Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ritz Krieg

"You are so rude to people. How do you ever get boyfriends?" Charlie asks me as two Survivor fans who had been accosting him outside the coat check line at The Ritz wander away. I have trouble seeing the connection, knowing how much young gay men (and straight women) gravitate sexually toward those who ignore them. Charlie's eternal optimism, while very appealing, is not contagious to me, but it does set the old hamster wheel spinning in my head for the rest of the evening as we crush through the crowd at this Hell's Kitchen hotspot.

Earlier, I enjoyed two hours of hilarious racism at a showing of Gran Torino, the story of an old man coming to terms with a younger generation he doesn't understand , only later to find myself surrounded by a sea of unshaven men in skinny ties that I do not understand. Well, maybe that is putting too fine a point on it. Maybe I understand them all too well, in a lather, rinse, repeat sort of way. The beards and the tie/vest combos, a direct rebellion to the clean-shaven, casual Friday 90s, proliferate like the dirty hair and muted plaids of the early 90s that followed the Reagan red tie and shoulder pad suit severity of the 80s. And on it goes.

At JP and Duke's New Year's Eve party, Duke pointed across the way to the windows of a fashionable new apartment building. "Floor after floor of mid-century," Duke commented amid his own 1950s flourishes. When the gays find something they love, they don't so much run with it as sprint at a fevered pace until their hearts explode. I suppose we are all Mad Men in our own way. Later this month on the mall for the inaugural, I have no doubt my mind will wander back to the sea of jean shorts and white Don't Panic t-shirts that remain my sharpest memory of the 1993 March on Washington. It is nice to see that kind of optimism in activism again in our new Obama era, even if I can't transport that same emotion all night to The Ritz like Charlie, awash in the current generation's uniform of change.

After wandering around a bit downstairs with Matty and Joe, waiting for Ben Harvey to arrive, I finally settled in briefly on one of the couches with Charlie, whose snuggle up mode persisted from earlier at Joe's apartment. As we sat together with our arms around each other, Charlie waved across the room to a reasonably attractive man with the kind of severe overbite one only notices while sober or quizzically the next morning when you roll over in bed after a drunken night out on the town. "That's called the 'hi-sies'" Charlie says of his friendly wave. "That's how you meet people." The thought of a blow job from those chompers caused the blood to drain out of my face, and other places. I am all for meeting people, but I still think my more cautious nature is the way to go, especially if you are intoxicated.

However, meeting new people is a volume business. And in the end, Charlie is right, friendly works better than hostile. That was brought home later after Ben Harvey arrived with bandleader Zach. While standing with them Joe's friend Micah, who I only shook hands with earlier in Joe's apartment, made the big approach and tried to start a conversation with me. "You look so familiar," he offered, which I had also initially thought about him, though I chalked it up to his passing resemblance with the charming and upright Brian Ellner, who didn't like me so much anymore after our cab ride together where I refused to wear my seatbelt.

"Fire Island?" Micah asked causing the first in a series of responses that made the moment more and more awkward and less and less sexual. "Oh no. I don't believe in Fire Island. Not like it's a mythical place. I just think it's awful." To say that things went downhill from here is to understate the avalanche nature of the conversation. Micah was a perfectly nice investment banker ("Of course you are") who lives in Chelsea ("Naturally!") and was just trying to be kind and get to know someone. His first mistake was making that someone me.

In an effort to not portray myself as completely rotten, I think I had some nice moments with Chris and Josh, who I met at their Halloween party. Chris and I shared a few laughs at Rob Banning's holiday pretty boy bacchanal and last night at The Ritz, Josh and I had a moment making faces of mock embarrassment at two mid-century gays grinding so intensely on the dance floor I worried their crotches might become fire hazards. I even realized on the train home that Josh and I had met before his Halloween party on the R Family cruise to Canada in July where he was one of Rosie's Broadway Boys and I was the guy at the all-you-can-eat buffet every four hours. So I do have the capacity to make nice to people even with my appalling personality. Though I am fairly certain I kissed Joe's neck six times last night in front of the guy I am pretty sure he was on a date with, and then asked the guy to take our picture together. Eh. Nobody is perfect.

As I was making my good byes and heading for the door, I found Charlie who had left our group to pee, again surrounded by a small cluster of Survivor fans, being asked about Marcus and demanding photos, mere feet from the bathroom door. I rushed up like one of the gang. "I am a huge fan. Can I get a picture with you too?" Charlie laughed at my meanness, but as I tried to hand my camera to one of the real fans, the fan retorted, "We're not done with him yet!" I got that quick picture with him anyway and left him to be devoured by strangers. In moments like that, I relish my anonymity, my lack of politeness and my ability to go to the bathroom whenever I want.

Earlier, I had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Chelsea with Terry Goldman and his friend Romeo, in the back where the other gays were secretly eating in white trash heaven. We were talking about the choices gay men make, choosing the wrong men, or breaking up with good guys in favor of worse circumstances. "It reminds me of the old story," I told them, "about the cop walking down the sidewalk at night. He sees a man on his hands and knees under a lamppost looking around. 'Did you lose something?' the policeman asks. 'Yes. My keys.' says the man. So the policeman asks where he lost them and the man points further away to a darkened part of the sidewalk. 'If you lost the keys over there, then why are you looking here?' he asks the man, to which the man replies, 'The light is better over here.'" You can find all sorts of things where the light is bright and cheerful, just not necessarily what you are really looking for. In this circumstance, I prefer to be the cop, and just shake my head and keep walking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You ARE nice in a snarky, impatient, I can't be bothered with you, you peasant, sort of way. Eternal optimists can not be trusted to always give an honest opinion. You and I are both in the Bette Davis, raised eyebrow, you've GOT to be kidding, vein. May it always be so.