But a gentleman isn’t one of them.” My favorite quote from the Nick’s wedding weekend in Santa Barbara by my cousin Marcos.
I think my “Midwesterners are so nice” bubble has been popped. Oh yeah, it has. With it go all the expectations of “Minnesota Nice” which even carries into Chicago’s reputation, at least to visitors. I’m no longer a visitor. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be all jaded and bitter, people here are still much nicer than San Francisco (don’t scoff, you know it’s true).
Last weekend, I had quite a charming experience. I went to the Chicago Gay Rodeo. Have to say, it was a lot of fun. I know not a lot people understand that, but I’ve loved me some rodeo ever since I can remember. Even in highschool my friend April and I ventured to the Salinas Rodeo as soon as I got my license. We sat right by the chutes, and had an awesome time I might add. So as I discovered the world away from the Central Coast, I also discovered the gays have their own rodeo circuit, yup, the IGRA. As with any cowboy based event, everyone was very friendly. Eager to answer any questions, chatty and happy to see you, even if they’ve never seen you before in their lives. Felt very midwestern, very Minnesota Nice, gentlemanly you might say. Left me with a good feeling about the gays here.
Just 6 days later…
I get a text from my friend and neighbor Jay, he lives two blocks from me. We decide that we’re going to venture out to the friendly gay bar up the road, Big Chicks. Pretty cool bar. Kind of bearish, but hipstery bears and people who patronize wear deodorant when they go out, unlike the bear bars in SF :gag:. Anyway, when I go out to bars, I as a rule don’t get hit on, my friends can all attest to this as it just doesn’t happen (unless I’m on a date with someone I like, different story). As such, I don’t have much experience telling people to back off. Last night, I got some.
Usually when I’m at a bar, I have a pretty relaxed face, which apparently comes across as mean. If I’m hungry, I look like I’m about to snap someone in half. This is something I’m acutely aware of and am working on due to the rules of the Chicago Manifesto, the whole clean slate thing and all. So now when I walk through a bar I try and smile a little bit, it’s a struggle sometimes, but I learned two things last night:
1. What it feels like to be an animal being inspected for auction. After I decided to flash a quick smile at the guy who I caught cruising me, he came over for a chat. A few pleasantries and a lot of drunken compliments, his hands began to wander. Oh yeah, now I’ve been putting in work at the gym, so the compliments were welcome and they got a bit more intense after the touching began. I told him it was awkward and I felt like I was being inspected for auction, which apparently means “please squeeze my arm and shoulder.” So, in my usual non-confrentational manner, I excused myself to the restroom and texted Jay to rescue me. When I returned to the bar, I was ushered outside for a smoke, perfect. Lucky for me, Mr. Inspector got the hint, or at least his friends did and by the time I got back inside, he was gone. And thus began lesson #2.
2. I have a limit to the amount of standard bar groping I can handle. Mr. Inspector seemed like a perfect gentleman compared to the guy I had chatted with a few times on Scruff and who arrived at the bar tanked (Been in Chicago 4 years and originally from Minnesota I might add). Started innocently enough, compliments, hanging off my shoulder, trying to kiss me on the cheek, trying to hold my hand (I don’t hold hands). However, drunk and cute quickly gave way to grabbing me in inappropriate and aggressive ways. Once that happened, I asked him to stop, I didn’t appreciate it and he was past the line of what I’ll deal with in a bar, especially from a drunk stranger. He wandered away, but didn’t stay gone for long. I found him again groping me, talking about how awesome he is and how lucky I’d be to go home with him and repeatedly trying to shove his tongue down my throat. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Charmed lately, but I was done. I grabbed him by the wrist, twisted it off my ass, shoved him and told him to get away from me. That message didn’t seem to register with him, but his friends understood and took him away and Jay and I returned outside for a smoke. Where he appeared again! In a last ditch effort to get me home with him, more attempted groping and slurred offers to bed me ensued until the cab came to take him away.
Mr. Minnesota taught me a couple things I didn’t really know until last night. Aside from what it feels like to have someone unwanted all over you for the better part of the night, nip the situation as best you can early so it doesn’t become a problem. I realize it’s not a Minnesota Nice thing to do, but I’m in Chicago. As much as I wanted the sentiment to carry though here, I think the rules are different, so my romantic view of polite midwesterners has given way to a more real and honest view. I still love this city and think people here are great, but not everyone here is a gentleman, and before I leave this city, I’m sure I’ll call people here other things.