Wednesday, May 19, 2004

What Did You Do Sunday?

The AIDSwalk went off with a modicum of hitches on Sunday. Typically of me, I spent most of the day previous screwing around on-line and gabbing on the phone. So of course that left me the night before scrambling for batteries for the camera and having to accomplish some personal ... um... grooming late into the evening. Not too bad I believe I was curling up for a snooze by about 2 am. Early for a bar person. And I'm pretty functional on 5 hours sleep. Indeed I woke up 1/2 hour before my alarm set for 7:30. I had promised to call The Hellcat at 8 am, he claimed he'd be up by then but I knew this would be a wake-up call instead. It was. That was fine. According to M--- we would all be meeting up at the bar as we did last year and making our way to the park. I was not hopeful as I hadn't made any of these arrangements and it didn't appear anyone from my well meaning staff had taken a leadership role in organizing the operation. But I managed to arrive at the bar promptly at 9 am with 2 nutritious Micky D's eggamuffin and double order of home-fries.Of course, I packed a fat-free yogurt in with that. A girl has to watch her weight. The Hellcat and his boyfriend pulled up around 9:30 or so and we went inside to pee, pick out shades, wrap and un-wrap an extra shirt, change from jeans to shorts and back again. You know, be gay.

We finally arrived in the park at the sign in area around 10:30 sans the rest of our group. A quick cell phone call later placed them squarely 45 minutes to an hour ahead of us already walking. They would remain separated by that approximate distance for the remainder of the day. The weather forecast for the day called for partly cloudy skies with a chance of a shower and a high temp. of around 75. By the time we were into the walk the sun was shining, a shower was clearly not imminent and 75 felt reached and surpassed. Technology. Go figure. They had it so delightfully wrong weather-wize that by 12:30 or so it had cooked up enough that shirts started peeling off left and right. Is there anything sexier than a tattoo of some sort just at the small of a man's back right where his jeans rest at the top of his ass? I don't think so.(I need a moment, hang on.) So it was me, The Hellcat and his boyfriend for the day, an unexpected development as I didn't really know the boyfriend well beyond saying hello. Turns out he's a pretty nice guy. I got a fairly decent vibe off him. We stopped at a bodega (convenience store) in Harlem where M--- made fast friends with the cashier and purchased a dozen Bud "ponies" (little Budweiser half-beers) and some Tylenol. I thought it was a little odd, turns out, he had a reason. (explanation later)

The walk itself was pretty mundane, the usual sights as the rout through the park never changes. Celebrity sightings included John Lithgow, cooling out listening to a Jamaican drum corps, and Carson Kressley, signing autographs along the route. Talk about mainstream, was he surrounded by adoring fags? Try giddy Latin girls. That's mainstream. We finished in pretty good time by around 2 and another cell phone hook up had us heading over to The Restaurant to meet the girls for brunch. By the time we arrived the front room was still pretty full, mostly men in semi casual Sunday gentleman attire. Needless to say, I felt my T-shirt reading "HIV Inside" while clearly appropriate for the walk, was now bordering on a little too in your face for the Sunday brunch crowd. Thankfully, our table was set up all alone in the back room. I have an inkling for the very reasons I just cited. We ordered a round of cocktails and swapped stories. It was pleasant enough but I have to confess, I was wildly uncomfortable for some reason and I really don't care for the food at The Restaurant so much, and since The Hellcat mentioned wanting to head down to the village for a spell I craftily reminded him that we wouldn't have time for that if we stayed as we had a time limit brought about by the fact that we were both due to work in the evening. He bit. We knocked back our drinks, popped over to the bar to drop off bags and rinse off, and hopped in a cab for a ride down to Christopher St..
I'll skip some of the details of our afternoon in the village, as it's getting a whole post of it's own later in the week. But I will tell you it included my first visit to "The Dugout". A legendary Christopher St. watering hole that has a summer Sunday scene that I had yet to experience. It was cool. Men of all ages, sizes, types just hanging out on a Sunday afternoon. We met a couple of older men (by older I mean 75 and 79) who seemed truly happy to be making the scene and as an added bonus, one of them guessed my age as 32. I kissed him full -on on the mouth. Eventually, The Hellcat said goodbye to the boyfriend and we made our way back uptown. We stopped at the Food Emporium for some much needed dinner. We ate, and got the back bar ready for the night. We were both six kinds of tired by then and the rest of the night consisted of me struggling to stay alert and alternately trying to buck up M--- and keep him going. It worked and we got through the night relatively unscathed. I didn't fall ill like last year, and while I personally only managed to raise about $250.00 for the cause, by not interfering in my employee's fundraising collectively we managed to raise about $5,300.00. Far and away beating last year's total. All together, over 5 million dollars was raised on a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon. And all we had to do was spend the day with friends walking in the park. Pretty nice.

Ed Note: Not everyone was able to participate as planned and not everyone escaped the day unscathed. All is not well amongst my employees. Poor Neo is currently recuperating at home. He developed a bad case of sciatica that he didn't tend to quickly enough. The muscles in his lower back and leg are completely in spasm and he's unable to walk. Unfortunately, the only real treatment is anti-inflammatory drugs, time and bed rest. He's hoping to be back by this Friday but after speaking to him recently and having been through the very same thing about 10 years ago I'm doubtful.

Two cocktail waiters have been out for the better part of the week. Both with bad colds, high fever and laryngitis.

As mentioned above, The Hellcat's purchase of "emergency Budweiser" and aspirin puzzled me. As it turns out, the staph infection he thought he'd cleared from his system months ago had flared up again that morning. He was already in quite a bit of pain and worried about spending the night in the emergency room after his shift. That didn't happen but he is currently back on a broad spectrum of antibiotics and unable to work for now. Hopefully it was caught in time and he won't have to lose shifts and money due to this.

On an up note, everyone seems to be on the mend. Nothing that time, rest and the wonders of pharmacology won't take care of. I swear, sometimes I don't feel like I'm running a bar so much as a wing at St. Vincent's.

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