The Piano Bar

Last Monday found me singing at a piano, shaky with nerves, but gaining confidence from my first vodka soda.  At the piano with me was a charming older gent, who's name may have been Stephen.  The scene was a bar frequented by the older set, often in suits, who lounged in Ethan Allen chairs amongst velvet curtains and hotel carpeting.  I'd come here to meet a date, who upon hearing that I liked antiquated type places, had recommended this place.  When I stepped inside I was a little nervous that I'd be under dressed, but while most of the men were indeed in slacks and ties, they were also almost all over sixty, so a pair of dark blue jeans wasn't going to make me feel much more conspicuous.

The date itself was fine, he was handsome enough, if a little too "inside himself" for my taste.  I don't mind reaching out to people and drawing them out, but I find it so much more fun to be with someone who meets me halfway.  Besides, there's someone else I have an interest in, but seeing as I'm not certain how interested he is in me (those careless arm brushes don't always mean anything) and I'm not wanting to put all my eggs in his basket, I've been going on dates a bit.  Truth be told, I am much more inclined to put all of my proverbial eggs into another man's proverbial basket, but it doesn't always pay to be this way, so in spite of the fact that it isn't in my nature to see multiple people at once, I've been trying to sprinkle my affections about until I'm on more certain ground.  

Does anyone else feel weird about the idea of dating more than one person at a time?  I feel like everyone else in the gay world is a lot better at being "casual" than I am.  After two dates or three dates with a person, if I was at all interested in the first place, I've usually decided to narrow my focus to just them, at least for the moment.  And if there's any kind of sexual intimacy, I'm afraid my eggs will definitely end up in that person's basket.  They might practically be thrown in there, and it won't be all, but... maybe 70% of my eggs will be in there jostling around.  And if it doesn't workout between us?  Well don't worry.  I don't take an inordinate amount of time to retrieve my eggs.  There will just be an awkward moment or two as we smile at each other with teeth showing, my eyes wide with discomfort as I say softly, "So...I'm probably going to need these back."

But where was I?  Oh yes, at this piano bar.  I was sitting on a low couch next to this guy, learning that one of his favorite movies was "The Aristocats", when he mentions that this place has somewhat of a "reputation" for being the kind of place where underweight, doe eyed twinks sashay from octogenarian lap to octogenarian lap, looking for an older daddy to buy them drinks, dole out dollars and take them home for an evening or twenty.  I don't know why I found this skeezy, and tainted my enjoyment of the place.  I mean, consenting adults, right?  I guess it's at least partly fear.  Fear of becoming one of them, or being thought of as one of them, and the fear of being in such a bloodless arrangement.  But as it happened, there were no shenanigans going on at the moment, as it was six on a Monday.  And if I did see the shenanigans it would most likely seem less sordid than it seemed at the moment.

At any rate, our conversation was scored by Brian or Stephen at the piano, crooning every chestnut by Gershwin or Berlin under the sun, and I have to say that hearing those songs made me feel very much at home, grateful that there was a place that these songs were appreciated.  And when when Stephen...or was it Brian... asked if anyone wanted to sing, my date practically pushed me up to the piano.  In truth, I pretended I needed more coaxing than I actually did.  And since it seemed like a pretty low pressure place, I went for it.  I have to say, it was really freeing.  And it was a decent place to practice "presence".  Plus, Brian or Stephen couldn't have been more charming, making me feel completely at ease, calling me  a "young thing" every once in awhile, and in this place I guess I was.  At least, relatively speaking.

Once I'd sung he bantered with me throughout the evening, tossing jokes and comments my way, suggesting I come back up for another song.  And while these kinds of interactions always make me incredibly self-conscious, it was very kind of him.  And while the date ended up being a no go, at least romantically, I may have to make my way to that or another piano bar at some point.
Joe Hartman