The Filling Station was my favorite bar in Wilton Manors: three blocks from my house, good burgers and fries, a good mix of bears, regular guys, twinks, and drag queens. I usually got there at 9:00 pm, just as it was starting to get crowded, but that Friday night in February, I was meeting a date there at 7:00.
The bar was practically deserted: a bartender, a leatherman eating a hamburger, two giggling twinks, the elegantly dressed old guy who is a fixture at every bar. I sat down at the bar and ordered a Coke.
Then I saw the Coffee Drinker walking across the dance floor from the dj booth.
He was in his 30s, short, pale, solid with South Florida muscle, strikingly handsome, with a baby face and heavy-lidded sleepy eyes, wearing a white t-shirt that showed his nipples, a beige jacket, and slacks. And he was holding a large white coffee cup.
There's something indescribably sexy about a guy drinking coffee in a bar. How did he even know that they served coffee? Or was it just for him, from a pot brewing in the back room? He must have access to secret special places. Maybe he lived in the bar, and was just climbing out of bed. Maybe he was the manager.
As I watched, Coffee Drinker made a slow, careful circuit of the entire bar, occasionally taking a sip from his cup with both hands, as if he was cold. Was he ever going to stop?
Two circuits. Then my date arrived. I pointed out the Coffee Drinker. We speculated on who would be drinking coffee in a bar, and then went on to dinner.
I dropped in the bar on Saturday, but the Coffee Drinker wasn't there. The next popular night was Wednesday, bear night. I arrived at 7:00, and sure enough, the Coffee Drinker was making a long, slow circuit of the bar, never stopping, never interacting with anyone, occasionally sipping from his cup.
Two circuits. Three. Was he ever going to stop so I could draw him into a conversation?
I headed for the bathroom, timing myself to meet him, and gave him a smile and nod of recognition. He glared.
What was with this guy?
Friday night at 7:00 pm. The Coffee Drinker was making his usual slow circuit.
He had seen me twice, so certainly we were "bar friends" who could say hello and even hug without cruising. I began a circuit that intersected with him, and as we passed, gave him a friendly shoulder grab without making eye contact, a sort of bar "hello."
Coffee Drinker shrugged me off with a vicious glare.
What was with this guy?
I guessed that the Coffee Drinker came to the Filling Station on Wednesday and Friday nights. Sure enough, on Friday the 20th, 7:00 pm, he was there, making his usual circuit.
I ordered coffee at the bar -- yes, they served it, but the bartender wasn't happy, since he had to walk all the way out to the kitchen to fetch it.
Coffee in hand, I walked in the same direction as Coffee Drinker, caught up with him, and said "Look, we match."
He glared at me.
"Hi, my name is Boomer. Slow night tonight."
"I'm not interested in a relationship."
"Relationship? But I just..."
He turned and walked quickly in the opposite direction.
Ok, I should have just given up, but he was cute AND a mystery. Tonight I brought my ex-boyfriend Matt the Security Guard, so the Coffee Drinker would think we were on a date, and not think I was cruising him.
We got our coffees and stood by the DJ booth, arms around each other, waiting for the Coffee Drinker to make his circuit past us.
When he saw us, he turned the other way, and began making U-shaped circuits that avoided the DJ booth.
Enough was enough!
I stopped going to the Filling Station early, and forgot about the Coffee Drinker.
April 24th, 2002
A Wednesday night, two months later. My housemate Yuri called about 7:30.
"Guess what -- I went to your bar, the Filling Station, and I met someone. Will you be home?"
In West Hollywood and New York, inviting someone you just met into your bed was rare and frowned upon -- you waited four or five days, and then went out on a date. In Florida it was still uncommon, but ok, as long as you did something social first -- making it into an instant date -- and invited a friend along, or at least gave a friend his contact information. Being alone with a stranger was a good way to get robbed or assaulted.
"Sure. Do I get to watch or share?"
"Watch, sure. Maybe share -- I will ask. Did you eat dinner? We can get Chinese food."
"I already ate, but I wouldn't say no to some kung pao chicken."
About half an hour later, Yuri came in, carrying a bag from the Lotus Kitchen -- followed by the Coffee Drinker. Real name: Sidney.
No big mystery -- he gave me Attitude because he thought I wanted a hookup.
But he was fine with sharing.
And he drank coffee because he was a recovering alcoholic.
The full post, with uncensored photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood