Today I am angry. Angry angry HW. Specifically I am so sick of the assumption that as a gay man all you need to do to meet Mr Right is wander down to the nearest club, dip into the communal gene pool (watch out!; the edge is slippery) and drag him back to your cave. The reality is that gay clubs are freakish abominations where the best you can hope to take home is an obscure Amazonian rash.
Your Honour, I present the Prosecution's case.
Exhibit A: a diminished sense of self-worth
One this occasion H – my ever-faithful wingwoman – has got so sick of me moaning about being single she has forcibly dragged me to ‘Bristol’s Premiere Gay Nightclub’, for which you may read ‘Bristol’s Only Gay Nightclub’. She is convinced that Mr Right is lurking in the stinking damp corners of its dancefloor, and that if we can’t find him we may at least thank ABBA for the music and show those dirty homos some moves. I’ve washed my jumpsuit and everything.
You find us soon after arrival, perched at the bar, knocking back a few G+Ts. I’m trying to build up some Dutch Courage, and I suspect H is trying to ignore the small crowd of women in bomber jackets that is sniffing around her. To get the ball rolling she asks:
H: “So, c’mon, who do you fancy?”
HW: “Ummmm, the barman?”
H: “Oh please, HW, he’ll be some Bristol University dropout who thinks George Eliot was a man. Try harder.”
HW: [George Eliot wasn’t a man? Fuck, what was he then; some kind of hermaphrodite?] “Ummm, the guy at the end of the bar?” I point at a chap wearing a pinstripe suit and loosened tie sitting calmly by himself.
H: “Well, off you go then.”
HW: [Poor bastard, those Victorians must have really given him a rough time] “Oh, I can’t. Please don’t make me”.
H: “Go ON!”
HW: “Please don’t…” [Am sure no one picked on poor George like this].
H makes me.
As I approach Mr Pinstripe I have the horrible realisation that I have never, ever, had to use a chat-up line in my life. This is not a nice feeling. A quick ransack of my brain confirms it is a hollow darkness with a few off-cuts from Woody Allen movies resting in the bottom. I’m fucked.
HW: “Soooo…… Ummmm……Ahemm, yes ah……Do you, ummm, mind… if I join you?”
Mr Pinstripe: [Looking at me like I’m shit on his shoe] “Yes.”
HW: [Momentarily stunned] “……Right. OK. I’ll, ummm, I’ll be off then.”
I skulk back to H, having to admire Mr Pinstripe’s total disregard for my feelings. He is aware of some greater Hierarchy Of Visual Compatibility which grades gay men into strata of beauty, the kind of thing that completely passes me by. I have ventured out of my stratum and been justly punished.
Fuck them all.
Exhibit B: second degree burning to the lips and chin. Medical report confirms symptoms consistent with Pash Rash.
After that little experience you’d have though I’d have learnt my lesson, but no. On this occasion I have not only managed to enter a gay club by myself but have successfully initiated a conversation with a man. I can only assume I thought I was in a hardware store and that my request for plumbing services has been misinterpreted, but so be it. I’m going with the flow.
Things appear to be going well. He works for the BBC World Service writing political stories about Albania, and so far I’ve managed to avoid letting on that I have no fucking idea where Albania is, although I have a suspicion it may be a spoke on Dubya’s Axis of Evil. He also has a head, all his limbs and no outward signs of fuckwittism, so I’m doing better than the apode I got stuck with in the last bar.
Despite all this I’m bloody nervous, so cue Involuntary Fidgety Gesture No. 236; taking off my glasses and cleaning them with my shirt. Possibly because this causes a spooky resemblance to Clark Kent, or possibly because he’s looking for any excuse, The Albanian chooses this moment to stick his face onto mine. One minute we’re talking some rubbish about the privations of the poor in Algeria or Alberta or some place, the next he’s trying to chew off my epidermis.
Minutes pass, during which I mostly ponder whether it’s salmon or atlantic cod he had for lunch. Eventually the respiratory system comes to my aid and The Albanian has to surface for air. I use this opportunity to push him gently away and say, “I’m sorry, this isn’t really what I wanted.” To which he replies “No, it’s not really what I wanted either. I just thought it was kinda expected.”
I’m sorry? What? Expected? Expected? In the way that one expects the use of sugar tongs because fingers are vulgar? Or that you expect a gentleman to avoid the use of spirits, tobacco and onions in the presence of a lady? How about we try this one; I expect to be able to hold a conversation with another human being without my uvula being treated like a smurf-sized punching bag. Good god, gay etiquette is truly fucked.
The Prosecution rests. I don’t give a fuck about the Defence’s argument. It’ll just be some twat in a pin-striped suit anyway.