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Underwear Night at 440 Castro 

Wednesday, Feb 11 2009
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When you travel on public transit every day, you begin to memorize all the advertising campaigns on the sides of the buses and streetcars. It's like a shitty top 40 song you can't escape. The first one I hate shows a guy in headphones who has fallen down next to a Muni train, which we are led to believe almost hit him. His dog is offering him — I guess — assistance to get back on his feet. The tagline is "Your dog heard it, why didn't you?"

I can understand if the tagline was "Your invertebrate heard it, why didn't you?" because invertebrates are naturally deaf, and the point would be that the oncoming train was so loud, and you were jamming so hard, that even your pet caterpillar heard it when you didn't. But dogs have superhearing. Of course the freakin' golden retriever heard it, ya moron.

At first, the other ad just delighted me, and now I am wholly sick of it. It has the tagline "Dogs are Talking," with a picture of two bulldogs dressed like a doctor and patient. They are having a heart-to-heart about syphilis. The poster also shows the warning signs of syphilis and how to cure it. Now I ask you, are they trying to target the 8-year-old demographic?

I was sitting with my new roommate on the bus when I pointed out the bulldog STD ad and remarked how lame it was, hoping he would chime in with, "Yeah, what is with that?" But I have learned by now that the two of us really have nothing in common except an affinity for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though his favorite character was the limp Tara, and he hates my favorite, Spike).

"I've never noticed that," he said of the ad, but not with a chuckle or a "wow." He didn't see the humor in it. I've taken all of this as a growth opportunity for me, because not everyone has to see the world the way I do.

So when my roommate asked me to meet him in the Castro again for a drink after work, though the little voice inside my head said "Uh, nope," I agreed. I do like the guy a lot; he's pretty sweet. It's just that he is always on the prowl, and I end up in the middle of some pickup session. He promised me that this wouldn't happen. He said that someone told him you could get 80-cent cosmos at 440 Castro. This sounded a little bit too good to be true, but I thought it was worth a shot.

When we arrived, it turned out to be the beginning of Underwear Night, where if you show up in just your grundies you get a dollar off your drink. I looked around; everyone was wearing pants. Phew, we were too early for the festivities.

The 440 has a kind of utilitarian feel, with sharp lines and two levels, but it's still cozy enough. The crowd was a complete mix of rocker types, middle-agers, Tommy Hilfiger models, and normies. I was the only female, though the staff was supernice to me, which makes a big difference if you are some straight chick hanging out at a gay men's bar. You already feel different. The last thing you need is attitude from the bartenders.

The opening strains of Van Halen's "Runnin' with the Devil" came on. I asked my roommate if he recognized the song and he said no. (Growth opportunity, Katy, growth opportunity! Breathe ... breathe ...)

We sat down and ordered margaritas, because the bartender had no idea what we meant by "Please give us two 80-cent cosmos." Apparently that special doesn't exist. Someone, I gathered, just wanted my roommate to show up that night. Grrrrreat. I made a mental note to finish my drink and then skedaddle.

Nazareth came on (and hey, mad props to a Castro bar that plays classic rock!), and though I know a lot of people wouldn't know the name of the band, most of them would recognize the song's refrain, "Now you're messin' with a sonofabitch." Except homie, of course. I took the opportunity to open the discussion of music, because he plays the same five songs over and over every day, and they are the worst shit I have ever heard. They sound like the no-name band's song with girlie teenage vocals that gets played at the end of made-for-TV Hilary Duff movies. He plays the newest Britney CD when he is in the shower. He also told me the new Pussycat Dolls record was available online, and that he was totally psyched. (Breathe ... breathe...)

So, I asked, what is with a 22-year old man listening to that crap? His answer was actually really good: "I'm gay." It sort of stopped me in my tracks, as I had forgotten this element. I tried to make an example of gay people who have great taste in music, of which there are many, but all I saw were pictures of gay faves like Abba, Madonna, and Erasure dancing through my head. This is the shitty music of a different generation, though, alas. Now the torch is being passed.

"You have to see The Women," he said to me. "It was soooo good!" He had it on DVD. But it wasn't my all-time favorite movie from 1939, which I already own; it was the recent, completely retarded remake. I pointed out to him that the original was an iconic gay film. "Huh," he said.

So here's when I realized that I was being really annoying, and that no one needs to hear how lame he is all the time. No matter how idiotic his taste is, 'tis far, far worse for me to keep pointing that out. (I don't know if you've noticed, but I have been trying to be less judgmental in 2009.)

I changed the subject, and my roomie ordered his third margarita in an hour. The Real World was on the TV, and though this season has a transgender person, a closet case, and the usual calico quilt of characters, it just isn't grabbing me. "It just isn't grabbing me," I said.

"Are you kidding?" He guffawed. "This is the best season ever!" He was flushed and supertipsy. He is a giddy, horny drunk, and I didn't want to stick around. This just wasn't working.

I said that I had to go, and that I was tired, which was true. He begged me to stay, saying he'd buy me a drink at Badlands. "Dude, you want to meet some dude, dude," I said. "Have at it. Enjoy yourself. I need to go home."

He hemmed and hawed, and begged me to stay out. "DUDE," I said once more, with feeling. "I'm not gay. This is okay for one drink, but overall, it is not fun for me." This seemed to do the trick. He let me go, reluctantly.

I felt a wash of relief when I boarded Muni at the Castro station. I need to figure out if it is better to have a roommate you have a lot in common with, or whether it is better to lead separate lives. I suppose I shall just have to find out the hard way. In the meantime, I really need to keep my opinions to myself. I'll try. Breathe ... breathe ...

About The Author

Katy St. Clair

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