Once upon a time, pretty long ago, I used to manage a nightclub in Washington, D.C. At this particular nightclub, Liv (RIP), we had a rotating list of parties throughout the week. On Friday nights, we had gay night. This was always typically a good night for us for a few different reasons: 1) Gay men like to spend money (and they really like to use cash); and 2) It may have been one of the more purely entertaining nights we had at Liv. Not because gay men are naturally entertaining, which may or may not be true, but because of some of the shenanigans that occurred during said night.
For instance, there was the time that a friend of one of the bouncers showed up alleging that the manager of the club (me) had called him to come in and host, with the manager (me) standing right there having no clue on earth who he was. When pressed about who the manager (me) was that personally sought him out to host the party, he couldn’t remember his name because of course he couldn’t. He then followed up that lie with the “Hey, man, what kind of party is this, anyway? Are all the ladies inside? There’s a lot of dudes in this line. Let me go check it out if they’re inside.”
He was met with a very matter-of-fact, “It’s OK. We know why you’re here. Enjoy yourself.” Which I’m happy to report that he did. He was living his best life that night and returned on subsequent Friday evenings for more fun.
There was also the party’s first night when all of our female bartenders had to take several shots because each one of them realized that they would likely have dated more than half of the men in attendance and had no clue they were gay. Let me tell you: I’ve heard lots of women claim to have an accurate gaydar. After working this party, I can safely say that I (and the women working there) have no f—king clue what a gay man looks like. It’s for this reason that now, when people say to me things like, “You couldn’t tell he was gay?” I just say, “Nope,” because after meeting and befriending so many of the folks at this party, I really think that unless it’s painstakingly sign-on-the-forehead obvious, you don’t know until you know. Ya know?
There was the voguing and the immediate and visceral love for Ne-Yo’s “Closer.” And the fights. Oh, the fights; they were epic. There were holes in the wall and brawls. Oh, what a night.
One of the more interesting things that happened while working this party was the newfound sympathy I gained for women being approached and hit on by random strangers.
Look, it was a gay club and I’m cute; I fully expected to get hit on a time or two. I had no qualms about this, and being hit on by a man didn’t and doesn’t really bother me. So where did the sympathy lie?
It was the manner in which I was hit on.
Wrote a song about it; like to hear it? Here it go.
I’d like to recount for you the lamest attempt at holleration I personally experienced. Mmkay? Mmkay.
As the manager of the club, I spent a lot of time behind the bar, fixing tabs and helping out when necessary. On many occasions, when the club got super packed, I’d jump behind the bar and start bartending myself. This was both a gift and a curse. It was a gift because you made tips (which I always turned over to my staff) and a curse because bartenders get hit on in the worst ways ever.
Dudes would somehow grab and hold my hands for extended periods of time while ordering s—t like a Jack and Coke, which, said in the slowest manner possible, takes upward of 1.5 seconds. Nope. I had one dude order a Jack and Coke for almost 10 seconds as I awkwardly waited for him to let my hand go so I could, ya know, make his drink. Plus, it ain’t like he was Prince or somebody. To be on the safe side, I didn’t look him directly in the eyes. He did have soft hands, though.
Well, seeing as I spent a lot of time behind the bar, that’s usually where I got hit on. I had folks offering to buy me drinks that I’d get free because, ya know, management. Or ask me if we could go to another bar to talk. I always politely said that I wasn’t interested and kept it moving.
Well, one day, one particular gentleman came to me and asked me if a cellphone had been found and turned in to the bar. I looked around and said no. He left.
Five minutes later he comes back and says, “Hey, are you sure there’s no cellphone back there?” Because I’m a nice guy, I went to look again and asked the bartenders if anybody had turned in a cellphone. Again, no.
He leaves and five minutes later comes back and says, “Hey, can I ask you a question?”
Me: Sure, but there’s no cellphone back here.
Him: Has anybody ever hit on you by pretending that they lost a cellphone?
I swear, I said to him: Bro, that’s the best you have for me? You think that would work? Like, of all the game you have in your soul, you thought that would help you get my number and maybe help me want to get to know you better? I’m actually offended that you think such s—tty game would work on me.
I walked away in a huff, incredulous and, yes, offended. For one, I’m worth better game than that. I’m certain of this. For B, that s—t wouldn’t work on anybody; what I look like? Some random dude? I’m adorbs. I was really upset about this. He wasn’t funny. He wasn’t charming. He was lazy, if anything. I mean, come the f—k on. Have some respect for what I’m bringing to the table. For cripes sake, I’m the table.
Then it hit me. Man, this must be how women feel all the time. Some unfunny, uncharming, fair-to-middling-looking fellow decides to drop the worst game ever and expects results. I actually walked up to one of our bartenders and gave her a hug and said I’m sorry for all the lames who ever attempted to holler at her … which, for the record, did not include me.
Just like that, I became an ally in the fight against wack game. Granted, as a man, that pretty much ended once I stopped working at the club (actually, when we stopped having that party there), but I never forgot. Because #neverforget.
Ladies, I will never purport to know what you all go through, but for a few shining months, I came face-to-face with the adversary known only as “man.” And it turns out that gay men suck at game, too. I felt real feelings of “How dare he value me so little?” Which is funny because at no point did the fact that it was a man hitting on me cause me to snap back to reality. The lesson here?
The ego is real.
And ladies, I understand.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.