Some years ago I saw something wonderful happen, possibly the most wonderful thing you can witness; I saw two people fall in love. Two women met at my bar one night, they flirted, bought each other drinks and exchanged phone numbers. During the following months they dated and soon they were in a committed relationship. They would often come to the bar on weekends with friends and they quickly became semi-regulars.(1)
They hung out with a crowd of women, mostly lesbians, but there were a bi or two in the mix as well. We, the bartenders, quickly dubbed the bunch “The Dykers” because a few of them rode motorcycles. They were a nice crowd and always behaved themselves well at the bar. They tipped, didn’t get too rowdy and mostly drank beer so they were well-liked by guests and staff alike.
The couple grew to be a central part of this group of friends and they were to be found at the bar no less than once a week. Aubrey and Katie quickly became AubreyandKatie and no one could imagine them apart. Neither could they and so they decided to use the rights given to us on the 7th of June 2012 and tie the proverbial knot.(2)
The Hen night they naturally spent together and at the Gay Bar. It was a great night and there were so many lesbians we actually managed to run out of beer which has only happened to me once before or since.(3) We quickly remedied the situation with cheap champagne and Jägerbombs (a terrible combination btw(4)) and all was well.
AubreyandKatie were married in the cathedral and went to Greece on their honeymoon. When they returned home they resumed their place among The Dykers. They seemed happy and after a while they started talking about kids. Soon there was a great big belly and talk of sore feet and morning sickness at The Dykers table.
When the baby arrived all the women were so excited, but the novelty quickly passed. AubreyandKatie slowly stopped hanging out with The Dykers and the group dissolved.
From my vantage point behind the bar, watching the gay community pass before me, seeing the trends, relationships, friendships, group-dynamics and rivalries as they repeat themselves ad infinitum, this was nothing new or unexpected.
These things flow naturally like the seasons change and I am sure others see them like I do. I recognize the patterns, always changing, always identical. The loom stuck spinning the same tapestry over and over again.
Poetry aside The Dykers were no more, but AubreyandKatie quickly found new friends. Other lesbian mommies or soon-to-be mommies. They formed a clique and would meet up at the bar frequently. Sometimes they would all go for a night out together, but mostly they came in the afternoon, kids in tow and sat around gossiping and drinking coffee. The kids would play and the mommies would talk.
All the kids were very well-behaved and I had no issue with them hanging out there, but soon, like the rumble of distant avalanches in the mountains, the murmur of unrest reached my ears. And just like an avalanche it stated slow, but quickly escalated to something much more dangerous.
Aubrey (of AubreyandKatie) had managed to establish herself as the leader of The Mommies and she took me aside one day.(5)
Aubrey: It would be really great if the bar would buy some high-chairs for the toddlers. It’s really inconvenient having them on our laps the whole time.
Neo: Sorry, but it would hardly be financially responsible for me to invest in high-chairs.
Aubrey: But we are loyal customers, we come here with our kids at least once a week!
Neo: Yes, and we are very happy to have you, but I cannot possibly justify buying high-chairs for a bar because you bring your kids here for a few hours every week. Sorry.
And with a “Hrmpf!” she left.(6)
End of story right? Wrong! This was only the first of many a conversation with Aubrey. She would return to the high-chair issue, but she would also make other suggestions like buying some toys for the kids or “touch and feel” books for the toddlers. She also suggested we install a changing station in our miniscule bathrooms. I politely, yet firmly, turned all of these ideas down and she “Hrmpf’ed” her displeasure at me.
I understand where she was coming from. She and her fellow lesbian mommies had only one gay place in town to go, our bar, and they had the urge to make it their own and sculpt it to their needs. The problem was that this was not a kindergarten, this was a bar. Not even a café, but a bar. And a bar has a set of very specific missions and goals.
Missions and goals for a bar:
- Get people to buy alcohol.
- Be a fun place so people will want go here.
- Get people to buy more alcohol.
None of the above are “cater to kids” mainly because kids are not allowed to buy alcohol. So while it was perfectly all right for The Mommies to hang out and bring their kids, I was not prepared to spend money on them because they didn’t bring any profit.
A few weeks went by without any incident or helpful suggestions from The Mommies, and then this beautiful conversation took place:
Aubrey: Do you have any of those colourful plastic cups?
Neo: Sorry, nope. I have regular glasses or the plastic to-go cups for beer.
Aubrey: Hrmpf! I guess some normal drinking glasses will do.
Neo: May I ask what you need them for?
Aubrey: Oh I brought some lemonade for the kids.
Neo: Uhm, you can’t serve them that. This is a bar, if the kids are thirsty we have soda and a variety of juices.
Aubrey: But it’s much too expensive to buy them juice every time we’re here.
Neo: I can get you a pitcher of water for free?
Aubrey: They don’t want water, that’s why I bring the lemonade. I can’t see what the big problem is, I’ve been doing it forever.
Neo: Sorry, but like any other bar we don’t allow you to bring your own beverages. You’ll have to stop making them lemonade.
Aubrey: Hrmpf! This is ridiculous!
And cue the righteous stomp-away and the hushed-yet-aggravated conversation at The Mommies tables.
The following week would mark the last time we saw The Mommies. Some of the women who had been part of the group would resurface, but AubreyandKatie never came back and from what I heard the gang broke apart in quite a nasty way.(7)
Let me set the scene for The Mommies last stand:
A quiet Thursday afternoon. The early spring sun splashed through the windows and revealed the dust playing tag among the liquor bottles. Behind the bar I was lazily flipping through the sticky pages of a drinks book for inspiration and in the backroom a plumber was sprawled out beneath the kitchen sink. His gentle swearing assured me that he was working hard on replacing the leaking pipe.(8) We had two groups of guests, one was The Mommies, busy drinking their coffee and chatting about the latest development in baby-alarms. The other was four gay guys out to get drunk.(9) They were hammering back shots like there was no tomorrow and their speech was quickly turning racy, seedy even.
Blowjobs and glory holes, anal sex and rimming, butt plugs and orgies are all natural points of conversation in a gay bar, but Aubrey and The Mommies weren’t having it. They had been sending the guys looks, trying to convey that they thought the talk was inappropriate, but the guys just ignored them. So Aubrey approached the bar.
Aubrey: Will you please tell those guys to tone it down? I hardly think it’s appropriate around kids.
Neo: I don…..
I was cut off by one of the guys yelling out “I swear there was just jizz EVERYWHERE! My hair was completely crusted! It was like sperm conditioner!”
Aubrey just blew her top: “HOW DARE YOU SPEAK LIKE THAT INFORNT OF OUR CHILDREN!”
The gay guy was completely unaffected “Honey, if you can’t stand the cock, get out of the sauna!”
The Mommies huffed and puffed and rushed their kids out of the door only stopping to send me dirty looks as I, crying from laughter, shouted out “FREE COSMOS BITCHES!”.
I made cosmos till my arms were tired and even convinced the very gruff and super macho plumber to have one after he emerged from under the sink. It was a great afternoon.
This is one of many examples of why being part of the LGBT community is tricky. It seems whatever you do you are bound to exclude and offend someone. The LGBT community is so diverse and fragmented that there is no way to please everyone and when you’re the only gay bar in a 70 km radius (That would be 43.5 miles for Mexico’s noisy upstairs neighbours(10) and 50 sheppeys for the traditional oil-painters of farm-life) you walk a fine line between all these groups and sub-groups.
It is a constant battle to appeal to as much of the community as possible while still remaining interesting and relevant. There is a lot of “But this is the only gay bar nearby so you should be inclusive” going around and we try, we really do, but mostly what people are saying when they state the above is “By being inclusive I mean you should pay special attention to my specific sub-group”.
Navigating these treacherous waters AND making money is like rocking a rhyme that’s right on time; tricky.
1 There is a scale on which a bartender puts his or her guests. Your rating depends on a few things but most important are your behaviour and how often you come to the bar. The higher on the scale you are, the more likely you are to receive free drinks and above-and-beyond service. Semi-regular is in the higher end of the scale and is indicated by the fact that the bartender manages to learn and remember your name and your regular drink. I could elaborate further, but studying history and generally reading a lot has taught me something very important; the longer a footnote drags on, the less interesting it becomes, unless it is written by Terry Pratchett.
2 My internet just kicked it. I was gonna look up where that expression came from, but I guess it’ll have to wait. It’s weird though; tying the knot. Maybe it’s because you’re bound to one another? Also why are you reading my silly ramblings and not the story? Get back up there!
3 See the previous instalment “But I’m the chosen one!”.
4 Even worse: Forgetting all about the Red Bull and dropping the Jäger-shots into champagne instead. Insta-Puke-fest! (This shot was dubbed The Jägerbubble.)
5 Every group has a leader, mostly an unofficial one, but there is always one. If you are in a group and you don’t think there is a leader, that just means it’s not you. Someone else is leading and you have no idea. *Cough*Sheep*Cough*.
6 I don’t know how well this translates. Hrmpf is an onomatopoeic word that basically means “I am dissatisfied” or “I am better than you”. Get familiar with it, you will see it again in this Tale.
7 The Blink 182 song “Stay together for the kids” just popped into my head.
8 I used to always feel uncomfortable when I had men around fixing things. Was I supposed to hang around or leave them alone? But once I figured out that as long as I could hear them swearing they were hard at work, I was much more comfortable going about my business. Oh and I never feel uncomfortable when it’s women. I just swoon, which probably makes them uncomfortable, but damnit there is hardly anything sexier than a woman who knows her tools!
9 In Denmark Thursday is also known as Little-Friday and so getting shit-faced on a Thursday night is pretty common.
10 I couldn’t remember if I had used Mexico before so I just opened all my old Tales, Ctrl+f’ed and typed “mex” on them all just to check. That’s how dedicated I am to this stuff you guys!