And to all, a good night…

Our holiday party went over pretty well, I think. We had about 50 people, give or take. There were a couple people who were new to our social circle who seemed to rub people the wrong way, but I guess that is always a possibility when introducing “new blood.” Our friend Jim was a wonder man, setting up the food, replacing empty platters and washing dishes throughout the night. He was like a one man catering machine and I have no idea how we ever managed a party without him.

It still surprises me how many people don’t bother to RSVP, and how many RSVPd “yes” and never showed up, with no follow up message or explanation. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone having other plans or having to change their plans, or just not wanting to come for any variety of reasons, but it seems to me a bit disrespectful to not even bother selecting a simple “yes” or “no” or to select “yes” and then not show.

Regardless, I think this may be the last big hoopla we throw. I have grown to much prefer smaller social engagements, dinner parties and cocktail socials, as opposed to big brouhahas. They are more manageable, more cost effective and allow me to actually spend quality time with each of my guests.

Anyhoo, the real event took place after my party. Most of the guests had left around midnight, and there were about 10-15 guests remaining when one of my friends, a drag queen named “Sondra”, decked out in Ms. Clause attire and heels, roused the troops for a night cap at a (very) nearby bar that we shall call “the Barn.” This bar is practically within walking distance to my house and we’d talked about “gay invading it” for some time. Apparently, Saturday night was to be the night we followed through. Jeffrey and Jim stayed behind to clean up, too tired to join us for the post-party parade to the Barn, so off I went with the rest of the gang.

Sondra waltzed through the door of the Barn, with 11 more of us parading behind her as her gay posse. We instantly more than doubled the attendance at the bar, which happened to be having karaoke night. We filled up one side of the bar, while all the non-party patrons stayed seated on the other side, a few clearly wide-eyed at what and who just walked through the door. To be fair, we didn’t "blend." We ordered drinks and continued our socializing while several of our gang began submitting songs for karaoke.

There were a couple of inappropriate gropings of Sondra at the bar (which she handled both gracefully and sternly) but no other audible cat calls or insults, and no one approached us directly. However, it very quickly became evident that, although several people appeared unsure and uncomfortable about us being there, there was a group of 3 men that were quite agitated about our presence. One of our number overheard some homophobic language coming from one of the agitated, while getting a drink at the bar, and gave us all heads up that there might be trouble. Although we all took on an air of nervousness, we were unanimously adamant that we had a right to be there and continued to try to enjoy our evening with a watchful eye on the other side of the bar. In contrast, there were also a few people, one man in particular, that seemed elated with our arrival and particularly with Sondra’s appearance, waving and smiling and being very friendly with our crowd. (Think of the lone tribe member in Priscilla who danced with glee during the desert drag queen performance and wound up joining the stars of the film, dancing in silver lame drag to “I Will Survive”.)

The tension finally came to a head as one of the agitated approached the bar and insisted the bartender throw us out of the Barn. We all waited as the argument grew louder and we were pointed at by the agitated. I could feel myself and the group around me tense and bristle as we waited for a punch or bottle to be thrown.

Instead, the bartender shocked us all by yelling loud enough over the music for the entire bar to hear “Those are paying customers and they are welcome in my bar any time and if you don’t like it you can get the fuck out.” The agitated made one more attempt to argue before the bartender threw him and his two minions out of his bar with a loud “get the fuck out of my bar.” The three men stomped out of the bar without so much as a glance our way, and the waitress hurried over with a round of free Jell-O shots for all of us.

Just when we thought we couldn’t be more shocked and pleasantly surprised, up jumps the “lone tribesman” I mentioned and, grabbing the karaoke microphone, announces that everyone belongs there, we should all get along, he’s bisexual, he doesn’t care and everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

You could have knocked me (and all of us?) over with a feather.

Then, before we could gather our wits about us, our friend Josh was called up to the microphone, whereupon he announces he is dedicating the song he is about to sing to his friends and the supportive customers in the Barn, and begins belting out “Friends in Low Places” (which happens to be one of my favorite songs). In a scene right out of “Too Wong Foo”, the entire crowd gets on their feet and both sides mingle in the middle, gay and straight, men and women, young and old, and begin dancing and singing at the top of their lungs, hooting and hollering, high fiving and hugging each other and shaking their tails in total camaraderie, celebration and brotherly/sisterly love.

Folks, if I hadn’t been part of it, and witnessed it myself, I’d have hardly believed it.

At the end of the song, we made our good-byes and walked out into the cold, dark night air, a little giddier, a little more enlightened and filled with a little more love for and faith in humanity.

Just goes to show…you can find allies in the least likely of places…

Wishihng you all Peace, Love and Pride. May you all be pleasantly surprised in the least likely of places, among the least likely of crowds.

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18 Responses to And to all, a good night…

  1. That was a great story. Well, aside from the 3 homophobes to begin with. But I hope you know what I mean.

  2. This was my Xmas miracle story. After a split country in the election season, it was nice to hear of such a coming together of people. Thank you for sharing

  3. Mark in DE says:

    I have also wondered about the RSVP thing, but eventually just decided not to worry about it. Like you, we used to have a big holiday open house (75+ people) but we found we really didn’t spend any quality time with our friends. Now we do a smaller holiday event that is less work for us, less money, and more quality time with friends.

    What a great experience at The Barn!!! It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving man. 🙂

  4. Kyle Leach says:

    Sean, I am so glad your party went well! New blood is always a risk. One of ours got very drunk, began being somewhat inappropriate, and knocked over one of the small holiday trees. The RSVP thing is a big issue and seems to be all too prevalent. I will say that some of the people on the list may just not be getting the invite. Out of our 65 guests about 5 didn’t get the Evite and a few didn’t get their Facebook notifications because of their Facebook preferences. The rest I don’t have an excuse for. Your accounts of the moments at the bar are priceless. TWF moments are the best! That’s what life is about! (And how did I know you’d sing Low Places, one of my favorites too.) 🙂

  5. Richard says:

    What a beautiful story! Brought tears to my eyes too! It could be a Hallmark holiday show! I agree with Anne Marie, the times are a-changin’! Thanks for sharing this! Love you!

  6. Urspo says:

    I could not get past the RSVP issue – it is such bad manners (in my humble opinion) to not respond yes/no to a RSVP – worse is to say ‘yes’ and then not show without an call or note of contrition with an acceptable excuse.
    Mother raised me right.

  7. What I terrific story! Thanks for sharing it. I was afraid there was going to be drama outside from the ousted troublemakers. Nothing better than a great story with a happy ending.

  8. Kelly Stern says:

    Nice story… it does show how times are changing and it is nice for the bartender to understand 11 paying customers who are happy are much better than 3 assholes…kudos to him and the bi guy… now the whole RSVP thing… when we have big gatherings like that, we buy food enough for the amount of RSVP’s, then extra of what we like just in case there are leftovers and do the same with the booze, especially the booze… win win we would eat and drink anyway…though, if I say I am coming, I am coming (take that how you want )

  9. Cubby says:

    This post certainly belongs right on top of “Best of Idle Eyes”. Wow!

  10. justajeepguy says:

    Did you keep the name of the bar anon because you want to keep your address fairly anon too?

    • Sassybear says:

      Sometimes I decide not to share too much identifying info, but I realize it’s like closing the barn after the horse escapes.

  11. JimA says:

    What a great story! I’m just sorry that y’al didn’t stay longer and drink more, the owner should be rewarded for making that bold stand! I hope you all tipped well! Sorry that I missed the party and this fun outing!

  12. justajeepguy says:

    Great story – no, Great happening. I hope someone sent the Bar/Bartender flowers today!

  13. sweet mother of pearl! the times they are a-changin’!

    PS – people that don’t RSVP are fucking rude; people that do RSVP and don’t show are also fucking rude.

  14. shamansmith says:

    Cthulhu bless us, every one!

  15. bubbinga says:

    Now THAT, my dear, is a Christmas Story for the ages!

    Please don’t allow this year’s less-than perfect hoopla to bah humbug any future hooplas. Just down scale.

    My Ex (I capitalize ’cause we’re still besties) and I threw the yearly Christmas bash in our 500 square foot studio. The guest list was made up of our closest friends (the same family we celebrate Easter and Halloween with) and then added to until we hit the 25 (full capacity) mark. It was also understood that it was not a “plus one” event.

    Because we are all “family,” EVERYONE always showed up, bottle of champagne in hand (’cause that’s how we roll). Marvelous times and fond memories, all squeezed into one tiny, festively decked out studio condo.

    Your home is larger, but it’s okay to hoopla more intimately. Less prep and clean up too. We always loved that warm glow that stayed even after the last glass of champers was drunk and the last guest departed. Good times!

    And in the immortal words of Karen Carpenter:

    “Merry Christmas, Darling! ”

    Drew

  16. Robin says:

    Brought me to joyful tears!! I needed this more than you know. This was similar to a topic we were discussing at the PFLAG Meeting yesterday and a business owner who finally came out, and what he’s dealing in the community. Love you!!

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