Published Thursday, 27-Oct-2005 in issue 931
“I read all about your little adventure in San Francisco last month.” That’s probably not the first thing I wanted to hear when a really cute guy sat down across from me while I was bartending a few weeks ago… especially since I’ve literally “laid” it all out there, so to speak, between my adventures on Folsom Street and a bitter breakup the month before. It made me take a look at my private versus public life and, with Halloween just around the corner and everyone getting ready to put on masks of all sorts, it made me think… don’t we all have our own secret identities?
I needed to get out and get a drink. It was the Autumn Classic Softball Tournament weekend, and the Gay Bowl V was also in town. That meant that my ex – who shall remain nameless – was in town. After my bitter breakup column, which I think everyone read based on all of the “feedback” I got, I had no intention of ending up in another wet underwear contest in front of him and his new boyfriend… especially since I knew that the football tournament was having a big party at Flicks’ Saturday night wet underwear contest (as opposed to the Thursday night ones – Ophelia’s wet underwear contest at Bourbon Street and Coco LaChine’s It’s Raining Men at Bacchus House). I headed to a bar where I knew I would feel at home, Martinis Above Fourth, and enjoyed a drink with my buddies Richie and Jerome. Then I had a second drink with one of the waiters, Bruce, who has also become a good friend. I was enjoying a slice of flourless chocolate cake with my Chocolate Covered Cherry martini when my friend Alex called from Palm Springs with an update on his Halloween costume.
“I had to call you,” Alex began, and I think he may have had a drink or two at this point, but I’m not sure. “We are at Toucans and they are playing all of these old videos. And they just showed the video for the Laura Brannigan song ‘Gloria.’ I need her belt – it’s perfect for my costume!”
Our softball team didn’t fare too well in the Autumn Classic, but that didn’t stop us from partying like we won the whole damn thing. We ended up at Hamburger Mary’s, where a few kick-ass margaritas eased the pain of the loss and the soreness in my shoulder, which I’d wrecked in a collision at home plate. Despite having read about my misadventures, my new cute friend from the bar still decided he wanted to hang with me and the softball gang, so he was along for the fun.
“What’s going on?” one of my regulars at the bar asked me while my newfound friend was at the bar getting another round of drinks.
“I’m self-medicating,” I explained, rubbing my shoulder.
“No, I meant with the new hot guy,” he pressed.
“Oh, we just met,” I explained. “He’s new in town but he’s already read one of my columns, so he’s got the dirt on me and I haven’t scared him off yet.”
“So I was flipping through the pages of San Diego Magazine,” Lee, a regular at the bar, who loves our Butter Pecan martini, said to me last Friday night. “And there, in this article on being single in San Diego, I see my little Travis!”
I laughed, not knowing that the issue had already hit newsstands or that there was a full-page picture of me behind the bar in it.
“Yes, apparently I am the only single gay guy in all of San Diego!” I said with a smile as I poured Lee his drink.
My friend, confidant and workout partner, Brian, and I were headed home from our softball games last week, and I was a little bitter because an umpire made the worst call I have ever seen in a game. After putting up with my bitching for a while, Brian steered the conversation toward one of my favorite topics as of late, Halloween. All of the bars are going all out for the hottest holiday of the year in my book. The Flame is hosting a Pimp ‘N’ Ho Ball on Friday night, and on Saturday you can’t miss Nightmare on Normal Street, Salvation at Rich’s or DJ Hex Hector at Bacchus House.
“This holiday brings out the dork in me,” I said as we were riding home.
“This holiday?” Brian said looking at me. “You’re wearing a Super Man hat, you have an Autobot symbol tattooed on your shoulder and you’re dressing up as [CENSORED] for Halloween!”
“That’s the protector of Sector 2814 to you mister,” I said, quite proudly.
“That’s what I’m saying; it was cute and all, and you just had to push it, didn’t you,” Brian correctly pointed out to me.
“So Travis, when do I get to be in your column,” my friend Bill Beck said to me one night at the bar while he was enjoying his favorite drink, a bourbon Manhattan up. Now, I have known Bill for years, ever since I was a reporter at the Gay & Lesbian Times. I’ve gotten to know him more recently on a social level, because I can talk politics and current events with him – he really knows what’s going on in this town. I was wearing my reporter’s hat every time I had quoted Bill before – he was an expert in the political scene in San Diego. I noticed how much more I enjoyed getting to know someone for who they are as a person without making it into official business
“I am not entirely happy with my mask,” my partner in fashion crimes for Halloween, Alex, said to me over our regular Monday night dinner at Baja Betty’s, where we were joined this week by our friend and special guest Marc.
“I might be able to come up with something,” I began, “but you have to let me see what you’ve got to work with first.”
“You’re just saying that because you want to see what my costume looks like,” Alex said, calling me out on my little plot.
“Dude, you liquid-latexed your entire head and you still aren’t happy with it. I think you should give me a shot at this one,” I insisted.
Let’s face it, we all have parts of our lives that we keep private and parts that we put out on the table, and for better or worse it takes guts to do that. Whether you are a drag queen hosting a contest, a go-go dancer on a box or a columnist poking fun at your own life, we all choose to share parts of ourselves with others while we keep some things secret. Just like putting together the perfect Halloween costume (Laura Brannigan belts, masks and all), I’ve decided it’s about being able to put the pieces of your life together and be happy with yourself. The thing is, we all wear masks and let the world see what we want it to see, but we also need to know when to take the masks off and reveal our secret identities to the people we care most about.