I get to the Eagle at 10:35 on Saturday night. I have a sweater tied around my neck -- an accessory pretty much required by the weather and an earlier, fashionable party -- and serious reservations. Sure, I want to meet other bloggers, since this is a pretty solitary task. I want to find out how other guys write, and find stuff to write about, and prop up their fading hope that at some point this massive waste of time will magically transform into something productive. But I hate gay bars more than Brazilian bikini waxes. They're meat markets, plain and simple, and being there is roughly equivalent to wrapping myself in plastic and lying down next to the chicken at Stop N' Shop.
One by one the shoppers wander by and check me out:
GUY #1: Oooh, I don't like that one. He looks a little tough.
GUY #2: And fatty, too, besides.
GUY #1: Should he be that color? Pick him up and give him a quick sniff.
I buy myself a beer and eye the crowd. Some faces look familiar. Maybe I recognize them from their blogs, but then again it's just about pitch black in here and middle-aged white guys all look alike in the dark. Suddenly it hits me that this is an impossible task. I can positively identify maybe three bloggers -- Joe.My.God, David, Steven -- and unless the rest are wearing name tags there's no way I'm going to find them.
I cover the first and second floors, then head up the stairs to the roof. Coming down is a handsome, butch number whose muscles stretch an extra-large t-shirt. Suddenly I remember why people go to bars. "You don't want to go up there," he says as we get close. "It's raining."
Tough. Butch. Scared of rain. Yeah, that makes sense. "That's okay," I reply. "I'm pretty much waterproof."
He laughs. "I guess you're safe then. But it scared everybody else off."
"Shit," I say. "This is so screwed. I'm looking for this convention of, like, gay bloggers, but I have no idea what they look like. Apparently I'm supposed to go up to every pale, pasty, flat-assed geek here and ask if he's a gay blogger, but in terms of sheer embarrassment that's like asking folks if they collect Star Trek memorabilia."
"I'm one of the gay bloggers," he says. "And I collect Star Trek memorabilia."
"Oh," I reply. "That's cool."
Somebody approaches us from the second floor. Rather than get separated, Star-Trek-Collecting Blogger moves to my side of the stairs. The newcomer walks between us, sees the rain coming down, then scurries back downstairs. STCB stays next to me.
He looks at the sweater tied around my neck. "You don't go to gay bars very often, do you?" he asks.
I shake my head. "I haven't been to one in five or six years."
"I thought so," he says. "You look really awkward and uncomfortable."
I really appreciate it when strangers criticize me. I mean, my parents can only do so much. "I hate bars. I hate socializing. I hate miserable techno music, and I hate wandering around cruising spots looking for people I wouldn't recognize until everybody thinks I'm absolutely desperate to find a man. So, believe it or not, I am awkward and uncomfortable."
"Oh. It's really, really hot."
Pause. "You should see me in bed," I say.
And ten minutes later, he did.