Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

More Barfly Observations

I'm still hanging out a lot at the Minneapolis Eagle, particularly on Fridays and beer bust Sundays. When I say "I'm still hanging out a lot" I mean that in the sense that my shirt always winds up unbuttoned, but I've written about that before, in particular how the social mores within the walls of a place like the Eagle are different for me than they are pretty much everywhere else so that's not as odd of a behavior as you who know me otherwise might think. My old friend Tom, whom I've known for over 15 years from the Freedom Band and also the Police Band, says that he still can't get used to seeing me standing around unbuttoned. But how else can I do my shirtless studies, in which I take note of what percentage of men at the Minneapolis Eagle on a random Sunday afternoon will cast their gaze downward at my chest when I walk by as if they are straight boys and I am a girl with boobs (generally about 1 in 18, although my friend David says I'm missing all but the most obvious)? There is something surreal about seeing that very particular gaze directed at me. And amusing. Very, very amusing.

For the most part I still leave the Eagle feeling as if I've been at a party of some sort. There is a group of regulars I chat with, guys who really are there primarily for the social interaction and publike camaraderie, although flirtation is definitely the undercurrent. But it's light flirtation, along the lines of this guy David (a different David) who sometimes just looks at me and raises an eyebrow and shakes his finger and says, "Someday...". But mostly he and his buds are sitting along the wall out on the back porch, occasionally singing random pop songs. Last Friday I got them started on mid-sixties stuff, which caused a couple of guys who had never talked to me before to come up and put their arms around my shoulders and sing with me and make requests. See, it's a party!

But I meant this to be a post of observations. I have two of them to make. One about rudeness, and one about what guys will say when they're trying to pick you up. These are obvious observations to anybody who ever did the barfly thing at gay bars, but I'm still dewy and naive about it all (and I plan to stay that way, thank you very much).

The bar rudeness I see is a sort that is not limited to bars. Sometimes when you are talking with somebody a second person will come up and interrupt by talking to the person you are talking to as if you were not there at all. As I say, this is common in general, but it seems to be a much more common form of rudeness among people who have been drinking. But the worst manifestation of this, of an intensity I had never seen until I started hanging out at a gay bar, is when somebody is out cruising and wants to hit on the person you are talking to. The cutting-in choreography is so blatant and bizarre that it's not even annoying. There is a startling focus to the rudeness, sometimes even a physical pushing of you out of the way. What's interesting to me is that in all the times this has happened (at this point we've got a pretty large sampling) the person I have been talking with has never once responded positively to this, so blatant and offputting is the rudeness (as they wouldn't be talking with me in the first place if they weren't enjoying my company, for the most part). You'd think that negative reinforcement of this sort would curtail the behavior, but it doesn't seem to in the slightest.

My second observation du jour comes from a recent small cluster of men who have expressed an interest in me. As I've said, I go to the Eagle for the sociability of it, for the conversation and the beer buzz and the networking and the flirtation and the occasional sense of possibility. But I have not, as of this writing, ever gone home with anybody. I love it, of course, when men express interest -- how could I not? And in time I'm getting to know people, and nothing is completely out of the question, but since I'm not specifically at the Eagle for the purpose of finding somebody to go home with I occasionally find myself at cross-purposes with somebody who is there with a different goal in mind. What this means is that I'm trying to get to know them, to joke and laugh and talk about things and maybe flirt a little or a lot, while they're trying to get into my pants. Tonight.

What happens is that after a while the interested party starts to delineate for me all of the specific physical attributes I have they find appealing. I find this embarrassing, although not unpleasant. But what is the appropriate response, for example, to being told you have great forearms? (Well, I suppose the desired response is not verbal in nature.) At this point I have learned more about the symmetric and downward pointing nature of the hair on my chest and belly than I would ever have thought to observe on my own.

Those blandishments are stage one, which is usually as far as things go. But sometimes there is a different stage, when the interested party starts to abstract at a higher level and tell me how attractive they find my general iconic image (although they don't use those words). This is where it gets interesting, because this abstraction has been pretty consistent among the gentleman who have made it and yet it is impossibly far from my self image. What I hear is that I come across -- iconically, mind you -- as a regular guy. (Stop smirking.) Evidently I am seen as a contrast to a young club-styled smooth-skinned gay guy. I have some girth (bears in their personal ads use the word "stocky" here), and body hair, and a manner of dress that reads (to drunk guys in a leather bar) as "masculine". (If you don't stop smirking I'm going to hold my breath until I turn blue.) What a hoot.

It really is all in fun, for me, and so far (with one exception) I've managed not to offend anybody in my response. In fact, this has enlarged my circle of bar acquaintances. But it's definitely an interesting recent trend.
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