Thursday, April 22, 2010

July 4, 1980 (Give or Take a Year)

When we left Camden Park it was still too early to head back to Martin. Sara suggested we go dancing at Huntington's one and only gay bar. The rest of us were much less enthusiastic about the idea.

Steve was a bit of a player and often went to Huntington on the weekends we weren't together. He didn't have money, a job, or a car and lived with his parents. I suppose he depended on the kindness of strangers. Gorgeous was about all he had going for him. It was enough for me. Apparently it was also enough for another half dozen guys in as many states.

Anyway, Sara was the only member of our little foursome excited about going to the gay bar. As a straight man Ronnie had his concerns. Steve and I, each for our own reasons, worried about who we would run into and what it might mean.

I don't remember the name of the gay bar in Huntington. It was out in the middle of nowhere in a nondescript concrete-block structure surrounded by a gravel parking lot. You couldn't just walk in. You knocked and a little door at eye-level would open. If you looked OK, they let you in.

Inside there was a dance floor, a couple of bars, a DJ booth, and a stage for drag shows. Huntington had some of the best drag performers I've seen, before or since. The drag queens would do a few numbers then the DJ would play music for dancing.

Going to a gay bar affects people different ways. Straight women tend to let their hair down, kick off their heels and dance with wild and reckless abandon. Straight men cling to their date all night and look uncomfortable on or off the dance floor. You can tell they have suddenly realized what we've always known: straight guys can't dance.

Some make-out with their woman on the dance floor so everyone will know they are a real man and not one of the gay boys. Making out on the dance floor wasn't going to do it for Ronnie. Nope. He wanted to bump uglies with Sara in a stall in the men's room.

Sara was drunk enough to give it a shot. But between her size, the space available in the stall, the skin-tight jeans they and everybody else wore at the time, and Ronnie's inability to manage all of the above it wasn't going to happen.

Ronnie, however, was drunk and determined to accomplish his goal. Sara went along until she got an ugly scrape on her back from the toilet paper holder and called it quits. When Ronnie wouldn't take no for an answer, Sara kneed him in his man-parts and returned to the dance floor.

Ronnie and Sara fought all the way back to Martin. Steve and I sat in the back seat and tried to mind our own business. It got ugly a few times. We pretended like we were asleep and prayed they wouldn't wreck the car.

It was a weekend I will never forget. Over time Ronnie got more and more violent. Sara eventually kicked him out of the double-wide, divorced him, and became a lesbian. I wonder where she is now...

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