Saturday, August 4, 2012


so there we were sitting at a bar...

my friend claims that from reading columns in gay newspapers and magazines, you would think gay men only ever sit at bars and watch men pass by or go out on dates with those men they saw pass.

i have spent a lot of time sitting at bars with friends, but i have not spent much time on dates.  most of the time i can’t convince myself that having dinner and awkward conversation with a stranger is a constructive use of my time.  for this reason, i’ve developed a simple criterion to decide whether a man is worth inviting on a date.  question 1: have you read the structural transformation of the public sphere by jurgen habermas?  if you have, you may be the perfect candidate for further conversation.  if not, let’s exchange some quick banter and leave me to my beer.

i’m joking about this.  i’m not that self-centered.  i just finished a year-long relationship though, which is a huge span of time for me, so i’m feeling picky about with whom and how i spend any amount of protracted time.

spending time with my friends has always been important to me, no level of inebriation.  alcohol just seems to lubricate conversation, to pull people together, as it has for centuries.

so there we were, drinking pitchers of beer of amnesia last night: john, mikiel, and me.  a lot of beer into the night, i dizzily and drunkenly tripped up n. mississippi ave to my apartment, made myself a quick dinner, and passed out.  at seven the next morning with spinning vision, a headache, and a metallic taste in my mouth, i snoozed the alarm twice before forcing myself out of bed to quickly eat, dress, and brush my teeth before jumping on my bike and pedaling the five miles to the office.  hung over commutes by bike are the worst.

i basically didn’t get anything done last night.  i dropped off some books at the library then headed to the bar.  the plan had been to clean up around the apartment, make some dinner, read, and relax for a bit before bed.

and so i get too drunk to date.  i'm okay with this.

and though i don't date, i gave seen a lot more gay men drinking beer at amnesia lately.  gay watch 2012.  mikiel, john, and i keep our eyes open for gay dates there.  it's a strange phenomenon.  we've been haunting that bar for years, are familiar with the bartenders and the other men who frequent it.  low-key, relaxed, sports always playing on two tv's, it's not particularly romantic, though it does serve my favorite beer in portland.  so why the suddenly surge of gay dates there this summer?  we will usually now see two or three gay couples everytime we're there.  which is often.

maybe all we do is drink and date and look for new bars. but there's probably something more to our lives than that.

on north mississippi avenue, there are two significant phenomena:

first, these gay men are choosing amnesia to meet their dates and buddies.  while i love that bar, it's not romatic like i said.  i wouldn't take a date there, though i drink there all the time.  but these men dig it.  it's not some loud gay club.  it speaks to different sensibilities.  they like the bar for the same reasons i do: good beer and a great patio.  it's just surprising to see so many homosexual men there, suddenly this summer.

the second significance of this change in amnesia's patronage may be that this indicates a greater change in north portland.  nopo has always had a significant queer population.  most of my closest friends live in the neighborhood, a minute's walk from me.  and more gay men seem to be moving to the fifth quadrant, of all types.  it’s easy to imagine the boise-eliot neighborhood becoming portland’s new capitol hill now at the final waning of stark street days.  and perhaps this will happen.  perhaps a year from now june on north mississippi will be marked by blocks of rainbow flags.  but as gay men have been moving to north portland, so has everyone else.  north portland is just changing and growing up and getting more expensive.  it’s what cities do.  they grow up.

the only thing that hasn’t changed about n. mississippi ave is that i’m still drunk.

and really what that means is that i need for one of these new nopo gays hanging out at amnesia to drag my ass to the gym and help get me in shape.  just let me finish my beer first.

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