Monday, March 28, 2011
Our visit to a blue collar bar: "There's a pair of fags..."
Last Friday night TBM* and I joined several guys at the Magna--yes, Magna--community theater production of Man of La Mancha. I hadn't seen the musical since playing the padre in my high school senior year and thought revisiting Spain during the time of the Catholic Inquisition somewhat appropriate given my current situation. Besides, the friend of a friend directed the play, so attending was sort of a holy act of obligation.
And Magna...visiting Magna was like visiting 1975. It reminded me of Happy Days with a rougher edge. (I actually expected to see Richie sitting across the theater and was more than a little disappointed when he didn't show.) Anyway, I doubt much has changed since the mid-70's--the narrow main street, the brick storefronts, the line of bars one after the other.
Suffice it to say that Magna is the most blue collar town I've ever seen--in my life (?).
After La Mancha, TBM and I were walking back to the car when one of the bars we approached began calling our names, louder and louder the closer we got. Having never frequented a bar in a blue-collar town, we decided against our better judgment to investigate.
Opening the door confirmed everything I imagined a blue collar bar would be. The dark, run-down saloon was crammed with cowboys, miners, and their women knocking back one drink after another. As my eyes skimmed the room, I instinctively noticed TBM and I had suddenly become the focus of everyone's attention. To underscore the general discomfort of the bar's patrons, a woman some twenty feet away mouthed to her drinking partners, "A pair of fags."
The cowboys at her table stared at us in a most threatening and unwelcoming way.
Well, I thought, this could be interesting.
After taking a deep breath, I made a bee line for the woman's table and immediately struck up a conversation with everyone drinking near her. Initially, the group was a little reticent about talking with a "fag", but as the conversation progressed, their natural affability kicked in to overdrive. Before we knew it, we were discussing the weather, the bar and Magna in general. Much to the consternation of their male admirers, the women were cooing over TBM in particular, praising his "beautiful face and nice ass."
When the band struck up a song, two of the women asked us to dance. I have to admit that this made me a bit uncomfortable. Despite the fact that they obviously knew we were "batting for the other team," I didn't want to incite any jealousy on the part of their attending barflies. Although TBM tried to maintain his distance and particularly tried to avoid dancing, the women found his handsome demeanor irresistible and within minutes we were both on the dance floor boogying with a pair of inebriated bar gals, much to their delight and our consternation.
After a couple of dances, I helped my wobbly partner to her table. Finally regaining her balance, she put her arm around my neck and held me close. Then she said, "You know, I really like gays. I teach Sunday School at the Magna Bible Church and I know what the Bible says about you. I really do worry that you're going to burn in Hell. I don't even like to think about it." She then began weeping and collapsed in her tears on the drink-laden table.
This was the signal for TBM and me to make our escape. As we bid our farewells, our new friends seemed honestly disappointed at our departure. They each gave us hugs and demanded we return soon. As we walked from the table to the door, I heard one of the women ask her male companion with more than a little disappointment in her voice, "Why can't you be more like them? And why are all the best guys gay?"
*To understand a bit about my relationship with TBM, see the following posts: February 19, 23, March 1, 3, and 5. We continue to see each other 3-4 times a week. Why? For my part, it's because I enjoy his company as much or more than anyone I know. For him, I have absolutely no idea.