By Stephen Torres
Pink Saturday was not kind to me. I had to work “Mango” down at the river and it never really reached the usual crescendo, but kept truckin’ along all through the night. I woke up at about one the next afternoon with the parade having already passed by. I felt obligated to go, however, and met some friends down on the mall in Civic Center.
It was an already faulty set- up in that I was exhausted and sober amongst a sea of bronzed, vibrant, inebriated fairies. By the look on my friend Jesse’s face, I knew we were on the same page. So what are two tired queens to do when confronted with such glee and sunshine?
We both found it disturbing that we decided to seek solace in that little hovel known as Aunt Charlie's Lounge. Disturbing, but not enough to prevent us from going in. It was pretty much what I could have predicted. I worked a brief stint as the morning bartender at Kimo’s up in the Polkstrasse and I can’t say it was dissimilar. For many, myself included, Aunt Charlie's is the dive where Tubesteak and other nighttime events take place. During the day, though, things are a little more ripe. These are the professionals and they clearly had been waxing and waning all day.
We ordered our two glasses of gasoline and sat on the banquette to observe the beautiful multi-colored fire hazard that twinkled on the ceiling and bask in the soft pink glow of neon sign above the bar. Glow turned out to be an understatement as that after a few sips of my cocktail I felt as though my hair might have morphed into the perm of the ‘70’s Barbra Streisand that was currently wailing on the jukebox. “Don’t rain on my parade!”…Indeed.
We watched as two patrons moved throughout the aisle like pinballs -- bouncing off of other patrons and grab-assing them for propulsion. Jesse’s legs had felt their gentle caress multiple times within the first five minutes. We speculated about a group in the back that didn’t seem too well greased or over the age of twenty-five and decided they might be tourists. Our curiosity turned to concern as we saw the pinball-people teeter by them towards the bathroom with what appeared to be a blind man between them. No one seemed too concerned, as “The Rose” was now playing and it was time to slur along.
Just then, a person named Ola wearing a beaded headdress wheezed into my ear that someone at the end liked me. That’s right, Jesse -- you can’t have them all.
We had a couple of rounds and played a few songs and then went back to face the maddening crowd. Was it gonna suck? Maybe. Did we care? No. It probably had something to do with the violent liquid we had just consumed, but I left with a new sense of purpose. How could I be a pissy pants in the face of that joie de vivre I had just been a party to? It was a special pride magic, maybe - the magic of Auntie Charlie.