Thursday, June 29, 2006

The SF Chronicles, Part III: Billy C.

Who's Billy C.?, you ask.

Picture it, Washington, circa March 2006 (or something). My friend R.N. is in town from San Francisco for a conference and, as we gay men are (kind of unfortunately) predisposed to do, we decide to go barhopping for the evening.


Before we walked into our first bar, R.N. related a story about his friend Joe from back home. He and Joe went out to a bar one evening. As is Joe's proclivity, he spent much of the time scanning the room, probably trying not to look too desperate while still looking "available." Eventually, a pair of nice gentlemen starting chatting with the two of them. One of them, it happens, clearly took a shine to my friend, R.N.

R.N. enjoyed the conversation he was having with this gentleman. He would never have considered going home with the guy -- R.N. has had a partner for years now -- but he enjoyed the conversation in part because he enjoyed the attention. It's nice to know that you might still be considered attractive, especially in the youth-obsessed, "next best thing" gay culture we seem to have created for ourselves. It was just conversation after all, and when it came down to it, R.N. would politely end the conversation, bid the guy good night, and head home to his partner. No harm, no foul.

R.N. excused himself to go to the restroom. Upon his return, the gentleman who had been chatting him up abruptly turned to him and said, "We're heading out now. Bye." Rather curt, R.N. thought, until his friend Joe 'fessed up that, during the bathroom break, he had told the guy about R.N.'s partnered status.

R.N. and I think that Joe was just jealous that "the partnered guy" was getting some attention and wanted to end that situation as soon as possible.


When R.N. and I began our barhopping evening here in D.C., we made it clear: I would not be a Joe. I recognize that having someone flirt with you can be a nice feeling, and there's nothing wrong with it (if you don't lead the guy on too much). So we made a pact before we started that if someone should hit on him, we would ride that train. (Of course, if someone were to have hit on me, well, I and -- and have -- no shackles tying me to anyone.) There would be no mention of a husband. Heck, there would be no mention of the 2,500 miles separating home bases.

About half an hour after our arrival and as I continued to nurse my beer, a nice young man whom we know now to be named Billy C.* introduced himself. Billy C. was clearly enamored of R.N. He came over to chat with "both of us," but his attentions were clearly not directed at me. Consistent with our pact, I stepped aside and let their conversation take its natural course.

Of course, at some point, R.N. finally tired of the situation and made indications to me that he was ready to go (as was I, especially seeing as I wasn't receiving any attention from, well, anyone). We dutifully bid good night to Billy C., and made our exit.

The night sounds (and was) boring and innocent, and not typical blog fodder, but for the fact that Billy C. has now become our catchphrase for "random guy who strikes up conversation with you in a bar." From that day on, "Billy C." takes on new significance for us. "Maybe you'll get your very own Billy C.," we'll say, as we head out for another night of bar-modelling.


R.N. and I made our way out to the Castro a few times in San Francisco during this past week's visit. Being Pride weekend, things were a bit crazy. I had chatted with R.N. a few times about my desire to find my very own Billy C., but I didn't expect that it would happen.

Of all places, Billy C. approached me at a bar called "Twin Peaks," apparently affectionately referred to as the "Glass Coffin."

R.N. and I were sitting next to the jukebox in this relatively quiet bar. It was mostly populated by older gentlemen who didn't seem as into the raucous young bar scene going on just down the street. We were just chatting and sipping our cocktails when this guy approaches us and, with very little introduction or even hint of embarrassment, introduced himself and announced that he wanted to get to know me (and not in a scary, leery sort of way).

R.N. quietly chuckled to himself as we started chatting about our respective musical tastes (the jukebox near us serving as the conversational catalyst). His name was Tito, and he wanted to teach me to salsa. Which would have been fine, except that his place really had no dance floor to speak of, and, well, it would have been obnoxious to try.

Meanwhile, his friend was drunk and tired (which was funny, because apparently the friend was on the one who had begged him to go out in the first instance) and really wanted to go home. "But I want to talk to this guy!" Tito complained, and his friend just plopped himself into a chair nearby.

Because I really would not have wanted to go home with him anyway (I had work stuff to do the next day), not to mention the aforementioned lack of floor space, I politely declined Tito's offer of dance lessons. Besides, even if I were so inclined, I now know what being on the receiving end of a cockblocking wet blanket feels like, and I wanted to give him an escape valve to get rid of Mr. "I Want to Go Home Already."

But there you have it. On the first night of my trip, I met my very own Billy C.


Later in the trip, the name "Billy C." found itself supplanted by an entire other name, one which will become the subject of a wholly separate blog post when I'm ready to talk about it more. But right now I'm not.


Regular readers will notice that of three posts about my week-long San Francisco work trip, no entry has been about work at all. This is because the conference bored even me (I fell asleep repeatedly -- I hope my snoring wasn't too bad), so I can't imagine what it would have done to you readers if I repeated my conference adventures.

* We actually refer to him by his full name, because he actually told us his full name and even produced a driver's license at some point, but I guess I should maintain some semblance of his privacy here.

1 comment:

Will said... first name is William and my middle name begins with C, but I wasn't in DC in March 2006 and I have the airline receipts to prove it. So at least it wasn't me. :P

This has always been a tricky issue for me because I travel a lot for work and I'll often go out if I'm somewhere like SF, San Diego, Toronto, New York, somewhere fun. Anyway, if a Billy C comes up to talk to me or dance with me, at what point do I say "I have a partner?" Say it too late and you may have led him on; say it too early and it's like you're assuming that of COURSE he wants to sleep with you, when all he was doing was talking/dancing. Rather than saying "oh, by the way, I have a partner," I usually just work him into the conversation casually and let the Billy C decide for himself what he wants to do.

Except when the guy in San Diego was like, "well, he's not here now, is he?," and cries of "Mayday, Mayday!" entered my head. That's when you need to abort and not worry about Billy's feelings.

Long comment, sorry, but your post was intriguing. Glad you had a good time in Cali.