Sunday, August 23, 2009

I want to take you to the gay bar! Gay bar! Gay bar!

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Jeff and I are going to try something new. I am going to blog first, then Jeff, and then me again. All in the same post. It make work for you. It may not. We're going to try it anyway.

JON: I grew up in Delaware, so thanks to a number of family vacations and school field trips...I've seen all that DC has to offer. (Or at least I thought I did, until I saw DC while riding a Segway.)

I even spent a summer living in DC in between my sophomore and junior year of college. It wasn't until I was chatting with our Segway tour guide, Emma, that I did the math and realized that it was ELEVEN years ago. I know ELEVEN years really isn't that long ago, but most days I still feel like I am in my mid-twenties so the very idea that I wasn't in high school eleven years ago came as a shock. A terrible, weird, I-know-I-shouldn't-be-making-a-big-deal-out-of-this kind-of-thing shock.

The summer I lived in DC was actually a big deal for me. It was the first time I ever lived in a bustling metropolitan area for an extended period of time. It was the first summer I spent away from home. And it marked the summer when my sexuality wasn't just a secret that my older sister and a couple of female friends at college knew about.

I decided to live in DC on a whim really. In early May of 1998, my high school roommate, Emmett, invited me to sublet his girlfriend's room for the summer at a house just on the outskirts of the Georgetown University campus. I had nothing else planned, so I thought "Why not?"

About two weeks into my stay at DC, I was hanging out with Emmett and his girlfriend, Urfa, with no real idea of what the plan for the night was. Before I knew it, I was stuck in a car with eight other people, driving toward Dupont Circle to go dancing at a gay bar called "Cobalt." At the time, I hadn't told anyone in the car that I was gay. In fact, I was in a car full of straight dudes and Urfa. (We were meeting Urfa's gay best friend, Andre, at the bar.) Needless to say, I was scared shitless. The only gay bar I'd ever seen was in this British movie called "Beautiful Thing," where two young homos get harassed by a scary drag queen. I was convinced that as soon as I walked into the bar, every homo would run up to Emmett, tell him that I was gay, and then, he would never speak to me again.

(The fact that Emmett was going to a gay bar should have been my first clue that he was going to be OK with the whole thing, but I was young, immature, and a total idiot.)

Nothing like what I imagined happened. There were no scary drag queens lurking in the corners. Instead, we just danced the night away. No one looked at me twice, because I refused to look at anyone but the carpeted floor, the carpeted walls, and the giant carpeted pole in the middle of the floor that people used a makeshift stripper pole.

The next night, I finally told Emmett that I was gay. His response? "I'm so glad YOU know." He hugged me and told me that he still thought of me in exactly the same way as he did before. In fact, if anything, telling him would make our friendship even stronger. And it did.

The rest of the summer was a blur, but the best kind of blur. It was filled with endless games of bullshit, marathons of "The Real World : New Orleans," and a few more nights out on the town. One night, I went on a date that ended up on the dancefloor at Cobalt.

While 1998 was a great year for me, it wasn't so great for Cobalt. The bar burned down sometime that fall. (I imagine that it had something to do with the fact that everything surface was covered in flammable carpet, but I could be wrong.)

So I thought I would never get to go back and relive the summer that changed my life...until I began researching places for Jeff and I to go out in DC. I discovered that somewhere in the past eleven years, Cobalt got remodeled and turned into a tri-level complex for the DC gays (first floor, restaurant; second floor, lounge; third floor, dance club).

So post-Segway tour, Jeff and I journeyed out into the night and into Cobalt.

It felt the same and totally different at the same time. The whole place felt brighter, friendlier, and less like the place that made me want to throw up. I'm not sure if it had something to do with the fact that I'm eleven years older, wiser, and more mature OR the fact that Cobalt 2.0 has a better lighting scheme and less carpet.

In fact, Jeff and I were having such a good time that we started wondering if perhaps the DC homos are less terrible than the LA homos.

Then, while I was waiting for Jeff to return for a quick pit-stop in the bathroom, a couple of drunk drag queens stumbled through the front door and headed straight for the bathroom. It was at that point I knew that my time at Cobalt was about to end.

I will now pause to let Jeff take you through what happened next.

* * *

JEFF: You know how some people are afraid of clowns because of their terrifying makeup and their lack of personal space and boundaries? Well, that's pretty much how I feel about guys in drag. I don't want them near me, I'm frightened by them, and they make me want to run.

Of course, sometimes... there's no way out.

After our second drink, I politely excused myself and went off to utilize the restroom. And, for the record, Jon knows that when I am inside of the bathroom--I don't want to interact with anyone: I don't want to make idle chit chat while standing at the urinals, I don't want to discuss the headlines with the guy reading the paper in the stall next to me, and I Most Certainly Do Not Want To See, Hear, Touch, Smell or Taste ANYTHING You Are Doing In The Bathroom.

So you can imagine my horror as I was walking to the sink to wash my hands, when a man in a gold mini-dress, giant heels and a brown wig entered. I almost crashed into his giant boobs, but managed to side-step him at the last moment. He smiled and laughed, made some drag-queen type smart-ass remark and I began to wash up. As horrifying as it was, I was just grateful that I had just finished using the bathroom, because if that run-in had happened five minutes prior, I almost certainly would have wet my pants.

As I was drying my hands, another drag queen entered. It was a rookie mistake on my part to stay in there after the first one arrived: I know they travel in packs. I should have been expecting more of them... but I wasn't. I let my guard down. And for that, I'll never forgive myself.

The friend pointed out that the first drag queen was using a urinal, and said, "Look at this! You'll never see this again!" He literally grabbed me by my shoulders and forced me to turn in the direction of his urinating friend. In any normal situation, the friend would have shied away, turning towards the corner so as to avoid the prying eyes of the stranger in the rest room.

But this was not a normal situation. This was a nightmare.

The urinating friend then turned to face me, his manhood peeking out from under his gold skirt. I was frozen with fear. The friend was laughing still: "You should take a video of this! I'm serious!!!" For a moment, I thought "Yes. I'll take a video of this for the blog readers." But I thought better of it--both for you and for me.

Because no one else should have to live through the things I've seen. And I certainly don't want to have video evidence of it.

I exited the restroom--the image burned into my retinas for all of eternity--and I asked Jon if we could leave. Thankfully, he complied. Luckily... we met Jesse at the next bar five minutes later and suddenly, the night was better. God bless you, Jesse. I hope you weren't beaten in an arm-wresting match with two hideous drag queens and left for dead somewhere. And I don't say that about just anyone.

* * *

JON: After Jeff's drag queen disaster in the bathroom of Cobalt and the catastrophe that was Jesse/JR at JR's, Jeff and I headed to a new bar in town called "Halo." There were about five people in the bar, so Jeff and I only stayed long enough to have one drink and take our picture in Halo's bathroom mirror.

The mirror in HALO features a HALO. Get it?

I don't know if you've heard DC, but I'm eleven-years older, wiser, and more mature.

And all you have is better lighting, less carpet, and more drag queens.

1 comment:

  1. Aww Jeff.. that does't sound too good!
    American lavatorial facilities are one of my pet hates anyway, so the added horror of being accosted there just makes me shudder
    Great story Jon, Emmett sounds cool