Some Stuff at the Gay Parade

About a week ago I followed a friend of mine to a birthday party. It was over at a bar in West Hollywood, and it was one of those days where I didn’t have enough confidence to do my own thing, so I ended up compromising, doing the easy thing, absolutely not carpe-diem-ing. But, for the sake of this short story, we won’t delve into that cynical introspection. Yet.

Anyway, this bar, on La Cienega, had a nice outdoor patio. I walked in with my good friend, who everybody got excited to see. Me, not so much, in part because I wasn’t really invited, and second, I had never meshed too well with the birthday girl and her friends the few times we did interact. But I still greeted people at this party I wasn’t really invited to, saying hey, how’s work, good to see you, and then not talking anymore. Beer? Someone asked. No thanks, drank enough last night. When I passed on this free beer and felt like speaking to nobody, it was seriously like: why am I here?

What did sound amazing, alternatively, was a cigarette. So I walked outside, mooched one from the nearest smoker — employing the innocent, soft tone a cigarette moocher like me has mastered over these years — and I sauntered contemplatively on La Cienega, North, towards Santa Monica Blvd. There was a lot of commotion going on over there: a fenced off street, parked cop cars. Well, at least more exciting that hanging out with the birthday crowd I’d just ditched, whose primary focus in life is Instagram Statistics — “it’s about the ratio, not the number of likes,” I once heard them say, after which they broke into passionate laugh.

Walking up this steep hill, closer to Santa Monica Blvd, the sun was out and the sky was blue — weather that I take for granted. Santa Monica Blvd. was completely closed off, and it took me additional five or ten seconds, then, to realize that I was watching the gay parade. Over the weekend I’d been hearing people talk about, but I wasn’t actually paying attention.

Now, I realized, was my wonderful, natural chance. I instantly joined in on the crowd. Hundreds of people walked east and west, music blasted from the nearby bars advertising cheap shots, and muscular men covering the minimals walked hand in hand.

“Yeah, man!!” one guy in black fish netting and a black fedora shouted, as I passed him and watched him inquisitively.

“You’re crushing it,” I told him.

I continued forward, walking against the tide on the sidewalk. A little bar blasting Pitbul offered $5 shots, and a super sexy woman in red was offering them. I handed her a Lincoln and I swallowed a vodka down without a chaser and she cheered. When I didn’t have any more cash to tip her, she didn’t cheer.

Down the block, assimilating with the tide, I crossed paths with an acquaintance of mine from high school — less than an acquaintance, actually, someone I barely knew.

“Hey,” I said as we came to a cross.

“Hey, man,” he said, shaking hands, perhaps the weirdest handshake I’d ever experienced. “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“Um. I don’t know. Was at a birthday party, pretty boring. Thought I’d walk around.”

“Uh huh,” he said. He had a buddy with him.

“What’s up? I’m Jeremy.”

“Tim,” he said.

“What are you guys doing here?” I asked.

“Just looking for girls,” my friend said.

“Got it,” I said.

Walking around for thirty or so more minutes, I had a few more revolutionary insights, the first of which was in regards to the male form. In general, a thought that often perturbs me is about how men are, by nature, a lot less appealing than women are physically or aesthetically — and I don’t think that’s just because I’m straight. Women have long, silky hair that smells like raspberries, and men are either dandruff-cursed or growing bald. Women’s legs are clean and soft, whereas a man’s are hairy and rough. You take a room full of women, and it smells alright, but if you leave a group of men in a confined space for a while, it’s only a matter of time until it smells like BO and Chipotle. Almost every guy I know past age 30 is a little overweight. At the gay parade, though, I was absolutely stunned by the amount of in-shape, beautiful men. Walking around shirtless and confident, I understood that men can be fun to look at, too.

Secondly, the lack of come-on’s I got there was a little disheartening. I think one guy said, “Hey, nice glasses,” and I got whistled at once, but I’m not sure it was directed at me. What gives? Was I not showing enough skin? I don’t know. Either way, I headed back to the birthday party; watched people looked at their cell phones and gossip, and then went home.

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