Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Haunting

I really hate traveling. I hate the process of booking flights, rental cars and hotels primarily because I hate being taken advantage of. I hate that I could pay $250 for an airfare and the guy sitting next to me only paid $100. Of course, being an MBA, I understand the concepts of supply and demand, pricing elasticity and other crap like that, but it doesn't make me feel better to think that the tiny bag of peanuts and a half can of soda really cost me $150. I felt like ripping the peanuts out of the other guy’s hands, but I really don't want to get into trouble.

Instead, I go to the lavatory and steal the almond-scented lotion and soap and stuff my pockets with complimentary tampons. I figure I can always give it away to my poor Asian relatives as gifts or something. They go crazy for airline shit like that. They think "United Airlines" is a luxury brand.

When I was about twelve, after we arrived home from New York in one of my first airplane trips, my mother gleefully opened her carry-on baggage and showed us the stuff she took from the plane.

She drew each item out of the bag, pausing to show it off, turning it this way and that, as if she were one of the girls on The Price Is Right before laying it on the floor for us to examine. She drew out the two cute, little coffee cups, all the modern looking silverware we used, the square compartments that once housed the bland, tasteless salad and squished carrot cake. Then at the bottom of the bag, the pièce de résistance: the tray that the whole thing came in.

Those were the days when the stuff they used on planes were cool and worth "taking." My mother never thought of it as stealing because we had already "paid" for it. For the longest time, I never gave a thought this, I just thought that this was the way things were. I think that I only realized that my sainted mother was wrong was when a few years ago, the hotel concierge stopped me after checking out and asked why I was taking the mini-fridge with me.

In our recent trip to San Francisco, Brian and I stayed in this hotel called the Warwick Regis Hotel. We had used Hotwire to book the rooms. Hotwire offers hotel rooms at a big discount. They provide you with information on where the hotel is, what the star rating is, etc. What they don't give you is the name of the hotel until you book it. Again, as an MBA, I understand this. Ostensibly, this is to prevent a prestigious hotel from having a low (cost) reputation, which to me, is ironic for one particular hotel chain whose celebutante daughters are running around spreading VD.

I felt a little worried about our hotel accommodations since I had not heard of the Warwick Regis Hotel, even it had a five-star rating. I was betting (hoping) that a hotel that named itself after Dionne Warwick and Regis Philbin would not be a fleabag hotel. The location was great, a block away from Union Square.

As we walked into our room, I was relieved that it was clean, if a bit small and slightly humid. What I didn't expect was that it was going to look like my grandma’s boudoir, if my grandma was French and a high-class hooker, which she wasn't--she only charged $20 for oral.

The bedding was covered with a heavy, dark taupe damask. The pillows were the same but trimmed with gold tassels. The wallpaper was antique looking, a shade of tea rose with a fleur-de-lis pattern. There was a small velvet curtain above the bed that draped over the headboard. You can read more about the rooms here. The descriptions are fairly accurate; the décor is tasteful, if a bit fusty.

Brian and I only had sex once in that room in the three days we were in San Francisco. A vacation should surely be a time when sex should be plentiful. But try as I might, I just couldn't get the image of my grandma lying on that bed with a black lace corset and bright red garters out of my head.

It felt a little like a haunting. I kept thinking my grandma, who passed away a few years ago, was looking over my shoulder giving me tips, telling me to breathe through my nose, be careful with my teeth and not to forget to tenderly massage the balls...

Other posts about this trip to San Francisco:

Part 1: Wedding Party

Part 2: Boystown USA

Part 3: A Haunting

Part 4: Detour

Why do tampons have strings? For people who floss after eating.
- Tampon Humor at the Museum of Menstruation

Oops, my tampon is showing
I thought beer cozies were weird, look at this.
Just in time for Christmas: Tampon Angel Ornaments
Tampon Bowling Game

Contestants lose their tops at The Price is Right
Public View of Paris Hilton courtesy of Avatar at Overworked & Underf*cked
What an MBA can do

Friday, November 19, 2004

Boystown USA

I suppose that for San Francisco, the notion of having a gay ghetto like the Castro district is almost redundant. Although for most gays, I think the word "redundant" is redundant in itself. Our culture is a Culture of Excess; why wear one tiara when five is so much more fabulous? And three nostrils make it so much easier to snort coke, even if it bleeds sometimes.

I think in San Francisco, the Castro district is almost an anachronism, a quaint little reminder of how gay folk over there used to need a safe place to meet, congregate and smear body glitter all over each other. I mean, if you live in San Francisco and you're in the closet, you must be one fucked up dude. You should really do something about that, like, give me your phone number so we can hook up.

We are immigrants of a sort. We followed the yellow brick road and ended up in the pink ghetto. We arrive at the gates downtrodden, with dreams of finding friendship, love and a full body makeover.

There are many of these ghettos, these boys- and girls- towns all over the world, little pockets of fabulousness and gaiety. It may be a string of gay merchants on a block, a couple of gay bars on the same street, or the little wooded area behind the gas station.

We invented "reinvention." It is necessary after having to go through our shared stories of leaving our families and homes to find a better life, more tolerant community, a higher thread count in our bedsheets. For myself, I wanted a fresh start, away from all the sadness and pain inflicted by those who didn't know my safe word.

In my neighborhood in Chicago, I found a great gay community; friendly and welcoming. I was ready to come out of my shell, meet new people and blow copious amounts of my wad and I wasn’t going to stop until I find my one true love or until my balls shriveled up.

Even though I miss my family a lot, I don't think I could have become the man that I am today if I had not moved away and into this gay neighborhood. I needed to find my own way and I couldn't do that with my mom and dad looking under my bed for gay porn.

I still live in Boystown, but I find that I "need" to live there less and less. I find myself thinking about moving out. I think once I thought that this was my final destination: to move into a big city and into the gay neighborhood.

Maybe it's because I am getting older. I no longer need the neighborhood as much I used to. Or maybe it's because more straight people have moved in and it doesn't have the same "feel" anymore. I mean, it is really awkward to use the same public toilet with someone who refuses to use the gloryhole between you...

Other posts about this trip to San Francisco:

Part 1: Wedding Party

Part 2: Boystown USA

Part 3: A Haunting

Part 4: Detour

My Online Gay Neighborhood
Advice for Recent Arrivals - Dos & Don'ts & More Don'ts for Gay Boy Refugees
What is a Safe Word?
Public Toilet Museum
Anywhere can be a public toilet for women with this
An Executive Toilet

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Wedding Party

Ahh, San Francisco, the City By The Gay, the world's largest importer of lycra and lube. A city where a "painted lady" refers to a Victorian-style building or a drag queen. Within its boundaries lie the Castro District, our Gay Mecca, the place where all homosexuals come to pay tribute to the Holy Trinity of camp, couture and club music.

Brian and I flew to San Francisco to attend a close friend's wedding party. My friend had eloped a couple of weeks before, with only a few people attending witnessing the event. I think it's a good way of getting married, unless of course you have a $65,000 Vera Wang wedding dress, in which case having less than 650 guests would be just plain stupid. I have a theory that the number of people invited to a wedding should be directly related to the amount a bride spends on a wedding dress. I mean, if you spent less than $300 on your dress, then you shouldn't really be inviting a whole lot of people because you could be endangering their lives with those yards of flammable fabric.

As we emerged from the plane and into the airport, I was a little disappointed that there was no banner proclaiming "WELCOME GAYS." I always thought that since this was the gayest city in the world, that I would be immediately swallowed into Mardi Gras-like festivities, our flight attendants pulling out feather boas and bursting into song. Instead, it looked just like any other major airport, "modern," encased in glass and just a tad dingy. No matter, this is our Mother City, we were happy to be here.

In my mind, the gay people in San Francisco would be plentiful and easily identified by their looks, mannerisms or cutting, yet witty remarks. It would be like finding a city full of long-lost sisters. I imagined striking up a conversation with a stranger about culture, art or the STD du jour.

But the people of San Francisco, while friendly, did not seem more gay to me than the gays in my own backyard. I felt uncomfortable in my outfit: tight-fitting velour pants, baby blue blazer and an ascot tied around my neck.

Did I miscalculate? Should I have packed clothes of a more subdued palette like lavender and crocodile? Or maybe there is a new fashion trend going on in the West Coast? It seems that the current trend looks to be some sort of straight drag--brilliantly ironic, I must say.

At the wedding party, everyone was casually dressed. Both the bride and groom were in t-shirts and jeans. It was a wonderfully sunny day, filled with hope.

It brought to mind that only a short time ago, San Francisco had voided all the thousands of gay marriages that were performed when Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the county clerk to issue licenses to same sex couples.

I wondered what my newlywed friends would say if somebody told them that their marriage was null and void. It seemed to me ironic that people have decided that the only way to defend marriage is to strike down the marriages of people who are fighting for the right to be married.

May God bless your marriage, my friends, let no man put them asunder.

Other posts about this trip to San Francisco:

Part 1: Wedding Party

Part 2: Boystown USA

Part 3: A Haunting

Part 4: Detour

Monday, November 08, 2004

Press Here

En route to San Francisco, I saw this at the Chicago O'Hare Airport:

press here to listen to your congressman

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I voted today. Got up at 6am and went a couple of blocks to the local voting station to cast my vote.

Outside, the sky was overcast and it was raining lightly, but I felt strangely clear-headed, enervated, possibly because I didn't have time to take care of my morning wood, which is what I often need to steel myself to get to work. It's just a little pick-me-up to get me through the workday. Also, I find that it makes me less likely to want to rub one out at work. But I digress.

The last time I voted was for Jon Peter Lewis in American Idol. He had me at his little trippy "A Little Less Conversation" dance. I called the toll-free number like, fifty times in one night. It's funny, I think, that more people participated in voting for American Idol than the last Presidential Election. Maybe we could use the awful American Idol outtakes as a weapon to drive the terrorists out of their hiding places.

The local Jewish temple served as our neighborhood voting location. The first time I had to vote there a couple of years ago, I felt a little trepidation going into a house of worship that is alien to me.

But the nervousness fell away as I walked through the temple doors. There were no statues or pictures of beatific figures laying prostrate, bleeding, suffering from stab wounds, dying. It was G-rated as opposed to a Catholic Church's R-rating. Just plain wood paneled walls like a country club--perfect for Bingo Night.

At 630am, the place was just starting to get crowded. I was voter number 67. I ran into a couple guys I knew from the neighborhood. We smiled wordlessly at each other. It felt good to see other people performing their civic duty—it didn't matter to me whether they are voting for my candidates or not. We were all participating in the system. People were friendly and open. I'll have to remember that this was a great way to meet guys. Bonus: there was no cover.

I am not worried about the results of the election. If George W. Bush wins, it will become the impetus for all of us to try harder to make things change.

I remember that just a few years ago, until people told us we couldn't get married, gay people would have been happy to have a less-than-equal civil union. And years before that, then President Reagan steadfastly maintained that an AIDS crisis did not exist. It will be ironic, that the efforts of right-wing extremists to encroach on my rights will be the catalyst for protecting them.

Voters in 7 States OK Gay Marriage Ban
A Fisher-Price voting device
Voting for Dummies
Virtual Church - pray here
Virtual Religious Experience