Saturday, April 02, 2011

Familiar and unfamiliar

Friday with Dorothy. Sounds like something we’d cackle on the phone sometime sometime in the early-‘60s, but no, my dear -- it’s a social gathering here in Santa Fe, once a month at a hotel. Someone I met on one of the crew sites told me about it originally, he said 100 or 200 gay men attended each one -- really? Who were they?

So I went to see -- this was my second time, actually. The first time I went it was the bar in the gay retirement community, and the only conversation I ended up having went something like this:

Are you FROM Santa Fe?
Well, not originally, but I live here now.
You LIVE here?
Yeah, I just moved here a few months ago.
You’re HOT!

This guy was so smashed that he could hardly say much else, but at least the conversation went in a positive direction, right? I guess there was another conversation, but we won’t mention that one. Most of the people in attendance were white gay men, middle-aged or older, working country club casual or after-work button-down, with a few cowboys thrown in and at least one person working mid-‘90s over-perfumed tight-lycra-mesh clubwear. Oh, but I should mention that the people who throw the event kept saying we don’t USUALLY have it at a place like this, but they kept asking us -- Rainbow Vision was apparently a little too low class for Friday with Dorothy.

So I thought I would check out another one, to find out what USUALLY happens, but then last month I was too tired to go, and to tell you the truth this month I’m too tired also, but the good news is that Randy is visiting, so we’ve already made a plan to drive down there. This time it’s happening in an executive suite at the Hilton Buffalo Thunder, a huge resort and casino on one of the pueblos just to the north of Santa Fe.

At least the drive there is stunning -- the sun starting to set over the mountains, cliffs, all this gorgeous red and blue light and then we arrive at some kind of Vegas-style fake-adobe compound, Randy points out the glass flowers in the lobby -- better than silk flowers, I guess. Apparently Friday with Dorothy is taking place in three different suites -- the first one, with the big bar, seems kind of empty, the second one we passed right by, and then into the governor’s suite in the back, oh my. Yes, it’s packed with gay men, mostly in their 50s and older, swirling around in upscale casual style, but the room -- oh, my -- I have to tell you about the room. 30 foot ceilings at least, because the place is two floors, but the best part -- aside from the aquamarine-tiled upstairs bathroom suite, of course -- the best part is the view: a stunning sunset over the mountains, three different balconies to stand out on.

I can’t say that the conversations we have are that interesting, but they’re kind of interesting anyway. I mean it’s kind of interesting to talk to these gay men who I might not otherwise meet. A few older lesbians, too. Let’s see -- the first couple just bought a house in Palm Springs, they wintered there for the first time and now they’re on the way back to their place north of Louisville, 143 acres in southern Indiana. Yes, they do specify 143 acres, just in case I was wondering. One of them wants to know if I’m transitioning -- you know, because of my name. They’re with a friend who came out when he was 80 -- now he’s 92, a little hard of hearing, but he does remember my name later on, saying goodbye as Randy and I exit the lobby and he’s getting in the car, that’s sweet.

Let’s see -- what else? I guess the youngish guy who motions Randy and I to go upstairs and check out the spa, we’ll like it. Some kind of shade that we can’t quite figure out. He’s with a group of shady queens who we chat briefly with later, I guess no one really introduces themselves to us until I hold out my hand -- hi, I’m Mattilda. At this point we are in the hall, the four of them are Latino gay boys wearing clothes that look uncomfortably tight, the cologne I love and I guess they’re relatively close to our age maybe, although it’s kind of hard to tell here because even the youngish people are working looks so conventional that it makes them look older I think, more distant anyway. These queens are friendly enough in the hallway, but then when we see them later in the lobby they stare blankly past us like they don’t even notice. Randy says I guess they’re straight now.

Three guys who retired to El Dorado -- separately -- friends and neighbors, one of them lived in the Mission for 30 years beforehand, but he doesn’t seem too interested in anything we have to say, just in telling us things -- he says El Dorado is the white rez, that’s what the high school kids call it, and that makes me kind of curious.The three lesbians in the bedroom are friendly enough -- wealthy too, talking about the house they built behind the house they used to live in, the two units they own at Rainbow Vision, making a face as they say it, I guess this crowd doesn’t USUALLY go there, but I like something that one of them says about how it’s not about gay or lesbian, but about age. Talking about how we’re a different generation-- and we are. I keep thinking that we’ll find some radical older queers, but that doesn’t seem to be happening -- it’s kind of fun anyway, a certain kind of sociological experience I guess, but then we get home and of course I’m so tired. So tired and I start to think how will I ever find people here who I can relate to? Fags, I mean, since I’ve found other people but I definitely need more. Then of course in the middle of the night I’m wired, planning out my move, I mean my move away, whenever that happens, not that soon but still I’m planning, maybe before my book tour and not after, but where?

That’s why maybe I shouldn’t go to this kind of thing -- I want to explore all the options here, get a sense of what everything is like, and sure it’s interesting but disheartening too. I mean exciting that I’m doing things I would never do in San Francisco or anywhere else I’ve lived, actually -- I mean, really -- going to an event called Friday with Dorothy? At a casino in the mountains! Who ever dreamed? But then I end up wired and frantic in bed, again, and when I wake up I can barely function. Familiar territory, not what I’m looking for.

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