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2004-06-22 - 3:31 p.m.

I often use movies as a means to explore New York City. I don’t mean that I pop in “You’ve Got Mail” to get a good look at the garden in Central Park, rather when I want to see a film I try to find a theater in some out of the way spot, far from the comfortable grid of mid-town, possibly in the dark jungles below Houston, or the posh massoleums of the Upper-East side.

I realize I could go to any of these areas at any time to explore, but without a game plan, or some kind of purpose, I get skittish and wander right back to the hovels where I know a few people and at least one of them knows what kind of alcohol I like to drink. Give me an activity in the area, especially one that requires my presence at a specific time, and I’ll spend the few hours previous happily killing time taking in the local color.

Thanks to a screening of “Whale Rider” on 86th and 3rd, I now know of a well dressed hole in the wall, that, for my money, serves the best coffee in the city. Considering there is nothing more important in New York than a good cup of coffee, save possibly a good slice of pizza, I feel as if I’ve accomplished a landmark in my assimilation to the metropolitan atmosphere.

Watching “Miricle” at the Village City Cinemas in one of the best looking theaters I’ve seen so far, balconies, curtains and all, led me to that rare bar where happy hour actually means something; Pabst blue ribbon and a shot of tequila for four dollars. I’ve seen bottles of water sell at higher prices.

Considering the track record, I assumed that my opening night viewing of “Super Size Me” would garner some of the same results. Instead, as I began telling the story to one of my friends…

“I had an interesting experience down by the Chelsea City Cinemas the other day.”

“Oh, you had sex with a man, didn’t you?”

A comedian far wiser than I once cracked, “I live in a very gay area of New York. It’s called Manhattan.” While it does feel as if the homosexual crowd has spread themselves fairly evenly over the island landscape, Chelsea still remains their base of operations. Think Disneyland. No matter how far they expand, all roads lead to Cinderella’s Castle.

After I picked up my movie tickets on 2nd and 23rd, I had two hours to waste away, and as per usual I intended to spend those wasted hours getting wasted. It took only three blocks before I found a decent looking establishment called “The View”. Before the alarm bells go off, this bar was not decorated in a toupe color scheme with plush couches surrounding a coffee table where Barbra Walters can rest her obviously rum spiked java. At the very back of the bar, the proprieters had knocked down the wall, replaced it with windows and requisitioned a twenty foot skyline painting of the city. The front tables - lined café style, leaking out onto the sidewalk - were peppered with the business casual; pant suits and henleys. With twenty bucks and one hundred and twenty minutes to blow, the empty bar stool behind the taps seemed rather inviting.

A gay bartender isn’t exactly a rarity these days, and a slim beer menu, while distressing, is common practice in the age of the cosmopolitan and the manhattan. The tip off occurred as I glanced behind the bar to one of the large monitors they’d bolted to the wall. A slide show revealed the most recent event nights, in full color. Three pictures of well-built men could be for those of either the female or male persuasion, but the collective of well-built men in superhero outfits huddled up close together and laughing through chiseled jaws leaned towards the later. A man pinching Robin’s nipple through the peek-a-boo insignia patch sealed it.

My immediate reaction wasn’t much of one. I snickered and returned to my book, taking glugs of the only beer at the bar. I listened to a couple guys next to me make introductions, while the bar tender explained in detail how he had constructed his beloved strawberry martini. All while knocking out a good twenty pages of my book. It was turning out to be a more productive day than I’d had in weeks.

As I reached for my wallet for round two, a man passing in the aisle, tripped into my chair. He caught himself on my shoulder and pulled himself up, apologizing profusely while he wiped the scuff from his shoe. Then, with his self and person gathered, he continued to apoligise for intruding upon my personal space while intruding further into it. The hands that had simply glanced my shoulder, were now wrapped around both of them, occationally making a little squeeze, as if he were trying to get tooth paste out of a enourmous upright tube. I accepted his apology, and turned back to my book, to try and give him the idea. He took the front cover and pulled it up so he could see the title page. It was blank.

“What are you reading, that doesn’t need a title page?”

“’Sitting in the Club Car drinking Karma Kola.’”

“That’s a long name.”

“The weird books seem to have them.”

“It’s a weird book?”

“Moderately.”

“Moderately how…?”

I went on to describe the tone and tenor of the story. Making notice of stylistic tendencies and influences, obvious references to genre, a blurring between character and symbolism, and the odd duality of the prose; how it lured the reader in with melodical passages, and then alienated him by changing up point of view or style without warning. In short, I went off on a diatribe so pretentiously boring, my personal biographer would have insisted on a smoke break thirty seconds in.

I wouldn’t have minded so much, had my pursuer been one of the hulkier, hunkier guys, or at least one not wearing a puce turtle-neck. It’s not to say that a flashier man would have actually been up my alley, but at least I would have been able to take it as a compliment. The guy honking the end of my nose playfully, however, looked like a graying grizzled Gilbert Godfrey, and therefore did no wonders for my ego.

Thanks to two years in New York I had learned the skills a woman must acquire in the first few months of her life, the survival tactics of being hit on. Throughout a decade living as an active social member of society, surrounded mostly by those of hetero alliences, I’ve never had to deal with the contrivances of being approached. But as opposed to their female counterparts, gay men seem to love me.

The nose tweek incident takes it’s place beside the “You’re probably straight, but you’re so fucking cute!” incident, and the “Never gotten one from a guy? You don’t know what you’re missing. Hey look, the bathroom’s available!” incident.

At first I took this as a compliment, that is until I sat down and asked a gay friend of mine what all the hub-bub is about.

“Well you’re blond, cute, baby-faced. You’re really non-threatening, and…”

“You’re basically telling me I’d make a good bitch.”

“Well, yeah.”

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