Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Same place, same people—are we that predictable?

New York City bars used to be my dug out from most people I knew. I thought it was an unspoken agreement between the city and me. Then, something happened on Friday, which made me realize that either the city is shrinking or I am becoming socially predictable.

On that doomed Friday night, I was at my favorite dyke bar, Henrietta Hudson. Imagine your mom’s closet during a middle school seven minutes in heaven session. The bar is exactly like that. Two small rooms, packed with sneaker wearing, messy-haired queers groping each other, while listening to Blondie. It is that scene.

I like Henrietta’s for one main reason: I recognize no one that I know. Ordinarily, this being the largest U.S city, most people have anonymity in city bars. The queer community is however, different. Queers live in a we-know-everyone community, which transcends any and all city and geographic lines. This exists for two reasons. Firstly, we are all hoes in the end; and secondly, we date through our friends. As a result, I consistently find myself in a web of queers I know.

Fast-forward to now, I am standing in the closet, I mean, bar. It is about 11pm, with a medium density of high heels and Doc Martens. Bar access has been pretty good tonight. I have in the place about 30 minutes; and so far, I have made my way to the bar, ordered and have not been spilled on. Three factors that determine whether I will return to the place. These steps in order, I peruse the bar.

Suddenly, across the bar, I see her. I know her. It is not slurred vision; and, definitely not mistaken identity. I am looking at Baker, a person from college I know way too well. As far as I’m concerned, everyone knows a Baker.
There are two distinct Bakerisms that make her, her. Firstly, she will show up to every party and place you go; and secondly, she will always be in a shitty mood. I am not talking about cynicism or public anger. A Baker is a person for whom the sun does not shine.

In the case of this girl, every time I see her, she has just been dumped by her one-night-stand or girl of the week. I wish I could embellish her life more, but it is impossible. Baker has absolutely no luck with women. As if knowing about Baker is bad enough, listening to her rant is painful. I have had enough Baker encounters to know to avoid her and her looming self-deprecation at all costs.

When I think about it, I recall that in college, I could measure if I’d hit rock bottom low for the night based on my proximity to the girl. What!? I’ve just been dumped? Two people I’ve slept with are now making out across the room?! Oh look, Baker is next to me talking. Yes, I think its time to hear about how she has just been stood-up by her best friend who she decided to sleep with.

Anyways, I’m standing there next to the bar, under Henrietta’s searchlights, when my eyes lock onto Baker. For 11pm, Baker looks like she’s doing pretty well—definitely pre-drama. Baker stands amongst a crowd of femme-type chicks, women still in their Lillith Fair phase. On her arm however, is a surprisingly attractive lady, even by straight standards. I immediately scan the girl and think, “how the hell did Baker land this chick?” That question quickly trails into another, “do I want to know?” Unfortunately, Henrietta’s spot lighting does its job. Before I can get my accomplice and run, Baker sees me and makes a beeline.

“Hey, Ezzy,” she slithers. I hate nicknames. Baker has got an “I-look-like-I’m-the-shit” face on her. She and I go through the usual hi, what’s up stuff. I’m eager to avoid drinking with Baker and company, in fear of a return to misery-island. I leave to go to the all-forgiving bathroom asylum. Last time I tried to use a smoking break excuse, and I ended up with twenty minutes worth of lung cancer inhalation and Baker chain-smoking next to me. I figured the bathroom would be a safe haven. Luckily for me, Henrietta bathrooms don’t allow for multiple inhabitants and Baker didn’t seem to want to leave her companion.

When I believed that it was safe to roam the bar, I left my porcelain cubicle. As I have said before, Henrietta’s is a closet so I was able to make my way across the room, to find my friend and nightly social crutch. She pointed out that in my absence Baker had managed to piss off her new women; and, was now sulking by the bar. Hearing that, I was surprisingly comforted. “Yes, Candide, we do live in the best of all possible worlds.” Baker’s debacle reminded me that whether it is New York City or small-town wherever, we are still hanging out in the same room with the same people. No one really changes. We just switch clothes and faces. The best thing we can do, is learn how to cope. “Should we talk to her?” my friend asks. “No, we need to leave I say.” As bad as I felt, well, moreso guilty for Baker, experience has taught me when it is my cue to leave.

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