Published Thursday, 30-Mar-2006 in issue 953
“Stress” has been the word on my mind of late. Between covering extra shifts at the bar and trying to prepare for a trip home to see my family in Fresno, I have been feeling a little stretched to my limit. All this stress got me thinking, when we’re feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t we all need to find our comfort zone?
What better way to relieve some stress than by going out and dancing it all out of your system? After working an opening shift at the bar, I decided to check out one of the San Diego American Flag Football League’s kick-off parties at The Flame on the bar’s hot new night, Pulse. Between Kimberly S spinning and the sweet new lounge area in the back of the club, it was one hell of a night.
I met up with my friend Jason and his buddy Nick, who was visiting from Philly. I had already learned that Nick and Jason knew of my infamous ex from the City of Brotherly Love, and I quickly said of the ex, “Biggest mistake I ever made.”
“Trust me, I know. I lived 10 minutes from the guy,” Nick responded, and our friendship was sealed immediately.
As the night progressed, I also ran into my friend Linda, who had found herself surrounded by boys at what was supposed to be her favorite girl bar. She didn’t let that slow her down, though, and she pointed out to me that it had been a long time since she had made a cameo in my column.
I looked at her knowing that she new the rules – she had to come up with something sassy to make the cut.
“I need to say something witty,” she admitted. “I wish Alex was here, I’m sure he could come up with something.”
And I was good with that response.
Alex, Brian and I were walking to dinner a couple of weeks ago when we paused to check out the crowd at Mama Testa’s on University Avenue, where they have a hot new happy hour weekdays from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. While we were checking things out, we discussed Alex’s friend Ryan, who had recently returned from a stint in the Peace Corps and, according to Alex, was now considering getting his masters degree in something that would heal the world – or at least make it a better place.
“So something that doesn’t pay much,” I volunteered.
“But noble,” Brian added.
“Says the nurse who works for Hospice and helps people die,” I pointed out.
“The same could be said about you,” Alex interjected. “Between the booze and porn, you’re killing people slowly – in your own special way.”
If it isn’t obvious by now, I am a creature of habit – and, yes, that includes my regular Monday night dinners at Baja Betty’s. But dinners haven’t been the same since my favorite waiter, Lee, left. I mean, I know I can be picky, but there is comfort in knowing that your waiter pretty much knows what you’re going to order before you ask for it. And the fact that I was sorely missing that was starting to affect my mood when something Alex said rubbed me the wrong way.
“You’re just bitchy, aren’t you?” I said, staring at him.
“I’m not just bitchy,” Alex pointed out. “It’s just one of the many facets of my personality.”
Going home is always an adventure for me, and this month I made a trip to Fresno for my Mom’s birthday. Between home cooking and eating at my favorite restaurants, it was nice to get back to the basics.
A big part of any trip home for me, though, is spending time with Jena, one of my best friends, who was actually my first girlfriend in the seventh grade. I was probably the first gay guy she dated, but I most certainly wasn’t the last.
While I most certainly love my parents, they do have their quirks, and having drinks with Jena is always a must because it’s the only way to maintain my sanity when I’m visiting them. Over our second round of drinks, I told Jena the story of how my mom came into the living room the night before and held up a pair of antique spoons she found at some thrift store, which she planned to do some crazy crafty thing with – like make a wind chime or something. Only the spoons had been bent back on so they made a nifty little handle you could hold with one finger. My mom asked me why it was like that, and I had already jumped to a preconceived notion when my dad said: “It’s to smoke drugs. I saw it on an episode of ‘CSI.’”
I nodded that my dad was right. But mom, ever the optimist, just knocked two of the little drug spoons together and said, “But don’t they sound nice when you ring them together?”
“If she makes a wind chime out of those it’s going to draw entirely the wrong kind of crowd,” I said.
I finally returned to San Diego and found myself back in my comfort zone slinging drinks on a Friday night at Martinis Above Fourth. My friends Dylan, Joe and Tyler came in with company from out of town in tow – and, boy, were these friends hot. So when they told me to meet them out at Rich’s after I got off work, I agreed to.
Before long, I found myself shirtless and in my comfort zone dancing with one of the new guys when I got a text message from Dylan that read: “Slow down. He has a boyfriend.” And it became quite obvious that the two out-of-town visitors were a couple!
After the guys took turns dancing with me the whole night, passing me back and forth, it was painfully obvious that I was going to be enjoying the comfort of my bed alone, and they were going to be having quite a good time in their hotel room.
I explained my predicament to my friend Richard while we were standing outside the bar during the sidewalk sale and he noted, “I’m going to read all about this in your column, aren’t I?”
Whether it’s working overtime or having an out-of-control weekend, we all need a place where we feel comfortable and recharge our batteries. Whether it’s finding a job that you feel good about, enjoying a home-cooked meal, having a cocktail at your favorite bar or talking with a familiar face about good times and bad, it’s all about finding a space where you’re relaxed and content – even if that place is curled up in your bed alone on a Friday night.