WEEKEND Beach Bum
|by Eric Morrison|
|A Survival Guide for the Bars
In the past few months, it has come to my attention that some gay men simply don't know how to behave at our queer watering holes. This is almost unbelievable, given that most of us cut our coming-out teeth on our favorite local bars. Men in bars have introduced themselves to me by revealing the large size of their bank accounts, automobiles, pectorals, egos, and even their "feet." I've seen cat fights and bar fights, raging, drunken escapades, and fashion crimes that would make Stacy and Clinton cry.
I can comment for two reasons. First, at one time or another, I've broken most of the holy Bar Behavior Commandments. (A few years ago, after searching high and low for me, my best friend recognized me by my rear end at the Blue Moon. The upper half of my body was hanging over the outside balcony, fertilizing the trees with my half-digested, alcohol-soaked dinner.) Second, I've been sober for almost two years now, and temperate eyes catch a whole lot more than bloodshot ones while people-watching.
Therefore, I humbly offer the following list of gay bar "DOs" and "DON'Ts" as a public service to my regular readers.
DON'T hand out your phone number, business card, or autographed headshots like you're giving away goody bags to costumed children on Halloween. At best, most of them will end up in the back of an already cluttered dresser drawer. At worst, you'll catch a glimpse of them, soaked and buried under half-drunk bottles of Heineken in the trash can on your way out of the bar.
DON'T cackle like a hen, no matter how funny the joke, how witty the pun, how jovial the jab. No one wants to hear you hoot like Chrissy Snow or The Wicked Witch of the West. Excuse yourself to the bathroom, close the stall door, and lay that egg.
DON'T become overly intoxicated. A little libation is fun, but too much makes you a lush. There is nothing more pathetic than a normally able-bodied person who cannot stand on their own two feet without swaying like an unstable skyscraper in a category five hurricane, or walk down the street without staggering like they're a victim of vertigo. Trust me on this one. I've been there a few times.
DON'T beg. I cannot stress this enough. NOTHING is more unattractive than desperation. No one wants to hear about how the love of your life left you high and dry and now you're looking for someone to replace him, like a puppy that ran off in the middle of the night. People beg through their words, their actions, and unrelenting eye contact. Examine yourself! You may be begging like a German shepherd in heat without realizing it.
DON'T stalk your prey like you're the star of Lorne Greene's Wild Wilderness or a Discovery Channel special on animals at the top of the food chain. If you're blabbering your life story and he's replying in monosyllables, he's just not that into you. Move on! Not only is stalking the personification of desperation (see the bullet point above), but it's illegal in most states and locales.
DON'T assume that if someone goes home with you, the natural next step is to call him five times the next morning and adopt a little girl from China together. He's probably not in love, just lust.
DO dress for your body type. Drag queens aren't the only ones who have to ponder the age-old question, "To tuck or not to tuck?" Don't be a victim of "dicky-do disease," where your stomach sticks out further than your dicky-do. Also, keep in mind that Speedos are meant for the beach, not for brunch, even if you throw on an oversized T-shirt. Besidesand university research statistics support me hereless than 1% of men should be wearing Speedos at any point in their lives.
DO treat people with courtesy and respect, even if you never intend to speak to him again after exchanging awkward farewells tomorrow morning.
DO be open-minded. I'm sometimes shocked at the narrow-mindedness of some bar patronsparticularly gay men. Not everyone looks like a perfect Ken doll and dresses like an Abercrombie model. Start a conversation with someone you wouldn't normally talk to. (Half the men I've dated haven't been "my type" and I don't regret it.) And this ought to go without saying, but...women are people, too. Some of my most enjoyable bar-hopping nights have been spent talking to lesbians or heterosexual women who found themselves in a gay bar for whatever reason.
DO have fun. Break the ice. Tell a joke. Offer to buy someone a drink. If someone looks lonely, introduce them to your circle of friends. If someone looks plastered, offer to call them a cab or, at the very least, hold back the collar of their new polo shirt while they toss their cookies into the toilet.
DO introduce yourself to people. If the bar manager wanted flowers on the wall, he'd get out his paintbrushes. Don't go home and beat yourself up for not being more outgoing. After all, most people go to bars to meet other people. Don't assume that because people aren't talking to you, they are snobby or unfriendly. They're probably just as apprehensive as you are. We're all in the same gay bar boat. Be the life of the party and make it a luxury liner!
If you need further clarification of any of the above points, Eric can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 14 October 14, 2005