There are not any completely gay bars in York, a city of 200,000. I found the Yorkshire Arms listed as friendly and later that night my new friend Rosie showed me a slightly less formal version that will be my ‘go to’ from now on.
Rosie is 20 and Charlie 43. At the second bar Charlie needed to explain that they are lovers (to me) to both let me know that he was not a poof and because we were all getting along famously for our brief time together. I was short 60p at the Yorkshire Arms and a bit embarrassed when all four of the patrons tried to chip in simultaneously.
‘I like your ring’ another guy said. I thanked him and told him I bought it in Bamako after a long negotiation — that kind of gentle and jocular conversation that makes West African marketplaces so special — with the silversmith. It isn’t my engagement ring, but perhaps my all-time favorite nonetheless. We all admired his jewelry as perhaps that was what his compliment begged for … stories ensued.
Rosie hadn’t told Charlie that we were in a gay-friendly establishment. We we talking about other bars to move on to as the Yorkshire Arms was closing. Mention of a haunted bar sparked off the discussion of ghosts. The storyteller told about one night at the Yorkshire Arms when he was chatting up a guy at the bar … ‘I’m a poof ya know’ he interjected into his own storyline, either further setting up his story or flirting with Charlie. Turned out the guy he was hitting on was not and while he had rented a room upstairs it was for a different reason. Here the stoic bartender joined the story. They agreed that there had been a double murder above a local, favorite bakery. The bodies stayed upstairs for some weeks until discovered. The man at the bar had rented the room he thought his brother had been murdered in. The storyteller couldn’t bring himself to tell the man that he rented the wrong room.
He then sequed to a female ghost he encountered in Bielefeld, Germany. I stopped him to say I once lived there where my first international job had me working for the Tennessee Department of Tourism, pushing country music on Don Williams and Dolly Parton-loving truckdrivers after a stint on the other side of Germany as au pair for 6 kids, aged 2–10, in Heppenheim and training at the nearby Mannheim Goethe Institute ended. The ghost was mentally-ill and he found himself raising his hand in a nazi salute as a mirror image to her action. He said his husband pulled his hand back down, and also saw her. I asked him if he knew that Bielefeld was a location where it is said that the community helped to save the patients at the local asylum from the s.s.?