Thursday, December 6, 2012


In San Francisco, “people watching” becomes sport.  Jane Goodall had apes in the wild, drunks in the mist, it's every similar.  It’s far more entertaining with an adult beverage in hand or maybe that’s just a personal preference.  SF is the perfect place for anyone on a budget to just sit, observe and judge.  Actually, the last one is not necessary, but making up stories for the strangers you’re watching is always fun.  Who needs the truth when you have an imagination?  Half the time the made up story is more fun anyway.  There are countless different kinds of people who come into gay bars, all for different reasons.  There are the straight women who come to the bar thinking it’s a safe-haven from creeps.  They come in with their gay buddies or girl friends cause all they want "is to dance." There are the straight guys who have become aware of the straight-female’s-gay bar patron’s reasoning and use it as a chance to search for tail.  There are the lesbians who are sick of the lezzie bars or feel more comfortable in the company of gay men.  There are the people who go just for the story, to be able to tell people that they went to a gay bar.  There are the straight couples who go to have a good time.  There are the straight couples who go to gay bars awkwardly looking for a third to spice things up even though she doesn't really want to.  There are the guys who hang out at the bar day in and day out, which begs the question of how the fuck do these guys just hangout all day drinking?  If so, how do they function?  Do they function?  What kind of life can one have in a bar all the time?  There is one group though that intrigues me almost as much as an entire episode of “Living Single” used to.  Watching this one group in particular never ceases to amaze me.  I like to call them the “lurkers.”
         We all have seen them, or at times met, or may even be lurkers ourselves, though few will ever admit it.  These men and/or women can be observed in their natural habitat-the bar.  Here is where they often live. For all I know they don't have apartments and why would they?  They are here all day.  They hide in the shadows because that’s where they feel comfortable which kind of makes sense. It doesn’t hurt that these guys are often on the ugly side so the dark is their friend.  Or they look like a nice peach that went off some times ago.  You can see that they once may have been attractive but now it’s just a hologram.  There are two types of lurkers.  One is the pure-alcoholic type.  They are the more entertaining out of the two.  They can be seen sitting there for 8-10 hours at a time going unnoticed to the untrained bar-going-eye.  They have been known to drink enough to kill any two-for-one special and challenge the human body’s limits with alcohol consumption.  I hope they donate their bodies to science because with the amount of alcohol they consume, they are human labratories.  Who needs phemeldahide?   I 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 doesn’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.  It's been years since they touched the stuff and they are beyond that point where they have to remind everyone around them of their sobriety.  They are beyond the born-again chitter chatter that I find often comes with early sobriety.  They are often accompanied by countless redbulls, which they drink interchangeably with mineral waters and plain non-alcoholic beverages.  They are who keeps that company in business.  The commercial may say that it "gives you wings," it gives these people something to do.  They too can drink enough redbull to give the average person a heart attack, but seem un-phased.  Possibly because these people may already be partially dead inside?    I assume that their hearts are still going from the mounds of blow or whatever it was that they did back in the day.  The redbull is the kick they need to keep going.  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 like tight muscle shirts or Abercrombie, college sweatshirts or Abercrombie crap.  It's like they are trying to deceive our intelligence.  You can wear all the shit the kids are wearing, it still wont make you one of them.  Some wear the type of shit someone may buy at the Gap or Miller’s OutPost or Mervyn’s (I don’t think that those stores are even still in business).  Others dress in the bland, Wal-Mart-type of solids to help camouflage better in the bar shadow terrain. They sit, sip, wait, then they 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 semantics.

When I first start working at the bar, I, too, never notice the lurkers sitting in the shadows.  It took me six months to notice them.  Some of them seem to even stay 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 have almost the same reaction I had when watching "Bambie," I want to call the cops.  In true San Francisco fashion, instead of doing anything I just watch this play out.  I later realize even if he is a little twink, he is an adult and can be responsible to his own decisions or some this like that.   I’m sure this observation is similar to Jane Goodall’s with the chimps but less safe.  At least chimps can’t have annoying voices that get higher and more annoying with every shot the way some men do here.  I watch in amazement, as I am not really sure what is going on in the interaction with the twink.  This kid is the “barely legal type,” who "just turned 21" or at least that is what his I.D. says and how he presents himself.  He still orders his drinks like a child and can't handle his alcohol.  His first drink is a Tokyo Iced Tea.  He may as well have asked the bartender to put their fist down his throat.  It's the same outcome.  He has the body of a young boy or a really flat-chested runway model 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 anywhere.  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, this vampire, I mean lurker swoops in to catch his prey the poor, soft skinned, rail-thin twink.  As he sits down next to the twink a condom falls out of his pocket.  I think to myself, well at least he's "safe."  Within seconds Mr. Lurker, gestures for another energy drink from the bartender.  He then smiles at the child/boy.  To which, the kid responds with an innocent, “Hey.”  Again I want to tell him to run, but it’s not my place and if anything the lurkers pay my rent.  One word with these lurkers and one is stuck like a fly on that sticky paper.  Then 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 waxed, tanned, liver-spotted chest, complimented by a pookah-shelled necklace from Miller’s Outpost.  Presumably to show he's one of the kids.  At this point, the light hits his hair slightly to show the unnatural hue of his blue-black, thinning hair.  He offers the boy a birthday shot to keep him busy.  This is also probably so that the kid wont be as hypnotized by the huge liver spot on Mr. Lurker's forehead as I am.  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.  Another one bites the dust.

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

This lurker in particular will drink Couvoisier, or a “Beautifuls” (Couvoisier, with a touch of Grand Marnier) seemingly by the gallon.  Their breath could easily start a fire and their glare for some reason makes me nauseous.  Often this type of drink is ordered by the type of fellow who idolizes Puff Daddy and others who may be found on a yacht pouring champagne on bitches.  They are type of man who always pays with one-hundred dollar bills but rarely leaves memorable tips.  He may wear the best pinky rings the corner pawn shop sells and sometimes flosses some fancy cubic cerconias on their ears.  This man is not one of cheap taste, in that regard, but cheap clothing.  This one will catch dudes from all walks with his net cause he's not picky.  He likes em young jocks, twinks, average handsome joes, right before the drink to blackout but will settle for something with a pulse.  He always tries to hold my hand when I am wiping 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.”

     I respond, "you're right," and go back to working.

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 top-shelf 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 flamers, filled with enough alcohol, that their  burps should be registered as explosives.

Every day when when I get to work, they are there.  When I clock out and head out to my life outside of the bubble, there they are.  We make eye contact without any expression and move on.  The life of the luker is one I don't completely understand and hope if I ever become that depressing and lonely that someone will do me a favor and put me out of that misery.  The truth is I think we all partially relate to them, which is why they are so fascinating.  Gay, straight, green, blue, we all know somewhere deep inside that we could some day, at some point, with the right circumstances that we too could just a step away from being one.  There is no moral to the story, just compassion, empathy and lots of booze.

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