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January 13th, 2007

Joe and I left my place at about 11:30. We stopped at the Bruegger's at Mission Valley, where I had to refrain from SHIFTING INTO UPPER CASE in terms of customer service.

The line was too long; the people serving too inefficient, resulting in slow customer service; the person who helped me mumbled; the cashier, who was the manager, was chewing gum, and "soliciting" customers to purchase chocolate candy bars she was selling for some church in Sanford.

Joe said that I should have said to her what I told him I wanted to say when she said to me, "I have one more candy bar; it's for a good cause, a Christian school," which was, "No thanks, the Christians haven't been all that good to me."  [Was that bitter dark chocolate?]

Two pitchers of creamers were empty, and when Joe asked for more, the manager handed him an almost empty quart of milk in a carton, and said, "Here you can just use this for now."



We had an uneventful drive to Roanoke, with Joe's required, and highly coveted, stop at the Sheetz gas station just after the Virginia border.

We checked into the Sleep Inn, which was fine after getting to a non-smoking room. Even though our reservation stated a non-smoking preference, and there were about two other people in the hotel, we were first given a smoking room, which was just nasty when we opened the door.

After settling in to our final room, Joe checked in by phone with his sister, Pat, and we made plans to go over to their house within the hour.

During the time before we left, we listened to the Riverdance story of the This American Life It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time episode, in which the Riverdance cast, some almost 50 people, decide to go in on a "syndicated ticket" for the lottery, which, as the title of the episode suggests, seemed like a good idea at the time.

In the episode, after buying the group ticket, the troupe works itself into a frenzy as the day of the drawing approaches, to the point of all agreeing at the performance on the night of the drawing: "we're going to dance for the lottery tonight." And they put on the most frenetic, convulsive, emotive performance of the entire run of the show— all in an effort to direct positive energy into their number being drawn.

You'll have to listen to the episode if you want to know how it all turned out.

At our stop at Sheetz on the way up, Joe had purchased a lottery ticket of his own. We decided after listening to that podcast that later this evening, at the bar, we'd drink for the lottery.



At Pat and John's, we had a short visit, burned a musical Christmas tree, and had a couple of drinks before heading out to dinner at Macado's.

Out behind their house, John, Joe's sister Pat's husband, doused a despised Christmas tree with gasoline, and set it on fire. It was a short (maybe 8-10 inches tall) Christmas tree with sort of layers of fringe for its branches, and a face on it, that "sang" a Christmas song while wiggling when you "turned it on."

John said later, "That sucker burned for a long time—all that molded plastic."

I retorted, "Uh, I'm not so sure it wasn't all that gasoline you soaked it with before lighting it."

It was kind of funny as the song kept playing, long after the face that moved when singing it was burnt to a crisp, and it only stopped at the very, very end, when the base finally burned.



We had a delicious meal at Macado's, and sat next to one of those "fun house" mirrors that distort your reflection. This one little boy got in front of it and was doing all sorts of contortions with his body and making the funniest faces. We had a good laugh over that.



We got to The Park at about 11:30, where we joined the end of the line, on the sidewalk out front, to get in. There was a hot cop at the outside entrance, who "patted you down" before letting you in. Who's idea is it to provide a hot cop to feel up a bunch of gay guys entering a club?

This is my second visit to this bar, and I'm more ambivalent about it now than ever before. On the one hand, it makes for an interesting night of people-watching, but on the other what one has to watch gets a little tiresome after a while.

I'd estimate that the clientèle this evening was probably about 30% straight people. Now, I have nothing against straight people—some of my best friends are straight, and I'm clear on two facts: 1) it's not a choice, and 2) if it weren't for straight people, there'd be no gay people. But I digress...

So, anyway, here's the thing. I can't quite grasp why a bunch of straight couples want to go to a gay bar, and basically hump all night on the dance floor, or along the walls around the dance floor.

This one girl, a waif of a thing, a blond with her hair pulled back in a pony tail is sleazed up against her boyfriend, who is also as thin as a rail, has his shirt off to show off his ribs, I imagine, and she asks this other guy, who has sleazed up against her from behind, to grab her legs and pick them up.

So the guys flip her around, the boyfriend holds her under her arms, the other guy picks up her legs and stands between them and is plowing her between her legs like some kind of reverse rickshaw gone awry. I wanted to ask, "Girl do you have any self-respect at all?"

This other, generously tattooed, couple was grinding all over each other all night long, often with his hand down the back of her skirt, which was no more than ten inches from top to bottom. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder at the end of the night, and say, "Dude, I hope you get it tonight, because you sure have worked for it."

I just don't get it—with all the places straight people can make out—why come to a gay bar and do it? Not to mention what would happen to a couple of homos who'd go to a straight bar to hump and bump on the dance floor all night.

Another part of my ambivalence (though some might call it bitterness) about straight people all up in a gay bar is this: while on the one hand, I think it's great that "we can all just get along," on the other hand it exacerbates a problem that gay people face all the time, but is usually not a problem in a gay bar. And that is, it's pretty safe to assume someone is gay if they pique your interest.

In "real life," you risk "getting killed" making such an assumption, especially about another guy if you're a guy, so if you do want to pursue someone, there's always "the dance." It's nice to be able to dispense with all that in a gay bar.

I realize this all sounds very melodramatic and like somewhat of a pity party, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

The other thing that gets on my nerves about this bar (as well as the one only other gay bar in Roanoke) is that they don't serve mixed drinks—only beer and a few choices of Smirnoff coolers.

I like the Green Apple ones, but after two, they're too sweet, and not something I want to drink all night long.

The music in this club is excellent however, and I saw two t-shirts that I really liked:

Strangers have the best candy.

Practice safe sex—go fuck yourself.

It's always good practice to end a bitchfest on a positive note.



Since I'd only had two drinks, I drove home—uneventfully.

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