It has become habit during these visits is to sample the gay life of this sunbelt city. Although some of the places we have been over the years have closed or changed hands three have become mainstays.
The most glamorous of these is Kobalt. A long narrow entrance opens to an area in back furnished with high tables and stools, with an adjacent patio filled with smokers. Small video screens show an eclectic mix of music. Friday afternoon's Happy Hour draws a sizable, but not overwhelming crowd. My hosts always seem to know, socially, not biblically, someone there each time we have gone. The crowd is as eclectic as the musical choices. A mix of ages, some of the customers attractive, some not. Some of the physiques well toned, some not. All casually attired as is the norm in Phoenix. This, even on a Friday after work, is not a suit and tie crowd.
On Sundays, at my request, we visit The Bunkhouse. There the crowd is more bear like. Not necessarily my cup of tea but it contains a large outdoor space and I enjoy the novelty of sipping an adult beverage in the open air in March. This is not an activity I can indulge in during that time of year in Chicago for fear of frostbite.
Finally my hosts enjoy Ice Picks, partially due to the show tunes they play on Sunday afternoons. On this years visit we were served by an adorable, diminutive bartender with a head shaved bald as a cueball. He was sweet, attentive, good natured and more than a little flirtatious, all important attributes of an employee in a gay establishment. Here my hosts encountered someone they knew.....socially, who was also hosting a guest from Chicago. Later I realized that I had met these same two on my previous visit, albeit at the aforementioned Kobalt. Apparently his guest and I get fed up with the Midwest cold at the same time.
Alas, due to internet chat rooms and the attrition of the gay old guard, of which I am one of the few surviving members, homosexual social life is not what it once was. I often struggle with this reality attempting to accept what is and realize that what was cannot be recreated. Understand that my memories of the time are that eras only remaining reality.