(The title's a minor homage to the South Park character Big Gay Al.)
Does it count as a blogger meet-up if it's a meeting between a blogger and a non-blogging commenter? I say yes. Hence, I can say I had another blogger meet-up this weekend, with a guy named Dave, who's become a friend since he started loitering at my crossword blog. Dave and his husband, Gary, were in town visiting their friend, Ed (hello, Ed! thanks for reading!), so Mr. Tangerine, Ben, and I met them for dinner at Café 28, a local Cuban-Mexican restaurant with a particularly attractive corps of waiters. Great restaurant, good food, but their air conditioning wasn't quite working. At least it was in keeping with the tropical vibe—a 90° restaurant serving, say, Swedish cuisine would just be wrong.
After dinner, Mr. Tangerine and Ben left to get ice cream on the way home (Ben can only sit still and behave nicely for so long), and the fellas and I had dessert there. (Ample discussion of the size of the balls...of sorbet.) Then it was time to go out for drinks.
Mind you, Mr. Tangerine and I have been living within a few blocks of the zone called Boystown, part of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, since 1990. We rarely miss the Pride Parade each June (Ben has seen the Pride Parade more times than he's seen a standard suburban throw-lots-of-cheap-candy parade, which is great because he doesn't demand to rot his teeth at a parade), we've shopped at plenty of gay-owned businesses, we donate our cast-off possessions to the Brown Elephant (a resale shop that supports a GLBT health center), love the Northalsted Market Days street fair that's coming up this weekend—plenty of gayness around, have a good girlfriend whose partner is a woman. And yet! I had never set foot inside a gay bar until this past Saturday.
Dave, Gary, Ed, and I cabbed it to Sidetrack, which is basically six bars in one. Like a miniature gay-bar version of Epcot Center. We opted for the nonsmoking room (in a city where bars are not yet required to be nonsmoking, this is a terrific asset), but first toured the regular smoky bar downstairs and the upstairs and rooftop areas, each with its own place to order drinks. (Look how adorable it is!) The TV screens were playing assorted '80s videos, which is an unimpeachable choice. Ed told us that the bar was voted the best gay bar in the country, so I popped my gay-bar cherry at the pinnacle. (Ed, by the way, is a hottie. He's in his 40s but could pass for late 20s. And he's single! I don't understand how this can be. He looks a leetle bit like Henry Rollins, only blonder, not so bull-necked, and not tattooed.)
I was far from the only woman at the bar, and not every man there was hot, but the view was lovely indeed. It's not as if I want to sleep with them, but who doesn't appreciate nice aesthetics? I'm married, not blind, after all.
I hibernated in the air conditioning on Sunday and did some writing. The Big Gay Week resumed on Monday—a lunch date with a man who tracked me down via e-mail after the crossword tournament because we're both in Chicago. He works in the neighborhood, and we'd hoped to eat at La Creperie, where I love the chicken curry crepes and, of course, the dessert crepes—but alas, they're one of the few places in the area that are actually closed on Mondays. (Great place to eat before or after catching a movie across the street at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema.) So instead we went to a Thai place, Joy's Noodles, which has decent food and a couple strikingly androgynous servers. (And the air conditioning was working there, fortunately–it was about 100° outside.) Best line from our conversation: "Growing up Jewish in Texas was great training for being gay—you're surrounded by people who are wrong when you're right."
This weekend's weather should be more like standard August weather, so I'm hoping to round out the Big Gay Week with a visit to Northalsted Market Days, where you're shoulder to shoulder with the sweaty shirtless masses, towered over by drag queens in heels, and able to buy hot, greasy food and cold beer. What could be finer?