By Richard Bulkeley © 2004
"Tequila – it makes you horny."
The leering Hispanic barman winked at me as I waited for Lisa to come back from the toilet. I struggled to hear him over the noise that was probably best described as techno-flamenco music. His expression left me in no doubt. He had rumbled me.
Even though I was wearing my "gay party shirt" – a lurid orange brown and gold Hawaiian shirt - he knew. Even though we were in a small inconspicuous Hispanic bar in Toronto's homosexual party strip, he could tell that I was straight. I hadn’t touched Lisa, I hadn’t even stared at her ass as she walked away. Maybe it was some sort of subliminal discomfort I had. When gay men surround you, being straight is almost a dirty secret.
If I had a dollar for every gay man that I turned down on this Tuesday night pubcrawl, well, I’d have four or five dollars. About enough to buy a beer, not that I really needed to that night, between gay men and a blonde girl with an expense account, I got a lot of free drinks.
Lisa was a reasonably good-looking Australian girl with thick black hair and a big grin. She was fairly attractive, something of a tomboy, and the only person in the hostel willing to go on a pub crawl with me on Tuesday night. We’d quickly become friends at the first pub (the overpriced chain eatery near the hostel that we managed to drag a few other travellers along to). Since my closest male friend was the other side of the country, and in Canada that’s even further away than it sounds, I wasn’t going to ruin the evening by making a clumsy pass at her. Not yet, anyway.
I grinned at the bartender when Lisa returned and he gave me another conspiratorial wink. We quickly sank our tequila and left. The combination of lurid red lighting, and ear-splitting “music” was enough for us. The lack of atmosphere in this bar was the clinching factor. Gay men might have a reputation as party animals, but three of them can’t save an empty bar by themselves. They’re just homosexuals, not super-heros.
Fortunately, the next bar had everything right. The area around the pool table was clear, the music loud enough to be enjoyable, but not so loud as to impede the buzz of conversation from the reasonable number of patrons. The only downside from my view was a shortage of women. But the point of this evening was to get drunk and talk rubbish with the most compatible friend I’d met all month.
Or at least it was until Stephanie walked in. Lisa and I were sitting at a corner table. Lisa was discussing the threesome she had experienced, and how if the other girl wanted her to, she would fly to London (England, not London Ontario) tomorrow. Believe it or not, at that point in my life I didn’t find the idea of having sex with two girls at once particularly appealing. I can’t explain that either. I guess I was working out monogamy issues, having just been unceremoniously dumped (by email, nonetheless). Lisa, to her credit, believed me (it was the truth, after all). That hadn’t stopped her coming back to the topic every hour or so.
Suddenly, she stopped and motioned for me to follow her back to the pool table. I looked up and saw a guy and a girl playing pool. The guy was wearing tight jeans, a tight sleeveless t-shirt, and one of those chunky ethnic looking necklaces. But I wasn’t paying much attention to him. His companion was wearing even tighter black pants, and a tight long sleeved white top. She was a gorgeous blonde girl, and was definitely dressed to impress. We quickly fell into conversation, and Stephanie and Charles told us that they were employed by a Seattle company to travel around North America and research bars. At first I wrote this off as typical bar-vado (v. the act of telling alcohol-fuelled lies about yourself to be interesting). Charles was about as flamboyantly gay as a man could be. Later on in the evening, he would walk around the bar announcing at the top of his gay voice that he needed cock.
When we moved on to another bar, it became clear that they weren’t lying about the expense account, and that Stephanie was most probably straight. The other two abandoned us in the booth to join the other dancing queens. Charles was probably trying to get laid, and Lisa had worked out that I was on a similar quest. I had my back to the wall – not out of any fear of gay men violating me, just because I always like to sit with my back to a wall. Unfortunately this meant that if I looked straight ahead, I was staring directly at a big screen TV over the bar showing “Gays Gone Wild” or “Darren Does Dallas”. Something like that anyway. While I’m not homophobic (which is what all the homophobes say, but anyway), naked men don’t really interest me.
I’m a tolerant man. I am even quite flattered when men hit on me, especially since most of them were pretty good looking. But there’s really no contest in my mind between watching gay porn, and staring down a hot girl’s top. Especially when the girl is buying drinks for me and generally encouraging me to keep staring.
Anyway, we made polite, if inane, conversation over what could have been the soundtrack to the porn movie but was probably just the latest in happy-handbag-trance –house music. And then the drag queens began singing karaoke.
Here’s where it all got a little bit crazy, as if it wasn’t already. I was more than a little drunk – the only thing better than free booze is free booze bought for you by a hot girl. I’d also been awake for about 20 hours, and more or less living on a bus for a week before that. Anyway, Stephanie dragged me onto the dance-floor, and we began dirty dancing.
Then all of a sudden, it’s chucking out time, and we’re standing there trying to find Lisa and Charles. Charles was easy to find, we could hear him over the hubbub "I need COCK! I need COCK." Lisa wasn’t with him. She was busy dancing with a guy who looked surprisingly like Vin Diesel.
I’m sure I’ve left some events out, like the glitter lesbian and piggy-back racing from bar to bar. But that’s the kind of narrative incompleteness you get when your author is toasted (and by now was doing basically all of his thinking with his little head). Besides, sober life’s like that, and I try to make a point of keeping my stories short, otherwise, I get bored, and since I’m the only person who finds me interesting anyway, that would definitely be a bad thing.
Anyway, Lisa, Vin Diesel, Charles, Stephanie and I all ended up in a car. Charles was in the front, locked onto the subliminal gay-velengths that Vin was obviously broadcasting, and deep in conversation about something ridiculously macho like motor racing. For some reason, this seemed a lot stranger at the time than it does now. So, anyway, I was in the middle of the backseat, which is normally the arse-end of motor-vehicle seating. However, when you’ve got an attractive woman tucked up against each shoulder, it suddenly doesn’t feel so bad.
At some point, in amongst the random cruising and the light petting, we stopped at a traffic light. Now this happens a lot, in big cities, even at 4 AM. What kind of threw me was the curbside drug dealer. Now, New Zealand has world championship winning weed, and it’s the biggest industry in some areas. But, our narcotics industry hasn’t yet reached the pervasiveness of North America’s. The dealer is still usually a friend of a friend, or a guy at university, not some random dude on the street.
But, we bought our joint and lit it up without getting busted, or shot, or ripped off. To say I didn’t inhale would be a lie. It would be a nice nod in the direction of popular culture, and presidential scandal, but a lie. I inhaled. I inhaled gladly, and greedily. Whenever one of the women held pressed the joint to my lips, I sucked on it like I was trying to steal petrol from a super-tanker.
Holy shit! I suddenly noticed that there were a mismatched pair of intertwined legs on my lap. This baffled me for a while until I remembered that I was in the company of two women, and both seemed quite keen to get even closer to each other than the cramped conditions of the back seat allowed. I got such a huge grin when this fact re-established itself in my brain that my cheeks actually hurt.
So, we stopped at another traffic light, and all of a sudden, Stephanie threw open her door and got out into the street. We waited a full set of lights, or two, while Charles tried to calm her down. We were all a little confused by this, but eventually it became clear that she was having an attack of the paranoids.
“Bad weed does this to her sometimes,” he said. My hopes of a threesome died as the lights turned green again, and we drove off. Life, eh? It’s stranger than fiction, usually less satisfying, and much harder to organise.
Richard Bulkeley is a gentleman scholar from Auckland, New Zealand.