“What bar do you frequent?”
This was the question I was asked on Facebook Messenger by a friend coming to town next week as we talked about getting together.
Innocuous enough…for a normal person.
Awkwardly, my preferred watering hole – the neighborhood feeling but still gay – Fox & Hounds sold earlier this summer in a transaction that surprised everyone. Even the former owner’s employees.
I was kinda irked, since I’d proposed buying the place a couple of years ago and was shot down because the owner had no interest in selling.
But, because I’m not a rash or hysterical person, I continued to go there once a week or so for a drink on my way home from work.
I’m not saying I’m rash or hysterical…we can agree to disagree. However, a conveniently located beer on the way home from work trumps a lot of petty differences.
I was more irked that this new owner was making pretty sudden and drastic changes for someone who claimed that everything was going to stay the same.
I didn’t even balk that she was not-so-subtly turning the place straight. Or trying. But when she lost the bar’s lottery privileges, it was over. If no one is going to talk to me while I imbibe – please, don’t – then I want to play some video lottery.
For no reason, clearly. I mean, how could lottery be more fun than people?!?
Since then, I’ve been hanging out at either my neighborhood wine shop/bar (Thelonius Wines) or taproom (Big Legrowlski) and not really missing gay bars.
Because: don’t talk to me.
Yeah, I’m weird.
But having to cop to an absence of alignment with a local gay bar to my visiting friend, I was forced to acknowledge that The Galby Effect was once again rearing its awkward head.
I last noticed it during the early days of the Big Legrowlski. I’d go and there’d be a respectable number of patrons for a new business. Y’know, a few peppered here or there…nothing too crowded. Sometimes I’d find myself alone when I walked in, but others would trickle in behind me soon enough.
But once the bar started to take off with a pretty regular business, 2-3 people lined up at any given point…that’s when I noticed it.
I’d walk in and do my normal Xtopher-esque entrance, nothing too Kramer-ish, and people were too busy helping other customers to give me anything other than a brief wave or smile. Not even both! Strictly one or the other.
Then I’d get my beer, find my seat and take a few sips, only to discover when looking up five minutes later that I was suddenly the only patron left.
It’s like Bar Rapture.
I’m the St Patrick of boozehounds. Yeah, yeah…the whole snake thing is a bourbon legend.
It happened time and again, too.
Time of day, day of week…no variables mattered. I could go in at 9 on a Friday and ten minutes later, pffft.
“What, they’re all going to the same show?” I’d ask, incredulous.
Getting a <palms up> from the bartender in response.
Anyway, I thought that I’d somehow shaken the curse of driving a bar’s business into the ground. Certainly, my lack of affiliation as a regular with and local gay bar can be blamed on the new owner…but taking a broader view, I think The Galby Effect can be blamed for the sudden and unexplained decision to sell.
My only “proof”, if you will: I’ll wander into the former owner’s other bar once a month or so and when he’s there, he just looks guilty. Obviously, he knows he’s a turncoat to the community and can’t explain what in the world came over him, so he just sits there awkwardly thinking, “Don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me” on repeat until I walk away.
Hey, buddy…it’s ok. I understand.
The Galby Effect.