July 19, 2005

Yikes, this has to be a quick one so I can sneak in under the wire before midnight. Faustus ordered us to post at least once a day while he was gone, and that last one doesn’t really count. So on to the haiku:

Sitting at the bar,
My soul filled with deep longing
And deeper terror.

I am that goody two shoes that Adam Ant sang about. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. On top of that I don’t do any drugs, I’m prone to crippling shyness, and caffeine makes me jittery after a while. (OK, I’m not that much of a goody two shoes because left to my own devices I’m prone to being slutty, but you get the point.) Therefore, the idea that bars are the easiest way for a gay man to meet another man has never really worked for me. Catch me in the right mood and I can be awfully sociable, but even with a group of friends hanging out in a bar is tough. I just don’t have the social skills for it. I can’t rely on alcohol to loosen me up (besides, I suspect I’d be either very maudlin or very angry if I ever got drunk), and drinking Cokes all night makes me hyper and fidgety. And since I’m pretty shy, I don’t really have much natural grace when it comes to chatting up strangers. Even worse, I’m too naturally polite to repel the unwanted advances of guys who creep me out. Bar hopping? It’s a death sentence for me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah — I know. Bars aren’t the only way to meet other people. Duh. But they seem like the thing to do sometimes when you’re bored, lonely, and tired of sitting in front of the TV all night again. In effect, they seem like the thing to do at the exact moment when my self-esteem is least prepared to deal with a meat market. It’s a vicious catch-22, and I’ve caught myself in it many times over the years.

Sometimes, though, I would just convince myself that I was making a big deal out of nothing and give it another go. Hope, or at least delusion, springs eternal. It’s been quite a relief to be out of that game for so long now.

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11 Responses to Yikes, this has to be

  1. ludovic says:


  2. ludovic says:

    umm … nervous start there … I mean … felt like I wrote this post. My bar seduction technique is excellent. I have never been rejected . Stand as far away as possible from chosen target. Try not to look at him. If at all possible try not to even think about him; then go home. I have never been rejected. Feel free to try it.

  3. Scott says:

    Try Sprite or ginger ale. They’re caffeine-free.

    How’s that for callous disregard of your feelings?

  4. anapestic says:

    I have always thought that “Goody Two Shoes” was about someone who didn’t drink and didn’t smoke but was a slut (and I have never thought of “slut” as a pejorative), so maybe you’re closer than you think.

    Also, blogspot lets you put whatever time you want on a post, so you can finish after midnight and no one will know.

  5. chafostheory says:

    i am really starting have a blog-crush on “you.”


  6. sangroncito says:

    I shudder when I think of all the hours I wasted in bars when I was younger. I almost never got lucky. I’d just sit or stand there a bundle of neurosis. I’ll stay home with a good book any day!

  7. Mushlette says:

    Picking anything up in a bar – including diseases – is hell. It’s not a real environment. And being sober in a bar? Gadzooks, what could suck more?

  8. Joel says:

    Sparky, I so relate to every word of this post. In fact, I could have written it myself. You have described my past bar experiences to an uncanny degree. Like you, I am too polite to give a curt brush-off to the creeps. I do drink socially but not to the degree that purged my inhibitions and shyness. Thank God those days are over ….

    I love your writing and have just added you to my list of reads.

  9. Kristjan says:

    I don’t think I have ever met anyone at a bar that I took it to the next level with. It hardly means that it isn’t possibility, but “social” outings such as bars and clubs just don’t really seem the ideal place for any serious – and meaningful at that – socializing.

    Hold on.. I did meet someone at a club.
    But it certainly wasn’t at that damn club that we got to know each other.

    What’s to be done? Can’t always rely on friends introducing you to friends.. what’s to be done?

  10. birdfarm says:

    Hmmm… this actually makes a nice counterpoint of sorts with the earlier post about online dating.

    This exposition on the awfulness of the bar scene explains why people (a) try online dating, hoping it will be a better way to find someone with *anything* in common, and (b) are so miserably self-conscious and self-loathing by the time they try it.

    I don’t mean to sound like I’m above it all; I just happened to get married before there was such a thing as “online.” Believe it or not. We met doing volunteer work (queer community center hotline)–just like mom always said.

    Anyway, my first thought, like Scott’s, was purely superficial: next time you’re stuck in one of these situations, try tonic with lime. It’s not as super-sweet as sodas are, & sometimes the bartender will give it to you for free.

  11. Sparky says:

    “Self-loathing” would be a bit of an exaggeration, but really an situation can cause my insecurity to flare up if I go with high enough hopes that are subsequently dashed. I wouldn’t actually say that one approach is better than another, because I’ve had mixed results with just about all of them over the years.

    Socializing in bars just presents a different set of anxieties then online dating or online hook-ups or classes at the community center or work or orgies or whatever. Every option has perils and possibilities of its own.

    And tonic water tastes pretty gross to me. I often switch to ginger ale if I’m feeling too jumpy. It also helps that ginger ale looks like a mixed drink, so I don’t get as many snarky remarks about my beverage. A lot of bars do give me free Cokes, presumably because they think I’m the designated driver.


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