Last night at Williamsburg’s most popular gay bar, the Metropolitan, it barely felt like Halloween. It was packed with guys who weren’t in costume. Those who were dressed up mostly came as women - some woman, any woman - which they probably don’t need Halloween as an excuse to do. The music was normal, barely spooky. Siouxsie & the Banshees’ “Peek a Boo” bled into a key-clashing mash-up of Madonna’s “Holiday” and Kelis’ “Milkshake.” I did hear “Thriller,” the sound of the season, as I headed outside into weather that was a little too warm, but perfectly crisp for Oct. 31.
Things are a little askew – not enough to be wildly fucked up, but it’s that small degree that makes for intense surreality. It changes the tint so that the weirdness is vivid, despite being scant. A giant storm crippled my great city. It’ll be months before everything is normal, and yet from my window, it rained a little before settling into a week-long overcast funk. I can go anywhere and get anything I need on foot. New York is hurting and Williamsburg is, “Meh,” as ever.
I’ve stayed inside a lot. I have been working from my couch. I don’t need to leave my building to work out. I haven’t seen my man since before the storm. Since Sunday, the three of us who rode out Sandy here have gone through three 12-packs of the almost-regular Coke-tasting Coke Zero. My floor is dirtier than usual, probably because of the increased traffic but maybe also because of my new cat, Kelloggs. I’ve gotten to know him well over the past week. I’ve watched his fits of disobedience where he does a manic succession of one thing he isn’t supposed to after another: he hops from the stove to the counter where he knocks shit (like my wallet) off into his water bowl on the floor to the window screen he likes to climb to the wobbly DVD rack that he will soon topple to my 11-year-old Mariah Carey “Loverboy” poster that I’ve resisted hanging because it’s so nicotine-stained and it might be better to get a new one on eBay. Oh well, Kells made that decision for me. Kelloggs likes to jump from the counter to my shoulder and perch there. He’s like a bird, except he’s a cat.
I haven’t smoked pot all week, but everyday feels like the day after a high-school high night. It’s always a little fuzzy, like the pajamas I’ve worn almost constantly. I almost feel ill always.
It’s not just me. Everyone’s a little off. My friend a few blocks away has some dead-zone refugees staying with him. He hasn’t jerked off in six days. He says he’s “going insane.”
Another Williamsburg friend told me he wanted a “low-key hunkering down,” but instead has a “shit ton” of people staying with him. I asked him what he’s doing tonight and he’s still thirsting for low key.
My friend in the Upper East Side has been out of pot for days. He might ride his bike over tomorrow. It’s not a dry spell across vices, though: To occupy the time, he’s been Grindr-binging. Love is the drug. Something like it is close enough.
The Grindr grid has looked the same as it did before this week, save a new fugee here and there. Some guys have changed their names to “Sandy” and the extreme weather has become socially acceptable, pre-”Into?” small talk.
“Survive?” “Uh, yeah.”
I have a Grindr friend (a dude that I mostly communicate with via the app for whatever reason) who asked me if I noticed heighted horniness/sluttiness. I haven’t. It seems like the same old horniness/sluttiness. He told me:
Well, some things are true hurricane or no hurricane.
I conducted an impromptu Twitter poll of gays and their Sandy lives. I broke even. One guy told me that he found himself a “hurricane boyfriend,” with whom he was “enclosed” during the storm. He said it’s weird being separate now. If you can’t be with the one you love, make something up. When it rains, make it pour. On the other hand, someone tweeted me, “no power, no porn, can’t grindr/scruff bc I’m conserving battery life, and no reception at home means no n00dz swapping :((((( <\3.” Back to the frontier gays. Finally, someone else told me that all the storm meant was extra time with his boyfriend. His boyfriend then chimed in that he’s never eaten more Cheez-Its in his adult life.
Elsewhere, Fire Island is now maybe two islands, dumpster diving is no longer just for freegans and Extreme Cheapskates and the New York Sports Club shower rooms are probably teeming with fresh meat/erections at this point – several of said erections are being touched for the very first time by NYSC’s own brand of impure steam-room steam.
A friend of mine works at a prominent gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen, which he says has been swamped since the Chelsea gays filtered in. But they, too, are just slight differences from what he normally sees. He says they are “pretty” and there are “more older ones, but they have this air about them: shit don’t stink…We usually get more Broadway queens. The past few days the guys have been hot. A little too hot. LOL. Some who have been touched up.” Slight alterations abound.
He tells me “every plug was used at the bar.” He means that literally, but it must also be true euphemistically.
Elsewhere, Nick Denton is staying in Hell’s Kitchen and he’s been telling me how the power outage effectively “cut sexual dynamics.” There is a “new sexual geography,” he says. New people have filtered into gay bars to get at those precious plugs. But when their options expand again, will they come back?
I’m writing this in the middle of a disaster that has altered my day-to-day but has barely inconvenienced my life so far. I’m a bridge-walk away from the frustration I’m watching continuously on TV. I’m a little more cooped up, a little more frozen, a little more eager for every day to be over so I can sit some more, waiting for the next. And when things are cleaned up and all of this is behind us, will this specific Sandy experience even be worth remembering?
Ah, who cares anyway? This week is barely real, despite-slash-because our being handed more reality than ever before. This week doesn’t count.