Monday, July 24, 2006

Planes, trains, automobiles and …

I took a three-hour midnight boat cruise Thursday night/Friday morning with 500 revelers from around the world. It was one of many weeklong Gay Games festivities, and even though its advertising included multiple references to top club DJs, I somehow had convinced myself that the cruise would be nothing more than gay men and women quietly admiring the Chicago skyline from a couple miles out in the lake. We were indeed a couple miles out there, and the skyline was something definitely worth admiring (though my camera phone was worthless at capturing any aspect of it beyond its midnightness), but the DJs were spinning at top volume and the boys (and girls! at a gay event! which is rare! because the gay “community” usually self-subdivides by age, body type and gender!) were dancing shirtless (well, not the girls) under the stars in cool, breezy weather that was nothing short of perfect. It really was quite fun.

The only downside, of course, is where there are club DJs, there are club drugs. And when party boys do club drugs en masse, they produce an unmistakable eau de vomit that lingers in the air like unanswered questions at a Tony Snow press conference. Plus they lose all comprehension of personal space. Neither of which is particularly sexy.

I was on the bus from heck Thursday night. (You know how much I hate to use foul language, but it’s just appropriate this time: Bus. From. Heck.) First of all, the electronic billboard across the front of the bus that shows the route number was broken, so the driver had to announce the route number to everyone who boarded. But she had this weird habit of whispering the last little bit of everything she said—which only exacerbated the problem when she was driving a “one forty (seven)” up a street that also carries a 144, 145, 146 and 148. Then she announced to no one in particular that “this is my first day (driving a bus)”—something that two cheerleader moms in the back immediately picked up on and worked tirelessly to make into a buswide holiday. (“Hey, everyone! It’s her first day and she didn’t hit that pedestrian! Let’s all applaud! Yay!”) Then the driver got lost and—thanks to a frustrating grid of one-way streets that were too narrow to accommodate a bus—had to drive a good mile out of her way before she could finally get back on track. And even though she totally destroyed a giant bed of lilies in the process, every corner she turned generated cheers and applause from my criminally perky busmates. Don’t these people understand that in the big city scowliness and indifference are the glue that holds us all together? Again: Bus. From. Heck.

Ya run sixteen miles
And whaddya get?
Another day older
And sweaty and wet.
St. Peter, dontcha call me
’Cause I can’t go—
I owe my soul
To the running-shoe store.

I tried to get everyone to sing along with me on Saturday morning, but apparently the music snobs in my training group have a thing against Tennessee Ernie Ford. Or against alternate lyrics that don’t have a shred of cleverness. In any case, the weather was beyond glorious, which made the run easy to do. Even the last couple miles were relatively fun, albeit a bit painful. And my ankles, calves and quads are still sore two days later. But it’s a good sore.

Here were are before our run. I’ve lost either a contact or my dignity. But notice the built-in butt pouches on my new shorts. They hold four things of power goo and two power bars. Also notice how horribly inflexible my hamstrings are. But at least I’m stretching, which is a lot more than I can say about the hooligans I run with:

Here we are looking a wee bit tired on our mile 9 walk break. And once again I’m looking down, perhaps to hide my head in all the shame of running with such white-pink legs:

Here we all are squinting happily into the sun after we finished, right before a bunch of us gorged on everything we could get our paws on at Stella’s Diner (Mmm … fiesta burgers!) in Boystown:

Since Saturday’s run, I’ve done a lot of sitting on my butt, first at the Gay Games closing ceremonies at Wrigley Field—where I had a little teary moment when 30,000 men and women held each other and swayed and smiled and sang along as Cyndi Lauper wailed on a haunting arrangement of “True Colors”—and then at dinner with my ultra-handsome blond buddy before he and his teammates climbed on their plane and headed home.

And then yesterday I saw The Devil Wears Prada (my verdict: it’s a fun little summer flick with fabulous costumes and lots of laughs, but the characters are flat and unbelievable and I never developed any emotional attachment to any of them and the ending is predictable and kinda dull) and ate Cajun and sang show tunes at Sidetrack on a delightful three-part date with a handsome fella I'd met the day before.

I’m exhausted from all that traveling. But the Gay Games are finally over. The posters will come down. The stories will be told. The medals will be shown. The Boystown crowds will become manageable again. The god-hates-fags people (who were so disruptive at the closing ceremonies that they had their megaphones confiscated by the police) have retreated to their caves until their next eruption. And we can finally start enjoying a quiet summer in Chicago. Until Market Days in two weeks!

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