looking especially heterosexual
Tuesday, April 17 2001
Today was Julian's last day as my co-worker. He's worked at this place for nearly three years, starting out as some punk teenager who participated in online chats and ending up as a project manager for Data Systems, not bad for a high school dropout. Anyway, in terms of career, he has nothing lined up and will probably end up doing a lot of serious slacking at the cheap studio apartment he shares in Silverlake with his girlfriend Linda.
After work today I rode my bike down to the Circle Bar just outside of Venice to retrieve my Chase Manhattan Mastercard, which I'd left there on Sunday night. I wasn't there long before the guys setting up the stage recognized me as the guy "who we had to kick out Sunday night." The bartender chick seemed sort of annoyed as she went off to retrieve my Mastercard, but when she came back she was all full of friendly helpful advice about another card I should get so I'd receive frequent flyer miles (yeah, I already have that card). I wonder if her sudden change of attitude was related to the fact that my card was in fact a Platinum card. In Los Angeles, nothing speaks quite as loudly as a status symbol.
The guys in the Circle Bar, including the manager and the DJ who'd I'd ticked off on Sunday night, were all really cool to me despite the fact that I'd been kicked out on Sunday. Evidently I'd almost knocked over his turntables when I'd been dancing. He compared my behavior to "playing hockey." After I expressed interest in leaving a tip (they'd already closed out my card), they were even friendlier, saying I seemed like a nice enough guy when sober. "Well, it was my friend, he egged me on!" I said in an effort to deflect some of the blame. The manager agreed, "Well, I'm sure he did." (He emphasized "he" in a knowing way, as if to tip me off that he knew that we're gay and it's perfectly fine with him.) Just before leaving, I confessed, "Man, I was on all kinds of... stuff... that night!" "I'm sure you were!" agreed the DJ.
Julian had told me that he and some of his friends would be concluding his last working day at a place called Jokers a block "west" of the intersection of Pico and Stewart. Wanting to participate, I rode my bike to that general area, but the only place I could find was a fancy restaurant called Josie's. So I checked a block east of Stewart and sure enough, there it was, Joker's.
Joker's is an extremely authentic dive bar, complete with pool tables, unenforced smoking rules and an all-male heterosexual white trash clientele. I ducked inside to see if Julian was there with his chums but he wasn't, just a couple of working stiffs filling out their plaid shirts and faded blue jeans, standing around a pool table but not playing, sipping on piss yellow American beer. In stark contrast, I wasn't looking especially heterosexual myself; my hair had been styled by bike ride breezes into a flattering coif and I was wearing that slightly-too-small brown women's jacket with fake fur collar that I like to wear. Julian, the fucker, must have been fooling when he told me to come to this place. As I turned to leave, the homophobic patrons hooted after me, "Yeah, you're glad you didn't come in here!"
Pedaling my bicycle across the parking lot and through the alleys of the neighborhoods just to the northwest of Jokers, I realized in a way I hadn't really before how different this part of Santa Monica is from the hoity-toitiness near where I live. Out in the alley there was a big hunk of non-Hispanic white male sporting a permed mullet without a trace of irony. He was doing some yard work, which consisted of pushing leaves away from the front of his garage with a sharply-directed stream of water.
My housemate John had cooked a hotly sweet el dente pasta dish for himself and Chun, and I joined him in eating it when I got home.
Later Gretchen called and we tried to have a phone conversation, but I was in a bad mood and didn't feel like dragging her down. This was mostly, I've subsequently realized, related to the fact that she kept saying "It's not all about you," every time I brought up an example from my personal experience to shed light on things she was telling me.
(It turns out that Julian wasn't fooling around when he told me to go to Joker's; I just arrived too early. Bathtubgirl went there and she had something to say about it too.)
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