Whistling Carrots in the Dark

[It’s Saturday night, and I’ve snuck away from Misfits bartending to clock in at the Forge and let Robert take a short break. A customer comes in as we’re tagging out and begins rifling through the hankies.]

Customer: “Do you have any rainbow bandanas?”

Me: “… No.”

Robert: “Rainbow? What does that mean?”

Customer: “I guess it means you sold out of them during Pride, right?”

Me: [relieved] “HA HA HA YES THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT MEANS.”

Robert: “…”

The Hanky Code is nothing if not all-encompassing, and even the most obscure fetishes have their own unique colors, patterns, and textiles. Houndstooth, terrycloth, gingham, and gray flannel are all on the list, as are cocktail napkins, mosquito netting, Ziploc bags and Kewpie dolls. Anything the human body can secrete or excrete is covered as well, from spit (light yellow) to body odor (Kleenex) to vomit, a predilection for which being expressed by (you guessed it) a tasteful rainbow in one’s back pocket.

This is why, whenever deranged Fundamentalists start whining about “reclaiming the rainbow,” I’m like, “You know what? Go right on ahead and take it. I don’t judge.”

I ran into Robert (Helms) later that night and told him about the incident, and in return he shared a story from a few years ago, when a different leather shop was attached to Ripcord. Robert was browsing one evening, when a couple of bright young queens flounced in and started peppering the salesclerk with Hanky Code questions. The store did happen to have rainbow hankies in stock, and Queen 1 and Queen 2 were immediately drawn to them.

“Ooh, what does rainbow mean?” They asked. And before the salesclerk could answer, Robert jumped into the conversation:

“A rainbow on the left means you’re leading the parade, and a rainbow on the right means you’re looking for a parade to join.”

“OH MY GOD THAT IS SO US,” the queens exclaimed. “We’ll take two.”

I doubt these kids ever found themselves in a situation where some random dude was like, “Don’t mind if I do!” before taking aim and gagging himself with a Popsicle stick, so, y’know, more than likely no harm done, and you’ve got to give Robert credit for creative quick thinking. Personally, I’m just happy to have a categorization system that can be used as both an entrée to sex and a Kick Me sign. I only hope that my own humble efforts at weaponizing the Hanky Code are pleasing to my leather progenitors.

And Then My Sponsor Tranked Me

I had dinner with my sponsor at his place last night, and afterwards he pulled out a little blue box and was like, “Lozenge? They’re spicy.” I was like, “Sure,” took (what I assumed was) a mint and popped it in my mouth, enjoying the immediate, pleasant tingle associated with fresh breath.

So we were chatting away about not drinking or whatever, and I was absentmindedly crunching on the mint while we did so, and after awhile the tingle intensified from “hint of clove” to “hint of chemical burn.”

“Wow,” I said. “You were right. This is… really spicy.”

“Just tuck it up in your cheek and let it dissolve,” he said. “But as I was…. wait. Did you chew it?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “Was I not supposed to?”

The look of horror on his face suggested that no, I was in fact not supposed to chew it.

“What are these?” I asked, grabbing the box and reading the label. “Seriously? You dosed me with Nicorette?”

“How did you not know it was Nicorette? I told you it was a lozenge.”

I thought it was a pastille,” I yelled. “I thought you were being fancy. Okay, my mouth is legitimately on fire.”

“You need water.”

I reached for the fridge.

Not cold water. Cold water will make it worse.”

So I grabbed water out of his pantry instead, and when I turned around he was right behind me with a glass, because even if one’s gums are spontaneously combusting, chugging straight from a bottle is unforgivably gauche.

Anyway, the moral of the story is this: If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you should definitely get into recovery, because sometimes your sponsor will accidentally give you drugs.

The End.

Keep coming back.

Their logo should be a Betamax wearing an ironic fedora

[An online conversation between myself and Nuke.]

Nuke: “So we’re going to have to recant all of our artisanal solvent jokes, because we start stocking them tomorrow.”

Me: “Awesome. Whenever someone asks me which brand I prefer, I’m going to say, ‘You probably haven’t heard of it.’

“We’re carrying their eucalyptus-peppermint blend.”

Me: “…”

Nuke: “And sage-frankincense.”

Me: “Please tell me you’re making this up.”

Nuke: “Nope. Their slogan is ‘Farm to Disco.'”

Me: “YOU ARE MAKING THIS UP.”

Nuke: “I couldn’t if I tried. I’m not that witty.”

Me: “I’m going to be so pissed off if this turns out to be an elaborate hoax.”

And suddenly Rok sent me a message that read, “It’s not a hoax,” which scared the shit out of me, because clearly Big Solvent had hacked my social media. But then I remembered that Nuke and Rok live together and were probably just texting me from the same room, which made me feel a little less like the victim of multiple, interlocking conspiracies.

So then I messaged my friend Leigh in San Francisco and was like, “Dude. We’re selling ethically-sourced peppermint solvents.” And he went, “Oh, Double Scorpio? They’re very popular.” Apparently, they’ve been advertising on Tumblr for the past year, and I’m like the only gay man with Internet access who wasn’t aware of that, which means it’s probably time to slip on a pair of Sansabelts and threaten to turn the hose on any kid who gets near my lawn.

PS: Rok keeps saying that sage-scented solvents are basically just liquid smudge sticks, and therefore using them would be entirely spiritual and in no way a relapse. Yeah. I may not know what to believe anymore, but that totally still feels like a trap.

Oh, Baby, You’re So Queercore

Customer 1: [pointing to a ball-stretcher] “Do you know what this is?”

Customer 2: “A cock ring, I guess?”

Customer 1: “No. It goes on your balls.”

Customer 2: “… Oh. Okay.”

Customer 1: “And do you know what these metal rods are for?”

Customer 2: “No.”

Customer 1: “They’re for sounding. They go in your urethra.”

Customer 2: “I… I don’t think I want to try that.”

Customer 1: “Do you know what these bandanas mean?”

[Ed. Note: We get a customer like this about once a week. Don’t let the J Crew styling and the perfectly coiffed hair and the appletini fool you — they have been around and seen some shit, and they love nothing more than to drag their friends into the Forge and demonstrate their encyclopedic knowledge of kink impedimenta.]

Customer 2: “I really want to try on a harness.”

Customer 1: “You don’t know how to put on a harness.”

Customer 2: “I am perfectly capable of putting on a harness…” [A brief but epic struggle ensues. The harness wins.]

Me: “Hi. May I take a look?”

Customer 1: [glare]

Customer 2: “Sure.”

Me: “Okay… here’s the problem. You’ve got it on backwards.”

Customer 1: [malevolent cackling]

Me: [ignoring said cackles] “Let’s get it off of you and see if we can resize it for a better fit.”

[I peel him out of the harness, lay it on the counter, and start putting it back together, since he undid several buckles while trying to pull it over his head, and it’s now a big jumble of matching belts.]

Customer 2: [watching me trying to determine which belt goes where] “Geez. If a professional can’t figure it out, then I definitely don’t want to buy it.”

Customer 1: “Oh, he is not a professional.”

Me: [whipping around with shade locked and loaded]

[Inner Me: Not yet, my child. Wait for it.]

Customer 2: “What about this harness? It looks kind of cool.”

Customer 1: “Oh, you definitely do not want that harness. Do you know what it’s for?”

[Ed. Note: I swear to the Gods I am not making this up.]

Customer 1: “This harness is used for puppy play. See that metal ring in the back? That’s to hold your tail in place once you’ve inserted it into your ass.”

Me: “Yeah… those are suspenders.”

Customer 1: “…”

Customer 2: “They’re what?”

Me: “Suspenders. They go over your shoulders and clip onto your belt loops.”

[long pause]

Customer 2: “Why am I even friends with you?”

Customer 1: What?! You need me!

Customer 2: “No, I don’t. You’re really mean.”

Customer 1: “I am not mean. I am an honest asshole.”

Well, at least he’s half right. But all the accolades go to Inner Me for accurately predicting the future. I will try to remember to use this power for good.

I now wear a t-shirt over a leather jacket, because I all I really want is to watch the world burn.

Once again, the nectarious Orin Slade managed to sum up last night’s Facets of Leather far more gloriously than I ever could:

If you’re not listening to on this month’s broadcast, here’s a sample of what you’ve missed so far. Event information, humorous leather stories. The continuing battle between the harness with shirt people vs the harness without shirt people…

IMG_20180715_033509Official synopsis aside, I discovered this episode’s overlooked track the last time I was at the Hidden Door in Dallas, when I glanced up at the monitor over the back bar and caught some of the video and thought, “I don’t… I don’t understand why this is happening to me.” But later I was able to listen to the song itself, and I totes fell in love: It’s like the Petshop Boys and Robbie Williams had an illegitimate love child that escaped into the woods to be raised by Jamiroquai, and I do believe you’ll find it doesn’t suck.

Trigger Point of Impact

So this went down a couple of weeks ago:

Customer: [pointing at a can of Maximum Impact]: “What is that?”

Nuke: “Are you into fisting?”

Customer: “Um, no.”

Nuke: “Then you don’t need that.”

Nuke related this story to the rest of the Forge staff, and we all commended him on his quick wit, and secretly I was like, “I’ma totally steal this.”

And then this went down last night:

Customer: [pointing at a can of Maximum Impact]: “What is that?”

Me: [confidently] “Are you into fisting?”

Customer: “FISTING?!? EWWWW!!!”

Me: “Whoa, easy there…”

Customer: “WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK ME ABOUT FISTING?!?”

Me: “Well… people who are into fisting sometimes buy Max Impact…”

Customer: “PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO THAT?!?”

Me: “Uh… yeah… some people do…”

Customer: “WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT?!?

Me: “I… um…”

Customer: “EWWWW!!!

Conclusion(s): I will never make fetch happen. It is also time to abandon my dream of becoming a crisis negotiator.

Putting the Asses in Criminal Assessment

Straight Girl: [to her friend] “FUCK HIM. I AM A GROWN-ASS FUCKING WOMAN WITH MY OWN FUCKING HOME, AND I DO NOT NEED HIS SORRY FUCKING ASS TELLING ME WHAT THE FUCK TO DO. NOBODY TELLS MY FUCKING ASS WHAT TO DO.” [then, to me] “Hello! Would you like to buy a raffle ticket?”

I thought about explaining that unauthorized raffles are considered gambling under Texas state law and as such are a Class A misdemeanor, but instead I just politely declined. Wouldn’t want her thinking my ass was telling her ass what to do.

The Napkin Rings Are Self-Explanatory

Customer: [holding up a roll of bondage tape] “How well does this work?”

Me: “It works very well — it’s less adhesive than regular duct tape, so it holds, but it’s not painful to remove from skin.”

Customer: [disappointed] “Oh. Okay. So it wouldn’t be good for renovation projects around the house.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “Like, I shouldn’t use it to mark off my floor before painting, huh?”

Me: “I… would suggest not.”

Okay, so let me say right now that I am not ashamed of any aspect of my life. I am a proud gay Pagan who wears leather and gets his kicks spanking people, and if anyone has a problem with any of that, I will scream enlightenment into their face faster than you can say “Evangelical.” But for whatever reason, this customer wanting one of our products for a non-kinky purpose made me feel like the world’s biggest pervert. I don’t know why it hit me that way, but suddenly it was like I worked in a mundane hardware store and was actively soiling the innocent nature of home improvement:

“A hammer? Oh, no, sir. That’s not a hammer. That’s for shoving up your ass.”

I tried to let it go, you guys; I really did. But an hour later, another customer came in and pointed to a giant, metal ball-stretcher and was all, “I keep one of these on my desk as a paperweight!” At which point I fucking gave up.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my apartment, applying silicone lube to squeaky door hinges and turning jock pouches into tea cozies.

We’ve secretly replaced the fine solvents we usually serve with battery acid and patchouli. Let’s see if anyone can tell the difference.

Customer 1: “Which solvent do you personally recommend?”

Me: “Amsterdam.”

Customer 1: “Awesome! I’ll take a bottle of Amsterdam.”

[Later…]

Customer 2: “Which solvent is your favorite?”

Me: “Iron Horse.”

Customer 2: “Cool! I’ll take a bottle of Iron Horse.”

[Later still…]

Customer 3: “Which solvent do you prefer?”

Me: “Jungle Juice.”

Customer 3: “Excellent! I’ll take a bottle of Jungle Juice.”

[Even more later…]

Customer 4: “In your experience, which of these solvents is the most intense?”

Me: “Pig Sweat.”

Customer 4: “Nifty! I’ll take a bottle of Pig Sweat.”

Sooner or later, someone’s going to figure out that I’m just running down the list of brand names alphabetically, but hey, it still beats repeatedly explaining that I don’t actually use them. Plus I get to feel like a sommelier without having to relapse. It’s pretty much wins all the way around.