A number of people have been eagerly waiting for this post, so I won't keep them in suspense any longer.
As I previously explained, last week I won a "Date with a Straight" in a silent auction to benefit a Monster Bar bartender savagely beaten a few weeks ago. The "straight" was Seth, a manager at the bar, whose clientele and staff are mostly gay. I thought he might enjoy coming to the Crossdressers International (CDI) Holiday Dinner, which was held on Wednesday. As for me, frankly I really wasn't the least bit desirous of a traditional date à deux. I'm not interested in dating anyone, being happily, monogamously married for 17 years. So a big group dinner seemed just the thing.
We left voice mail messages for each other, eventually actually talked to each other, and worked out the logistics. He would go directly to the restaurant, El Quijote in the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street at 8:00pm. I would have had him come to the CDI apartment first, but on dinner nights the place is already overcrowded with people changing. I told him I might be a little late. Since I take a long time with my make-up, I'm usually one of the last ones ready (this was particularly true when I was coming directly from work). So it's generally my job to lock up the apartment and bring the stragglers to the restaurant.
As it happened, this time I wasn't late. Since I retired I am able to start dressing earlier, and I only had to wait for one person to finish. She was done at 7:45, so we went out, found a cab fairly quickly, and were at the restaurant five minutes early. (Curiously, we arrived right before the group that had left CDI 10 or 12 minutes before us--they couldn't find a cab near the apartment, and after 10 minutes walked up to a busier intersection. We were much luckier.)
Seth hadn't arrived, which was understandable since I told him I might be late. I saved us a couple of seats, and then went around greeting some of the people who had come directly to the restaurant. When it was a few minutes after 8:00 and he still wasn't there, I decided to call him to see if there was a problem. I had just gotten my phone out when I saw him making his way past the bar--it helped that he's very tall. He made his way to the room we were given in the rear, and I made introductions.
We sat and talked for a bit, as the restaurant staff worked to accommodate our overflow crowd. I think we had told them we expected 20 people, and they had arranged seating for that number plus a couple extra. But that wasn't enough. Twenty-six people showed up in all. (Despite our asking people to RSVP, we never really know how many are coming. My rule of thumb is to take the number of people who RSVP, multiply by two, and pray.) There was plenty of space in the room, but they had no empty tables to put there. Eventually some people finished their dinners, and the restaurant staff did their furniture moving.
I've been going to the Monster for years, and Seth has worked there for years, but I still didn't know him. He is usually off on Wednesdays, when I usually go. So I started with the inevitable question: How did a straight guy end up working at a gay bar? (It was very inevitable--I heard someone else ask him that when I got up for a few moments to do my duties as CDI treasurer.) He said it was just an accident. He was going around from place to place in the Village leaving his resumé, and the Monster had just opened when he arrived. There were only a couple of guys at the bar. It was only on his way out, after an initial interview downstairs, when he noticed that the place had filled up with men. He said it was an advantage being a straight guy managing s gay bar, because no one could accuse him of favoritism.
Eventually, the waitress came and took our drink orders. Seth ordered a Coke, while I had my usual apple martini. (I thought perhaps he might not drink alcohol (probably another advantage for someone working in a bar), but later events proved that false.) We did the usual blind date talk, where are you from, what did you do before, etc. etc. We established that I am twice his age (sigh). Seth is an actor. He has done dinner theater in Alaska, and (I think he said) Arizona. (Dinner theater in Alaska??!! It's connected to the cruise ships that stop there.) We talked about his work schedule: 10-5 weekdays, 8-5 on the weekends. That's 10pm-5am!! Sometimes he doesn't see the sun for weeks. Which makes up for his summers in Alaska, where it never sets.
There was a DJ in the next room, and while we waited for the food some of the CDIers did a sing-along. We also noticed that a lot of the guys from there took the long way around through our room to get to the men's room. Hmmm. Maybe I should have brought along some CDI membership applications to pass out.
Dinner proceeded. We both had the white bean soup to start. Seth had the salmon, I had veal scallopine (though El Quijote is a Spanish restaurant, our limited menu only included one Spanish dish--paella, which was too much for my corset). The food is good there (and they treat us nicely), which is why CDI has had its holiday dinner there three years in a row. I finished with a nice flan. Seth, watching his non-existent waistline, passed on dessert.
About 10:30 or so things concluded. I paid the checks, both the main one for everyone's food, and the separate one for Seth's and my drinks (it's so nice when the restaurant will do separate drink checks--it's always a hassle when I have to try to collect from people at the end). We reclaimed our coats (it was the first time this year I hauled out my fur--faux, of course: an awful lot of polyesters had to die to make that coat). At the door Seth pointed out the statue of Don Quixote (as I'll spell it). He said it was his dream to play that role. He wanted to do it when he worked in Arizona, but they said he was too young. He did get to understudy it, though.
Seth had promised that at the end of the date he would take the winner back to the Monster for a drink, and several other people wanted to continue the evening there. So we divided into fours for the cabs. But 23rd between 7th and 8th is always a difficult block for cabs, I've found, so we went over to 7th where we found one pretty quickly.
When we got to the Monster, Seth was back on his home turf. The staff was surprised to see him dressed up, and some kidded him a bit. He got us drinks, getting a very potent margarita for himself. He also got one for another off-duty Monster staffer, one of the MenVogue group from the benefit show last week, I think. We (by then a about 10 people from the dinner) went downstairs and got tables by the stage. Seth went off to find someone with a camera, to immortalize our date (I don't think anyone took a picture of us at the dinner--drat). Tommy did the honors. I hope I can get a copy.
Eight of us, including Seth and me, got up and danced. We filled up the entire central area of the smallish dancefloor, and drew a bit of an audience. He remarked about how unusual a sight it must be for them, with so many women on the dancefloor, but it really wasn't that much. Most Wednesdays we're out there, though usually not quite so many--he's just unused to Wednesdays at the Monster.
We danced for a bit, then returned to our tables to wait for the show. It was the week for the monthly "Peoples' Choice" talent contest, instead of Jesse Volt's regular show. This was actually the fifth one, but I had somehow missed all of the previous ones (I'm not there every week). We waited, and waited. Many of the other people from CDI left--it was getting too late for them. Seth asked me if I wanted another drink, but I opted for just a diet Coke. I was already getting sleepy. He told me a bit about the MenVogue act from the previous week. I was surprised to hear they had only rehearsed twice--I guess they were fast learners. He said one of them was really uncomfortable in drag, and was out of his dress the moment the show was over. The others were partying at the Splash Bar in their finery later.
Eventually, 40 minutes late, the show started. Jesse did an introduction, and Monica Monroe performed first. Then came a series of very similar acts: very thin, fairly tall, African-American drag lipsyncers wearing long blonde wigs. They all danced quite athleticly, most doing splits. (Later someone remarked that she thought it was a spoof, the same person coming out again and again.) There were only a couple significant variations: one guy who sang a song with his own voice, and one who came out in African garb, who eventually disrobed to show a highly surgically-enhanced body. The scars on the undersides of her breasts were quite visible. A couple of the performers had a pair of women-born-women back-up dancers. I think Seth and I were both more interested in them than in the main performers--remember, Seth is straight.
After, I think, 12 contestants the three top ones (as determined by the loudness of the applause via a sound meter) were announced. Two were blonde clones, one actually had dark hair. Jesse presented them with their prizes, and the show was finally over. Twelve contestants is too much, especially if they are going to start so late. I guess they can't do anything about the similarity of the acts, other than to have fewer of them.
Seth and I, and the one remaining person I had to get back to the CDI apartment, went upstairs and got our coats. He got us into a cab and said goodnight. Thus ended my "Date with a Straight."
It was fun. Seth is a good conversationalist, and it was nice having someone new to talk to at dinner--I've heard most of the CDI members' stories many times already. So if there are any straight women-born-women out there looking for a tall, twenty-something actor/gay bar manager, check out Seth. Tell him Caprice sent you.
47 minutes ago