As I've written before, the latest game at the Eagle is that either I or somebody else unbuttons my shirt for the evening, and people will engage in flirtatious touching. What some people learn during this activity is that the gentle stroking of my chest and particularly my nipples just stops me dead in my tracks and paralyzes me. In fact, people have learned that this is a quick way to shut me up, immediately. This feature of my wiring came generally known at last year's LISA conference, where silencing me suddenly in this fashion became a running theme of the week.
Last Friday I was sitting at the bar in what somebody described as "the power seat", where I can face the room and nurse a beer and watch the world go by. When I do this, folks come up to visit over the course of the evening. Sometimes they stroke my chest, and sometimes they decide to play the shut-Steven-up game, which is what was happening on Friday. A man I had not previously met joined our group because he was trying to pick up my friend qvamp, and after a period of general talk he joined the game by extending it to include the use of ice cubes over my sensitive areas which, I have to say, was not an unpleasant sensation at all.
Then he upped the ante. He dared me to recite the Declaration of Independence. After a few words I realized that this is not a document I know well, so I said that I could probably do the Gettysburg Address. Ok, he said, recite the Gettysburg address. So I started in, "Four score and seven years ago..." and he got a new handful of ice and tried to distract me from the recitation. I felt as if I were in a game show, but I soldiered on, each sentence a struggle to get out. Vivid in my head is the point where, grimacing through the distracting pleasure, I panted out, "...in a larger sense (breathless pause)...we cannot dedicate ... we cannot ... consecrate ... we cannot ... (bigger pause) hallow this ground". At that point I could barely breathe, but I continued on. qvamp thought that I was inserting random biblicisms, but no, pretty much the whole speech came back to me. I ended in a quick rush "...andthegovernmentofthePEOPLE bythePEOPLEandfor thePEOPLE shall not perish from the earth" and then a big sigh. By that point the ice was pretty much melted.
I'd be lying if I claimed that the experience was not a pleasurable one for me, but never for a moment, however paralyzed and distracted I was, did the glorious absurdity of the situation escape my notice.
I still suspect, however, that I'm not really going out to a gay bar with the same goals as most of my fellow companions. And I still think it would be a hell of a lot more fun if we sang drinking songs there.