[VOID] Dana's Afterdark

Rohit Khare (rohit@godzilla.ICS.uci.edu)
Thu, 30 Apr 1998 13:09:58 -0700

[3:34 AM]
I triumphantly finished the YML position statement for next Monday's SF
meeting just as the band finished their last set. I finally ponied up to
the bar and celebrated getting at least one writing assignment done. I met
a fellow from UPenn finishing a social ecology thesis on the impact of
tourism on previously isolated communities (an island off the Italian coast
where his family's from) -- continuing a discussion I had with Dan Connolly
as to whether the Web increases or decreases cultural diversity on the
planet. I met a sculptor, William Morris. I also collected a few more
tequila tips from Heather, the cowgirl behind the bar. Even though it was
past last call, I was still sober, so she poured off a shot of Centinela
Blanco: very smooth, dangerously smooth.

As soon as I walked out, though, I realized I wasn't done for the night. It
just didn't feel right, at 1:34 AM the morning before a headline panel at
11AM, to just go to bed. So I decided I should find something to eat, and
kicked myself for not asking for suggestions at the bar. On the other hand,
my favorite pastime in new cities is just driving down main drags to build
a mental map of the place. So I took the top down, looked into the
brilliant night sky (somewhat of a special effect after living in LA!) and
wandered about.

Here is the sum total of things open at 2AM in Santa Fe with food, as
loosely construed as possible: a Dunkin Donut's, a Giant gas-n-go, Dennys,
and Walgreen's. I grabbed a bag of the new olestra Lay's Adam's always
going on about and drove around a bit more.

Finally, just as I was about to pull into the hotel, I saw a lone neon OPEN


No, it's divided. I pull off to a small parking lot on the other side, some
Realtor (R) or something -- and a man pops up in the headlights out of

Now, I'm not sure about parking here, and it's someone else's property, and
it's a sidewalk, and so I decide to lower my window and ask what's the
scoop, since he's already coming around to my passenger side.

And in his most seductive voice, he asks: "It's getting late, isn't it?"

What IS it I'm glowing of these days?! I stumbled on to the one lonesome
cruising corner of Santa Fe? For those of you playing the home game, that's
a two week total of women, 2, and men, 6.

I explained I was just looking for a place to write, and was that lonesome
looking cafe across the way open, really? "Oh, absolutely -- perhaps I'll
see you over there?"

Well, I mean, why not?

So I parked the convertible and walked into what turned out to be Dana's
Afterdark, 'til 4 or whenever Dana feels like it, 222 North Guadalupe, 505
982 5225. Recommended. Full line of drinks and pastries and sandwiches and
games and lesbian-gay-bisexual-positive literature. Perhaps it's the same
initial uncertainty as a gay man walking into Hooter's, but I felt very
consciously notyeterosexual at that moment. The fellow from the parking lot
was there, too; he and I and the barista got to talking. Nervous boy I am,
I fell into usual groove about traveling so much and why I was in town and
asking about this fun little space.

And make no mistake about it, it's a very fun little space, and very
accepting. Salvaged coffeetables, bright colors, lamps of all shapes and
sizes, a piano, sponge-painted walls, a spiral staircase, netting,
balloons, banners, erotic art, politically unerotic art, games, and funky

Of course, the crowd was pretty thin and leaving just as I got there. I
almost took an empty room to myself, to write, but suddenly felt like
seeing someone, anyone else, and I ducked into the back room and plopped my
stuff down and exclaimed my wonderment at this little haven of a

She said, "Yes, I haven't been here yet myself." And I said, "oh, so you're
not from around here, either?" And she said, "No, I mean I haven't been
back to this room yet." :-)

Well, I figure, then she must know where the restrooms are; I asked her to
keep an eye on the laptop half-jokingly, since there wasn't anything to
worry about, but she called after me to ask if she could have a look; I
said certainly.

I had forgot that it woke into Word, not of my technical article, but my
last VOIDpost. She seemed to like what she'd read, so we got to talking
about my diaretic instincts and FoRK and travels and why I'm so driven to
work and the ethics of giving everyone free phones.

Except, as you can tell, it wasn't we: I was just talking away at Karen.
She asked some absolutely brilliant questions, but for some reason I
couldn't finger, I was in self-justification mode, trying to explain my
life to this complete stranger. Chattering, schmoozing, everything but

Now, I should deflate some bubbles and point out this was *not* sexual
tension. For one thing, I was already enough off balance I wasn't about to
seduce anyone. For another, I can't, as has been proven time and again. And
for a third, I was enjoying the conversation as a purely intellectual

First, she asked if I was a writer, and I explained that I was a geek and
writing was a sidelight. Second, she asked that if I had truly free reign,
would I be technical, or writing? And I said, my primary goal is wiring the
world, bringing communications to everyone, so work takes precedence. It's
what I do uniquely well. Third, she asked, can phones really offer
security? What about the loss of solitude? And I recapped the arguments
from my last series of India posts on what (minuscule) positive freedoms
communication could bring the three billion who've never had it. Part of
that is also gender discrimination, so we talked about the potential for
unmaking the macho tone of technology industries (developers) and the
ongoing diversification of discourse in cyberspace (users). And fifth, she
asked rhetorically, what makes people tick? And I admitted I had no idea
why I was going off about my travel and papers and books and visions to
someone I barely knew. Except that I knew one thing: that in the last two
years I've been at least *trying* to watch myself and figure me out rather
than running on autopilot.

So there's hope. Perhaps sometime I'll be so much less focused on
entertaining the other and holding their attention that I might actually
give mine and hear their story. I stumbled so badly over my overwrought
questions than even the little airtime I offered got bogged down in
explaining my question. On the other hand, I've gotten past name, rank, and
serial number, too.

She left me with a little truffle of a trifle: "You have a lot going for

Isn't that the curse of my life? Yes, and it means a) I'm obligated to live
up to that potential, according to my own geek-Hindu code of ethics and b)
it's always in the future tense, isn't it?

Karen wrote:
> If you're in Double Rainbow look directly across the street--
> you'll see Kurt's camera corral. To the immediate left is
> Laru Ni Hati, where I work. Pleasure to meet you, stop by
> and say hi if you're in that part of town.

It turns out she lives in Albuquerque, in the same riverside neighborhood
as the Stones. I hope I have a chance to exculpate myself before I check
out of the Yawning Llama B&B on Sunday...

Rohit "Sisyphus" Khare
4:19 AM