Diverse and Sundry
This oughta be a long one. Fix yourself a nice latte, or a good hot cup of tea, light up a cigar, put on some nice music, and settle in.
Since I have a lot of ground to cover, I'll break it down in headlines as best I can.
Last weekend, it was off to Milwaukee for softball with the Ballbreakers. We were playing in the Dairyland Classic.
After the 3:30 bell rang at work, I zipped over to the bank to deposit my paycheck, grabbed a venti-iced-quad-three pump vanilla-easy ice latte to go from Starbucks, and headed down to Philadelphia International Airport. (The latte was crucial, as do to the inherent pay-to-play corruption of PhilaPolitics (the mayor's brother runs concessions at the airport), Philadelphia International Airport is a Starbucks Free Zone.) As luck would have it, the longterm parking lots were full, so I got to park in the day-rate parking lots at the same cost. Love that. I had some luggage shuffling to do at my car once I found a place in the garage, and once I was sure that I was taking with me everything I would need, I bolted for the stairs. I was two flights down when I did that little l'esprit de l'escalier argument with myself: "Did I forget something? Nah I've got everything. But I feel like I forgot something... Well screw it, you gotta run" I decided I couldn't remember locking the doors of my jeep, as in, pushing the little button on my keyring and hearing the horn give a toot. Okay okay okay. I'd go back up the two flights of stairs to do that. As I emerged into the parking garage from the stairway, I saw that the left front door of my jeep was standing open.
I mean Really.
Thanks for looking out for me, l'esprit de l'escalier!
The flight to Milwaukee (changed planes in Chicago) was mercifully brief, and I had a seat open next to me both legs. Can't remember the last time that happened. The cab from the airport to the Best Western Inntown Hotel (henceforth, the Craplodge) was exhorbitant at $27. I checked in, and found my roommate waiting for me. His trip was not so smooth. United canceled his flight from Chicago to Milwaukee, so he had to take a bus. And, his luggage never made it out of Chicago.
Now, keep in mind we were there to play softball, so his luggage included such necessities as his glove, his cleats, his bat, and his uniform. He was forced to the conclusion that everyone who had worked at United who gave a rat's ass about making sure United passengers got their luggage had left for greener pasteurs.
He recognized me from our ACT UP days of a decade ago, and we spent some time briefly reminiscing. It wasn't warm and frothy, more like gently prodding an infected wound. We hadn't always been on the same side of issues back then, or (for my part) had a lot of respect for each other's activism. And now, we were Team Mates. And that was the focus. So best let sleeping dogs lie.
Nah. I was beat. I went to bed.
BALLBREAKERS ARE 5-0!!!
Saturday was a beautiful day for softball. I got up early, and grabbed breakfast in the basement dining room of the Craplodge. It was like eating in the lower-lower-lower berth dining room of the Lusitania. Red velvet flocking, ugly cheap paintings, no windows. A perusal of the local papers gave an interesting read on a former boy of mine--the one who lost the collar I gave him. He and his family are local royalty, y'see.
After breakfast, we loaded into cabs and headed to the fields in Wicks Park. Everybody was soooo welcoming! "Wow! You're the guys from New York! Thanks for coming!"
The first three games we played were to determine our see and division. We played teams from Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago, and beat them all. Not soundly, mind you. Every game was a challenge, and we were well matched. The scores were tight. It was great softball. I had three at-bats. I got out once, got on base twice (yessss!), and got two rbi's.
Didn't that feel good! Damn my ankle anyway! It's weak, but it didn't hurt, either when I was awkwardly hurtling down the baseline, or afterwards. Cool.
We played two more teams--good games both--and at the end of the day, we were undefeated. We were tied for first in the D Division. The three non-Ballbreakers (my roommmate, our pitcher, and an outfielder) fit right in with the Ballbreakers spirit of things. There they were cheering on our shortstop when he got up at bat by bellowing 'Fill! Thee! Whore! Fill! Thee! Whore! Fill! Thee! Whore!' with the rest of us.
Evvvvverybody gets a nickname up on the roster clipboard. Some of the nicknames are established (i.e., 'Filthy Whore' for our shortstop. Mine varies. I've been FistFest, Ann Jillian (when I had a severely infected piercing), CawFeee, and Gimpy. This time, I got to be Dahmer. Love that.
There was much eye candy all around. Love those Wisconsin men! They're all so big! That's what you get from bratwurst, cheese, and beer as your three basic food groups. I was in heaven among those beefy boys.
Our dyke umpire, concurring, told us a joke: "Whaddya call a 250 pound girl from Green Bay? Anorexic."
The softball was so good, and the men were so hot, and the beer was so cheap, that I proposed to my fellow Ballbreakers that we pool our assets, buy a big bus, and spend the rest of our days traveling around the midwest playing softball, sort of a gay, softball playing Partridge Family ("C'mon now we got games to be playin', c'mon get happy!"). Everybody liked the idea, but there were no takers. Although there was lots of contention about Who Gets To Be Laurie. Natch.
Round about game four, I had an idea. We were in the Midwest. The Midwest means great steak. Since we all had little envelopes containing $162 (our share from the various fundraisers held for the team at Ty's), let's find a great steakhouse to have dinner. I planted that seed in the heads of a few of my team mates, and by the time we got back to the hotel, those seeds had sprouted, bloomed, and born fruit: The Ballbreakers wanted Steaks!
So, dinner that night meant Butch's, a Milwaukee institution. It was walkable from our hotel, so we headed out on foot, snapping our fingers and whistling parts of the Bernstein score from West Side Story as we made our way down Wisconsin Avenue.
Butch's, there near the bus station, was perfect. Classic steak house. We got drinks and smoked cigars while we waited for our table, listened to football jokes in a heavy midwestern accent from our bartender ("What dew yew call this?" he asked, indicating an empty upside down rocks glass, "Why tha-a-at's a Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl trophy case.")
Alas. No rose without thorns. I sat next to this... this... guy. He's new to the team this year, and way hot. Seethingly so. At first, we were all a little bit gooey around him. Cuz he's so hot. But slowly, over time, his deficits became apparent. And he's got a bunch of 'em.
For example, he made an ass of himself at Butch's. Sitting next to me.
He opened the menu, and stated (really loudly) that the prices were ridiculous, cuz after all, you could get the same steak at the supermarket. I patiently explained this was not so. They served up only the best beef here, and aged it themselves for tenderness. Then when the waitress came to take our drink order, he gave her a hard time, demanding a separate check. And why? Because he only drank premium liquor and he didn't want us to have to pay for it. I'm not kidding. He actually said that. And went on to order a Dewar's. *ahem*
But then came the worst move of all. Mr. Premium Liquor ordered his steak well done. Idiot! No wonder he's not wild about steak, he's never tasted it in his life. All he's had by ordering his steak well done is incinerated slabs of gristle. The philistine!
I, on the other hand, ordered an 8 oz prime sirloin and a lobster tail.
Oh. My. God. The steak just disolved on my tongue. It was unbelievable. So sweet, so full of flavor. (And I selected a nice California Merlot for the table that everyone agreed was a winner.) The lobster was pretty much lobster, but since I love lobster, that did it for me. And, with liquor (albeit not premium, wine, entrees, appetizers, and 20+% tip, dinner cost each of us $60. That was fantastic.
The Ballbreakers, bloated and drunk and happy, made their way back down Wisconsin Avenue to the hotel. The plan was for us all to go out. I was already wearing my leather (welll... what do you mean when you say 'Dress for dinner'?). Maybe switch out of my western shirt and into a tank top.
I went up to my room, sat down on the bed, thinking about what a great dinner that was, deciding what I should wear to wow those big beefy Wisconsin men in the bars. My back was a little stiff. I laid back on the bed.
I woke up at 5:30 am. Still all leathered up. Basically in the same position I had been when I laid back. I still had my boots on even. So much for going out. I stumbled to the bathroom to brush my teeth, eased out of my leathers, and went back to bed to get a few more hours sleep.
WE'RE GONNA MAKE OUR DREAMS COME TRUE... DOIN' IT OUR WAY!
Our first game was against a team from Madison called the Low Riders. They had a majorly woofy firstbaseman, some feisty dykes, and they handed us our asses on a plate, even though we had beat them the day before. It turns out that after the steak dinner, all of the Ballbreakers had pretty much gone straight to bed. This gave us insight to diagnose the problem: not enough liquor in us the night before! We were not at our peak.
Our second game was against the Teabaggers from Chicago. Teabaggers... Ballbreakers... a natural combination, no?
The Teabaggers were really really good. And beat the Ballbreakers soundly. Whomped us.
And so that was it for us. That's the way double elimination works. You lose twice, and your out.
This put me in a foul mood. Damn these people in flyover land! Luring us out here, suckering us in the first day, only to humiliate us on the second. We were from New York City! We had survived September 11, 2001! We deserved a trophy!
Scowling, I made my way to a rockin' coffee place across the street from the fields I had discovered the day before. You know, that day when we won every fuckin' game we played. That day. Anyways, the coffee place is called Blessings. If you're visiting Milwaukee, don't miss Blessings. In addition to the great coffee, they also have a raft of baked treats, straight from the oven of the owner's mother. The brownies were not to be believed. I had about four of them, and I'm not, in general, a big fan of sweets. Yum.
Then it was back to the hotel. Tonight was the awards banquet (Okay, gotta hand it to the flawless organizers of the Dairyland Classic Softball Tournement... a banquet? That's treatin' your players right. The banquet was great, and we consoled ourselves that the trophies looked kinda goofy: rainbow stained glass pyramids. If the boys from Queer Eye went on a rampage in your apartment, the rainbow stained glass pyramid trophy would end up out on the sidewalk.
And the banquet was way cruisy.
Damn those Midwest Men!
I had a hot and heavy thing going with a cowboy from Texas. Shaved head, bushy stache, a beautiful gut... and a husband. Husband notwithstanding, I was way into Cowboy Carl. Were he and the husband doing the monogamy thing? Could I lead Cowboy Carl astray? I intended to find out.
After the banquet, shuttle buses were waiting to take us all to the local bars. Our first stop was the Harbor Room, which bills itself as Milwaukee's premier leatherbar. It was a good place. The beer was cheap, the men were hot. When the Ballbreakers found out that being shirtless meant that the beer was cheaper by half, one by one we doffed our shirts. Guess who was the first to take the plunge? (What... and miss an opportunity to show off the tattoo?)
And then Cowboy Carl showed up. Damn. Wanted him bad. Such a hot man. Woof! I did my damndest, and I think I almost succeded in wrecking his happy home, but no dice. I wasn't getting more out of him beyond an email address.
I suggested to the Ballbreakers that we move on. I had heard that the other leather bar in town, Boot Camp, was sleazier. Blowjobs on the back porch. That kind of thing. That's what I was after. So off we went.
Loved Boot Camp. I'd be spending a lot of time there if I lived in Milwaukee. Count on that.
Right away, I buddied up to the doorman, a leathered up fisting Top named Joe. Joe the Doorman and I knew some folks in common, he was a veteran of several Infernos. A good guy.
And, he knew everybody. So sitting with him at the door was a good strategy. He'd greet some guy, and then as the guy went to the bar to get a drink, I'd get the headline version of the lowdown.
In walked Chicago Transplant. We had woofed each other and talked briefly (okay, kissed passionately) as I was leaving and he was arriving at Harbor Room. Very hot man, good leather, great body. Doorman Joe greeted him warmly, so I knew that I was probably dealing with a good man. Things got hot and heavy pretty quickly, and soon, Chicago Transplant and I were testing the limits of the decency rules at Boot Camp. (Blowjobs are fine, but I had to pull up my pants so that my ass was covered. Check.) Didn't slow me down a bit getting all hot and wild with Transplant Guy with My Entire Softball Team watching and commenting. ("I give him a 9.78 on that dismount!").
Chicago Transplant and I had a problem. I was sharing my room, and he was closing on his house in Milwaukee in a few days and staying with friends in the meantime. So, we had nowhere to go to take things to another level. What to do? Should we have straight-guy-sex (which I love) and just jerk each other off there at Boot Camp?
Chicago Transplant had a better idea. We headed out to his car ('Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy' by Big & Rich was playing on his sound system when he turned the ignition, a verrrry good sign.) We drove through Milwaukee, back in the direction of the Craplodge. I reminded him that it wouldn't work to go to my room. He said, Yeah, I know. We drove around for a bit, and Chigago Transfer found a deserted downtown parking lot. And we got out and fucked on the hood of his Chevy.
Woof! Love that!
It was a short drive back to my hotel. I was asleep almost instantly.
I woke up, threw everything into bags, and rushed off to the airport. The (direct) flight home was uneventful.
But then, I was able to find only one of my two checked bags rounding the baggage carousel back in Philadelphia.
Uh oh. And all the problems my roommate had with United...
But, outside of my various emoluments, there was nothing in that bag I had urgent need of. I filed a claim with the really nice folks at the US Airways lost luggage desk, and headed into Philadelphia. I found parking without too much trouble, and realized that I was in Philadelphia at 2:30 pm. This meant that I was actually in the city when I. Goldberg's was open! I made a beeline there. And as I was walking up Walnut Street, I made another discovery: Design Within Reach, my favorite website for modern furniture pornography--I gotta touch myself when I'm looking at their wares--has opened up a retail store. In Philadelphia. I was sucked right in.
And look! Two heavily inked, shaved headed guys wearing leather arm bands checking out Eames chairs...
I'm not alone!
I walked around the store, stroking myself, of course. The customer service reps didn't ask me to leave, they just smiled knowingly. I am definitely not alone. The mid-century design obsession and leather go hand in hand.
I worked myself into a lather, and then decided I could take no more. I headed to I. Goldberg's. Yahoo! Things I can afford! Boots a'plenty!
...and, of course, I. Goldberg's was closed. Because it was Labor Day.
Curses! Foiled again!
I headed home.
My brother's house in Doylestown has passed the second radon test. (They failed the first one miserably, the buyer almost backed out, they spent $5000 on radon abatement, and managed to come in with a score of .2. The closing is on.) This week was all about helping my brother clear out his house. Work work work work work. Shuttling furniture here and there, making three floors of Stuff disappear.
My brother and his wife are behaving the way most couples behave while undergoing this intensely stressful experience: they're always a hairsbreadth away from going for each other's throats with shards from shattered crockery. But, I got a dinner (my brother suggested pizza, I demanded sushi) and a lunch (okay, pizza it is) out of it. And tomorrow night, I'm going to have a final soak in his amazing whirlpool bath, before it belongs to someone else.
Astute readers will remember that said whirlpool bath was the site of my amazing encounter with Wolf. Here's hoping!
I'll close now. Ink gets an entry all its own.