The following is a mostly-true story.
Last Friday night, I ventured out to Numbers on Davie Street dressed like I had just robbed a Winners.
For those of you who require more description, Numbers is pretty much the gay buffet of Vancouver. Depending on what you are looking for, you can pretty much guarantee they have it. Spanning seventeen floors, you can get a cocktail in the basement, check out cute boys from the mezzanine or dance to the latest Kylie on the main floor. Feeling a little bit more butch? Not a problem. Upstairs on the third floor, you can sip draft beer and play pool with the bears or sing karaoke in the back room.
Unshaved and on a budget, I had no choice but to keep it cheap and on tap, so I proceeded upstairs. Standing in line to buy a drink, I could not help but notice I was surrounded by a group of men wearing faded denim and plaid collar-shirts. Slightly confused, I could not decide whether there was a rodeo in town - or a hipster convention. It was my turn in line and I became terrified that I might actually have to buy my own drink; when at the last minute one of the men jumped out with a $10 bill.
Thanking him kindly, I brushed back the invisible hair from my forehead and asked him what his name was.
“Calgary,” he replied. “Me and my boys here are in from cow-town for the weekend.” It turned out there wasn’t just a rodeo in town, there was also a stampede.
Calgary was rough around the edges, which was refreshing compared to the personally-trained look of most of the men around here. He had rugged skin like Chris Pine and steely blue eyes that turned fifty shades of gray if you looked at them up close. He was a man that could operate heavy machinery or hog-tie an unsuspecting ginger at any moment.
“How are you enjoying Van so far?” I asked, taking a sip from my beer.
“It’s sick,” he said.
It was clear that what he lacked in vocabulary he made up for with everything else. He began to lean in to me and I could taste the Bacardi and coke on his breath. He took a step forward (as to not fall over) and cutting right to the chase, said, “I think you are so good looking.”
Now, typically I always like to return a compliment with a marriage proposal. Except, this time, I thanked him kindly and waited to see what would happen next. Sidebar but the last man who told me he thought I was cute turned out to have a major redhead fetish. It was actually quite terrifying, one minute he was asking me out for coffee and then the next he was describing in great-length via text message everything he wanted to do to my pale-freckled body.
In a million years, I could have never expected what happened next… Calgary began to cry. At first I thought it was my epic bone structure that brought him to tears; but then I realized it was something much less superficial than that.
“I don’t think I’m attractive at all,” he said to me.
“Meryl Streep,” I said to myself, chugging the rest of my beer.
Sadly, I knew exactly how this situation was going to play out. Had I carried on the conversation at that moment, eventually he would have come back to my place and instead of making out we would have watched Oprah re-runs and listened to Christina Aguilera. Then, after a lengthy discussion about his relationship with his mother and his last boyfriend who broke his heart; I would have sent him back to the hotel in a cab with a signed 8 x 10 headshot and the “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
If I have learned anything in my twenties it is that self-esteem is not like a blemish, you don’t get it overnight. The path to loving oneself is an uphill battle that offers no shortcuts and takes no prisoners. You can’t fake it, buy it or order it online. You must live it each and everyday. You must look in the mirror each time you moisturize and say, “you are one hot bitch and any man would be lucky to have you.” Then you must accept the fact that most men are superficial bitches who wouldn’t realize substance unless it slapped them across the side of the face! Amen.
“Sweetheart,” I took my thumb and brushed off the tears from each one of his cheeks.
“No one comes to a gay bar to feel good about themselves. They come to suck in their stomachs, feel self-conscious and judge one another. I should know because I have been doing just that since I got here.”
I moved my hand down and placed it on his right shoulder.
“Now, come, let’s get you another double highball and then I’ll point out each man here who is not nearly as good looking as you.”