My friends Damian and Mirch throw a monthly dance party for your homosexual element called DIRT, and it’s held the first Friday of every month at The Eagle, NYC’s premiere leather-themed bar. One does not hold a monthly dance party for your homosexual element at The Eagle and call it Orange or Chamomile. Maybe Cammo-Squeal would pass muster, though. I like attending their party because instead of soulless, wordless gay techno that’s only ever existed in a machine, they play actual rock-n-roll. If you’ve ever wanted to hear Judas Priest in a gay bar, where frankly it belongs, then you should go to DIRT. These are all songs that existed in the air as actual sound waves before hitting the tape, and they RAWK. Also, Damian sometimes takes my suggestions and plays songs he’s never heard before. That’s how I got to hear both “Ah, Leah” and “Freedom at Point Zero” in a gay bar. This week he was going to play a song that I had found by The Moving Sidewalks, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top’s first band.
I wanted to go, and I wanted to give back. So when I saw on the Facebook invite that the theme was one of wrestling singlets, I called my friend Greg and asked if I could borrow one of his multiple wrestling singlets. Multiple. The layperson would be surprised at how often the gays throw parties where the theme is wrestling singlets. But with a little thought one realizes that a) they leave little to the imagination in both the twig department and the berry department; b) a lot of us spent a lot of time in high school and college watching wrestlers punish their bodies to get down to some ridiculously low body fats; and c) when the wrestlers stopped wrestling, they put on some real weight and began to drunkenly tussle about shirtless on beer-soaked fraternity multi-purpose floors.
Only problem is… I hate spandex. I remember lycra bike shorts, and not fondly. I once had a conversation with a friend who has a thing for dressing up in the most formal suits and ties. To me, this seems like a misguided attempt to eroticize the interview process:
“Tell me, in what area of your sexual performance do you think you could improve the most?”
“If I answer correctly, hot man, do I get health insurance and a 401(k)?”
My friend then explained to me about notions of constraint and control in such a way that I finally understood why people wore uncomfortable ensembles for sex-type things. I really appreciated it, but still, I’ll be first in line when they invent a fetish that involves flowing caftans and bolster pillows. My claustrophobia begins millimeters from my skin.
But I wanted to support Damian and Mirch, so I went over to Greg’s and tried on a red, white, and blue star-spangled number. And you know what? I looked amazing. I felt like I could fight Ivan Drago. Yeah, I know it’s a boxing reference, but I never watched wrestling in the 80s, and I take any chance to say “I must break you!” I wanted to strut around chanting “USA! USA! USA!” like it was the 1984 Olympics, the one where we had no competition. There was no doubt I would be wearing this Salute to America.
Last night, the night of the singlet cotillion, was cold and rainy. Normally, I would’ve stayed in and watched my stories, but how could I deny people the chance to see me in a wrestling singlet. My friends know me well enough to get themselves a nice chuckle from seeing me in a singlet. This wasn’t just about me anymore. I made plans to meet a couple friends at a pre-drinking location and set about preparing my body for the singlet. In the shower I used both the Icelandic Blue Lagoon body scrub and the Neutrogena Light Sesame Oil. I slithered into the singlet. If I were any classic wrestling figure, I would have been Ravishing Ronald.
“So, I would just wear the singlet under my street clothes and just check a backpack at the Eagle?”
“Seems like the best plan,” said Greg when I asked him how he usually travelled with his multiple singlets. So I put on jeans and a t-shirt.
Between my torso and my mid-thighs, I could not feel my clothing, my cotton clothing. All I felt against my skin was spandex. I had no sense where my body ended and the world began. The globe was now spandex.
With apologies to the Coen Brothers, my ass became a slippery place where my pants could find no purchase. When I got to the train station, I thought I heard an F-train pulling in, and ran up the two flights of stairs. My pants fell down. Not drooping like Bill Cosby’s gonna yell at me about it. No, my pants fell down around my ankles exposing my patriotic thighs.
But I had a goal. I pulled up my pants and walked up to the platform. Normally, when I have to run up the stairs to real or imagined trains, I spend a little amount of time catching my breath and I may break a glisten. I’m no athlete. Last night, despite the 40-degree temperature, I felt like I was beginning to spontaneously combust. I walked down to the empty end of the platform and lifted my shirt to maybe get some breeze. Even the icy wind wouldn’t allow any heat to escape the spandex. The wind made the spandex hoard heat in its crawlspace.
The train came. I couldn’t sit right because it always felt like I was sliding around in my pants. I began to hyperventilate. I imagined my fellow passengers being able to perceive the lines of the singlet under my shirt and judging me. “Really, fat boy? Spandex?”
My brain had been waiting until I was on the train to unleash the next thought: “How are you gonna pee?” To begin, I’m pee-shy when there’s just a zipper involved. I’m expected to undo the top half of this thing? And The Eagle has a trough-based urinal system.
I began to sweat in strange places. My ear-holes filled up with sweat so much that I couldn’t hear my music properly. I could feel my ass-cheeks moisten past the point of discomfort, past the point of embarrassment, all the way to the point where people would wonder if I had been snacking on secret hoard of Olestra, that horrid fake fat from a few years ago that brought the word “leakage” into the lexicon.
By the time I got to the East Broadway stop, I needed off the train. I lurched for the open doors, but forgot the backpack between my feet. I stumbled on to the bench opposite as the doors closed. My pants fell down. People moved away from me because I must’ve been sending off danger signals that only straphangers can hear.
Was I lactating, or were my nipples actually sweating in their own right?
I left the train at Delancey with as much dignity a person holding up his pants possibly can. The Delancey station made even less sense than normal. My body was so overstimulated that my brain had nothing with which to navigate the station. I found my way to the Brooklyn-bound F platform. I needed to contact my friends; luckily, there’s a very faint 4G signal if you wave the phone over your head and over the tracks. While holding up your pants and clawing at your shirt.
I paced up and down the platform for twelve minutes in an effort to stop thinking about the itching that was quickly forming an underlayer between the spandex and my skin. When the train came, no one sat next to me probably because of the rocking back and forth.
Eventually I got home and took off the singlet. Wherever the garment touched my body, there was a red splotch. I took some Benedryl and lay on the couch in silence. I fielded disappointed texts from friends. People seemed to understand, especially since I had first couched my bailing in terms of a “panic attack.” My people understand when I say “panic attack.” Even if it does turn out to be a slight allergy.
Still, I felt guilty. My ex Lynda and I often run “moral” questions past each other. I needed absolution for bailing from her. I explained the situation with the spandex to her. “But it was like this itchy, stretchy, hot stuff under my clothes! It was horrible!”
“So you were wearing an uncomfortable elastic garment under your clothes because you thought it would make you appear sexier to men? Wow, that must suck.”
“Yeah, but I was sweating, and I had a rash. It’s different!” I complained.
There was the briefest silence on her end. “Don’t worry. Your friends know you’re a pussy.”