One of our crew is leaving us to spend the summer doing volunteer work in India. We celebrated her imminent voyage by exposing her to a different kind of exotic cultural experience, namely the gay bars on Manchester Avenue on a Saturday night. Her inaugural drink came from the shirtless bartenders at Just John, where she enthused, "Look at those shoulders!" The party wound down on the sweat-and-cologne drenched dance floor at Erney's's 32 Degrees at closing time. It was all a little much for a young lady unaccustomed to so much maleness in one place. "Penis overload" is how she described it, to which our gay companion replied, "No such thing, honey." Like an American tourist decked out in a fanny pack and white tennis shoes gaping at the David, we were studying form as a spectator, not a sculptor. It was wall-to-wall defined pecs in tight t-shirts and bedroom eyes, but those eyes were directing their gaze right past this little lady.
Wearing a sleeveless, butt cheek-skimming romper and sky-high heels, we didn't rate a second glance all night, except for the handful of guys who complimented our outfits. Drink of the Week has heard a lot of things from men in bars; "Great romper!" was a first. Now we know what it must be like for the men in strip clubs - plenty to look at, but absolutely no danger of anything actually happening.
Chocolate whipped cream-flavored vodka is the perfect drink for a straight girl in a gay bar. It hints at something decadent, but it doesn't deliver the goods. The blue bottle of Pinnacle Chocolate Whipped is emblazoned with the French flag and the word "France," but this stuff is as French as the Fourth of July.
Good-quality French vodka, like Grey Goose or Ciroc, is luxurious. A square of Valrhona chocolate melting in your mouth is indulgent. A lighter-than-air cream puff filled with crème chantilly is ethereal. Taking a shot of Chocolate Whipped does not replicate any of these experiences, though the lingering sweetness and scent of synthetic "chocolate" on our lips recalled the Cherry Chocolate Lip Smacker we wore as teenagers.
Though Ernie's does feature a stripper pole, we didn't see anything as risqué as an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. Like a chemical approximation of chocolate and whipped cream, our gay bar experience fell a bit short of the Roman orgy we were expecting. Where were the rippling abs the color and sheen of a bar of 72 percent dark chocolate? Where was the, actually, we're gonna leave the whipped cream metaphor alone.
Is gay passé? Gay has gone mainstream. They're in primetime: Neil Patrick Harris, Glee, Dancing with the Stars. They're in daytime - Ellen is the gay Oprah. Legitimacy is the kiss of death for all things outré and edgy. What with being able to serve openly in the military, gays have only the right to marry standing between them and cultural irrelevancy.
Before long, we'll have a gay president (Dan Savage 2016), and "We're here, we're queer, get used to it" will be but a distant memory. Not likely, you say? With a head for sensible, practical advice, the ability to smear his political enemies (Rick Santorum) and advance his causes (the It Gets Better Project), President Savage is poised to be our most effective leader ever. So effective, in fact, that using the words "smear" and "santorum" in the same sentence made us feel a little dirty.
Aside from their abject disinterest in us as sexual objects, the men we encountered on our field trip to The Grove couldn't have been more warm and welcoming, especially our intrepid host, who doubtlessly would have had a much more debauched Saturday night without his co-workers in tow. By way of thanks, we'd like to borrow a few lines from Elton John:
If I was a sculptor, but then again, no Or a man who makes potions In a travellin' show I know its not much, but it's the best I can do My gift is my song, and this one's for you