One Ring to Rule Them All

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Jun 6th, 2006
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Proud T-shirt owners...

It is said that a man who is confident enough to wear a pink shirt is comfortable with his sexuality. I say that a man who is comfortable enough to enter a place called “The Cock Ring”, have a beer and buy a t-shirt is either very, very comfortable or possibly in denial.

We’ve been visiting Amsterdam for many, many years and often, during a late night stumble through the seedier sections of town we would inevitably pass this ominous and windowless place that we nicknamed the “C-Ring” for the purposes of telling this story in mixed company. Yes, it’s a gay bar and I doubt anyone has ever come upon it and thought otherwise, but you see, this is place is in a scary alley, has a scary dark window, and is, well, scary.

During one such trip, and after what is technically referred to as a “shit-load” of beers, I decided that it was time to brave the darkness and see exactly what was on the other side of that dark door. I will admit that having one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet, Ryan, along for the visit legitimized us very much and besides, you don’t climb Everest without a Sherpa. Long story short – we went inside, had a drink, bought our shirt and left … less than impressed. It was loud, 70’s disco chaotic, and seemed to appeal more to the Right Said Fred crowd. Ryan declared it a waste of time and I was not qualified to argue. Still, I get a lot of comments whenever I wear my Cock Ring t-shirt … particularly at bake sales and during choir practice.

The real fun began across the street at Argos. Argos, also a gay bar, was far less NYC chic and had a local pub feel … provided your local pub has a long, dark, curtained hallway called “the dark room”. The bartender, who looked like a French cartoon character, eyed us suspiciously until he saw Ryan, then he relaxed. No, we weren’t on the guest list, but we were friends of a friend so it was all good. We ordered a drink and spent the next hour learning all the stuff HBO doesn’t teach you on Queer as Folk. We learned about the dark room and why it was probably not the best place to wander around in drunk if you weren’t prepared to be very, very friendly. Jacques (it’s not the bartender’s real name but it will forever be in my memory) sent us away with one of the best lines ever: “Many men, bored at home and after a long day of work will come here for … release in the “dark room” We provide a valuable service to the community.”

Yes, I have an Argos t-shirt too … and a sincere hope to one day be in shape enough to wear it.

A big thank you to Ryan for being one of the coolest people on earth to hang out with, and for not only tolerating, but humoring, my naivety. I’ll have drinks with you at Argos anytime … but I won’t be developing my film there.