The Lady Chronicles: February/March 2013
â€˜Get a taco, get a taxiâ€™: an L.A. retrospective
By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly
When I was a young gay â€” before I could (legally) enter bars and I still frequented The City â€” I worked in the mortgage industry. Specifically, as a receptionist at a firm in the heart of East Clark County. I got the job through friends of friends, and I was enamored by the idea of answering phones and scheduling appointments in the prestigious world of finance. It felt very â€œbusiness ladyâ€ â€” a la Romy and Michelle â€” and I even earned a fancy job sub-title: â€œassistant loan processor.â€ (I basically copied and faxed things.) My boss, Jill, personified bitch extraordinaire, and I longed to wield her power and attitude. The bright side: she was pretty young then, too, and between power lunches and important meetings, office hijinks ensued, usually involving the four of us in the office who actually had personalities. It was the late â€˜90s, during â€œFriendsâ€-mania, and I was a closet case. While my club friends knew, clearly, I feigned straightness â€” via the non-mention â€” right through the end of my tenure with Jill & Co. Eventually, I left cubicle life for more fashionable horizons at Gap. Lunch dates continued for a time, then waned. (I hated seeing my replacement.) Later, Jill moved to Los Angeles. This month, some friends and I spent a long weekend in L.A., a visit prompted by the big California Exodus that went down about a year ago. (I think Portlandâ€™s still hemorrhaging a bit.) We went down to catch up with long-lost friends (Brad!) and to see what all the Angelian fuss was about. Since Iâ€™ve been back, Iâ€™ve had everyone â€” from coworker to friend to Facebook associate â€” ask me about L.A. Thank god for social media and demands to document and post every moment. (So many likes, so much self-worth.) The City of Angels was, in a word, dreamy. Going forward, Iâ€™ll never understand Portlanders who shit-talk it. I recognize vacationing in a place and living in a place are very different prospects, but thereâ€™s a sophisticated easiness down there thatâ€™s damn enchanting. Fancy AND laid back. If youâ€™ve got half a personality, you outshine drab (and pretty) backdrops (people). And the nightlife? Please. Despite a 12-hour stretch that remains unaccounted for â€” existing only in friendsâ€™ text logs â€” it was more than I hoped for. At Mario Diazâ€™s soiree, Big Fat Dick, we rubbed elbows with L.A.â€™s queer royalty. (Yes, heâ€™s as foxy in person.) Close by, we accidentally stumbled upon Detox (this seasonâ€™s â€œDrag Raceâ€), the now-legendary Raja, and Vicky Vox (Google â€œBoy is a Bottomâ€). The next night, we ambled through Cub Scout at L.A.â€™s spacious, sprawling Eagle â€” a dim, sexy leather complex, where I took time away from my group of couples to survey the crowd. â€œListen, boys, I need these men to know Iâ€™m single, so, uh, I need some â€˜meâ€™ time.â€ Yes, those words were spoken. Not even marijuana cigarettes and vodka sodas could make me forget the glory I beheld that night. We saw bears and Latinos, gorgeous shops and Lambos. We dined at Villa Blanca (that gussied-up Red Robin owned by Lisa Vanderpump) and shopped for wigs and dresses on Hollywood Boulevard and Santee Alley, where a friend procured his almost-winning Love Ball (PDX) look. (Watch out, Portland, Margarine Powers-Houston is unleashed.) Brad took us to Hollywood Forever, The Getty; we woke up with sun on our faces and ambled around in shorts on beaches. We savored every moment outside, especially in the seemingly-endless gardens and greenery surrounding the bungalow we rented in the Hollywood Hills, steps from our long-lost friend and his beautiful fella (sidebar: a one-bedroom is a real value split five ways). It was so blissful, like Neko Case was whispering songs in my ears. (Blame the Californian herbs for my hallucinations.) Our last night there, at Faultline, L.A. taught us how a real beer bust goes down, and I learned that barâ€™s preferred greeting: a finger down the back of your pants, up your rear. Very sensual, kind stranger. I wasnâ€™t even bothered my four Grindr dates stood me up that night. Much to my surprise, my electronic best friend was an afterthought all vacation long. Jill held her own with my gaggle of gays, and enjoyed regaling them with tales of closeted, baby gay Daniel. Her infallible memory recalled me trying on hand-me down dresses from girls in the office (she produced pictures), and the dramatic coming-out lunch I convened with my coworkers after I left. The collective response, which I had completely forgotten: â€œDuh, Daniel.â€ â€œYouâ€™re exactly the same as I remember,â€ Jill said. â€œExcept with less hair.â€ While Iâ€™d hope Iâ€™m not exactly the same as my 20-year-old self, itâ€™s nice when someone from your past can still pick out your good parts, even after all the struggles, breakups, fits and starts that have gone down in the interim. It helps to surround yourself with people who love you despite your laundry list of shortcomings. Perhaps thatâ€™s why it was easy for me to spend the better part of a week ignoring headless torsos and pretty faces in favor of dear friends. As for L.A., I left part of my heart inside her. (But nothing inside Detox, sadly.)
In related news, Iâ€™ve given up both Grindr and Scruff for Lent. Daniel@PQMonthly.com.