Token Heterosexual: A Night Out

We’ve decided to send our straight staffer, Cord Jefferson, on a gay safari. Every two weeks, our “token hetero” will be sent on a mission to experience something super-duper gay and get his perspective on how the other half lives. For his first mission, we decided to ease him into it by sending him to that ever popular source of cheap drinks, the gay book launch party.

9781593501037I don’t like Florida. Not the humidity, the football teams or the nightclubs. I don’t like Disney. I don’t like the state’s many pockets of racism and I don’t like the hooting hordes that descend upon it in the spring, demanding to see tits soaked with ice water dumped from beer pitchers. I don’t like kids.

By most rights, Florida was made for me, a heterosexual man who likes beer and sun and slippery nude women, and who will probably one day breed a child who – perish the thought – wants to see Mickey Mouse up close. But I just can’t get into it. Even Key West, with its “come-as-you-are” liberal attitude and the fond college memories I have of naked chicken fights in a backyard pool off Duval Street, turns me on much less than friends of mine with similar dispositions.

So it was with mild trepidation that I approached a party for the book Out Traveler: South Florida, by Paul Rubio. Not because it was a gay party – this ain’t my first rodeo – but because the idea of celebrating anything related to our continent’s flaccid member, a gathering place for reptiles and reptilian humans alike, seemed annoyingly misguided. And wasn’t this a state whose population just overwhelmingly voted for an amendment banning gay marriage? What’s there to party about?

With brio I entered Vlada, a trendy little Hell’s Kitchen bar, and made a beeline for the bathroom, my MO when forced into unfamiliar events. It allows me ample time to scope out the scene and then consider my options in the stillness and privacy of a toilet stall. My penis in my sweaty hand, I immediately regretted not inviting a friend. I knew nobody there, and it wasn’t the type of party conducive to meeting strangers. Groups of two, three and four people chatted and laughed only the way old, drunk friends do as I bellied up to the bar and ordered a scotch. “It’s a three drink minimum if you’re paying with a credit card,” said the bartender, who was then drowned out by the thumping techno soundtrack. Did he say it was $5 per drink or $9 per drink? I thought. It’s the sort of question I always find myself asking only after I’ve handed over my credit card.

I slammed my highball quickly, inducing the kind of buzz I needed to presumptuously demand Rubio explain to me his silly fascination with Florida. After ordering another, I approached the author’s table, where a heavyset drag queen was signing copies of the book. “Are you Paul Rubio?” I yelled, leaning into her ear. My proximity must have made her uncomfortable, because she lurched back while saying, “No, Paul’s out mingling.”
“Do you know where?”

What I really wanted to know next was why she was signing copies of something she didn’t write, but instead – this time from very far away – I asked, “How much for a book?” “$14, but you get a free drink,” she said, her eyes never meeting mine. Having no cash and no real interest in learning more about Florida, I stood at the table and thumbed through a copy. (Here’s the part where I say Out Traveler: South Florida is a thorough, well-researched and well-written travel book, and I recommend it if travel guides and Florida are your thing.) Unfortunately, while I was at the table, Rubio never came by. I thanked the drag queen, who didn’t hear me, and walked away.

At the bar for my third drink, the man next to me, large and swaying like a buoy, clutched a copy of the book in one hand and a sweaty cocktail in the other. Considering this my best opportunity to find out why gays like the Sunshine State, I tapped the man on the shoulder and asked, “Why do you like to travel to Florida?” “I like the ocean,” he said, his steady voice belying his drunken demeanor.
“But what about Prop. 2?”
Fuck them.” With that he turned away, tipping back the last of his drink and crunching some of the ice in his molars.

I considered then that maybe the reason gay men can enjoy Florida, and many other much worse places for that matter (*cough*LA*cough*), is because of that “Fuck them” mentality. Fuck me and my questions, and fuck anyone out to ruin your good time. It’s unfortunate, but if you map out your life with the intention of avoiding bigots and jerks, the world’s going to be a much smaller place. You can’t miss the beach for the assholes, is the point, and it seems that gay men, who deal with a unique amount of bullshit, are acutely aware of that truism. So go to Florida, I guess.

And why go to a party for a gay book about Florida? To buy a book and get a free drink; that bartender had said $9.

If you have a suggestion for a mission to send Cord on, let us know in the comments.