What's your New Year's resolution? Lose some weight? Quit smoking? Stop reading crappy, self-centered columns written in the first person? (D'oh! You already blew it, homie.)
Mine is simple. I keep 'em simple because I'm damn sure gonna break them by February. This year's resolution hit me late in December after I had heard "Cheeseburger in Paradise" for the second time in one day: no more crap music or commercial radio. This is a big step for someone who loves shitty tunes, but I'm officially tired of Elton John, Maroon 5, and any .38 Special song that's not "Hold On Loosely" (that song never gets old!).
My second resolution is to be more gay. I don't think I'm down for gay sex; I have a hard enough time with the straight variety. But I do want to spend more time with homosexuals. There's a whole city out there full of them, and instead of seeing aged punk bands or winking at cute hipster dudes in the Mission, this year I'd really like to snuggle up to some Oscar Wilde types. I already watch Project Runway, so I'm like halfway there.
"Let's go to the Metro Bar," I suggested to my friend John, who's not gay but who does keep a rather well-groomed beard. I have been wanting to cover Metro for Bouncer for a while, especially since it's a big advertiser on my favorite radio station, Green 960. The bar has recently changed locations, moving down Market Street next to Home restaurant.
The Metro Bar is predominantly gay. Sometimes when I am home alone I think about all the stuff that is going on around me in San Francisco. There are entire scenes that I know nothing about, cliques that I am not a part of. The gay scene is a good example. It is completely foreign to me, even though there are people who move here from all points east to try to dig into the San Francisco gay social life. They fall in and out of love, have random sex, find themselves and lose themselves, all under our very noses.
John and I took a seat at the bar. The place was half full, and everyone seemed to know each other. We ordered beers, and John started telling me a fantastical, picaresque tale about his run-in with some Colombian drug lords on a recent trip to that country, but I was half absorbed with my surroundings. From the sound of Metro's radio commercials, I pictured some glass-enclosed lounge- type place with overpriced drinks and overstuffed sofas. But the Metro is pretty much just your basic shotgun bar, with a pool table in the back and lively conversation in the front.
The real entertainment at Metro came from the bartenders. Every time a Britney song came on they would stop what they were doing, turn to each other dramatically, and start vogueing and preening like divas. You couldn't help but smile. I was happy. Gay people, I'm sorry to objectify you, but dang, you make me glad to be alive. I could even overlook the fact that I had already broken my resolution, and was listening to crap music.
Yep, everything was going great. I was downing the free peanuts (I love bar snacks! Thank you Metro!) and bopping gaily to the music along with the bartenders. But then something odd happened. I started to get a nagging feeling that I should head to my car. I can't explain it. We paid and left, and lo and behold, as I rounded the corner to Belcher Street, my wheels were surrounded by two cop cars. I knew what this was: my past coming back to haunt me. I hadn't paid my registration in over a year, hadn't paid any parking tickets either, and, to top it all off, had failed to appear in traffic court to resolve these issues. I was being impounded. "I'm sorry to do this so near to Christmas," said the cop, since this all happened over the holidays. The woman was actually pretty sorry, but was also a by-the-book sort. She handed me a piece of paper that said I was enrolled in the "Driver Offender Program." What the fuck?
"So, like, do I have to register every year on my birthday?" I asked, (rather bitchily, if I do say so myself). I got a blank stare.
She told me to grab anything that I needed from the car. Yet another cop car showed up. John was livid. "We were robbed last week and you guys never even showed up! Now you're going to tow her, and you need two backup cars?!" My other friends came out of their nearby houses and also lit into the cops. But I was resigned to my fate.
Having my car towed ruined my life. I need my car for my job. I had to come up with $2,000, way more than the jalopy is worth, to get it back. Why had I been so irresponsible? Why couldn't last year's resolution have been to pay my registration on time, instead of "eat more tofu"?
It was my mother, in the end, who bailed my car out a week later. She was in town for the holidays, and I felt pretty low, not only for letting her down, but also because I knew that I was no longer going to get a new car stereo/iPod player/Sirius satellite radio combo for Christmas. Instead, she spent the money for my gift on the City of San Francisco's Driver Offender Program. So much for my resolution to surround myself with good music.
After we paid at the tow yard, I saw her, head down, weeping. My mom never cries. My stomach sank. "What's the matter?" I asked her, putting my arm around her.
"Your life is a mess!" she said to me. "And you just seem so ... so ... hardened."
I said I was sorry, and that I would pay her back. She said I could pay her back by getting my shit together. I hadn't really budgeted for that in 2008.
"I'll try," was all I could say to her, making a resolution to not be a scofflaw anymore.
"Okay," said my mom, wiping her face. "Let's go home." God, did I feel like a loser.
I slumped in my seat and made a mental note to call a tax accountant in the morning, yet another thing I need to take care of before it's too late. I switched on the Bone to try to drown out the day's events. Plus I knew that my mom loved .38 Special. Yes, due to my own incompetence, I could now look forward to many more months of the Bone. Jesus God, I really did need to get my shit together. Yep, turning over a new leaf! Sometimes you just have to grow up.