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    Volume control

    I don’t seem to have enough gay readers to fill a taxi, and I doubt that those I do have need this particular sermon, but JIC….

    There’s nothing wrong with being boisterously gay at a bar. I do it all the time myself. But honey, it’s possible to do so without screeching so loudly that everyone else in the place wonders whether he’s accidentally wandered into a junior high school girls’ bathroom.

    Not long ago, I was at one of my favorite hang-outs, and it was fairly full. You had to talk at a bit above normal conversational volume to be heard, which was fine. Then in came a group of four or five guys who decided that if 70 decibels are good, 130 are even better. I don’t just mean, like, every once in a while, they’d all laugh uproariously when someone made a good wisecrack. I’m talking about their sustained volume.

    One of them was talking about his sex buddy Darren back in Boston. I learned (from five stools away, mark you) a lot about Darren. Darren ties him up just the way he likes it. Darren is close to 50. Darren is no movie star, but he’s pretty cute. Darren has as much hair on his abs as on his chest. Darren’s belly has a fair amount of fat on it, but the muscles underneath are still rock-hard. Darren proves that it’s true what they say about guys with big noses.

    This went on and on, loudly. To make matters worse, one of the Japanese guys in the party didn’t seem to understand idiomatic English very well, and Mr. Bostonian was being pretty slangy, so every once in a while he had to stop and repeat something he’d just said, rephrasing it with can’t-miss-it literalism.

    Aside from the tying-up part, and depending on just how much lard there is on his tummy, Darren actually sounds kinda hot. I’m almost sorry that I didn’t encounter him when I was younger and wilder. At this point, though, I’m afraid the next time I go to Boston I’m going to run into Darren, recognize him, and merrily appropriate him as an old acquaintance before I remember that I myself do not, in fact, know him. Adjusting your voice so that your friends can hear you but those around cannot is worth the effort, guys. Otherwise, you look at best impolite and at worst desperate to convince the world at large that your life is exciting.

    8 Responses to “Volume control”

    1. caltechgirl says:

      That pretty much holds for everyone. I’ve heard frat boys in a bar talking about their chicks the same way. It’s amusing for a while, then REALLY dumb.

      Thanks for the laugh :)

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, I left out the disclaimer about that. It’s not just frat boys–there are women who think it’s charmingly raffish to do the Sex and the City thing during brunch out, too. The proportion of gay guys who do it is tiny, but what I think makes them more annoying is the sense that a gay bar is an in-group space where we can all be ourselves. They don’t seem to get that there’s being uninhibitedly gay, and then there’s being uninhibitedly plain rude by making it impossible for people around you to hear their friends or the music.

    3. Connie says:

      And it doesn’t have to be about sex either.

      Why folks think that I’m interested, across the bar or restaurant, what bad treatment they get at work, how their insurance salesman handled their claim, or any other matter, absolutely amazes me. I’ve come this close to walking up to their ear and shouting STOP SHOUTING.

      If there is ONE REASON and ONE REASON only why I would consider (and love) being in another country, this is surely it.

      Going to a restaurant in Europe and not hearing a crowd shouting to be heard, over the next rube at the table shouting to be heard, but the quiet of polite people speaking barely above a whisper, is a JOY.

      What’s worse, is BEING in Europe and hearing some loud mouth American shouting at the breakfast table. And we wonder why they accuse of being ignorant buffoons?

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Oh, man, if we want to talk about general too-loud behavior–yes, yes, yes. Whenever I go back to the States, I find people’s loudness endearing for the first few days: we’re a country of expansive liberty-loving and stout-hearted individualism and all that good stuff. Then, as caltechgirl said, it gets grating. There’s the sheer noise factor, but beyond that, even if your story about that last appointment with the podiatrist were interesting, why the hell would you want strangers to hear it?

    5. Portia says:


      You reminded me of my first professional conference. Yep. Professional. Conference. At one of the after-hours parties thrown by a vendor, it was pretty crowded and I found myself squeezing among a bunch of people to get to the drinks.

      All of a sudden I found myself in the midst of a group of gentlemen ardently discussing cut versus uncut. They were talking RIGHT around me, leaning to make their point and being exquisitely graphic. I don’t know if they thought I was intruding on purpose and were trying to get rid of me (I wasn’t. That was the way the crowd pushed.) Somehow I doubt it though, because even as I finally started to get away, the discussion continued. And yeah, it was loud enough to hear six feet away. And this was not a bar, but a group of people in a small specialized — not to say claustrophobic — field where you continually run into one another all over the world.

      In retrospect it’s funny. I didn’t even know people could get that intelectually HEATED on the subject, if you know what I mean.

      (And the uncut side was clearly carrying the day. [I can’t believe I typed that.])


    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      I hope no one loosed a group of homosexuals on a convention room without expecting them to end up clustered around the booze and talking about sex. (That doesn’t excuse their being all exclusionary when you were pushed their way.)

      I won’t even ask whether the content of your field facilitated a transition to the topic in question. I will ask, When you say heated, do you mean that each faction was mounting arguments intended to demonstrate that its preference was demonstrably, objectively the superior one?

    7. Portia says:

      Um… yeah. You think that’s what heated meant. You’ll sleep better at night.

      Only problem I have with the exclusionary is that a couple of the guys were my friends and they didn’t even say “hi”. For the record I should point out that for various reasons — none having to do with who I am but with appearance and ethnic origin — people tend to assume I’m innocent and pure. So perhaps they thought they were shocking me and were embarrassed.

      Also I have to say I prefer this to the gay (male) couple at the same convention who in an equaly crowded room — while I was stopped in front of them — forcibly gave me a shoulder massage. I don’t particularly like being touched on the back and shoulders — much less by near-strangers. Oh, they meant well and I’ve come to know them better and they’re very nice people but…

      Since one of them was massaging my shoulders and the other one was giving him instructions [and this particular man has a deep, sultry voice even when discussing the newspaper] it felt like some sort of odd fetish thing. (!) AND they kept talking about how tense I felt — well, duh — you’re massaging me from behind without warning, in a half-darkened room. Again, in retrospect, they meant well and it was very funny. At the time slightly weird.


    8. Sean Kinsell says:

      “For the record I should point out that for various reasons — none having to do with who I am but with appearance and ethnic origin — people tend to assume I’m innocent and pure.”

      Heh-heh. Not exactly the same, but I’m boyish-looking (especially in bar lighting), and I frequently get the sense that people who talk to me expected me to be more…I don’t know, chipper. When they discover how laconic I actually am, some of them seem to take it almost as an affront.

      As far as the unsolicited massage goes, I think I would’ve broken the guy’s wrist. It doesn’t strike me as all that difficult to ask people whether it’s okay to touch them before doing so. (I mean, unless it’s a matey pat on the shoulder or something similarly fleeting.)

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