Saturday, January 31, 2009

Revolve!

Once upon a time, there was a gay bar in West Hollywood called Revolver. Through it’s signature revolving front door were the matte black walls that became the cave of my nocturnal existence for much of the 1990s. So many nights spent lusting after a now dead bartender with too many cats, watching a drag queen named Diva and hanging out with my best friend Paul. I laughed in a shower of napkins to “Zip” from Pal Joey, got robbed at gunpoint out front, went home with a few regrettable characters, and night after night after night, happily floated down a long river a booze.

I was reminded once again of Revolver tonight as I watched Matty spin happily around in the revolving door of a swank apartment building on Seventh Avenue. The doorman was not amused, but I was. Watching the happy Matty spirit I know so well warmed me on a cold winter night. Earlier, I joined him at a terrific restaurant called Il Bordello down on 23rd at Tenth. He was having dinner with Gray and Greg and two women (code names: Short Stuff and The Quiet One). Matt was supposed to join me at Ronnie's birthday party at Splash, and he asked me to come to the restaurant to scoop him up on my way over. However, once there, Gray treated us to a wonderful meal of appetizers and cool cocktails and the staff plied us with tasty raspberry shots. Suddenly, we were in for the long haul.

After a truly marvelous time at Il Bordello, we all piled into taxis and headed for another party somewhere on Seventh Avenue "on the way." The boys got into one cab and I joined the girls in the second. Not knowing the address of the party, I just told the driver to "Follow that car." Short Stuff was giddy. "Just like in the movies!" She was even more elated moments later when I insisted on paying for the short cab right. "You are ladies. My mother would reach across the continent to kill me if I let you pay." Apparently chivalry as far as they had known was quite dead.

The Seventh Avenue party was in a beautiful apartment filled with gay guys I had never seen before. Aside from Joe who was there and already quite drunk when we arrived, I didn't know a soul. Even Gray seemed not to know anyone, well almost anyone. The party was equipped with two hunky shirtless bartenders, one blond, one brunet (something for everyone!) with true swim bodies (long arms, long torsos, long necks) who were as straight as their perfectly formed spines. The blond one had apparently tended many gay parties over the last year or so and over time Gray had struck up something of a friendship with him.

As nice as the apartment was, the decor didn't make any sense to me at all. The art was impeccable, including two Bruce Weber Chop Suey prints of an Israeli soldier on one wall facing a pretty Nazi soldier on the other (very Pinkie and Blue Boy), but the furniture was awful. It all looked like it had been thrown together over years of moves from one place to another. A leather sofa from his first apartment, a fabric armchair from his parents, an armoire from his last house, a faded oriental rug his grandmother left him and a glass coffee table from the Z Gallerie circa 1993. Gray pointed out a six foot folding table in the corner set up for an abandoned attempt at a second bar. "That is an art installation" I tried to assure him, refusing to believe someone in this nice of an apartment would have so tacky a piece of furniture.

Running short of time, I dragged Matty out of the party and down to Splash. Once there, I expected Ronnie to be in the small VIP room above the DJ booth, but instead they set up a segregated space off the dance floor for him in full view of everyone. I felt like I was an animal in a zoo, with people peering in at me minding my own business inside the monkey house. This was the price of fame I have always been unwilling to pay. It was reality TV, without the TV. Ronnie was dancing and having a good time, and Matty ran into Itay Hod, who I last saw last year briefly in a car ride to a party. At the time I was distracted by Gary and other things, and it was hardly the kind of encounter to build a lifetime of friendship on, so I didn't bother to say anything. In any event, it didn't matter because almost as soon as I was saying hello, I was saying good bye.

Matty accompanied me out onto the street outside Splash, where I hurriedly hailed a cab to take me back to the train station. Just past where I left David in the capable hands of Steven that fateful night so long ago. Matty hates it when I end my blog postings all wistful and looking up at the stars. He would really hate some kind of crappy extended metaphor right here about revolving doors and people coming in and out of lives and things constantly moving in a circle but never changing. So instead I will go back to that moment when we emerged from the revolving door on Seventh Avenue on our way to Ronnie's party. The real point at which this story began. The door was spinning and Matty was struck by inspiration. "Revolve!" Matty declared triumphantly. "That's your blog right there." He rubbed his hands together excitedly in that way that he does, knowing that he had the right answer. And he did.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Gilt Age

My laziness is legendary. So you can imagine my delight when Joe invited me to his birthday party at a bar mere steps from my office. Even closer than my beloved haunt Vlada, The Gilt Bar at the New York Palace is dangerously close to SIRIUS and conveniently almost on the way to the train at Grand Central. The invite implored attendees to wear shirts and “the shirt should have sleeves.” Now, unless it’s a tank top or a muscle tee, all shirts have sleeves. I assumed he meant a shirt with buttons, but that isn’t what he said. And after I looked like a carb-induced monster in the button-down shirt I threw on before I left for work, I opted at the last minute for a well-worn baseball tee instead. After all, a three-quarter sleeve is better than no sleeve at all.

The New York Palace is a turn of the century (turn of that other century?!) gilt gem on Madison Avenue that for a moment as I walked up to it, I mistook for legendary Manhattan eatery Le Cirque. Well it might as well have been because it was just as insanely fancy inside, though without the delicately spun circus animals out front. However, inside I was not shunned by the wait staff as I tumbled in with my giant backpack and ski parka, a welcome relief from the usual New York attitude that attends such places. I found Joe and the usual crowd of suspects, all in crisp button-down shirts, and most in ties and/or vests lounging around the oval-shaped bar.

Charlie was there looking exactly as he always does in a crisp v-neck sweater and button down shirt, as predictably and flawlessly turned out as a figure at Madame Tussauds. Joe was leaned against the bar trying to order another glass of wine, while familiar faces (Gray, Mario, Greg, etc.) lingered in the background like dress extras. Joe had visited The Gilt Bar once before and loved it so much that he endeavored to have his next birthday party there. Some few short months later, there we all were, enveloped in our corner by the unnecessary abstract honeycomb structure that dominates the Northeast corner of the room, enjoying expensive cocktails among the high priced call girls waiting somewhat impatiently for an upturned smile in a downward economy.

I chatted for a few minutes with Joe’s friend Justin, who was very polite and blond. As an interior designer he had much to say about the hotel extension in the next room, where the original horseshoe townhouse structure had been expanded to include a modern high rise hotel. To me it just looked like the lobby of some awful Steve Wynn creation in Vegas. All that was missing, we agreed, were some slot machines and fat women in stretch pants to make the authentic look complete. Justin was hoping to piggyback on Joe’s next smoke break outside, but Joe was so intently involved in his pursuit of another glass of Merlot that Justin’s desire seemed like a far away dream.

Mike arrived and I joined him on the other side of the bar next to Martin, who I met over the summer at Ben Harvey’s rooftop party. Martin wanted me to alert all ten of the readers of my blog to his abnormally large penis, explaining that “Martin” and “penis” are two of the three most commonly searched words online, though he failed to reveal the third. Martin is a lawyer, but don’t hold that against him, he is really a fun-loving guy. He also has a stare that feels like flirting, but I think I have determined definitively now in our second meeting that it is just a signature stare.

Come to think of it, there were a lot of lawyers there tonight. Charlie introduced me to Greg, referring to him as the NYHGL (New York’s Hottest Gay Lawyer). When I quizzed Charlie, who is also a lawyer, if he had given up the title himself, Gray suggested that Charlie was in fact the NYHGLSC (New York’s Hottest Gay Lawyer Survivor Contestant). That seemed like a long and complicated answer to me, but when you work in a profession that bills by the tenth of the hour, the longer and more complicated the answer the better. Especially in this economy.

As I was leaving, Joe implored me to blog about the evening and insisted that I reference his female friends too. “I promise,” I purred.”Even the one who looks just like Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock.” This caused the other female posse members to roar. “Oh no! She hates that!” Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I wrote something in my blog that upset someone. On a completely unrelated note: Ben Harvey and Matthew Kelleher were also in attendance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Window Seat To History

I flew down to DC on Monday to attend the inauguration. This was something of an impulse decision in late December. I had already planned to go to Utah for Sundance the weekend before, and I knew it would not be easy going from New York to Salt Lake to Washington DC and then back to New York in the span of five days. But Ryan really wanted me to come down to visit and it was hard to turn down the chance to witness history in the making. So I planned my convoluted trip and after a fast weekend of underwear parties and queer brunches, I boarded my flight to our nation’s capital.

There were extra security measures in place, including TSA agents waiting at the gate to check our IDs one last time before we boarded our flight. The night before, I had rechecked the seat assignments and finding an open window seat in the exit row, happily abandoned my B seat in the row behind, so at least I had leg room to look forward to. Once on the plane I settled into my window seat, and assured the flight attendant when he came by to have the exit row talk with us that if we had a water landing like flight 1549 in NYC, I would be out of the plane so fast that he would have trouble remembering what I looked like. As we neared the capital, the pilot let us know that we couldn’t leave our seats for any reason for the last half hour and in the last hour everyone had to use the bathrooms in the rear, even First Class passengers. Then, he gave a rambling, somewhat incoherent speech about the power of democracy and the Constitution and being an American and wrapped it up by applauding the “smooth transition of power without a lot of shooting.” Everyone looked a little puzzled. Was he expecting a little shooting?

As soon as I landed at National, I was off and running. Ryan met me in Crystal City and I dropped my bag at his place and took his friend Corey with me to the GLAAD cocktail mixer while he went off to the state ball for Kentucky. Along the way, Corey and I were accosted by a large black homeless woman who immediately won us over by yelling, “I need to talk to you. Slow down! I can’t run.” She insisted she was pregnant and needed money to buy food. I really wanted to say, “I can’t believe you got a man, and I can’t!” but she was already CRYING and we were so impressed by her commitment to the role that we gave her money and walked off to Bebar around the corner.

I ran into Neil (and why wouldn’t I? it’s his party!) and somewhat more surprisingly Dr. Sven. Like me, I think Sven was mixing two trips in one, but instead of Sundance, I think he might have been around for Mid-Atlantic leather. If I had to guess. Dreamy Cory Claussen was there, not a surprise either since he moved down to DC last year. Corey and I tried to engage in the crowd and the fun, but mostly I was starving so we dashed out of the party and went to Jack’s on 18th, where I paid $21 for a giant hunk of fat and gristle buried under about a gallon of sauce and calling itself a New York strip. The homeless woman was more believable than that.

We spent about a minute at Dik’s bar after dinner, but we were both pretty tired. So after a dash through the supermarket to buy Nutter Butters (peanut paste recall be damned!) and hot chocolate, we headed down to the Metro to go back home to Crystal City. Transferring trains, we ran into Cory once again. He was heading home too, and starving. I passed him a few Nutters while he waited for his train and he seemed very grateful for our fateful encounter.

Corey had to work, so he left very early in the morning, while Ryan and I made our way to the National Mall. The Metro station at L’Enfant was a zoo, and above ground, the crowd too seemed never ending. We walked several blocks down past the Smithsonian, planning to get to a less crowded spot down by the Lincoln Memorial. We ended up instead at the Washington Monument, and as we walked up the hill with the Capitol Dome to the right and the Lincoln Memorial to the left, and a sea of people all around, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the power and the privilege of democracy. To quote Michelle Obama, for the first time in my life, I felt truly proud of my country.

We stood on the North side of the Washington Monument and from there on the hill, I could see everything. The White House was to my left and I watched the various bands and organizations get mobilized behind the White House for the Inaugural Parade to come. Ryan and I shivered along with almost two million others, our own shining city on a hill, watching history unfurl before our eyes. It was the most moving experience of my life, and took me back so many years earlier to the March On Washington in 1993. Then it was all Don’t Panic t-shirts and denim shorts and the promise of a new President from a place called Hope. This time, however, instead of being from Hope, he was the embodiment of hope. A hope for a new direction, of change, of equality.

As it was ending, we made our way North to find a small diner to eat at before I had to cross town to the old XM studios to do my radio show. We walked up past a sea of PETA volunteers trying unsuccessfully to convince the phalanx of fur-coated women to turn vegan. I saw the DAR Hall were the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow Marion Anderson to sing in 1939, prompting Eleanor Roosevelt to arrange for her to sing in front of tens of thousands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I thought of Ms. Anderson singing “My Country Tis of Thee” no doubt conflicted inside about her “sweet land of liberty” still waiting for freedom to ring. And twenty-four years later, Martin Luther King on the same spot explaining his dream. And then, Inauguration Day 2009, and there is Aretha Franklin singing “My Country Tis Of Thee” on the steps of the Capitol. It is hard to believe it took seventy years to make it from one end of the mall to the other, but I think in the end, like my our trip to Washington, the destination was worth journey.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Park And Fly

On any given Thursday, there are few places in the world more exciting than New York City. I woke up this morning expecting that the most exciting thing to happen all day would be attending Matty’s inaugural party as club promoter: Sexy Back Thursdays at The Park. But then Sam jumped up from her desk next to me yelling “A plane just crashed outside our office!” and the day briefly took an entirely different turn.

A US Airways flight glided down in the Hudson river a few blocks from my office and quite literally outside the window of my old River Place apartment off the West Side Highway. All of the passengers and crew lived which allowed everyone to start with the gallows humor immediately without fear of much reproach. My favorite comeback being: “If we stop flying, the geese have won.” As it was, the landing and rescue were so quick and uneventful I have to assume that some of the NYC-based passengers merely stepped off the rescue boat, hailed a cab outside the Circle Line Tour and headed back to their respective apartments. After all, they didn’t have much time to change out of their wet shoes and head downtown to Matty’s fabulous new party, and New Yorkers are, if nothing else, a resilient bunch.

I do love The Park. It reminds me of my childhood fantasy of opening a kitschy indoor restaurant designed to look outdoors. I would call it Picnic and everyone would eat fried chicken and hot dogs at wooden picnic tables with red checkerboard tablecloths under a bright kleig light sun. The Park, with its indoor/outdoor motif and heavy doses of camp (what’s with all those Hitchcockian stuffed birds around the back bar mirror?), serves up heaping helpings of broken Asian doll along with expensive cocktails and high-end entrees. It is the restaurant of my childhood dreams if I had grown up in the West Village instead of Utah.

Suffice it to say, Matty’s party was a huge success. And why not? All the usual suspects were there. Gray in black. Mike without Ryan. Charlie in a v-neck sweater. JD and Clayton canoodling while Terry looked on at his handiwork approvingly. Even Brian Babst appeared at the front bar, already armed with lines from tonight’s 30 Rock. He insisted he wasn’t staying long but more than an hour later, I found him upstairs in the Penthouse crush looking determined. Meanwhile, Matty swirled around us all, a social Sonja Henie, skating effortlessly through the scene, smiling for the camera. Chris and Josh were skating too, though their routine was off and I think the judges noticed.

And in the center of it all: me. Poorly dressed as usual, long underwear hidden under my free American Idol shirt, surrounded by Gossip Gays in tiny preppy suits and nerd glasses. They made me want to shove them down the concrete stairs, turning the base of the steps into just a pile of mangled cashmere sweaters and shattered spines. I was inappropriate as usual, pushing my way through the crowd with zero regard for anyone’s safety, including my own. Even creating a short cut by walking across a pair of couches until I nearly stepped on a handsome stranger and his fag hag. “That’s not good for the furniture” I said to him as I climbed back down. He smiled back in a way that said he was charmed now, but sober and in daylight, he would not be so thrilled with me. Story of my life.

Maybe it was the cold but Los Angeles was a hot topic of conversation at Matty’s soiree. Brian deadpanned a story to me about gays in LA stocking up on tonic water like the end times are coming because “it doesn’t have any calories.” JD lamented the shallowness of the LA boys and worried aloud that “the plastics” had followed him to The Park. He seemed amused when I told him that my attitude problem practically got me run out of West Hollywood on a rail. The locals insisted that perhaps I would fit in better in New York, though when I arrived in Manhattan, all anyone ever asked for the first two years was if I was from LA. Perhaps I belong somewhere in between.

Later at the coat check as I bundled up inside my ski parka (an angry lesbian fashion shot fired across a sea of fitted wool coats) a different handsome man came down the stairs and smiled at me. “You look warm,” he cooed, but my only thought was making my train. I muttered “I certainly hope so!” as I pushed past him. After all, why look so out of place if I can’t at least prevent frostbite on my way home. And all apologizes to him and Kathleen Turner but body heat is not how I plan to ride out the winter.

Oh what a night, as the songwriter wrote. The coldest night of the year, of many years even. A plane crash down the street. Only in New York, kids. Only in New York. But as I said before, we New Yorkers are a resilient bunch. I probably didn’t do much to bring sexy back to Thursdays, The Park or the parka for that matter, but at least I was there. And, more importantly, despite my continued surly attitude, I did have a good time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wring Out The Old

I have known Terry Goldman for a long time, more than a decade but not quite a decade and a half. I was the first person he ever met online (though certainly not the last) and to show you how long ago it was, online then was a BBS in Los Angeles. And if you don’t know what a BBS is, you are probably too young to read this. Terry is a wonderful friend that I have hung out with in sunshine and now snow, in the desert and on the high seas. It’s been a grand adventure that continued on Saturday night in Chelsea.

Back in December after a long dry spell of not seeing each other, we went to see The Day The Earth Stood Still in IMAX and promised to become regular movie buddies in 2009. Last weekend, we had a gorgeous fatty meal at Outback followed by a bucket of popcorn at Gran Torino. Clearly, feeling on a roll, he suggested dinner, a movie and subsequent boozing this weekend. “We can see Bride Wars or The Unborn,” he suggested. Ugh. Is it January already?! Mercifully, we were spared a two hour sentence in wintry cinematic prison and opted instead for a huge dinner at ELMO, a popular eatery in the heart of gay Manhattan.

With house guests Ryan James and Andy in tow, along with Roommate, I was suddenly four in his ever growing dinner group, which eventually swelled to ten with even my neighbor Clayton thrown in to the mix. For some inexplicable reason, Terry invited only men who had the first letter J in their name: Jacob, Joe, Jeremy and JD. I kid you not that Jimmy and Jonathan were also invited at one point but for one reason or another were not there. For someone like me with so much trouble remembering names, this is mental suicide.

Jacob, Clayton and Terry were there waiting when I arrived, snuggled up close to the flirty DJ, and sandwiched between the plate glass front window and erstwhile party girl Zoe Murphy, her main gay, and what I suspect was her own mother, cooling their heels at the bar. I hadn’t seen Clayton since before the holidays so we had a lot of catching up to do. In short order, Joe arrived, followed by roommates Jeremy and JD. As I often do in these situations, when Terry told me that one of the people coming was on the Bravo series WorkOut, I for some reason thought it was Joe and assiduously avoided him, opting instead to sit next to JD, who it turns out was the reality show participant in question. The best laid plans of Mice and me.

It turned out that even our waiter was also a reality TV veteran, with three different shows to his credit. I am starting to think that reality shows are the new herpes. “Be careful going home with him. I hear he’s got a case of the MTV!!!” Waiter was very nice with a taut frame and the kind of ass you look forward to seeing in your face while he is waiting on the table next to you. But his TV exposure had apparently caused an outbreak that even infected his own apartment. When Terry asked him if he knew Davis from The Real World Denver, he became lovingly agitated. “He’s staying with me! He came for a couple of days and it’s weeks later and he is still there. I love him, but he has to go sometime!”

Despite having a reservation and waiting almost a full hour for our table, ELMO ended up splitting us up and putting us at two separate tables right next to each other. Clayton, Roommate, Andy and Ryan James squeezed into the booth across from us and I joined Terry and the J men at the table for six. Dinner went very smoothly but I started to sweat bullets when the check came. Looking around the table, I feared one of those situations where the check passes around and comes back seventy dollars short and everyone starts getting indignant about how they didn’t want to pay for an appetizer they only got one bite of while ignoring the three cocktails they consumed. We ended up only three dollars short and not wanting a fuss, I quietly threw in an extra five, grabbed my coat and started heading for the door.

Since Andy is underage, he and Ryan James went to the only 18 and over club in Manhattan, while the rest of us braved the cold two block journey to Barracuda for even more cocktails. As soon as we walked in, Terry informed me that Charlie was there, which was something of a relief. After a long meal of chit chat, it was nice to have someone else in the mix to talk to. Clayton and JD got cozy and Charlie became fascinated by Mike. “I love your roommate!” he gushed, ever the optimist, though he wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. Meanwhile, Terry and I bounced around from person to person trying to keep all of the plates spinning properly, occasionally meeting up in the middle to strategize and relive the good old days.

At one point, while standing at the bar waiting to order more drinks, Mike and I gazed over at the hot bartender in the muscle shirt I have lusted after quietly since moving to NYC eight years ago. It made me a little sad. He is getting older. That means I am getting older too. You always notice your own age in other people before you see it in yourself, no matter how intense your daily wrinkle checks in the mirror may be. And it is always sadder. But as Terry and I stood in the noisy throng, discussing our friends and laughing at nothing, no time at all had passed for me. We were kids again, having fun at The Abbey, back when they still served just coffee and stale pie. I guess that is what keeps old friends together. No matter how old you are, they never get old for you.

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.