Some sage advice from me to you guys: if one of your friends suggests a Christopher Street bar crawl, just say no.
Or at least have bladders that’re larger than ours. The plan was to start at Rock Bar, right at the Hudson, and work our way east one bar at a time, stopping in for a single drink in each. I agreed to the plan because it sounded, as Barney Stinson might say, legen—wait for it—dary. In my head I pictured myself with my four friends, stopping in pubs old and familiar and new and interesting alike, then leaning against the bar ledges and tossing back shots, all in the spirit of friendly camaraderie.
What actually happened was that we’d arrive in a bar with our legs crossed and expressions of pain on our faces, and then we’d all immediately run for the men’s rooms. After what would feel like hours of pissing like horses while making orgasmic sounds of relief, we’d stagger to the bar, take a couple of sips of something, and then repeat the process as we walked cross-legged with another gallon of liquid trying to slosh out of our urethras.
Middle age is a bitch, folks.
One of the friends I was with that night last week was an old buddy from Michigan whom I’ve known for almost a quarter of a century. He was young and handsome and a little bit arrogant when I first met him; over the years he’s grown jowly and morose. He moons over and falls desperately in love with twenty-year-old male Russian strippers who don’t see anything more of him than his wallet. When they’ve tickled him like a human ATM and extracted all his cash, he mopes and wonders why he’s so alone. Eeyore, I think of him.
By the time we staggered into Pieces near the end of our trip, Eeyore had been itchily consulting his phone every thirty seconds. After I came back from the restroom and waved away the cute bartender offering liquid refreshment—I’d had enough fluid to pee out a tank suitable for a Titanic set piece—I found him slump-shouldered and morose on one of the barstools. “Can we make one more stop. . . ?” he asked me.
“Well, sure,” I said, praying that wherever it was had a clean men’s room.
“. . . in Midtown?” he concluded.
It turned out that Eeyore had learned that one of his crushes was at a bar near Grand Central. His name was Ken, and he was a lawyer. We gathered that Eeyore’s plan was to show up, stare at Ken from afar, and feel sorry for himself for not being able to go home with the guy. It sounded like kind of a downer of a ending of a boozy kind of evening, but we agreed to it, steeled ourselves to holding our bladders for another twenty minutes, and went out to hail a cab.
We quickly saw, upon walking into the Midtown bar, that Ken was not exactly what we’d expected. Eeyore had described him as a ‘hot redhead with a killer body’, when in actuality he was a kind of skinny, skeevy-looking redhead with a pot belly who was drunk off his ass. He was also singing along, badly, with the piano player in the lounge. “Why’s he singing with an accent?” I asked.
“He’s from Alabama,” said Eeyore, staring at Ken over his drink. “Is that the accent you hear?”
“No. . . .” I said, trying to think of how to phrase it. “It sounds more like if a Muppet version of Bette Davis were auditioning for Wicked. While gargling with Listerine. That kind of accent.”
“Oh, stop,” Eeyore growled.
We met Ken immediately after he finished defying gravity, when he came over, spilled his drink on me, and then proceeded to shake all our hands and immediately mangle our names. “This is my boyfriend, James,” he said, putting his arm around a handsome Asian man who’d been lingering off to the side.
Well. All of us looked at James and Ken as they exchanged pecks on the lips, and then at each other. And then we looked at Eeyore, who looked like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon being slowly deflated. I swear, the man shrunk two inches in height right before my eyes. His lips had permanently wrapped around the straw in his vodka and soda. He stared at the floor.
“Aw, honey,” I said, as I rubbed his back, after Ken and James had retreated to the other side of the room, where they dabbed at each other like fledgling couples tend to do. “Are you all right?”
“No,” said Eeyore, sounding like he meant it. “He’s so beautiful.” He sighed, and stared at Ken while he sipped at his drink.
I looked at Ken with more sober eyes, and saw an overgroomed thirty-something stuffed into some Abercrombie & Fitch clothing too young for him, but I kept my mouth shut about it. “I know, sweetie. Do you want me to break them up?” Ken turned his eyes to me, and raised his eyebrows. “It wouldn’t take much.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“All I’ve got to do is give the boyfriend a little of this,” I said, grabbing the crotch of my jeans, and squeezing. I spread my knees out and thrust forward my groin. “And you know. Give him a little of this.” I narrowed my eyes in James’ direction—neither he nor Ken were looking our way at the time. I bit my lip, and curled it, and let loose with a few come-hither looks intended purely for comic purposes. Then I sneered in a cocky manner and pretended to spank an invisible bottom.
It didn’t cheer Eeyore up completely, but at least I got a small laugh out of him. That’s all I wanted. “Oh yeah,” I growled, toward James’ back. “The power of ma peen will take care of James for you,” I told Eeyore. “Twenty-five minutes, tops. Then Ken’s allllll yours.”
“Yeah,” snorted Eeyore, as I pulled up my feet onto the bench where we were sitting, and jacked my legs open to their widest. “That’ll work.”
“Don’t underestimate the power of ma peen,” I scowled at him.
A drag queen dressed in head-to-toe zebra print, as she passed by, reached out and touched me lightly on the wrist. “Very subtle!”, she assured me before moving on.
I looked at Eeyore. He looked at me. We both burst out into laughter, and I gave him a hug. I hadn’t fixed his sadness, but for the moment, I felt like I’d stopped the bleeding with a friendship Band-Aid.
Well. I was still having issues holding my water. I spent a few minutes in the restroom emptying my bladder (and making out a little bit with a boy who was enjoying his twenty-first birthday). When I returned, my buddy Eeyore was sitting slumped over on the bench, fascinatedly watching Ken and James across the room. The pair were faced off against each other like a couple of fighting cats—shoulders hunched, eyes wide, mouths twisted into snarls. All that was missing was the puffy fur and the exposed fangs. “What the hell happened?” I asked Eeyore.
“I don’t know!” he said. “One minute they were all over each other . . . it was disgusting . . . and then the next. . . .” He gestured at them.
The pair rose and stalked by our table, in the direction of the outer bar. Their hands were stuffed into their own pockets.
The drag queen passed by on her super-high stilettos, very carefully balancing a martini in her painted talons. “There will be drama to-noight!” she assured us.
For several minutes Eeyore and I sat at our table, watching the formerly-happy couple bicker in the other room. They faced each other at the bar, gesticulated wildly, and shook with anger. At one point, Ken got up, slammed down his drink so hard that it sent a spray over the bar, and stomped out. He returned a couple of minutes later, stomped past poor James, who looked as if he’d been socked in the stomach, and marched into the piano lounge where we were sitting.
“Well. Guess who just broke up with his boyfriend?” he asked Eeyore. Then, seeing James come after him, he sighed heavily, and escaped to the outdoor courtyard. James pursued him, obviously with a few more things to say.
“Holy fuck,” I said.
“Holy fuck,” Eeyore echoed. He seemed as stunned as I. Then he looked at his watch. “Twenty-five minutes. Almost exactly.”
“What?” I asked, not comprehending.
“The power of your peen.” He gestured down to my junk.
“Oh,” I said. Then it sunk in. “Oh! Crap!” I’d been joking, of course. I knew it. Eeyore had known it. But there we were, less than half an hour later, and the happy couple’s relationship was hanging in tatters. “Wow. The power of ma peen.” I looked down at my open legs, amazed.
Eeyore reached down, put his hands on my knees, and gently pulled together my thighs. “Be careful where you aim that thing, cowboy,” he said. “It’s done enough damage already.”