A few weeks back I was leaving my apartment on a Saturday night to take the dog for a walk and this young college-age guy approaches me from out of the shadows of the scaffolding next to my building and gets right up in my face. If you have lived in New York City for any period of time, your mind develops a Terminator robot way of immediately assessing all interactions with strangers or more appropriately “the strange.”
In this city, strange can cover everyone from the always out-of-breath woman in your building that asks you to help her lift her work suitcase every time she sees you on the stairs and whose cats are desperately trying to escape her apartment whenever the door opens a crack (which makes me want to distract her somehow in order to aid in their liberation, combined with this car wreck human desire to fight the urge to glance at the horrors that must exist behind the door as it thankfully slams shut); or of course, the man or woman you happen to be currently dating.
It was not hard to quickly assess the situation and downgrade it from menacing to amusing. Even though the kid appeared drunk and slightly glossy eyed, he did not exactly strike the fear into me as he was about 5’7" with thick black-rimmed glasses that I find incredibly cute on girls in a sort of a retro 80s Square Pegs look, a messed-up Bieberish flop of hair that hung down to connect to his eyebrows and shouted “I may have some bald friends with shaved heads but I still can’t conceive of male-pattern baldness in my future.”
What did catch me for a loop is how after appearing out of nowhere and getting right up in my face, he brashly says to me “Hey, where's the cock bar?” (As if it was around the corner) This is Murray Hill where the post college crowd hangs out. There are 5 different frozen yogurt shops but, alas, no gay bars. If there was a gay bar here, it wouldn’t have a blunt and direct name like “Cock Bar.” It would have a cheesy yogurt shop pun name like “16 Handles,” except it would be something akin to “Franks ‘n’ Jeans.”
The Terminator response part to my brain would normally print out possible answers in my head for me to retort with when approached randomly in the street, starting with the obvious “Fuck you Eishole,” but I was definitely flummoxed. I then noticed that he had two companions who were standing a little behind him; another short but heavier guy and a slightly chubby, but cute girl with the same glasses as the guy that approached me initially. She was wearing a Boston College t-shirt and I could tell they were not from NYC as the girl seemed to be looking at MapQuest on her phone to find directions to the bar. She told me they were in town visiting without lifting her head from the screen as the first kid asks me again to tell him where the cock bar was.
I had lived in the city long enough that I knew it was somewhere in the east village (bars with neon roosters signs on them tend to stick out,) but the guy was drunk enough that he had no force field up for possible homophobic assholes and seemed to enjoy fucking with me. He started whining “Come on, where is it?” possibly thinking in the back of his boldly soused mind that I'll say "Forget the bar- the cock is right here buddy." I made the face of a man in great ponder as it turned red and I rubbed my chin and gazed upwards trying to recall the exact address. He seemed to take great glee in my embarrassment and actually rubbed my arm for a second as I was trying to think of the right street(quite the cocky move, or should I say "very ballsy" of him.)
Even though I am 40 and have been properly beaten down by life in the work force I have managed to retain my youthful appearance and no matter where I am in the city, tourists come up to me and ask me for directions. I guess wearing my tight-fitting Express for Men zip down waist-length gray jacket with the black lion logo on the chest, being led on a walk by a dachshund-mix dog with an adorably cute face did not exactly scream “gay basher."
As a straight man being asked for the Cock Bar, I can't just blurt out the street off the top of my head as if I go there for brunch and blow jobs every Sunday." Oh the Cock Bar, why that's on 1st and 1st. Just look for the rooster sign above the line of guys wearing low hanging v-neck t-shirts and tell Steve the doorman you know me."
Surprisingly enough, as a single man with a lesbian roommate, I did not know the exact street of the Cock Bar off hand but knew it was near Houston on First Ave. or Second Ave. and was able to point it out to the girl as she held up her cell. At this point the original kid that asked me was finishing up peeing against the wall under the scaffolding and after wishing them well on their quest for drinks and most likely cock, I followed my dog around the corner and wondered why two hot women in matching tank tops never come up to me and ask me to take them to the Clit Club.