Dreams” (yes I watched this show.  If you don’t know what it is, Google it.)  and some random episodes of “Parker Louis Can’t Lose” 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.  I made Chelsea Clinton look like a rebel. For most of it, I was pretty asexual and oddly okay with it. I assumed that eventually life would just fall into place within 30 minutes, 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, 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.

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.  Or the brunette named Kelly who graduates a B cup and returns the college years a full D…  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 here, I have always noticed a clear clique that has remained constant during my time, the Heathers.  I guess since it’s a gay bar I should call them the Nancys?  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.  Start out a closed, up seed, end up a shriveled up rose-bud (disgusting double-entendre not intended, get your mind out of the gutter). There are people who have worked here often for 10, 15 years.  There are people who have been here for 2 weeks.  Others have put it like this, “Phil likes to take diamond in the rough and clean them off, mold them, 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. Speaking of control freaks, Phil makes Mussolini look compassionate.  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 altogether. 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.  Getting sucked into this world often has nothing to do with a lack of education. Just cause one is a bartender does not make them a failure at the “real world,” in my opinion it’s about comfort for most of us. 80% Of my co-workers have degrees, some more useful than others, but they have educations.  Bartending here, they make more than they would in their field of study. 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 girls 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 its 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.

Since the Heathers mainly hang out 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 your back in these parts.

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 me, 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 George Michael, and the sass of a Charro, but with an ass the size of a baby watermelon. I mean this guy’s facial hair looks like it’s so manicured it’s 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 cokeheads 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 them 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 of 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 each other while always looking over our shoulders at all times skeptical that trust. 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 the last comment one replies with a smart backhanded compliment or downright insult like, “You look fabulous, it’s like you don’t even care.”  My other favorite is, “Those pants are amazing, it’s like you’re body is trying to escape them.”

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 never know the actual reason one of our coworkers are let go so we do what gay men do best, gossip about it.  We all go on with our nightly duties and the bar goes on as though Julio never worked there.  There are rumors he was actually hooking up with an evangelical congress man/assassin and got in too deep if you know what I mean… Phil wasn’t going to stand for it and had him deported.  Julio was born in Los Angeles.  After a while there is little proof or memory that he even existed, much like that urban-legend of “Bloody Mary.”

bits I'm working on.

I wish I was famous, so that I too could lie about how I lost weight.  All these celebrities lie all the time!

Jennifer Hudson – first off, you look awful.  You look like a characature of yourself.  I’m always afraid the wind will blow and you’ll fall over.  Weight watchers? Really? More like Dr’s orders?

Star Jones is a great example. For years she said she lost weight with just diet and exercise.  Years later she admits it was infact gastric bypass… 

Kelly Osborne lost like 75 pounds.  Looks great.  I saw this interview with her where when asked how she lost the weight she was like, lots of water…  say what?  Water?  Wtf is in your water and I want it!  Leeches?  I’m not above it.  I’ll try anything to stay thin.

 I used to be fat.  As a kid I was so fat I was what was eating Gilbert Grape.  I had to shop in the husky section as a kid.  Husky section, that’s a fucked up name for a boy’s clothing section.  Women’s plus size clothing is always nicer, empowering, like “women’s world.” Or “big and beautiful”… with us it’s just husky.  Instead of the husky section, they should call it the “you wont be able to find your penis until you turn 30 section.”  Or the “you’ll be wearing a shirt to the pool until you sophomore year of college-section.

I was desperate to lose weight.  I did every diet.  Sugar busters, cabbage soup, the Hollywood diet, atkin’s and my favorite, the candy diet.  It was amazing.  12 little malt ball, m&m like candys for breakfast, 12 for lunch and if you make it to dinner without passing out your good.  It doesn’t make sense.  Giving a fat person what makes them fat is like giving a junky in rehab Charlie sheen as a sponsor, a needle and some hos.

One time I was so desperate to lose weight I was on this trip with my cousin Nicole.  She was trying to quit smoking, we both wanted to lose weight.  Then we found these chips that were on the market at the time, “WOW chips”. The label said guilt-free, so we were sold.  We’re Jewish, telling us something is guilt-free is like telling us you’ve discovered magic.  Needless to say, we had about 30 portions, then spent the next 2 days in our hotel room shitting our brains out.  Those chips were later recalled for causing anal leakage.  The point is, I looked great!  When people ask me how I lost the truth I tell the truth: self-loathing, anal-leakage and using the stairmaster like I was running from the gustapo.
Now I am a Personal Trainer cause I like to help other people hate themselves just as much as I do.

I love helping people and the job but sometimes I get these clients who are ridiculous.  I had this woman the other day.  She was like, “how do I get rid of that fat that leaks out of my bra, under the arms? Ew.”
It’s like bitch, you’re 90 pounds, that’s skin! The only way to get rid of that is to cut it off… want me to get a knife?
As a Trainer, I often work with Wholefoods. They have this huge sign that says “Wholefoods, health within reach.”

Who’s fucking reach is it? The people who can shop at whole foods can hire people to reach the food they want there!  Not once have I seen once of those signs like the once at 7-11, Burger King, Safeway… that says “Wholefoods we accept EBT.”  They do though at the register have this little sign in TINY, tiny font that says “anyone using EBT will get free shopping bags with purchase.” Fuck you wholefoods!

Wholefoods sells organic condoms.  What are they sponsored by the Chatholic Church?  Condoms are the one thing no one wants to be organic…If anything radio active would be better.  I could see the commercials.  "Want condoms that protect against unwanted pregnancies, HIV, crabs and makes your junk glow? It’s like a rave in the sack!  Side effects include: possible glowing penis, growth of a second vagina and hair on your tongue."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Being Me, That Guy

Chapter 17. Being Me, That Guy
            I have been at the bar for quite some time now.  I am learning it’s kinda okay to be me.  If this were a movie, this would be the time-lapse part where you watch me eat pints of ice cream to mark how much time has passed.  Since I have cut down from 1 gallon of ice cream week, to a pint and a half a week cause I’m health-consious now.  You’ld watch me eat about 120 pints or so.  Instead of being uphauled at watching me injest so much ice cream, it’s cute.  At this point, I have moments where it feels like I have been here too long, but it is what it is.  It’s like when you’re watching your favorite show, week after week, month after month, year after year, and it looses momentum.  You watch it anyway.  You do this because that’s what you do and just wait for them to add another useless character before eventually the show gets cancelled.  Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way.  I often imagine my life to be like a sitcom, the bar is like a Mel’s Diner if you will (80s reference, look it up) and I am an odd mix of Rhoda from Mary Tyler Moore (cause she has the best lines), Saundra from 227 (cause she gets around), and ideally Eric from True Blood (because he is so hot that even in my dreams he’s too cool for me).  Point is that I hope that if this show gets cancelled, that I will be good enough to get my own spin-off series or at least have something to show for my experience at the bar.

I have made it through many hurdles as of yet.  I lasted much longer than most of my coworker’s expectations.  I know this, because the douches I work with tell me about it all the time.  They say things like, “Oh, you’re still here?”  Or “Geez, now I have to get to know your name?”  That’s kind of an exaggeration but, none the less it’s close to the way it really is.

I have now lost about 25 pounds of blubber.  Even though I am thinner, I now have phantom fat in place of that blubber.  When I stand in front of a life-size mirror, and look back at myself to check my ass out, (admit it we all do it)…  I still see side-titty.  It’s not there anymore, but I still see myself as fat even though people tell me that I’m not and my clothing is much smaller.  The phantom fat only exists in my head, like an imaginary friend you just can’t get rid of.  Shit, I’ld burn it off if I could.  Whenever I hear someone make a fat joke I still assume it’s about me, when it isn’t.  It’s like when they call Marty Mc Fly “Chicken,” the word “fat” just hits a trigger I can’t explain that makes me go ape shit.  As a result of this weight loss, my waist is smaller and my overall style is slowly changing.  The hair is short, and the curls chemically relaxed, which makes life tough.  Now, I also 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.  All this is done, just to keep hair from frizzing up and looking nappy.  Like Ms. Dolly Parton herself says, “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap,” which is my mantra.  If it wouldn't look odd, I would get a weave just to make this process easier.  I’m also not hiding my eyes with glasses of any kind anymore, which means I can now focus on my need for eye cream.  I also have a subtle sun-kissed glow now.
          I have traded Southern California and it’s superficial stereotypes for San Francisco’s because simply, they eat better. San Francisco has more variety in food option if you’re okay with everything being a fusion.  That’s what half of the restaurants in San Francisco are into for some reason.  It’s like you’re chow main fucked some fettuccini.  Not a fan.  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 aren’t 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.  This is 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 the spot where my heart would be if I had one.  It extends about 7x7 miles and 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, travel, come back feel at home with a just comfortable being.  If I am in the city for more than a month without leaving, I get burned out on every aspect, from the homeless people, to the buses never being on time, and the hippy bullshit.  Then go on a trip, when I return I all of a sudden remember what I liked about San Francisco, how beautiful it is.  While I love SF, if I ever move it will be the end of our relationship and on to the new adventure, like that first love.

While the city of San Francisco has 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. I have not inspected these menly women.  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 other question is where are the black people here?  There are so few that live in the city of San Francisco, finding a black person who actually lives in San Francisco is like finding Waldo, few and far between.

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 an SD that just wont go away, or more so like deja 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 a sea of those crash dummies from those early 90s commercials, where we all look the same yet subtly different. It is funny because I too, being the individual that I would like to consider myself, find that I too, am becoming a part of this blob. As my jeans tighten to be form fitting, the gay way, the time I spent at the gym increases so that I can fit them. 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?  Who cares?  I look great.

Today, I work 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.  It’s like hanging with a brother, I assume this because I was raised an only child.  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 comes up to both of us. He comes up to James, who is one of those guys I would label as an eternal twink. He is one of those guys who will always look young for his age, lean and petite.  It’s one of those “kiss, kiss, hug, hug,” homosextical (I made the word up, create a Wikipedia page for it) 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 that could be interpreted as a compliment.  I don’t know how to process the situation, I proceed to smile, nod politely, walk away and tell him to fuck off under my breath.

I am about 15 feet away from the jerk and by this point, Aaron a.k.a. “Yentl.”  I call him that since we bond over our love of Barbara Streisand.  In the movie, for those too young or unaware to know, in Yentl  she is the daughter of a rabbi, so excels at studies of the holy texts that clearly she is more man than woman.  She cuts her hair off and pretends to be a boy.  It’s a classic.  Back to the story, one of that night’s bartenders is right behind me stocking alcohol for his shift.  He overhears the conversation and what just went down.  He 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 soothe the heart.  His cookies are delicious and magical, just what the doctor ordered.  He then tells me that I am much cuter with some “cushion for the pushin.” Aaron also is what some gays would call a “hunter.”  This is a thin man who is into bears.  Get it?  He hunts round, fat, hairy men and has his way with them…  I will give the reader a moment to paint the picture in their head and then look for sanitizer.  The question is whether Aaron’s comments are compliments or not.

Aaron is not the only one who doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks. He is some people walk to a beat of another sound.  Most of us walk to a drummer.  He walks to the beat of a fucking orchestra.  Aaron walks to sounds of another wavelength.  His unique style could only be described as eclectic elegance married to punk rocker edge, with a David Bowie’s ambiguity. His tattoos all tell a story.  Some of the stories only make sense after a joint and a 5th of vodka, but none the less they all add character.  His androgyny is the most intriguing part about him. Unlike most gay men I know, the magical powers of those with abs of steel, waxed chests and faux-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.

Aaron always responds to hot, chiseled, Abercrombie-American-Apple-pie dudes with this sentence, “Back away, you’re powers don’t work on me!  I would trade you for a John Goodman or John Candy type, may he rest in peace, any day of the week.  Be gone!”

At this moment I realize that I will never be good enough for these people and maybe myself.  The question is whether this matters.  Do I really care?  I’ll admit I do, but why?  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 with that. As long as I keep true and intact to myself in the process, the rest doesn’t matter.

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