Mama always told me to get a gay roommate, but I never listened ... until now. It took him all of two hours after moving in to completely transform my house into something that I actually wouldn't mind the landlord dropping in on for once.
My roomie covered my raggedy furniture with slipcovers, delicately tucking hither and thither to get just the right fit. He lit aromatherapy candles to assuage the rather bodacious smell of guinea pig. He excavated my mountain of coats next to the doorway, and since there are no hooks to hang them on, he folded them (who folds coats?). Throw pillows popped up on my chairs overnight like lil forest mushrooms. The cat bowls were cleaned, uniformly filled, and delicately placed on the kitchen floor like offerings to the gods. He dusted the freakin' television set. "There!" he said. "Now you don't have to walk in here and feel anxiety. It's all clean now."
Although it has been nice to see my Victorian restored to its former glory, my roommate is wrong about the anxiety. There is no way that someone as clean as he is can live with someone as, er, unclean as I, and not eventually feel resentful — and that makes me anxious. And by the way, all you neat freaks out there? Some of us on the slob side don't always appreciate being picked up after. If we put a magazine down somewhere, we'd sort of like to be able to find it again when we come back into the room three seconds later. So, to be honest, I'm a tiny bit out of sorts. I'm wondering whether my home is now a nice place to visit that I wouldn't necessarily want to live in.
All of this is fitting, because my roommate is the same guy I've been hitting the gay bars with, which also leave me with the "nice to visit, wouldn't want to live there" vibe. At least I get to hear a lot of '80s music and disco, and the drink specials at Badlands are pretty killer, too. But ultimately, like two strangers meeting on a train in Europe and having a brief, passionate dalliance before heading off into opposite destinies, I know that my time with the gay scene is numbered.
This really began to sink in when I was at the Mix on 18th Street, watching its Gay Dating Game thing. First off, I ran into my new boss, which was sort of awkward. Seeing me there must have confirmed for him that I was gay, since most of my co-workers and clients seem to think so. "It might help if you didn't wear that mechanic's jacket," said my roommate's boy toy for the evening. He was right. I was also wearing a flannel shirt, though I did push up the sleeves in what I thought added a feminine flair. "No," he said, unrolling them and redoing them for me in a way only a guy who worked at Barney's can.
The Mix is a great space. There's a traditional bar in front and an open area in back with another bar, tiered benches around the sides, and a lanai-type feel. At first I thought the place catered to an older crowd, but it seems that most of those guys sit in the front. Out back were younger faces, including the contestants on the Dating Game. The acoustics were pretty bad, so I couldn't follow a lot of what was happening, but the main contestant (the chooser) was ridiculously cute.
The last time I wrote about a gay bar I got hate mail from a reader who objected to my use of the term "fag hag," and decried what he saw as my use of gay men as "accessories" instead of people. Well, not-so-kind-sir, read on, because you are about to really be royally pissed with me.
As an outsider who has spent time barhopping with a 22-year-old-hottie (my roommate), I've discovered some of the stereotypes about the S.F. gay bar scene are true. I have heard men say that the guys they meet in bars are just interested in hookups and not relationships, and that looks reign supreme. To be fair, you could say the same thing about straight men. It's just more blatant in the gay clubs.
"Oh, my God, your friend is like, so cute," the guy from Barney's said.
"Yep, and he's a really great guy," I replied. "He worked with developmentally disabled people and he has a big heart. He's really easy-going, too, and ..."
"He is so freakin' hot," the dude interrupted.
It became apparent that he had no interest in my roommate as a person. This has happened several times, with potential suitors leaning on me to see whether my roommate would respond to their approach. Conversely, he doesn't seem to feel the need to have someone look into his soul, either. He will go out to have a smoke with some guy, make out with him for five minutes, and then come back and flirt with someone else.
"Dude," I asked my roomie that night. "What is it like to go out and just know that you can go home with whoever you want, that you will always be approached for sex?"
"It's like being gay," he said with a smirk.
The time came for the final audience vote on the Gay Dating Game stage, where we all clapped for our favorites. I had chosen the guy on the far right, who said he played the guitar. I couldn't actually tell what he looked like, because I had long since lost my glasses.
"He's the cutest," said a guy drinking a Long Island iced tea.
I admit that all of my observations may be sour grapes. I've found that, looks-centric or not, straight men in San Francisco do not approach women at all. I have been out with some really beautiful, single women, and it's like pulling teeth to get Mr. Cool Pants to deign to speak to you. One of my girlfriends just moved to Nebraska, where she says it's much easier to meet people. "San Francisco is wack," she added.
It was near the end of the evening, and my roommate was making out with the Barney's guy while I nursed my last drink. The room was full of gay men having a ball, despite the end of the Dating Game. I realized that to really enjoy myself at a gay bar, I need entertainment: a drag revue, or the Project Runway finale being aired, or a retro game show playfully re-enacted. I felt out of sorts. I made a mental note to bring my roommate to one of my bars next time. Gay bars are fun, but I don't always want to live it up there.