Hairy Palms (Part Two)

Saturday was spent poolside and nekkid. All the flesh you could stand, and then some.
Public nudity in America is an interesting concept. We tend to equate nudity with sex. There are only two reasons to be naked in this country; to bathe or to fuck, and sometimes (and all too rarely, sadly) both at the same time. We’re taught from an early age to be ashamed of our bodies and the way they are shaped and the things that they do and to cover them up. These days, waistlines are dropping below buttcrack level and rock stars appear on awards shows with pasties in place of blouses, but the idea of topless beaches is still a moral outrage, for whatever reason.
I mean, I think it’s good to keep a little titillation in the concept of the human body, but separating nudity from sex is also cool. Most of the time, some clothing is sexier than no clothing, anyway. Seeing a shirtless guy in tight Wranglers will do more for my libido than seeing the same guy standing there, weiner and all. Am I alone in this?
Maybe it’s that cowboy fetish. Hmm. Anyway…

So, all naked all the time and after a surprisingly short period I’m comfortable with it. Nothing pops up unexpectedly, I make sure I’m covered with lotion everywhere and I’m in the water, on the lounger with the iPod pumping “Versus” by Kings of Convenience into my head, standing up with a beer in my hand talking about palm trees, reading my David Sedaris on my stomach with my ass all rosy and sweaty, or talking with new friends under the umbrella and all the while naked, naked, naked.
After a whole day of naked, it was time to put on some clothes and go to a gay bar.
Here’s where I tell you why I never go to gay bars:

  1. I am a social drinker, at best, and after a couple of Tanqueray #10 G&T’s, I’m done. Or a couple of Martinis. And not those Chocotinis or Appletinis or whatever. Vodka. Grey Goose. Dry. Two olives. Thanks.
  2. Bars, as a whole, depress me. I enjoy the bar/restaurant thing where you sit and have a drink while you wait for your table, but going to a bar to go to a bar… not a fan. Love bartenders, hate bars.
  3. Gay bars, in particular, drive me up the wall.
    1. They are mostly so dark that seeing your own watch to be able to tell if you’ve spent enough time there to be rejected thrice so you can now leave with a clear conscience is a trial.
    2. The bartenders are employed for their looks (which I applaud)…
    3. …so the drinks are not usually very good (which is unacceptable).
    4. The music is uniformly dreadful.
    5. You go in a pack hoping to, pardon the pun, un-pack. But it takes so much time and effort because of the fear of rejection and the whole “he’s too good looking for me, I’m too good looking for him” tier model that you inevitably leave alone.
  4. I am a loser.

I don’t add the last bit to make you feel sorry for me or make you feel like punching me hard in the gut, I say it because gay bars make me feel that I am a loser. I’m not the extroverted happy-go-lucky gadfly making friends left and right and flirting with the bartender and dancing with my shirt off and laughing at my own jokes which are actually funny. I am the guy hugging the corner of the bar afraid to move and averting my eyes before that guy sees me looking at him and rolls his eyes, “as if.”
I am learning that most of this garbage I carry with me is “myth,” not “truth.” Myth is the stuff you (I) create to make it easier for your(my)self to fail, and it’s designed to make you (me) fail. It allows you (me) to go into any situation and avoid rejection because you’ve (I’ve) already rejected your(my)self. “I am unworthy. I am stupid. I am ugly. I am too shy to talk to you. I cannot approach anyone.” Blah blah blah.
Truth is the stuff about you that’s real—that you aren’t ugly or stupid or awkward, that you can carry on a conversation, that you’re no better or worse than any other guy there, you’re just you. That comes from, you know, living. Taking chances, accepting what happens, moving on. So you can either accept the myths and build them into a semblance of truth, or reject the myths and, you know, live for a change.
Thanks, that’ll be $130 please. See you next week.
“Hunters Video Bar” is located on South Arenas Road, just off the main drag. It consists of a big bar space and a dance floor. There are pool tables and a patio with misters to keep you cool (and Misters to make you hot). My friend and I arrived around 9 after eating much beef at LG’s Prime Steakhouse and noted that we were much too early for anything interesting. So we seated ourselves at the bar, ordered Coronas and watched the huge video projection of Kylie Minogue and her amazing ass.
The men in Palm Springs are not so different from the men here in San Francisco. I guess. They certainly look the same when travelling in packs. There is always one in a group who is absurdly attractive, one who smiles and talks a lot, a quiet, unassuming, somewhat goofy-looking one and ‘the fourth guy.’ The Fourth Guy is the guy you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention, and even if you were introduced to him you’d forget you ever met him. When you think back to the guys you saw, you can remember the attractive guy easily, you remember the smiling, talkative guy because he’s animated and gregarious and inevitably your eyes will meet because he’s taking everything in and commenting on it all, you’ll remember the goofy guy because he’s the ‘ugly member’ of the Boy Band.
The Fourth Guy. The Fourth Guy is doomed to obscurity. Maybe this plays out the 80% Guy theory, although this is more a 50% theory. Guy Packs need to get bigger, I suppose.
With my newfound nude-inspired confidence, I was feeling pretty good about myself, even though I had discovered that I neglected to cover a 4-inch wide strip of skin extending down the inner part of my left leg so that I had a lobster-red racing stripe that was stinging me. So I figured I could walk into that place and walk out with a nice, good-looking man at my side. Somehow, I would overcome my lengthy dry spell and self-inflicted introversion and ‘I’m not good enough for you’ syndrome and have a night of meaningless, loveless, absolutely filthy (protected) sex like every other gay man on the planet.
But I couldn’t figure out how to, you should excuse the expression, un-pack a guy. How to extract a guy from a Gay Pack became my dilemma. I was sure there had to be a method to it, something every other guy there knew about, and all I had to do was watch and mimic their method. So I did the eye contact thing once or twice, I also totally ignored a couple of the 10% Ultra Attractive guys who stood next to me at the bar so I could report back to my therapist of a job well done, but I did not see anyone unhinging from their protective guy-pods and infiltrate adjoining guy-pods. The Packs were staying Packed.
No one was going home with anyone! How is that possible? Shouldn’t everyone be hooking up with everyone else? Wasn’t that what was happening all around me all the time? Wasn’t every other guy oozing confidence and assurance, flicking a knowing grin at tonight’s paramour and leaving with a wink to his compadres, high-fives all around? What the fuck was this? No one was doing any better than I?
The dance floor yielded no better results. Oh, the eye candy level took a definite jump, what with all the sweaty shirtlessness and swiveling of hips and thrusting of groins and flexing of abs and whatnot. All very pretty, all very expected. But everyone seemed to be dancing with themself. It was a veritable Billy Idol tribute!
Fuck. All this time I’m thinking I’m missing out on all the action, and it appeared that no one was having any more luck than I was. We were all losers.
Well, except for that Marine-looking guy in the orange tanktop with the shoulders and the blue eyes and the ass that would not quit. But there’s always an exception, isn’t there?
Back at the ranch, then, sweaty and hot, it was time for a last dip in the pool. It was late, but there were stragglers in the jacuzzi and the facilities are available 24 hours, so some splashing was called for and it was still 90 fucking degrees outside.
As I layed on a lounge chair, wet and naked, looking up at the myriad of stars in the heavens, I noticed that I was not alone. There, in the dark, another brooding man lay in quiet looking up at the dark diamonds. Now, you know me, and knowing me, you know that I did nothing about the situation. I did not greet him with a simple, “Hey,” I did not turn and peer at him as if trying to make sure he was really there, rather I lay still and quiet as if cornered by a large animal and afraid that he might notice me. The guy over there. The completely naked guy. The wet, naked guy. Over there.
My friend, however, has no such filters. He came out of the jacuzzi, immediately noticed another dude poolside, introduced himself, asked the guy’s name and started… believe it or not… engaging him in conversation! Yes! Really! Naked!
He introduces me and then asks if we want beers. “If you have an extra,” the non-stranger from West Hollywood answers, and I jump up and volunteer to go get them. Because that’s the way I am. So, so helpful. And momentarily away from the extremely cute blonde be-pec’d non-stranger from WeHo so I could compose myself and be all, you know, cool. Like I am.
Returning, I handed my friend and the cute guy bottles of Pacifica and my friend, the bastard, leaves to go back to the jacuzzi leaving me alone with the man with the tight stomach and the shirtlessness and the smile. We talk about this, that and the other thing and conversation leads eventually to the subject of massages.
I spare him the details of my own adventures in the world of flesh-kneading and say, simply, “I love them. I have a guy in San Francisco I see about once a month.”
“That’s cool. You’re lucky. I’ve never understood people who don’t get massaged.”
“Well, I didn’t get my first one until last December, actually. So I was one of those people.”
“Why’s that?”
“Mmm, body issues, I guess. I was sort of embarrassed about my body.”
Now, here’s where he pitched me a ball: “I think you have a great body.”
Now, here’s where I don’t even see the ball, and it drops behind me on the field and I turn around and kick it: “I used to be really fat.”
Here’s a clue for those of you who are trying to be picked up—when someone says they think you have a great body, do not respond with “I used to be really fat.” Rather, try “Thanks, yours is quite beautiful, too.” Okay? Okay.
So, WeHo man is smooth and gives no indication that I’ve just fumbled, so he tries again. “My roommates are at the bar and I don’t have a key. Do you think I could borrow a towel from your rooms?”
What I hear is: “My roommates are at the bar and I don’t have a key. Do you think I could borrow a towel from your rooms?” What I don’t hear is: “I want to go with you to your rooms and get naked.”
Still, that is what happens. We walk into my bungalow, he and I, the man with the tight body and the treasure trail and the great haircut and I, and he drops trou. And I… And I…
And I hand him a towel and leave.
Yes, everyone groan. Groan with displeasure at my stupidity. Groan in amazement that I am so completely oblivious to this beautiful man’s attempts to seduce me that rather than turn around in the room, by the bed, he and I, both naked, and embrace him and kiss his neck and ask, “Is this okay?” and so on and paint your own erotically-charged episode and be as filthy as you want to be, I handed him a towel and left.
Jesus H. Christ, sometimes I am as dim as J-Lo’s left buttcheek.
I didn’t see that guy again for the rest of the weekend. Not pool side, not at Continental Breakfast, not at check-out. Who knows, maybe he was a mirage, or some test sent to me by the Gods of Gay, a last attempt to see if I could scale the lofty heights of the Gay Scale if a man both beautiful and smart threw himself at me in a place of naked comfort and I still, still, still crapped out.
On the flight back home, I kept thinking about that guy. My friend, hearing the story, called me an idiot. “So you think he was trying…?” “Oh, fuck, Lance, he was past trying. If you were wearing pants he’d have had you unzipped, spread-eagled and lubed up already!”
So that was my problem. No pants.

October 23, 2003

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