The Drinking Bird
San Francisco, July 1998
Anybody remember the Drinking Bird? The perpetual motion toy that amazed kids with its incessant bobbing and "drinking" from a conveniently placed glass of water? They usually had a shock of red feathers for hair, and some sort of hat, like the one in this picture.
Back when my fuck buddy Doug and I were tearing up the bars and sex clubs in San Francisco, there was a guy that we named Drinking Bird. He was tall, perhaps 6'6", with wild red hair and bulging Marty Feldmanesque eyes. His chin rode up close under his nose and he had a spasmodic gait, not unlike watching a Sesame Street character move across the screen. Drinking Bird was a very, very odd, very eerie looking guy.
And he had a major thing for Doug.
We were always on alert for Drinking Bird. If he was in the same bar we were, within moments he'd manage to position himself very close to us, peering down at Doug with his huge bulging unblinking eyes. If Doug went to the can, Drinking Bird would try to follow him in. At first, it was an amusing game, positioning myself between poor Doug and Drinking Bird. Wherever Drinking Bird moved, I'd reposition myself with my back to him, with my body between Drinking Bird and Doug.
But over a few months, the amusement wore off and Drinking Bird got more aggressive. He'd get a few drinks in him and press up on Doug from behind. Or if I turned away to speak to somebody, he'd try to step into my spot and stand face to face with Doug, never speaking, just standing there, eyes-bulging down at him with his Drinking Bird beak pressed into an eager grimace.
More than a few times, we left the bar we were in because Drinking Bird was totally harshing on our mellow. We never did say anything to him, because that would have acknowledged his existence, and ignoring him was our way of dealing. Today, I think I would have just said "Get the FUCK away from us, you Drinking Bird freak!" Maybe I was sweeter back then. Yeah, that's it.
Things came to a boil one Sunday evening, when Doug and I found ourselves at a Folsom Street sex club called Mack. We rarely went to Mack, we preferred Blow Buddies, where if you found someone you were interested in, you could pull him into a booth and have a relatively private moment (or two) with the guy. At Mack, there were no private booths, just a maze of head-high plywood walls that occasionally dead-ended into an open stall here and there. We hated the lack of privacy at Mack, because if you've ever been to a sex club you know that if you reject someone's advances, he will sometimes punish you by intruding upon any action you may get involved in, for the rest of the night, just to make sure that since you don't want HIM, you're not gonna get ANYBODY. Fellas, you know what I'm talking about.
But there we were at Mack. We'd probably stayed too late at the beer bust at the Lone Star, and Blow Buddies inexplicably closed early on Sundays. We paid our $10 admission and headed up the stairs of the old Victorian to the second floor maze. And almost immediately, we spotted Drinking Bird. Fuck! Although the walls of the maze were high enough to hide most patrons, Drinking Bird was visible from throughout the second floor, his wild hair flopping in spastic rhythm to his weird bouncy walk.
We kept an eye on Drinking Bird, that much was easy, and made our way around the maze. And on the far side of the room, Doug nudged me hard in my ribs. Right in front of us, slowly moving around the maze in the shadows, was this handsome Latin bodybuilder. He and Doug had been eye-fucking each other at Gold's Gym for months, but we'd never seen him out at a bar, much less at a sex club. Doug went for it immediately. He moved over to the Latin guy, and ran his hand over his massive, chistled chest. The Hot Latin guy pulled Doug into one of the open cubicles, and they started to make out.
OK, now y'all know the drill where you've taken a straight girlfriend to a gay nightclub, and she has to use the bathroom, only none of the bathroom stalls have doors, so you stand there with your back to your girlfriend and "play door" for her? You with me? Well, that's what Doug and I would occasionally do for each other in situations in sex clubs where privacy was hard to come by. So while Doug and Hot Latin Guy were making out and getting busy behind me, I stood in the opening of the cubicle, my back to the action, and put both of my hands on the tops of the two cubicle walls, effectively forming an "X", and letting passers-by know that they were not to intrude.
And everybody "got it". Guys would pass by, they'd see the hot scene unfolding between my hottie Doug and Hot Latin Guy, and although they might have an impulse to move closer, to see about joining in, my presence made it quite clear that was not going to happen. I wasn't an asshole about it, if I saw somebody considering moving closer, I just gave them a big smile and shake of my head and they'd make a face that said "It's cool", and they'd move along.
And then Drinking Bird came by.
Drinking Bird spotted Doug and Hot Latin Guy from an aisle away, that's how tall he was. He almost sprinted around the aisle to reach our cubicle, only to find me guarding the entrance. He stood there for a moment, his bulging eyes staring past me at the now shirtless Doug and Hot Latin Guy. I stood there resolutely, with my arms blocking any entrance. And Drinking Bird tried to push by me. He didn't look me in the face, he just tried to lift up my arm and duck his huge Drinking Bird head under it and move in on my two protectees.
I quickly pulled my arm back down, moved back a step and thrust my arms back out, blocking his entrance. Drinking Bird stepped back, then tried a darting motion under my other arm. I was very pissed off and couldn't believe his nerve. I body-blocked him this time and put my hand flat on his chest and pushed him back with a loud "Fuck Off!" (By the way, for those uninitiated to the milieu, conversation is strictly bad form at sex clubs, and my "Fuck Off!" caused a few heads to turn and drew a few guys down our aisle to see what the trouble was.)
I turned my head back to see if Doug and Hot Latin Guy were aware of my situation, but they seemed to be quite too busy to have noticed. And it was as I was turning my head back to face Drinking Bird that he cold-cocked me. Yes, he hit me in the face, open-handed. In fact, as Doug would later describe it, Drinking Bird reached behind his back and came at me and gave me a Krystle Carrrington-Colby bitch slap.
As the noise, definitely NOT a sex noise, reverberated around the room, drawing even more patrons over to our dark corner, I stood there, my ears ringing, and stared at Drinking Bird in open-mouthed disbelief. Then I completely lost it. I screamed and leapt up at Drinking Bird's 11 inch neck and started choking him and banging his head on the plywood partition as we both fell to the bare concrete floor. Drinking Bird flailed his stick-like arms against my back and tried to scream but my hand were so tight around his neck that he only got out a single "Eeep!".
Time seemed to stop. I don't know how long I was on top of Drinking Bird, at some point I became aware that he'd had his cock out all along, which only enraged me further. Security, Mack's laughable "security", some 20 year old kid with tattoos on his face, came bounding up the stairs, demanding, "What's going on here? What's this all about?"
I stood over Drinking Bird, who was now playing "wronged patron" and lying on his side on the floor, and I said to the security guy "Look at this ugly freak on the floor! Now look at ME! What do YOU think this was all about?"
The security guard said, "Sir, if a patron won't leave you alone after you ask him to, that's MY job to deal with."
Drinking Bird, finally realizing that I'd just dissed him, screamed up "Fuck you! Fuck you! I wasn't trying to touch YOUR ugly ass! Fuck you!"
The security guard, now joined by the doorman and a manager, decided that both Drinking Bird and I were to be ejected from the sex club, which was fine by me, I certainly had lost my interest in being there. I just wanted to grab a cab and high-tail it home before anybody got ideas about calling the police. Although I could just see the cops rolling their eyes as they took the report of a queen-said/queen-said scuffle in a grimy Folsom sex club at 3am on a Monday morning.
Doug had driven us that night and he offered to leave with me. I said, "No fucking way did I just roll around on the ground with Drinking Bird for you to NOT finish with Hot Latin Guy! You two guys get back to business. I'll take a cab and you call me in the morning with the details."
Doug hugged me and whispered in my ear, "My knight in shining armour!"
A moment later, I was led down to the street and pushed out onto Folsom Street. With Drinking Bird. At 3am. In July, so you know the temperature was somewhere between freezing and 40 degrees. Drinking Bird and I stood about 50 feet away from each other, as we both scanned traffic, vainly hoping for a cab. Cabs are in short supply in San Francisco even on a busy weekend night, and it was now early Monday morning. My coat was in Doug's car and I was freezing my tits off.
Finally, a gypsy cab, probably from Daly City or somewhere outside of SF, pulled over. Drinking Bird rushed over and opened the door behind the driver, and bent over to negotiate. I raced around the back of the cab, slipped in the other rear door, leapt across the seat and yanked the door out of Drinking Bird's claw, and locked it. Drinking Bird started to shriek and I leaned over the seat and said to the driver, "That guy has a GUN! Let's get OUT of here!"
The driver stomped on the gas, and I turned to give my best princess wave to the receding Drinking Bird, as he stood angrily flailing his bird arms in the middle of Folsom Street. To this day, it's one of my most satisfying memories of my six years in San Francisco.