It happened again last weekend. I met another gay New Yorker afflicted with A.S.S.
Asshole Saint Syndrome.
These are the New York gay men who rear back, hands to their chest, with an aghast expression, when they realize that despite my being of the right age, despite my having partied in almost every gay ghetto in the country, and despite my historical devotion to nightclubs, dance music and DJ culture, I never attended The Saint, easily the most storied and legendary gay nightclub in the history of the world.
I stand there and watch them become dumbstruck, because for them, I've just become some unreachable person. Because, since I never went to The Saint, I've never danced, I've never loved, I've never laughed, I've never heard music, I've never known joy.
And since The Saint closed all those years ago, apparently I never will.
I watch them struggle to make it OK for me not to have gone, saying things like "Well, there were some good places in South Beach too....." And then their eyes glaze over. Once, a man told me that trying to describe The Saint to someone who never went, was like trying to describe the color red to a blind person. "There's just NO frame of reference!" Another man, an online suitor, attempted to close the deal by sending me a stock photo of the crowded Saint dancefloor, with an arrow pointing to one of the thousands of tiny heads, saying "Me!" Because by virtue of his having been a member, obviously he should be MUCH hotter, in my eyes.
The Saint's membership list was virtually decimated by AIDS, no doubt at least partially due to the rampant group sex going up in the balcony. The survivors hold onto their original membership cards or event posters as the gay historic relics they rightfully are. I even know someone who has a tiny piece of The Saint's famous dome, which he hangs reverently on his Christmas tree every year. But the A.S.S. guys also seem to take great satisfaction in having been part of something that YOU weren't, as they make pointed in-jokes to each other about certain moments in Saint history.
And I'm sorry, but if every queen who has told me that he was there, actually was, when DJ Robbie Leslie played "Hold On To My Love", the final song ever played, then that place must have held about a million people.
I'll be honest, I'm sensitive to A.S.S. because it DOES pain me, greviously, to have missed seeing, even once, something that has become bigger in legend than it perhaps was in real life. And I've done all I can to fill in the pieces, culturally. I've followed the careers of Saint DJs that are still performing, attending their sets when I can. I've bought Saint mix tapes, booted directly from its hallowed consoles. I've attended many of the Saint-At-Large parties, pale imitations that I'm told that they are. I even belong to an online discussion forum, where former Saint members routinely bring each other to tears with their shared memories.
But I swear, as Jeebus is my DJ, that the next A.S.S. queen who rolls his eyes at me and gives me that combined look of condescension and pity, when I reveal my non-Saintness, I'm gonna.....continue to feel crummy about it.