Gay bars are a strange place. Pulsating with sexual tension and dance beats, they feel more like a zoo or the set of a reality show than actual reality. Shell necklaces have made a startling comeback, it seems, as have cropped t-shirts and blonde tips. Like stepping back in time, like walking through the Museum of Natural History, the exhibits come to life to the tune of Kylie Minogue. Strange.
Last night two friends and I ended up at Buddies. It's been years since I've stepped foot inside the place, years since I've spent $7 to get inside any building. But it's as if nothing at all has changed since 2004. While my life has moved forward (new jobs, new rental apartments, a deliberate lack of dye in my hair) it seems Buddies hasn't changed at all. J-Lo and Britney, though now with four children between them, still blast from the speakers, cheap shots of sugary liquor still flow. The requisite sects of the gay population are still represented (the bears, the silver foxes, the twinks) and security guards still position themselves as if protecting the President of the United States. Symbols on washroom doors vanished years ago, a gender-free-for-all. The smell of too-much-cologne and sweat bringing back vast memories of my free-wheeling youth. It's a devastating realization that 26 is now on the old end of Buddies attendees.
Gay bars are for singles. A hack would make some kind of joke about an all-you-can-eat buffet at a fat camp, but I won't do that. It's just all too much. Heightened everything. Lights, music, bleached teeth, and $400 jeans. Fag hags grinding desperately against boys who look to be about 14 years old. Tank tops, tube tops, and just plain tops bottoming out after too much to drink, vomitting in the parkette next door. There was a time I could handle all this. Now I just feel old.
I mean, I had fun, I guess. We checked our coats, got drinks, danced half-heartedly to five songs, left and got pizza. When I think back to the days when this happened weekly, I have fond memories. Brian and I would know exactly what kind of night we were in search of and we'd make it happen precisely that way. It was fun. It was what we did. Now it just feels silly and age-inappropriate, like Melanie Griffith or jelly shoes on a senior.