I like siting in a bar alone. No really, I do. Nothing is better on a Friday night than being single and having an appointment to stop by a bar after work to meet a friend, who is now 20 minutes late. And if you have to sit in a bar alone, the best kind of bar to sit alone in, is a lesbian bar. Particularly if you’re a single lesbian.
And it’s not just any lesbian bar, but a famous one in the Greenwich Village vicinity of New York City. And what makes this place explicitly special for the single lesbian is that it’s very small, forcing you to be shoulder-to-shoulder with nearly every occupant at any given time. So it’s notably poignant when nobody talks to you—or even says, “Excuse me,” when they rudely bump into you.
And, if you haven’t had as much as a coffee date with another gal for years, it’s especially wonderful to be surrounded by a collection of lesbians—all of whom are effortlessly flirting, smooching and holding hands while you stand there alone, like an oddball.
Now my friend is twenty-five minutes late. And even though it’s only been five more minutes, those five minutes have been utter torment as the booze flows and the volume of the music rises. And best of all, the bartender purposely ignores me when I try to get her attention to order a tonic water. I would normally be embarrassed to be so obviously ignored in public, but since everyone else is ignoring me, no one notices.
This whole experience reminds me of my life during the 1990’s. I thought I would leave the 20th Century and an existence of isolation from any kind of Queer community behind and move to NYC. I remember being elated to find the Lesbian & Gay Community Center! In fact, that first visit was so long ago, the idea of being inclusive of Bisexuals and Transsexuals hadn’t influenced the acronym LGBT yet. This makes me wonder if all the Asexual, Intersexual, Pansexual, Omnisexual and myriad of other sexual/non-sexual, gender/non-gender identified folks still feel as invisible as I do right now on this Friday night in the 21st Century, at this bar, where all the drunken dykes keep walking into me like I’m a sheet of glass between them and their next drink?
You know, things could be worse. I could be buying a sex toy, alone. Nothing screams, “THIS PERVERTED WOMAN, WITH A NAME AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, IS ALONE AND LONELY AND WILL BE MASTURBATING BY HERSELF, TONIGHT,” than going solo into a sex-positive toyshop and purchasing an item that can be self-operated.
There’s definitely emotional safety in numbers. When you are in need of a sex toy, it’s imperative to arrange for two or more of your female friends to accompany you to the store. Then, after everyone approves of a particular product, you all approach the cash register, together. It presents a façade that a collective of women are buying this toy, as if it were for the whole group, though not implying there is going to be an orgy by any means. And even though one person pays for it and hides it in her knapsack before she walks out of the store—still—the implication is that this toy belongs to the group, and will be used by the group, in the abstract. Thus, exonerating a single person from being publically marked as the lonely pervert. Or so I speculate. I haven’t been able to get two, let alone one person to go to a sex-positive toyshop with me.
Whew! My friend finally arrives at the bar. With a group of her other friends. They met up first, before they walked into the bar, so none of them would have to come in alone. How had I been excluded from this prior arrangement?
It’s moments like these that jog my nostalgia for High School dances when I went alone. All the other girls showed up in a group. That was the best kind of lonely, standing by myself, leaning against the cafeteria wall with a cup of diet soda in my hand—looking horribly uncomfortable in a misshapen dress. Even though I didn’t really want to dance with boys, it was hard to mask the fact that I still hoped one of them would ask me to join him. Surely they noticed the weird, lonely look on my face. At least as an adult I have the social skills to convincingly mask my emotions and pretend like I’m not lonely.
Unfortunately, none of the adults in this bar are fooled. Even though this isn’t high school, I might as well have a piece of notebook paper stuck to my back that says, “ALONE & LONELY: IGNORE ME.” How embarrassing.