Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mirror, Mirror, On The ...

Two different friends needled me about the quick demise of this blog, so I spent a few minutes paging back through my google calendar to figure out exactly what I'd been doing in lieu of blogging.

The answer: certainly not dating. In the last two months, I managed a scant two dates -- both in early January and both pretty forgettable.

The first was with a kid who was frighteningly similar to me, down to the close cropped hair and facial scruff. He'd spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan, embedded with the military and working as a translator, a job I would've killed for. We had similar interests, both considered ourselves grungy backpackers at heart, and had both spent more than our fair share of time globetrotting. It was like going on a date with me.

I am sad to report that I found me bracingly boring.

He wanted to make small talk in Farsi, which I found strangely abhorrent. I think he assumed I couldn't understand him (please: that Tehrani dialect was clear as a bell), but in reality I was just grappling with an unexpectedly visceral reaction to it. Odd, given how often I have extended conversations with myself in Farsi.

I'm normally good at cutting people people off definitively. I usually say in no uncertain terms that I enjoyed myself, and that I'd be happy to hang out again as friends, but that I don't see a romantic future in the cards for us. I know that I'd prefer it if people would have the courtesy to do the same for me; just ignoring text messages seems cruel. But somehow when dealing with a facsimile copy of myself, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I never returned his texts.


Unrelated sidenote: I am typing this, as always, on a blackberry while sitting at a bar. The two people next to me are, respectively, a club promoter and a gay DJ, and their conversation is so piercingly vapid that it's sapping my will to live.

("What I'm envisioning is a theme based on cake -- both in the Marie Antoinette sense, and in the very real sense of cupcakes. Because that kind of juxtaposition -- I mean, god I just love juxtapositions. We need to come up with a name for this. Maybe ... 'Worldwide Cake.'")


The second date actually was a second date -- my first ever off OkCupid, which I was hoping was maybe a sea change. I had high hopes: the guy had seemed interesting enough over our first date (ramen noodles in a pseudo-Japanese noodle shop that I love) and attractive, albeit desperately in need of a haircut -- an architect with a mop top.

But I was bored over dinner -- sushi and sake -- and bored over drinks after, at a wine bar for which I had a groupon. (I will concede that thrift and romance are a poor match -- but I go on enough dates that good lord, I'll take savings where I can find it).

I kind of saw that our future wasn't super bright, but I'd had enough to drink that making out with him on the sidewalk outside of the wine bar -- in front of the bar's massive window, with people inside actually pointing at us -- seemed like an excellent idea.  His rather breakneck style of making out, though not pleasant to experience, made up for its lack of precision with an excess of gusto. For a brief moment, I thought he was going to gnaw my face off.

I confirmed our lack of future by going home with him, a mistake I was fully aware of making at the time.

I ran into him a month later at a friend's party -- I was leaving as he was arriving -- and did not recognize him at all. I think it's because he'd gotten a haircut.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Like Heterosexuals, But Different.

I returned to DC after Christmas and learned that Omega, DC's diviest gay bar, had folded unexpectedly.

Omega is the kind of bar with sticky floors, but where the stickiness seems kind of sinister -- like your shoes sticking to the floor might somehow end in hepatitis.  I had last gone in early December, before Christmas. I had been suffering from an insatiable desire for nachos, and my buddy Montana had come over for tacos, which are like vertical nachos but somehow with less guilt, and after two bottles of vinho verde and a pound of taco meat, Omega seemed like a great idea.

The highlight of Omega, which I always forgot and then was always horrified by, was the Men of Omega gogo dancers -- uncoordinated men of questionable attractivity who jiggle across the bar in horrifying g-strings. That evening, our fellow patrons assured us, the Men of Omega were in fact slated to make an appearance.

("You would think," said germaphobic Montana as one strutted by later that night, "that if they're going to walk on the bar, they would at least wear clean shoes").

The first dancer that evening was an unremarkable college student.  He was followed by a guy in dirty jeans, a cowboy hat and work boots, and then came the prize of the evening: a Latino gentleman with a time-worn face and a plush puppet -- puppy-shaped -- strapped over his genitalia. He had taken some sort of pharmaceutical erection enhancement to keep the dog's face upright, and was encouraging patrons to grab the puppet and stuff dollars in his socks. "Pet my dog," he kept purring.

Both of us tried desperately to avoid eye contact, but it was impossible -- there were only a half dozen people there, making blending into the crowd difficult.  That, and the dancer took a shine to Montana, gyrating in front of him for so long that eventual eye contact became inevitable.

The dancer grabbed Montana's wrist, shouted "pet my dog!" and ran his hand down the length of the puppy. This continued for a phenomenally awkward 20 seconds that were simultaneously very skeezy and not at all sexual.  There probably is a sub-demographic of the gay world that's into plush puppy penis puppets, but sadly neither Montana nor I fit that bill.

"Don't YOU want to pet my dog?" asked the dancer after deciding he was done with Montana. "No," I said, icily enough that he moved on.

After it was all over ("you're not gonna give him a buck? After all that?" I asked), Montana turned to me.

"I'm not sure things like that happen in straight bars," he said.


I ran into my old military commander from Afghanistan, an affable and charismatic naval officer with an easy grin and a sarcastic comment for everything, on the sidelines of the High Heel Races, DC's annual pre-halloween drag queen spectacular. I'm not normally one for drag queens, but the Drag Races are possibly the best people watching in America, and the costumes make it worthwhile.

This year's best costume was the Gay Barrier Reef -- four gentlemen with massive PVC pipe structures protruding well above them, covered in a sea anemone-like layer of waving ballons studded with stuffed Nemos and other cartoon fish. Almost equally good were the Ladies of The View, who dressed as Whoopie et al and ran down the street with a table and coffee mugs in front of them.

I was standing there with the Commander, taking it all in, when a gentleman strolled by in a leather vest and assless chaps, wearing a thong and not much else underneath. He had a hairy chest, a leather cowboy hat, and a serious air of We're-Here-We're-Queer gravitas.

"THAT," I said to the Commander, "is why we can't get married."


I was on one of the gay iphone apps, looking to see who was around, when I got message from someone named "Master C."

His profile, in part, read as follows:

Be serious and real at all times!
Every sentence must end with "Sir!"

I knew I was in for a treat, so I opened his message.

"Are you a single man that is ready to serve a master?" it read. "The only acceptable answer is 'yes sir' or 'no sir.'"

I didn't respond, though retrospectively I might've missed out on the single most blog-worthy date of the year.


I met a journalist buddy for Ramen in Adams Morgan. He and I had been in Afghanistan together, and he's one of those infinitely interesting people who's good to have as a friend. We ordered, among other things, some Oshinko -- japanese pickles -- to start.

"I went through a big artisan pickling phase when I was living in Beijing," I said offhandedly.

"Really?!" he said, almost lustfully. "I've really wanted to get into pickling. Everyone in Brooklyn is into pickling these days."

He's straight, so maybe not all quirks are reserved unto homosexuals.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

All Natural: An Obligatory Christmas Post

My brother is the family champion as far as procreation is concerned, and he and his wife have produced the world's most laid back three year old. She is always happy; has no known vegetable phobiae; is perfectly distracted by crayons, making her a pleasant companion in restaurants; and does not cry ever, even at the harsh, three-way intersection of gravity, hardwood flooring and roller skates. She is, in other words, as close to perfect as a three year old can be.

My mother was understandably thrilled at the arrival of a grandchild. She had written me off -- disqualified on a technicality, you might say -- and had reached a point of frustrated resignation with my brother after years of pestering. The arrival of a granddaughter three years ago was the physical manifestation of all her Christmases come true.

The three year old is calm and quiet. But my mother, elated to have said three year old in the family, has somehow vacuumed up her grand daughter's latent loudness, leaving shrieking as her primary means of communication. She has for unknown reasons nicknamed the three year old "Girly Girl," a name she calls out in such a piercingly high-pitched tone that it puts an involuntary crick in my neck and causes my brother's elderly Jack Russell terrier to flee the room.

It's one thing at home. I can handle it at home. But in the cereal aisle of the madhouse CostCo in Denver, next to the nice ladies giving out free samples of mini quiche and Mediterrenean pizza and blueberry-pomegranate juice ("all natural," all three assured me) -- this aggression cannot stand.


My parents and I have generally agreed not to talk politics. I had spent most of October aggressively canvassing for Obama, while my parents have turned the corner from mad-dog republicans into full on tea party patriots.  "You never call," my mother said at Thanksgiving, but I had nothing non-partisan to say, and she takes Yes We Can -- Si Se Puede! -- as a personal affront. Communication by fleeting text message seemed the only solution.

("At dinner. Having crabcakes. Will call you this weekend," I would lie, hoping the crabcakes would distract her into forgetting that we hadn't spoken since September).

My parents are tea party patriots and suffer from the surfeit of rage that tends to plague Fox News's core viewership. Surviving any major holiday thus requires an IV drip-level of consistency in alcohol consumption, and the greater Denver area consequently saw a spike in sauvignon blanc sales during my time there. I was aided and abetted by my brother's wife's mother, whose veins run with malbec and who constantly reassured me that 11 is far from too early to start drinking. "I'm not sure why you waited so long," she'd say, corkscrew in hand.

The elections in general and the Obama campaign in particular provided a focal point for my parents' simmering rage. When November sixth came and went, dashing their hopes for a president who understands that taking money from the rich is unconstitutional (is communismno, is quite simply un-American and is really just plain wrong), it left my mother's wrath in free-floating form, with no obvious target. It seems that said wrath has been redirected at my father, though not in any manner that would be deemed rational.

There was, for example, a brief moment during Christmas dinner when my mother verbally assaulted my father for passing food in a counterclockwise direction around the table.

My brother and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and my parents both pretend to like to cook, though in reality my father installed a second microwave in their home so their dinners could be done at the same time. At one point my mother declared that she wants to break into vegan cooking, and my father, brother and I all simultanously asked why, lacing the question with a healthy degree of derision. My mother ignored my brother and I and whirled her head around at my father. "As IF I have to EXPLAIN myself to YOU," she hissed.

My brother tried to cut the tension: "The only reason to cook vegan," he said "is if you have a vegan friend who's become unbearably annoying about it."

It was just after 11 in the morning, and I poured myself another glass of sauvignon blanc. "It's all natural," I assured my now-vegan-friendly, tea party patriot mother.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

File Under "Irrational Anger"

"You may at times be hit with waves of what seems like irrational anger," they tell you during the Afghanistan after-action outbrief. I didn't think it would happen to me; I like to think of myself as laid back and even keeled. But then the guy in front of me at Chipotle waffled for what seemed like ages over what kind of salsa to get, blocking my burrito's access to the cheese and sour cream, and I thought -- if this keeps up much longer, I'm going to fork you in the fucking throat.


I ran into a college friend at a bar and he welcomed me back to DC. "Glad to be back?" he asked.

"I am," I said, "but I'm really tired of talking about Afghanistan." A friend of his, clearly on his way to blackout drunk, only heard the word Afghanistan. "That's so cool!" he slurred. "What was it LIKE?"

I sighed, but it was lost in the thumping techno. "It was fine," I said. "I survived."

"Well, where were you? What were you doing?"

"It's not important," I said, trying to move away from him.  He put his arm around me, hand on my lower back, and then slid it further down. "You have a really nice ass," he said.

I was secretly pleased with that -- I had spent the summer cycling and a nice ass was one of the desired outcomes -- but I was annoyed at his pawing. "I don't think I know you well enough for your hand to be on my ass," I said.  He slid his paw to the front of my shorts, and I smacked it away. "Enough," I said firmly. He grabbed at my crotch again, and I grabbed him firmly by the forearm and leaned in close.

"If you touch my dick again, I'll break your fucking wrist," I said.


I went and got a library card in the hopes that the massive MLK branch downtown might have a CD of Anna Bolena, the first opera of the Kennedy Center's season. (They didn't -- they only carry it in vinyl).

Just outside the library, a homeless person lurched towards me, reeking of urine. He pointed a finger at my chest and said, "gimme a motherfuckin' dollar."

For whatever reason, my gut response was to snap back at him in Pashto, a guttural language I don't really speak but love the sound of. He stepped backwards suspiciously, broke eye contact, and spoke
pointedly into the air next to me.

"I SAID, gimme a motherfuckin' DOLLAR," he said, without much conviction.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Opening Sally

I met the pheasant hunter for drinks in Adams Morgan.

We didn't appear to have anything in common -- I like running and cycling and drinking white wine, whereas he likes killing game birds and other small animals.  But there's a certain appeal to having someone show up at my door with pounds and pounds of free meat ("ooh, a brace of pheasant -- you shouldn't have!"), so I thought I'd give it a shot.

He also seemed decently witty. "On a scale of queen to lumberjack," he had asked, "how would you rate yourself?" 

I agreed to a date at a straight bar with a good beer selection, figuring I could drown myself in Dunkelweiss if he was horrible.


He did all the talking, and all we talked about was hunting. He got a little wistful about trailing his father in frigid temperatures searching for good duck blinds, and assured me that if I hadn't had freshly killed grouse cooked in cast iron, I hadn't lived.

He only came up occasionally for air, when he'd toss out things like, "I've talked about myself a lot -- tell me something about you." And then he'd look at me expectantly. It wasn't the best conversation tactic, and I kept going back to hunting.

"So, on a scale of one to ten," I asked, "can you evaluate for me the accuracy of Nintendo's Duck Hunter?"

"Oh, it was quite accurate," he said.

"So, do you have a bird dog that laughs at you when you miss the ducks?" I asked.

"Huh?" he said.


"To be honest with you, I don't think I could identify a pheasant OR a grouse," I told the pheasant hunter.

"It's easy," he said. "Pheasants have white feathers on their wings, whereas the grouse you can tell more by sound -- they sort of go 'GOBBLEGOB-BLLBLBLBLLLL.'"

"Oh," I said. "Well. That clears THAT up."

Saturday, November 24, 2012