I struggle, from time to time, as many writers do, in finding a suitable location to focus on my work. And let me tell you right now, a gay dungeon bar is radically far from suitable I’ve come to find. Generally when I approach a new piece, I prefer my bedroom or perhaps a coffee shop to hash out this oeuvre du jour. And that often works fine. But lately I’ve noticed that these places don’t always give me inspiration for my work. They’re too insular, too innocuous, and frankly, too dull for me to produce original, visceral material.
The smells of brewing coffee or even unwashed sheets are part of an otherwise peripheral atmospheric milieu that I can overlook in concentrating on my writing. But the smells of leather dog collars and sweat-laden mesh harnesses are much harder to ignore. This was my experience at a lounge called The Falcon, at which I spent the afternoon earlier this week. How, pray tell, am I supposed to reach a literary epiphany when a male geriatric is being trussed up like a turkey and tickled with plumes five feet away while what sounds like a Siouxsie and the Banshees mash-up blares like a foghorn over the stereo system? I also find it fiercely difficult to articulate how emotionally unavailable my stepfather was as a child when a shirtless man named Sue continuously rubs against my shoulder while covered in baby oil and some sort of Turkish Musk essence.
After an hour or two of sitting by the bar, with the aid of some noise-cancelling headphones and a vodka gimlet that the bartender did not know how to make properly, I got into a bit of a groove and the synapses started to fire. All of a sudden I felt an outpouring of unearthed emotions about my staunchly rural upbringing and some of the more divisive members of my family. I felt raw but ebullient, for the first time in recent memory. But then, a sharp, reflected light hit my eye, completely derailing my diatribe about my very unremarkable fifth birthday party. I looked over and I saw a six-foot, chain-link spider web being wheeled out onto the stage, which was met with a roaring applause. A portly, bearded gentleman was browbeaten by whip-wielding young boys to climb onto it, which he did with little resistance for reasons that are still unclear to me. This spectacle was just not inspiring to my work.
I stepped out onto the patio with my computer, thinking some fresh air might help open my voice and get me back into a rhythm. But really, the sounds of snapping pool cues and stench of cigars did anything but. I sat beside a boisterous group of young men on what I assume was supposed to pass for a bench but closer resembled a two-by-four resting on two small crates. The chatter and sticky, unfinished wood didn’t aid in releasing anything from my innermost psyche but resentment. Someone named Principal Bill approached me and asked to spank me with a paddle for being naughty, which, needless to say, I declined. But Bill’s offer was absolutely not illuminating when I went on to later discuss my sister’s emotionally abusive boyfriend in the form of a limerick.
I soon came to the inevitable conclusion that this was absolutely not the place for me to be productive. I left in a bit of a huff, which was timely because I then checked my watch and realized that I needed to be home by six o’clock so my mother could use the car.
So, as a word of advise to my fellow writers, if you’re looking for a new space to work, do not choose one where the security guard mysteriously measures your inseam prior to entry. It is far from helpful.