Even in my twenties, I was bad at bars. And that’s saying something, since most of those years were spent in New York City with no shortage of them. But now that I’m (gulp) 41, that feeling of standing around awkwardly with a big purse in one hand, a hard-won amaretto sour in the other, and yelling “wha?!” into my friends’ ears while ogling men who are out of my league (and now young enough to be my kids) carries a decidedly thirsty and geriatric vibe.
It all started with this total bitch who had the gall to be born four years after me and therefore still possesses the stamina and confidence to leave her house. She’s also a close friend and it was 420 AND the drag show at the Rendezvous, so skipping this would've been like the pope missing Christmas mass at the Vatican.
I had no choice.
The first humiliation of the night was destined to be parking. I drove down that little back alley behind City Hall (aka the Boulevard of Broken Dreams for its mercurial parking availability). But tonight I got lucky, and there were two giant spots complete with a young drunk couple pointing them out to me. They tried to wave me into the first spot, but I quickly decided it was too small and opted for the second.
Parallel parking under pressure is like trying to pee with a parole officer standing behind you. You kinda freeze up, or at least I do. And I suck at parallel parking to begin with. In fact, I live my entire life trolling for head-in parking. But, I was now this couple’s spontaneous entertainment, and I could feel them gawking in drunken awe as I—100% sober—made seventeen attempts to get my mid-sized Subaru into a parking space fit for a school bus.
“That was the worst parking job I’ve ever seen in my life!” the guy slurred effusively when I emerged, victorious, from the driver’s side door. I thanked him, took a dramatic bow, and headed on my way to the Rendezvous.
The only problem was I couldn’t remember which bar that was, that’s how long it had been since I’d been to a bar in Juneau. So I had to navigate the universal sidewalk gauntlet of arguing Saturday night drunks while squinting at every sign to make sure I was walking into the right place.
Immediately upon entering, I paid the cover and bellied up to a vacant corner of the bar where I saw my number one girl crush bar tending. She looked like she was having the time of her life. So I hugged her and in that moment experienced with new certainty the feeling that I had chosen the wrong career path coupled with my thrice-daily despair at being heterosexual.
I quickly found my friend, handed her a birthday G&T, and proceeded to watch Juneau’s best drag kings and queens strut the catwalk looking 10x better and more confident than I have ever felt in any gender role. It was at that moment that the emcee announced my arrival from the stage. My attempts to be a low profile old lady IRL had been thwarted once again by my big, loud, internet mouth.
“Libby Bakalar is in the house people!,” legendary Juneau drag icon Gigi Monroe announced from the stage to a room of 300 (much more vibrant) souls than me. “One Hot Mess, thank you for the work you do!” at which point a literal spotlight swung in my direction and I waved awkwardly to the people whose social media feeds I presumably pollute on the reg.
Simultaneously beaming and mortified, I knew I’d ideally need more than one drink for this. But unfortunately, I was driving and couldn’t afford to lose an entire Sunday of active parenting to a hangover. So the only thing I chased that G&T with was a handful of Advil and seven games of Words With Friends from my bed not 45 minutes later.
As for the Juneau drag scene, that shit is fucking LEGEND as always. (And I spent every summer of my childhood in Provincetown, Cape Cod, so I know what I’m taking about). I put all the respek in the world on these kings and queens.