Reunion or notBill's Briefs, Latest Issue Thursday, September 28th, 2017
Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs
My partner and I are in Maine visiting old landmarks and attending an ever shrinking reunion of my high school classmates. The landmarks range from barely changed to nearly unrecognizable to sadly non-existent. The same can be said of the classmates. All assured me I remain unchanged, recognizable and still here. Dismissing my receding hairline, hint of a paunch and teeny crow’s feet, I cannot but agree, although my name tag seemed necessary.
Several women and men arrived with same-sex partners. A few surprises, but mostly, “Ha! I thought so.” Also attending were the jocks who had always scorned me. Not one to bear a grudge, I greeted them graciously, casually mentioning I’d barely recognized them due to their horrible, physical decay. None were sober enough to react.
Absent from my home-spun crowd were the tight-faced, stunningly coiffed senior women one often finds in La Jolla. I was surrounded by duplicates of my grandmother who claimed we were in English class together. It was great finding so many couples as happy as Yohei and I who have been together 44 years. Our togetherness span was matched and bettered by some, but others were with spouse number two or even three.
We, naturally, were spared the kid, grand kid and great-grand kid comparisons. Mostly an upbeat afternoon, but sad news of those absent could not be ignored. I am torn about recommending reunions. If your close classmates were to be there to happily reminisce with, it’d probably be fun. If not, skip it and escape forced conversations with barely familiar faces. Keep the youthful images you remember of faraway friends.
A missing landmark
The pilgrimage to my favorite hometown haunts ran into a snag yesterday. As I arrived at Portland’s biggest and best gay nightspot, I was met with a boarded-up entrance and a “No Trespassing” sign. The fabulous arena of many a wild escapade was closed. What a shock.
As in San Diego, the number of “our” places is shrinking. A few bars remain, but the Underground, re-named Styxx, was more a nightclub with a huge bar, multiple dance floors and room for 300. Since the mid-‘80s, it was ground zero in this section of the North East for shows, pageants, contests and fundraisers drawing people from far and wide. For recent generations of locals it was their introduction to the LGBT world. Police interference was minimal, although local louts were always around on harassment duty. Lately, the mixed crowds came as usual for the fun atmosphere and dancing, but took their money elsewhere to drink. Completing the closing, the owner cites the Internet and apps plus the current fashion of mixing the genders when bar-hopping.
Seniors, however, remember the extreme importance of our secret, private sanctuaries where we could be ourselves to meet, dance, kiss and cuddle. The pressures we were under, and many succumbed to, are minor to many of today’s generation. Of course that’s good. Heck, it’s wonderful. Yet the closure of many such safe havens once so significant to my generation is distressing. Everyone from the southern Maine area as far as Boston can thank the Underground/Styxx for over 30 years of great memories of self-discovery, excitement and fun. Time has marched on leaving a sorry, empty spot in my itinerary.
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