#18: Lee re­veals his House of Gay Hu­man Oddities

Can Robert’s crush get any more un­usual?

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Robert and Janet ar­rived early at the new Gen­eral Muir to check things out be­fore the At­lanta Food Porn Sup­per Club got un­der­way. The restau­rant is an up­scale take on a Jewish del­i­catessen across from the CDC on Clifton Road and is open for all three meals of the day.

Robert walked into the din­ing room, looked around and nearly dis­lo­cated his neck do­ing a dou­ble-take. Lee, with whom he’d made din­ner plans for a few days later, was seated at a round ta­ble with a few oth­ers.

As at the last din­ner, he was wear­ing makeup, look­ing some­thing like a cross be­tween a Sis­ter of Per­pet­ual In­dul­gence and Ron­ald McDon­ald. But he was oth­er­wise dressed nor­mally, his strong hands on the ta­ble, play­ing with a fork that caught the light and seemed to flash in his eyes.

Robert cleared his throat and ap­proached the ta­ble. Lee, laugh­ing, got out of his chair and hugged Robert. “We got here early,” he said. “I brought some friends.”

One was the dwarf he and Janet had seen at the Waf­fle House. His blond hair swooped over his fore­head, which sup­ported the same cheap, glit­ter­ing tiara he’d worn be­fore. When he stood up to shake hands, Robert no­ticed that he was also wear­ing the same pearl-han­dled re­volver in a hol­ster.

“Hey there, girl­friend,” the man said. “I’m pleased to be here. You can call me Shawtina.” Robert shook his tiny hand and smiled. He looked around the ta­ble and a young man, plainly lack­ing one ear and wear­ing an eye patch, waved.

“Hey, bro,” he said. He was wear­ing a shirt with a large A&F logo and a red base­ball cap with NASCAR printed on it.

Janet in­ter­rupted and greeted Lee, whom she mildly dis­liked for earn­ing Robert’s af­fec­tion. This, of course, was a way for her to tem­per her anger at Robert for “court­ing a freak,” as she put it.

Oth­ers around the ta­ble, waved at Janet, in­clud­ing an el­derly woman with what looked like ash around her mouth. Her short brown hair was singed and her fin­ger­nails were painted or­ange.

The din­ing room be­gan fill­ing up. The club had grown large enough that it re­quired mul­ti­ple ta­bles. Lee in­vited Janet and Robert to join him. Janet started to de­mur but fol­lowed Robert who seemed to have no hes­i­ta­tion.

Servers at the Gen­eral Muir cir­cu­lated among the crowd, never bat­ting an eye at Lee and his friends. The restau­rant has been opened by Ben and Jen­nifer John­son, own­ers of West Egg Café. The name de­rives from the US refugee ship that brought Jen­nifer’s mother and grand­par­ents, Holo­caust sur­vivors, to Amer­ica af­ter World War II.

An­other part­ner in the ven­ture is Shelly Sweet, gen­eral man­ager of West Egg, and Chef

Food Porn is a fic­tional se­ries by long­time At­lanta food critic Cliff Bo­s­tock. Set in real At­lanta restau­rants, it chron­i­cles the ad­ven­tures of Robert, a gay man in search of a hus­band — or at least a good meal. Read the whole se­ries on­line at www.the­GAVoice.com.

Todd Gins­berg, whose cre­ative work at Bo­cado made him one of the city’s fa­vorite chefs.

The room grew quiet and Robert stood up and wel­comed ev­ery­one, thank­ing Janet once again for her help in or­ga­niz­ing the din­ners. Vis­i­bly flus­tered, she waved and shouted “hey y’all” to ev­ery­one.

Then a woman jumped to her feet. “Come on!” she said. “Are we sup­posed to pre­tend like your ta­ble is in­vis­i­ble? How about in­tro­duc­ing us?”

“We are of­ten in­vis­i­ble,” Shawtina shouted, jump­ing on the ta­ble and fir­ing his pis­tol in the air, re­leas­ing or­gas­mic waves of glit­ter, fol­lowed by hurled con­doms.

The room gasped and ap­plauded, burst­ing into laugh­ter. Robert laughed too and Janet cov­ered her mouth to sti­fle her own de­light. Then Lee, his face ra­di­ant, rose to his feet. “Ladies, gen­tle­men and all be­tween. I am ma­gus and mama of the House of Gay Hu­man Oddities. Now, we’re not here to ruin your food porn, but to make you aware of your­selves. You can call us the­ater, ther­apy or magic. It mat­ters not. We are real. You al­ready know us. You just need some re­minders.”

Robert felt his heart pound­ing as he looked around the room.

“May I tell you my story?” Lee asked the crowd.

“Please!” Shawtina shouted. Be­side him, a frail black man tat­tooed from head to toe pumped his fist in the air.

Laugh­ter echoed be­tween the glass walls and Lee walked to the cen­ter of the room.

The Gen­eral Muir, lo­cated near Emory Univer­sity, of­fers a wide ar­ray of up­scale deli se­lec­tions, in­clud­ing an as­sort­ment of pas­tries. (Photo via Face­book)

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