Saturday, January 28, 2012

Craze The Titanic

When I bought my house five years ago, I did it because I loved New York City but I wanted some quiet so I could sleep in on the weekends. There is just something not so restful about someone screaming “White Jesus” outside your window every Sunday morning. I don’t know why. But the unintended consequence of moving upstate has been not so much peace and quiet as a flat line where my social life used to be.

I am derisive toward anyone who posts too many photos online of their baby and heaven help them if their baby is a cat named Emily Dickinson or even, as a random example, a camera hog of a pug. But lately I have found myself white knuckling it everywhere I go, desperate to show people the photos of my newly remodeled bathroom I keep on my phone. Yes. It happened. I turned into one of those people I hate. So when ADD Jeff wanted to go out tonight after the show, and I found myself explaining to him that I couldn’t stay out late because I had to get up early to take things to the city dump. Even I could hear the dull thud as the words fell out of my mouth. That was it. I needed to go out.

Tonight was the opening night of the new XL nightclub. Naturally, I was there last night for the preview soft opening. John Blair gave me a gold card and I plan to use it until it disintegrates in my gnarled arthritic hand. But when ADD Jeff and I brushed past the lengthy line, my waved card was met with an upheld hand from the head of security. I could ignore the line, he assured me, but ADD Jeff would have to wait alone in the cold. That seemed unfair and since Ryan White wasn’t there yet and Matt Kugelman was waiting for his friend Mikey before meeting us, I figured I might as well join the proletariat one last time.

While in line, we met some very nice Swedes who were visiting New York. The guy had left his phone in a cab and some polite New Yorker who answered when they called it offered to meet him the following day at 11am to give it back to him. “I won’t be up that early,” he whined over his friend's shoulder. “Make it Noon!” Apparently you don’t need to be in Manhattan long before you start acting like a New Yorker. The two girls he was with were very nice. They humored me in a brief discussion of The Killing, which was especially kind after ADD Jeff blurted out his surprise that Sweden had its own language.  Our friendship was short-lived though because another security person spotted the gold card in my hand and whisked us out of steerage and away to another shorter line and we never saw the Swedes again.

ADD Jeff and I milled around inside the club for a while. Like an old hand, I showed him all the sights: the dance floor, the hot shirtless bartenders, even Lady Bunny, who took our picture from inside the DJ booth. Soon enough I got a message from Ryan that he was outside but only had a credit card and no cash. I left my drink in Jeff’s hand and headed out there to use my gold card to get Ryan past the line and hand him a twenty so he could pay the cover. But when I walked outside with my stamped hand, the security guard on the sidewalk said, “No re-entries. You have to get back in line.” I tried to show him my magic gold card but he just shook his head. “Back into the line. No exceptions.” But I wasn’t born yestergay. I took handsome Ryan by the hand and walked up to the drag queen who was working the door. He took one look at Ryan’s chiseled features and my gold card and ushered us right in. That instant! And that’s how the gay world works.

Once inside, we ran immediately into Kugelman and his friend Mikey. Mikey assured me that we had met before at Industry even though Kuge never introduced us. That sounded familiar and I am quite certain that I wrote about that in my blog. I have a habit of doing things like that. The five of us lapped around the bar a few times, looking for the right lighting and the right air conditioning and the right hot guys to stand near. Finally we ended up at the back bar behind the dance floor. I looked around for the fat bartender from the night before but he was nowhere to be seen. I am just going to assume that word got out that he was the fattest of the hot bartenders and he was eliminated at the end of the evening, like on a reality show.

Ryan snaps a photo of us himself after ADD Jeff fails to get it right.

While we were standing there, I spotted James, who wandered in wearing a crisp button down shirt and somehow seemed two inches shorter than the last time I saw him. In my head, I always think of him being more than 6’5”, he is such an imposing figure. But he is only a few inches taller than I am, and I guess if my posture is good, we look more even. I was so happy to see him and he seemed somewhat relieved to see me. But it was hot where we were standing and he was sweating up a storm so he grabbed a drink and headed for a vent of air conditioning. I don't blame him.

Moments later, Matt’s friend Abe bounded up to us with his friend Scott in tow. Abe was enchanting but there was something wrong with Scott. His stance was somewhat akimbo and I couldn’t tell if he had a slight physical disability or if he was just really drunk. He was sweaty and kept smoothing his hair down even though it was already as flat as my vowels. ADD Jeff thought he was cute, so he tried to reach out and touch Scott, but he recoiled as ADD Jeff’s hand got near his head. Maybe he was a little autistic I thought before settling on a new medical diagnosis: alcoholic palsy.

 “Do you live here?” I asked him, trying to be polite (like I was to Adam last night), but as he continued to smooth his hair I added, “Here? At the bar?” He swayed a little as he looked down. “So nice meeting you!” I offered and turned to Kugie who was very amused. “See!” in a single word summing up a consistent thread in my nightlife adventures, “I don’t make this stuff up!”  It turned out that what drunk Scott wanted more than anything was not conversation but dancing. Jeff also wanted to dance, so Scott took his hand and dragged him willingly to the dance floor where they danced for about ninety seconds before breaking down into some serious tonsil hockey.

Deciding it was better to both beat them and join them, Ryan and I headed down to the dance floor. If I didn’t already think Ryan was the best thing I ever found in the back of a taxi, our trip to the dance floor confirmed it. Ryan was hilarious. Not only is he a great dancer, but he is a hell of a lot of fun. He aggressively danced up on ADD Jeff and Scott, he dance gestured to random strangers to join us from the sidelines and when the Black Eyed Peas' The Time came on, we reenacted, at his insistence, Baby not being put in a corner. It was incredible.

ADD Jeff and Scott disappeared and Ryan and I moved further into the dance floor to find his friend Jeffrey who was there with a bunch of hot guys (this one, that one, maybe others) and Jeffrey's boyfriend Blair, who I recognized from their recent collection of beach vacation photos where the two of them seem to be in some kind of two man global arms race. We all shook it a bit more on the dance floor and then, a heaving sweaty mess I excused myself to the bathroom.

Somewhere between when we wandered off to the back bar and when I went to pee, XL exploded into a full-on melee. I pushed my way through the crowd just to get to the bathroom. It was already nearing time to leave so I was getting worried I would have time to get back to the dance floor and say good bye. After I peed, I was walking up the stairs and some queen grabbed the lighted hand rail a little too aggressively and the shit came unmoored and started careening down the staircase right at me! I dodged to the side and caught it before it hit anyone. I set the railing aside and headed to the coat check. That was it. The place was coming apart at the seams. Time to go home.

At the coat check, I ran into Kugie, who was leaving with Mikey and Abe to spend the rest of their evening with a Saudi Prince and Princess who earlier fell in love with Mikey and wanted some kind of new gay best friend/ Sex and the City fantasy fulfilled. I plucked ADD Jeff off the dance floor and tried to find Ryan to say good bye, and as I got to the exit door, I spotted him leaned up against the wall.

We said good night but it wasn’t as simple as all that. The door man wasn’t letting people out because there was something happening with the fire department outside. It was like trying to get a lifeboat on the Titanic. I had a train to catch and I wasn’t going to miss it just because the bar had reached capacity. I waved my bag and the door man relented and let me leave. Outside the cool night air hit me like a wave of love and I sauntered past the row of hunky firemen and the line of desperate latecomers as I headed for the train. The ending was chaotic and even though I have a sinking feeling tomorrow morning will really suck, I think I’ll survive.


DelAllen said...

Sentence fragment ... really Derek? (End of second paragraph) I am ashamed for you!

Derek Hartley said...

I don't mind a fragment. I appreciate a loose interpretation of language in writing!

Capt. Jeff said...

Love your blog Derek!

Kenneth Walsh said...

And I thought Ryan White died in 1990.

Derek Hartley said...

As he so helpfully pointed out the night we met, he did not die of AIDS.