Extended Family

It was not until I was in college that I really started to realize that there were people other than my family who I still wanted to see over Christmas. Maybe this was because for the first time I knew people whose primary residence was not Greensboro, North Carolina. When my friends went home for Christmas, I felt a little lost.

Those of us who stayed in Greensboro for the break (I did so because I lived there), we’d compensate by doing things like opening the campus radio station for the day, and making road trips to see the people we missed.

When I moved to Charlotte, going home for the holidays was an easy day trip. I could be in and out in 36 hours or less. More time was not really required because I was able to come home once a month or so.

Then came the move to San Francisco. I spent my first four Christmases on the west coast, due to the logistics and economics of the trip. I visited at other times, but never made the holiday trek. And I was never really bothered by this, although I’m sure my parents were disappointed.

Here, I had my friends and my bars and my alleys. I was never alone for the holidays except once in 1994, after I’d just broken up with my longest-term boyfriend.

Last year, though, having just become unemployed by choice, I made the trip home on Christmas Eve. The plane was crowded, every passenger looked as if they were going off to war, and the movie sucked. Once I got home, it was a nice visit and all, but I’d just as soon have made it at a less insane time of year.

So it looks like I’ll be going home again this year, thanks to a family friend who works for USAir. I’ll fight my way onto a crowded plane at an unusual time of day, since we “freebie travelers” have to take what we can get, spacewise. I’ll arrive in the cold of North Carolina, be glad to see my parents and friends, eat lots of food, gain still more gut, and have a thoroughly nice time.

But I’d still just as soon do it some other time of year.

On Personal Ads

I read the personal ads once in a while. It’s pretty much more for amusement than out of any quest for “the right man”, for a couple of reasons. The first is pretty simple; I’m not really looking for “the right man”.

Reason number two is that somehow I never seem to qualify as worthy of attention in these ads. Seems I just don’t measure up. Or don’t want to. Does anyone?

Let’s take a close look at the typical gay personal ad.

GWM, straight acting/straight appearing, seeks same..

First of all, I guess I am a “GWM”, though it’s definitely not the primary way I’d identify myself. I’m not sure what “straight acting” means to this guy, but to me it means he’s an asshole. How exactly does he “act straight”? By lying to his friends and dating women he feels nothing for? By being “butch”? By pretending he likes football when he really wants to go to the opera?

“..35 (look 26), attractive…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a personal ad from an unattractive person. Or from one who looks his age.

“..not into “scene”, looking for friendship first and then maybe more… 

Isn’t that just so fucking coy you could puke? Gimme a break. He’s looking to get laid. If it’s fun, he might want to do it again. And just what “scene” is he so not into? Would that be bars? Or bathhouses? Or alleys? Or poetry readings? Bake-offs maybe?

…Me: gym toned body . You: height proportionate to weight…

God knows this is important to any loving relationship. If the body types don’t match, what else is there?

…professional and career-oriented…

Translation: “yuppie corporate suckup”. In other words: “my job comes first and you get the crumbs”. And in extreme cases: “I am incapable of conversing about anything not work-related”.

…love long walks in the park, candlelight dinners, the Sunday New York Times in bed…

Even if someone really likes this stuff, it’s such a cliche as to become an instant turnoff. Jeez…

If you’re (insert age range younger than the age of the advertiser), hot, and ready to commit for a lifetime…

Why, of course! I’m itching to give you the rest of my life just from this tremendously appealing ad. Really. But since I’m approximately two months older than you, I guess that’s out of the question since I’m no longer “hot”. Pity.

I will say that it’s very comforting to know that all the people posting personal ads are so young, attractive, healthy, financially stable and emotionally centered. And all of them so relationship-oriented. And moral. Veritable poster children for the Advocate’s version of queerdom.

I guess there’s something wrong with me for not finding most of these clones particularly appealing. Especially when they post their ads online to inappropriate newsgroups. But that’s another story…

A few suggestions on placing ads:

  • If you’re looking for a relationship, it might be a good idea to tell something about yourself AS A PERSON. Your vital stats are a nice touch, but (I hope) most people who want to “settle down” are looking for more than just a warm (firm…trim…proportionate…) body.
  • If you’re looking for sex, a few interests (sex-related) might be nice as well, for the same reasons.
  • No “moonlight walks on the beach”, “candlelight dinners for two”, or “looking for that special someone”. If you are no more creative than this, maybe you SHOULD stick to vital stats.
  • The “1962 model (insert name of car)” bit has been done to death. Skip it, wouldja please?
  • The “I’m writing this for a friend…” bit has also been done to death.
  • Many publications will no longer let you say “no fats, no fems, no (insert minority)”. I like these publications.
  • If “dominant/top” is among the first three words in your ad, it’s pretty obvious that you’re more interested in sex than a relationship. This is fine, but it’s a little transparent to lie about it.
  • “Complete discretion and satisfaction assured” makes you sound like a prostitute. Again fine, but you may alienate people who aren’t looking to pay for this guarantee.
  • Don’t be surprised if your ad pops up someplace other tan where you sent it. I had a friend who was really freaked out once to find an ad he placed in a small regional paper appearing in a national porn magazine.
  • Don’t post your goddamn personal ad on a newsgroup which is clearly devoted to some other subject. No one cares. You will be flamed. You will deserve it.

And on answering ads:

  • Like everything else, ads which say “too good to be true” generally are, and there’s at least a 50% chance that you “won’t like what you see” no matter what the ad promises.
  • If you do not in any way match the attributes requested in the ad, it’s pretty pointless to respond, now isn’t it?
  • People stretch the truth in personal ads. This is a fact of life. Be prepared to add 3 years and 20 pounds to your mental picture of the advertiser. Also be prepared to subtract about 10-15 IQ points.
  • Be descriptive in your response. Otherwise you’ll probably end up in the “so what” pile who never hears back from the advertiser.

Christmas Parties

As a part-time Administrative Assistant, one of my duties is to facilitate the annual holiday party. Anyone who’s even done this knows what fun that is. Two things are essential: tons of food and tons of booze. The space and all other concerns are secondary.


Fortunately, we had a good space too thanks to the a connection at the Casting Couch microcinema. Not only was the spot really comfortable, but we got to see “Frosty” and “The Grinch” in grotesque detail as they were projected behind us. The drunker everyone got, the scarier the claymation figures got.

The lack of smoking facilities inside made the front door area more and more popular as the night wore on. Things also begain to calm down a bit as the free booze ended between 9:30 and 10. By 11 or so, the exodus had commenced in earnest, with one faction (yer humble host included) migrating to a “queer boys night out” in the South of Market Area I call home. I’ll skip that part of the story for right now, lest I have to change the names to protect the innocent.

Nicotine Fits

As many of you may already know, smoking is officially banned in all San Francisco bars as of 1 January 1998. I’ve been waiting to write about this, trying to find some version of logic which works for me on this subject, and so far I’ve been unable to.

Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t really have a problem with regulations covering smoking in restaurants, most offices, and stores. But bars? Give me a break. With all due respect, bars ain’t health clubs. People don’t go to bars for that warm fuzzy feeling that comes after a good workout or a really tasty smoothie. Frankly, bars are inherently unhealthy places, and frankly smoking is an important part of this ritual unhealthiness.

I’ve been really hard-pressed to find anyone who really supports this move, among smokers or non-smokers (although I’m certain I’ll hear a few comments to the contrary now). From a number of eavesdropping sessions, I’ve been able to learn that the police couldn’t even give a fuck on this issue, and that enforcement will probably be pretty lax.

So has the drive to create a prettier, healthier, sanitized, family-friendly San Francisco gone too far? Maybe I’m being completely irrational, but I think it has. I also think this law will have about as much weight as the prohibition against jay-walking.

I Just Don’t Understand

I just don’t understand:

  • Why does anyone watch MTV these days? Is it just that I’ve aged out of the target audience or are endless reruns of “Road Rules” and “The Real World” just plain BORING?
  • How is it that in one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, there are homeless people who will spend the holidays barricaded outside Golden Gate Park?
  • Why is it that I always expect people in Volvos to be really incompetent and indecisive drivers? And why am I correct in this assumption about 80% of the time?
  • Why is it that I always expect people in BMWs to be really arrogant and inconsiderate drivers? And why am I correct in this assumption about 95% of the time?
  • Why do people who live in outlying suburbs, pay no city taxes, and contribute virtually nothing to the urban economy feel they have ANY right to complain about the city?
  • What is the point of the SF Sidewalk web site? And why would anyone go there when they could hit the Guardian site instead?
  • Who the hell buys all those millions of copies of “Reader’s Digest” which are sold every month?
  • Why does it cost 50 cents more to sell a gallon of gas in San Francisco than in Atlanta? I somehow thought there was more oil in California than in Georgia.
  • When did people start believing that being rude and unreasonable would get better “results” than being civil and polite?
  • How can anyone spend an hour talking on the phone with someone who lives less than a mile away?


It is absolutely freezing cold here, or so it seems. Mind you, it never really gets all THAT cold in San Francisco; I doubt the temperature has fallen below 40F (4C). But in colder climates people have a miraculous thing which is lacking here: HEAT.

You’d be amazed just how hard it is to find heat here. The place I work doesn’t have any at all, the logic being that the machines generate a sufficient amount. My apartment has one under-powered gas blower which keeps the ceiling of the hallway toasty warm and wouldn’t dare intrude on any of the rooms.

This lack of warmth is everywhere, from restaurants to stores to bars to buses. I’ve spent nights in drafty old Victorians which made me long for the warmth of a snow-covered house back east. I’ve bought clothes in department stores without trying them on just because I couldn’t face being naked in the dressing room.

This could be why San Franciscans seem to get one cold which starts in November and lasts until March, never really getting very serious, but always lurking under the surface. Colds here are just like the weather: chronic, never acute.

But in a few short months, we’ll be warm again. The temperatures will climb, and — of course — no one here has air conditioning either…

Christmas in the City

Signs of Christmas in the City:

  • Embarcadero Center looks like four hugely disproportionate Christmas presents and the Transamerica Pyramid looks like an oversized tree.
  • Driving down Fifth Street near Market is something only the bravest among us will risk.
  • The absence of crowds due to Christmas parties and people leaving the city actually made the Hole in the Wall Saloon bearable last night.
  • Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley was closed off today so that all the people who scorn materialism and commercialism could make a quick buck selling T-shirts, crystals, and a plethora of strange-smelling items.
  • The ratio of Christmas songs to other types on Muzak and KABL has finally hit 99-1.

Note du jour: a recent look at a cheap Spanish-English dictionary finds “Hanukkah” defined as “Christmas for the Jews”. I’ll let this one stand on its own…umm…merits and close with it.

Home for the Holidays

So here I am, about to spend my second Christmas in a row at home in Greensboro.

Sitting in the waiting area with 90 minutes left before my flight. What a crazy 24 hours it’s been. I realized last night that I wouldn’t be receiving my ticket in time to make it home for Christmas. So one was sent to me on a plane from Charlotte at 11:00 this morning. I grabbed a $30 cab to the airport after doing ALL my Christmas shopping last night. I’m exhausted. And mildly hungover.

At least there’s cute boys to look at here. Most of them cuter even than the guy I chowed down on last night at My Place. He was cocky and shot all over my head and face. The onlookers were pleased.

It’d be nice to have a laptop on this trip, but I’m Ok using pen and paper for a week or so, although it’s a little strange getting used to writing prose in longhand again. I seem to be unsure which of my 7-8 different handwritings to use.

It must really suck traveling with children. I often wonder if I was as bad as rugrats today are. Actually, I think children were better behaved when I came along; parenting was more about teaching discipline and responsibility than “self-esteem” and “creativity”.

Scored First Class on the flight. It’s worth it!



Christmas Day. Gifts this morning and long drives this afternoon. My dad’s side of the family came over tonight, then I headed out to the Palms to hang out with Jeff and several ex-mistakes from my past, all of whom I managed to avoid.

Highlight of the evening: watching “King of the Hill” with a distant relative who could easily have qualified as a cast member.


After the festivities, we made the traditional drive downtown and around the city to see the lights. For all its bleakness during the day, I have to say downtown Greensboro came across pretty well when “wrapped” for Christmas.


Boxing Day

Had lunch with the Bosnian refugee family my mom has “adopted”. They’re really nice people, although there was a pretty significant language barrier. Why is it that children who were raised by non-American parents seem so much better behaved than those born and raised (and coddled and spoiled rotten) here? I guess I may have answered my own question…


Tonight, we headed next door to my aunt’s house. No badly behaved brats to complain about here either. I was relieved.

Museum and Snow

Today brought a visit to the Greensboro Historical Museum in the light snow. Just call this the “Greensboro History Tour” I guess, as that has seemed to be the running theme. Spent the rest of the afternoon shooting pictures around town for a new section of the web site (coming soon).


Tonight, I met my friend Taylor at New York Pizza. We first met on the Baltimore leg of the US Tour last fall, and an evening with Taylor is an always entertaining thing, from stories of Tennessee Williams to recollections of my hometown to comparisons of strange southern eccentricities.

Back to history, though. I seem to feel this need to collect my memories of the old hometown while I can still write them down and while they remain relatively fresh in my memory. I’m not really sure why, but I have a feeling it will seem even more important to me in my later years. I’ve always had a fascination with the history of almost anyplace I’ve lived. And Greensboro, boring as it may be, has an interesting history to be sure.

Nightmare on South Elm Street

Uneventful day. Hit Babylon tonight. It was annoying. I disappeared quickly. Why do people in queer bars here not seem to have lives outside the bars? Is it the fact that the closets are so full here or is it the fact that the bars have such a death grip on all queer socializing?

Wait. More Snow.


Note the steady decline in the weather forecasts.

Suddenly it’s snowing like crazy outside. About four inches on the ground so far and no end in sight. This is just a little disturbing since it seems unlikely to go away for the next few days either. I haven’t seen snow like this is years (six, to be exact). It’s very pretty. And it’s making me a little crazy since it’s forcing me to lurk about the house as the whole damned city seems to have closed in deference to the weather.


New Year’s Eve

Made a trip downtown and did some thrift store diving with no success whatsoever. Why is it I do so much shopping when I’m here? And why have I been so damned SLEEPY the whole time I’ve been home?


The bash, my mom 15 minutes later, and my first photo op of ’98.

Tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebration consisted of a coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts toast at home with Mom and Dad, just like last year. Am I a party animal or what?