Monday, April 19, 2004

I made it safely to the other side of 36!

My birthday weekend was just PACKED with fun, and I still have the groggy incoherence to prove it.

Friday night, Bill (whose birthday is the same as mine) rented a corner of Lizzie McNeil's and celebrated with tons of people from our office and his wife's office. The bar is right on the tourist-friendly riverfront in an area filled with fountains and brick walkways and gorgeous views of the city, and it was really cool to just hang out and chat (and bitch about work for a bit). Best of all, when your co-workers get drunk, you get to hear all sorts of things they usually work so hard to keep inside -- from office gossip to how much they really, really like you. It's good to feel the love -- even if it comes from lovelorn straight women and macho-bluster straight men, and takes a couple of pints of Guinness to get it all out.

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Chicago, and the perfect opportunity to take my new custom-fitted running shoes out for a spin. It was my first outside run since the Shamrock Shuffle a few weeks earlier, and I was excited to see what kind of a difference $95 shoes can make in the real world (instead of the boring old treadmill world where I'd been sweating off my advancing age for the last couple months). I'd planned on pounding out only three miles, but the day was so beautiful and the shirtless men on the running path were so plentiful -- and my shoes were so comfortable -- that I got in a full five miles.

Flush with the pride of accomplishment, I hit the showers and then headed out for some pre-birthday errands: getting makeup and clearance-priced decorations for the evening's Easter-drag-mandatory birthday dinner at Pepper Lounge. The dress and hat I'd bought didn't exactly match, see, so I had to buy buttons or bunnies or flowers or something to sew on them to make them look more like an ensemble. And I found some little plastic eggs and stuffed bunnies and fake sprays of tiny flowers that really gave the outfit a certain flair once they were artfully arranged and secured with a few feet of sturdy darning thread. The dinner was a hoot, and all the girls looked fabulous in their Easter finery (including Jim and Jeff and Terry and Kent, who have repeatedly pointed out that I've neglected to mention them in my Christmas letter every year since I've known them, so they're getting a whole parenthetical mention in the blog until I can rectify the Christmas issue). I also got some fun presents, including a fabulous designer purse from Truly Scrumptious. The purse was adorned with a large H, which I assumed was the initial of some hot new designer I'd never heard of -- but Truly just laughed and laughed and laughed as she explained that the H was for Heidi Holes, my endlessly clever nom de drag. After dinner we all paraded through the Cubs game crowds (who never failed to smile and wave and whistle at us -- but who doesn't love a drag queen when she's all holiday-pretty?) over to Keith and Steve's house to admire the progress of their kitchen renovation and watch some TiVo, then I headed home to scrub up and de-drag so I could hit Sidetrack for some birthday fun as a boy.

Sunday -- the actual big day -- was comparatively low-key after the previous two nights of excitement. I slept late, got serenaded over the phone by my folks and my sister's family, read some of the paper, watched some TiVo, and then met Paul for a nice lunch at Nookie's. After lunch, we decided to walk "just a few blocks" to Abercrombie & Fitch so Paul could stock up on underwear (he's apparently started donating his underwear to guys he meets, but that's a story for another time). I couldn't picture where there was an A&F near Boystown, but I trusted Paul's description of its location -- and 437 miles later, in brand-new flip-flops that shredded my poor feet, we arrived there. Now, I've always maintained that there's nothing more pathetic than a grown gay man wearing A&F as though he were down with the kids, yo. So there is a profound irony in the fact that I ended up spending a bit of my 36th birthday clomping through one of its stores on the bloody stumps that used to be my feet. But Paul replenished his underwear stock and we headed back to Boystown, enjoying the beautiful day and talking about everything and nothing -- and then we stopped in a record store with a cute clerk who smiled back and forth with me for a good 20 minutes as he chatted with other customers. But I had to head home to get ready for rehearsal, so I took off -- and I hadn't gone half a block before Paul called to tell me that the clerk practically broke his neck watching me walk out the door and down the street.

An hour later I was riding with Truly Scrumptious and two other dancer boys to a dance studio to learn Truly's guaranteed-to-be-fabulous "Xanadu" number for Who's That Girl? The show is an over-the-top Vegas-style drag revue that raises TONS of money for some of the most visible gay-related non-profits in Chicago. This is my third year doing it, and this time I get to be a hot dancer boy in tight black clothes, doing lifts and shaking my honey-baked ham like the Solid Gold dancer I am. We had a blast choreographing the number last night, and I honestly can't think of a more fun way to celebrate my birthday than dancing around to "Xanadu" with a bunch of hot guys in a sweaty studio.

And now the weekend's over, and I'm sitting at work a little bit tired a little bit sore from all that running and dancing and high-heel wearing. But I take off early tomorrow for NYC for a day of business and then a day of vacation with Arno. Be good while I'm gone.

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