No, not THOSE Bears….I hate football. I’m talking about a very specific group of gay men that somehow stayed under my radar until about 1999 or 2000. First, I guess I should assume that someone will read this who has no idea what in the hell I’m talking about…so I’ll tell you about my “ah-ha!” moment in order to break it down for you.
It wasn’t until I moved to Minneapolis to attend Bible College that I experienced a town where “out” homosexuals could (to some degree) avoid the awkwardness associated with being gay in the midwest. I know that is a broad statement, I’m just saying that Minneapolis was pretty gay-friendly when I lived there compared to Kansas City. Up to that point I was a midwestern white kid who went straight from being a heavy metal and weed aficionado in high school, to a drunken college student in a GPA challenged fraternity, to a knee-jerk fundamentalist minister. I knew gays were out there, but I didn’t know any. Well, if you spend about five minutes in Minneapolis you are going to experience the culture, and in hindsight I thank God for that awkward experience. Long story short, your fundamentalist worldview is turned upside down when you make friends with homosexuals and have to realize “hey, they’re people”….I know that sounds trite, but that’s the process. The second big revelation is “so you mean that every gay man doesn’t look at every straight guy and want to convert/have sex with him?”. I realize that does not sound like rocket science…unless you grew up in Kansas getting worked into a tizzy in church and called it speaking in tongues. So when I left Minneapolis to come back to Kansas City I thought I was pretty fucking enlightened. What I didn’t realize was how narrow my view of the gay community really was….I was still under the assumption that gay men either WERE or LOOKING FOR those guys I’d see strolling down Hennepin on Friday nights in their muscle shirts, Daisy Duke cut-off jeans, white socks and Doc Marten boots (in below zero weather). Gay guys were looking for Ricky Martin……
Boy was I wrong. Flash forward to the late 90’s when I’m working a “normal” IT job, and my co-worker is a scruffy, bearded, flannel and blue jean wearing gay man. Something did not compute. I figured he was just all nerdy and backwards, with no hope of scoring big at the bars downtown where all of the flamboyant and lithe gays held court. And as you can imagine, it took me WAY longer than normal to put two and two together. Things never got strange between us, we worked together every day, travelled together for business, went to lunch a lot…..and I never really got why he was so fascinated with the fact that I could grow a beard so quickly. In fact, he was complimentary of me in general, which I just took as him being “girly” since gay men were looking for Ricky Martin, not an overweight bearded fellow like me. And I figured that his grizzly bear screen saver, brown bear dream catcher, and all of the bear related bumper stickers on his truck just meant he was like Grizzly Adams or something…..a real nature lover. So one day we stop by his new house during our lunch break so that he can show it off, and I got to meet his significant other. I would say this guy was around 6′ 3″ and 450lbs with a full beard, etc. And this was one of those great “ah-HA!” moments that I will remember forever as I stood there thinking….”Ohhhhhh…. BEARS! They’re BEARS!”. So then the dynamic between my friend and I changed quite a bit, because of course I was completely fascinated with this subculture, just like my constant fascination with the BDSM community, and he was more than willing to talk about the local Bear clubs, Bear Runs, cub etiquette, etc. So then a few years later, long after that company folded, I met some new Bears through a friend of mine and I think they were a little shocked at how much I knew about the whole scene. Some thought I HAD to be gay, maybe some still do…..but in reality I’m just someone that you literally cannot shock, and my attention constantly gravitates towards the most elusive and unknown splinters of society (but of course everything is elusive and unkown to me if it took me that long to figure out the Bears thing). The fringe is where I exist and am most comfortable. So this was cool…any group of people who considers ME a piece of ass rules! And I think Bears are probably the greatest ambassadors for the gay community because I find them to be incredibly down to earth and sincere. Sure, it’s a little off-putting when you see some gigantic guy just go to pieces over something like a “nelly queer” would do, but who cares? Bears are a lot of fun, they can drink a lot, they can eat a lot (yeah, I know, I’m generalizing), and there is a lack of pretentiousness that says either chill out and have fun…or get the fuck out.
So I say all of THAT shit to say this……I openly apologize to all of you Bears who have seen me as eye candy until now. Sure, I’m still a big guy, but I’ve shaved my beard and within the year I may lack the heft and the bulk that it takes to be such a tease. But I guess if guys like Tom Colicchio can still be considered bearish, then I’ll probably never be skinnier than that. I’m not arrogant enough to think that all of the bears I have known wanted a piece of THIS, but to those who did I can’t tell you how flattering it was, and how I will miss your lustful admiration going forward.
And now to the second big GOODBYE……. to Bourbon. First of all, when I refer to “bourbon” I am talking about the “whiskey” from Kentucky. There are few things in this world that will prompt me to punch someone in the throat…the first biggie is if you’re talking to me on the phone and you are eating. That literally sends me into a rage. The second big one is whenever people refer to liquors like Jack Daniels or Crown Royal as bourbon. They’re not from Kentucky, so besides the fact that they taste like shit, they can’t be bourbon. I don’t know why it bothers me so much when people mistakenly refer to drinks from Tennessee or Canada as bourbon…but it does. So if you call me up and you’re smacking away at a plate of food as you tell me tales of what a great deal you just got on a case of Crown Royal bourbon, be prepared for the wrath. The last thing to go through your mind will be “how in the HELL did he #1- get me on the ground that fast, and #2- actually get me to open my mouth and bite the curb?”.
My love for bourbon is well chronicled in decades of shenanigans, beginning when I was fifteen or sixteen. It was all about vomiting up puddles of Ten High or Old Crow at the drive-in…but even back then I could tell that the cheapo swill we got ahold of had something special about it. I can’t remember when it evolved into Jim Beam being “quality” bourbon for me….but at a similar price point, Evan Williams won out over Beam. It tasted better, may have even been cheaper, and I believe it was 90 proof vs. 80. Never liked Wild Turkey….but then at some point, probably in my mid-20’s I discovered Maker’s Mark, and that was my go-to booze for a long time. Then it was Knob Creek, which remained as my standard until I had surgery. I’ve tried them all…..Baker’s is great and overly potent, the high priced Pappy Van Winkle line is quite tasty, but something about Knob Creek just stuck with me. Great flavor, not too expensive, doesn’t pretend to be all fancy like that annoying and flavorless Woodford Reserve bullshit…just a fine liquor. Smooth enough to fondle, but harsh enough to respect.
I think of bourbon as an oversexed, buxom, dye-job redhead who is pretty filthy, not overly bright, but very friendly with no real concept of how hot she is. Her low self esteem and lack of insight make her approachable, because normally you’d be like “oh man, probably not going to get to sleep with her”. But you DO get to sleep with her! And it’s awesome! It’s the kind of sex with that sudden moment of clarity right in the middle where you find yourself going “so this is really happening”. Of course, as things move along you realize she’ll never belong to any one person, and while she is a very sweet and generous lover, there is a harshness to her fickle nature that forces you to realize the cost associated with allowing yourself to let her into your heart. Bourbon is a party girl. And it is not a smart thing to fall in love with a party girl. But I did spend many a year in the jail of her arms (forgive the Tom Waits ripoff), and there is no way to even BEGIN picking out a couple of classic tales from my repertoire without my mind reeling at the sheer number of bourbon sodden exploits. I can’t say that I’m PROUD of all of it, but I’m not ashamed either. Those were some good times, even when they sucked. Bourbon will get you through times of no women better than women will get you through times of no bourbon.
But unfortunately, those times are long past and shall not return. Unless I can treat bourbon good and proper, I can’t go near her at all. She’s got a demon in her. One of the best demons ever. Seriously, I’ve had bathtubs full of everything from Absinthe to Zacapa Centenario and NOTHING else has that little “Yip-EEEEEE!” in it from the very first sip. I know that when I first wrote “On Drinking” I was coming to terms with the role of liquor in the post-surgery lifestyle, and I guess this is an extension of that. I still drink wine, but I try not to keep a lot of it in the house because I don’t want to worry about drinking too much if I get bored or something. To be completely honest, when you can’t get that rush from overeating like you used to, I can totally see alcohol filling that void. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean….food was our heroin, and just because you have surgery doesn’t mean you’ve done a thing to overcome your addictive personality. It’s kind of funny to think about, but I can see where in today’s corporate culture (for those of us who work from home much of the time) becoming a high-functioning alcoholic could TOTALLY work for you. I mean, big business in America is very underwhelming as far as the expectations of its employees…being able to write poetry that makes it SOUND like you’re getting a lot done is much more important than actually getting anything done. The bar is not set very high, so drunken enthusiasm could take you a long way when it comes to being the model “team player”. I’m not actually suggesting anyone try it, but attitude really is everything, you know I’m right.
So anyway….the new plumbing does not like bourbon like the old plumbing did. I guess that’s a good thing because it’s one less vice to worry about. The few times I’ve tried it in the past couple of months, it just hits my system too quickly and too harshly. Instead of that giddy “yip-EEEEE!” feeling that I’ve always associated with it, it just gets me buzzed. Sure, buzzed is good but when it comes to that filthy little whore from Kentucky, I am all about the romance and the foreplay. And now there is none of that because it rushes into my bloodstream like Gatorade, bypassing all of the cheeky buildup. So the moral of the story is….unless I can totally ABUSE A SUBSTANCE properly, then it’s best to just let it go and remember it fondly. I’ll just stick with being one of those wine drinking bitches who gets all pissed because all I can get at whatever dive bar I’m at is wonderful Riunite Lambrusco or some such shit…. on the upside I guess at least I’m in good enough shape now to fight off any ruffians who think they’re going to pull a hate crime on my ass when they shithammer the wine drinking gothic queer….
So anyway, sorry for the delay between posts during the last couple of weeks, and for the less than optimum creativity. Things are very, very busy, which is good. I do find that as I lose weight I get more involved in all sorts of things and generally overextend myself. I just realized today that the wedding ceremony I’m officiating is two weeks away and I have yet to write any of the verbiage for the service….and then there’s graduation (on the same day), a big bbq contest, work, travel with my stalker, Nashville wine auction, birthday, opera, landscaping/herb garden planting, farmer’s markets, homework….my plate is pretty full. Not to mention I have a couple of potential “legitimate” writing opportunities that I’ll be pursuing. The good news is that the next couple of months should provide PLENTY of material for the blog.
Oh yeah, if you get a chance to catch “Kids In The Hall” during their current US tour, I highly recommend it. I went with a friend of mine the other night, and it was a hell of a show. Plus, in my latest brush with greatness, Mark McKinney called me a sonofabitch during the encore as he was playing the head crusher. So there you go, an even more disconnected closing than usual….