Friday, October 8, 2010
The Bubble Bath, Part 16
Editor’s Note: We have just entered a sports bar on a Sunday afternoon in Philly. We are fully expecting the upcoming experience to be a wild circus of testosterone and people who didn’t understand the concept of “inside voice”…
This did not turn out to be the immediate case.
Yes, there were several large TV’s scattered about, all of them showing men in various colors of tights knocking each other down in the interests of moving a football to this little area where you could do creative victory dances. I normally didn’t watch such stuff, but I knew enough to realize that the simple airing of these games usually caused people to bellow directives at the screen. This didn’t seem to be happening.
In fact, the sprinkling of patrons in the bar seemed to be rather sedate, calmly watching the goings on whilst quietly sipping beverages. This was slightly unnerving. There should be boisterous behavior and back-slapping, not lethargic consumption of what looked like weak tea. Something was very wrong here.
Troubled, we decided that perhaps we should distance ourselves somewhat from this dubious gathering of Stepford people, in case whatever they had was communicable and there was the possible risk of ours truly behaving ourselves in the same discreet manner. That simply wouldn’t do.
We moseyed our way to a small group of tables on a long, slightly-raised platform running along the front windows of the establishment. This elevation factor satisfied our natural gay (and gay-friendly) tendencies to both dominate a room as well as arrange ourselves in a manner that allowed the regular folk to see how fabulously we lived. It’s just something that our people do.
Once settled, we waited with anticipation for someone to arrive and see how they could satisfy us in a beverage-serving capacity. This took a bit longer than I really expected, getting dangerously close to a minimum-grade annoyance level. Finally, some woman wandered out of wherever they were storing her, and approached the table.
She inquired if we might be interested in menus.
We were not. No, we just wanted to drink. Thanks for checking, though.
This relieved her somewhat, realizing that she wouldn’t have to transport hot plates across the massive expanse of the restaurant and then climb that dreaded single step up to our viewing platform. Well, then. How would us lovely people like to start off on our journey to inebriation?
Bubbles and Terry announced their selections, and our server, who we’ll call Belinda, nodded sagely, as if they had made a smart choice that would allow them to live to see another day. Then she turned to me.
“I’d like a vodka gimlet, please.”
She looked at me as if I had just spoken disparagingly about her vagina. “Excuse me?”
“A vodka gimlet.”
She turned to Bubbles and Terry, deeply concerned. Apparently I was a foreigner visiting her beloved country, and I was having trouble with the language. Could one of them possibly assist with a translation?
They could not, staring at me with same look as Belinda, as if I really shouldn’t be talking about personal orifices in such a manner, especially since we had just met Belinda and it was a bit unseemly of me to be so intimate.
I sighed. “A vodka gimlet,” I repeated, as if repetition would somehow solve this impasse, and Belinda would suddenly be struck by a bolt of insight out of the overcast, slightly dreary Philly sky. Stranger things have happened. But not this time.
Belinda reluctantly turned back to me, hesitant and a bit dismayed that I might start making more tribal gruntings that she did not understand. She did, however, remain professional in our conversation, trying to prepare me for possible devastation and loss concerning my request. “I’m not sure he can make that, but I’ll check.”
By “he”, I’m assuming she meant the bartender, who was currently standing behind the nicely-carved wood of the bar, and staring at a bottle of Scotch in his hand, as if wondering how the mysterious item had managed to get there. My prospects were dim.
Belinda hustled off to place our apparently-challenging drink order. Since the staff would most likely have to consult some reference material, or possibly even the Vatican, it might be a while before we could expect to quench our thirsts. So we turned to gaze out the windows and people watch for a bit until Belinda and Scotch could work on their intimidating task.
Now, I am by no means a fashion expert. For years, my favorite attire has been an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt, preferably without a pocket, because I don’t care for my chest to be uneven. That’s it. So it’s really not my place to judge the efforts of folks who might want to gussy up a bit more.
However, the parade of people passing by outside (and just WHERE were so many people going on a dreary Sunday afternoon?) had all apparently signed some type of clothing manifesto which required them to wear outfits that were starting to the eye. This was not just sloppiness or disinterest in their appearance.
This was calculated couture abuse.
Nothing matched. Nothing. None of them had ever heard of an iron, or hair product, or clothing that didn’t have a stain of some kind. Things were unbuttoned, torn, or generally disheveled. The general theme seemed to be that if anything you were wearing actually coordinated with anything else, then you were doing something unforgivably wrong.
I tried to get Bubbles’ attention. “Am I really seeing this?”
Bubbles couldn’t even tear her eyes away long enough to glance in my direction. “I told you I hate Philly.”
Then a horrible thought struck me. What if I was so out of touch with current fashion that my sartorial sense had been irreparably damaged, leaving me adrift in a hopeless sea of non-worth and decay? Would there be eventual retribution? Would I have to surrender my gay card for failing to keep up with critical developments in Paris and Milan? I was nearly immobilized with fear and confusion.
But that only lasted about three seconds and I was over it. When you get old, you just don’t care as much. About anything.
There was a clatter and a clump as Belinda returned from the bar, bearing our drinks on a small serving tray and smiling bravely. She placed frosty offerings in front of Terry and Bubbles, and waited for them to sample such. They both did so, and then nodded approvingly. Of course their drinks were fine. They had had the decency to order things that people could recognize. I, however, had offended nature and mankind by speaking in an unknown dialect and requesting a drink formerly unknown on this planet.
Belinda turned to me, still bravely smiling, although I could detect a bead or two of sweat on her otherwise unblemished forehead, her tender skin completely free of wrinkles because she was still young and hadn’t yet faced enough disappointments in life.
She gently set my glass on the table and gave it a delicate push in my direction.
Behind her, I could see Scotch pretending like he wasn’t leaning over the bar in anticipation of my review, even though he was. Gathered before him were roughly 700 bottles of liquors, liqueurs, and mixers, along with the remains of a lime that had clearly been violated in a societal uprising of some kind. So at least he had tried, and therefore I must show appreciation for his efforts. Even if the showing resulted in the frantic calling of medical authorities.
I raised the glass to my lips…
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