Here’s a hilarious joke for you:
Q: What’s the difference between a rugby team and a party of bears waiting for a table at Steuben's?
A: I don’t know.
No, really, I don’t.
I’m referring, of course, to the gay subculture of men known for their bear-like bulk and hairiness. Like much of America outside of San Francisco or New York, I became aware of bears in the early '90s through the very informative Kids in the Hall skit “How to Survive a Bear Attack.” Plus, I’m a twenty-something who “self-identifies” (as they say in GLBT world) as a person well-informed of the diverse rainbow of watering holes along 17th Avenue in Uptown.
But my smug urban hip-i-tude got knocked down a few notches Sunday night at Steuben's, where my barstool vantage provided me a sightline to a group of very large men waiting in the lobby. Maybe it was the two Bartender’s Choice specials (a PBR and a shot of Jameson) I had tacked onto my tab, but I couldn’t figure out why these dozen burly guys were so affectionate with each other. Lots of backslapping. Manly hugs that lingered a little too long. Muscles bulging from tight XXL T-shirts. Beards.
I realized it could mean only one thing.
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I turned to my girlfriend, who was sipping on a very good Old Fashioned. “Must be a rugby team,” I said. “Looks like they won their game, too.” She turned just as the group filed past toward their table.
“Actually...” she began, with the look you give grandparents or sheltered foreign exchange students....
I guess the joke’s on me. – Jared Jacang Maher