I just got back from the Chicago Magazine Top 20 Singles kickoff party.
We Singles, you see, were the "celebrity" draw tonight at a charity fund-raiser/kickoff event for the issue that features us. How on earth I can achieve any level of celebrity status simply by virtue of the fact that I can't get a date is beyond me, but I won't let rational thought get in the way of enjoying the opportunity for some fawning attention and free sodas on a beautiful summer night. And I actually had a great time.
The day didn't start off so well, though. I could NOT get my hair to look good.
And then I had a hella stressful day at work. But I eventually made it -- only 15 minutes after we Top 20 Singles were expected to show up. I took my officemate Liza as my date, and I wore my new $105 gay-clone shirt (you know: striped, collared, fitted, untucked, sleeves too long, etc. etc. etc.) that Bill convinced me to buy for the occasion. So we get there, and the place is pretty packed. It was held at the beautiful Chicago Historical Society, and it was almost more fun to admire the architecture and the grounds than the people there.
(Speaking of the people there, the only big-ticket fund-raisers I've ever been to are populated by gay people. Fussy, elitist, social-climbing gay people. So I was a little shocked to be at a party where 1) strangers were extremely friendly to each other, 2) the guys don't look like cartoon characters, 3) I recognized the music they were playing and 4) people clearly don't know how to dress themselves. I swear, I've never seen a bigger collection of women who really, really need gay best friends to help them build wardrobes of flattering clothes.)
Our obligations as the Top 20 Singles were pretty small: Congregate behind the stage so we could be introduced to the crowd, and then line up on a magnificent circular staircase in the museum for our Brady Bunch photo.
The being-on-stage part seemed pretty easy. When the hosts for the evening started introducing the singles, they asked questions about their jobs and their interesting lives. When they introduced me and read on their little cue cards that I'm a singer, they asked me to sing. AS IF. The conversation went something like this:
"Will you sing something for us?"
"I'd rather not." (I'm not warmed up and I'd sound like shit. Next question, please.)
"Why not? C'mon -- sing for us!"
"No thanks." (Really. I'm not interested in sounding like shit in front of 500 strangers who may or may not be potential love interests.)
"Are you sure? Why not sing a little something?"
"Um, no." (Why is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?)
"OK ... that was Jake, everybody! Our next single is ..."
So if my fag-centric profile in the magazine weren't embarrassing enough, I'm also now the boring old homo who won't sing like a trained monkey for the straight people. No wonder I can't get a date, they must be thinking.
I ended up standing on stage next to Jennifer Schefft as they introduced the rest of the singles. (We were introduced alphabetically, you see. Which for once in my life put me at a standing-next-to-a-quasi-celebrity advantage.) I'd never seen the dating show Jennifer was on, so I wouldn't have known her if someone hadn't told me who she was. She's really rather short, and not too talkative. At least not with me. She sure was animated around the other gay guy in the Top 20 Singles, though.
And speaking of him, the boy either underdosed on his ADD meds or overdosed on his ecstasy tonight. He was as wired and unfocused as a Madonna movie, and during the Brady Bunch photo, the photographer actually had to yell at him -- repeatedly -- to get him to stand still and smile for the camera. Sheesh!
And speaking of running into contestants from nationally televised dating shows at the party, I'm pretty sure I saw "Bachelorette" reject and fellow social-anxiety-disorder-sufferer Jamie Blyth there. He's a little shorter than I'd expected, but he's dreamy in a Shaun Cassidy kind of way. And -- being true to our disorders -- Jamie and I never even acknowledged each other the whole evening.
Other highlights from the evening:
• Host Larry Potash is cute, but noticeably not as cute in person as he is on TV. (I have the opposite problem; I'm cute-ish in real life and I look like Ichabod Crane on TV.)
• Straight guys actually talk to me like I'm one of them. (After a lifetime of evidence that people rarely can tell that I'm gay when I meet them, I'm still always surprised that I continue to "pass" as straight. My paranoia about this is clearly just in my head -- though it was not unfounded tonight; anyone who read my gay-ass profile in the magazine probably expected me to bourrée in en pointe and sprinkle fairy dust on everyone I met.)
• It's a small, small, small, small world. Liza and I hadn't been at the event for 10 minutes when a woman RUSHED up to me all excited ... and it turns out she and I had done The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas together eight years ago in Iowa. An hour later, we bumped into the son of some of my parents' best friends in Iowa. Good Lord ... why are all these Iowans stalking me?
• In keeping with my unflattering and wholly unfair theme of gay/straight dichotomies in this post, I noticed that gay guys just have better bodies and better wardrobes than straight guys. Straight guys are far more friendly and fun and easygoing to hang around with, but homos sure can jack up the eye candy factor when they populate a room. I'll go to a bar or a gay event and find myself thinking lustful thoughts about a good 50% of the people I meet there. Tonight, I think I saw three guys I wanted to see naked.
Anyway, the party's over. I didn't get any numbers from anyone and only two strangers came up and talked to me all night (not that I expected to make a lot of love connections at an event marketed to a straight demographic). And I'm climbing into bed to rest up for tomorrow's Proud to Run 10K, which starts at 8:00 am -- ACK! So early! -- and kicks off all the Pride festivities in Chicago.