This Priest Is FierceHey, welcome, Queerty readers and others. For clarity's sake, I am posting a correcting that the subject of this story just emailed to me. Please, please keep this in mind when you are reading the following story:
"The Orisha are ok with all kinds of love, it's disrespect that they are not fond of. The fact that I did not ask Oshun was disrespectful. Yemaya would not be happy if straight people were getting busy in front of her. And the Orishas love gay people. The majority of santeros are gay because the Orisha do not care if you are gay or straight, just that you love and respect them."
Every writer knows that dive bars house their share of secret angels, but the Angel I met at the Raven on Friday night is no common gold-hearted barmaid. For starters, he's a high priest in Santeria, a religion that fuses Catholic and Yoruban beliefs in a fashion very, very similar to Haitian Vodou -- voodoo to the uninitiated. Angel is no stranger to a live animal sacrifice.
He doesn't usually slum with breeders in dive bars like the Raven, either. Cobalt and Halo are a lot more his speed.
No matter whose speed was what, by three a.m., we were all stumbling down the same path. We ended up in Angel's apartment, where he graciously, proudly gave me a tour of his altars and Orishas -- all constructed by hand.
Orishas are not necessarily gods and goddesses, but may as well be for the purpose of this story. Wikipedia refers to them as more like deified ancestors, or mystical, invisible super-heroes. There are a lot of them, and without meaning to seem pejorative, they are like the X-Men on a very cosmic, intangible scale.
The Orishas each rule several aspects of life, and have their own distinct personalities. Yemaja, for example, is mother of all living things and the owner of all water. She has a powerful presence in Angel's living room, casting her gaze over the living room, past the empty television cabinet and directly upon the couch.
"See, I take this very, very, seriously," Angel said. "Maybe to white people it seems all weird and shit, but this is my spirituality. It's my life...it's bigger than just my life. I can't just be all kissing on some boy on my couch here in the living room. Yemaja will see it. If I get to making out all hot and heavy with some boy on my couch, I always have to take it to the bedroom, so we don't disrespect Yemaja."
We met up again at the Brickskellar on Sunday afternoon for some beer and buffalo wings. Angel wanted to go to the ESPN Sports Zone because in his estimation, they have the best wings, but it was crammed full of overflow from the circus at the MCI Center. Hooters was his second choice, but ditto, y'know.
Angel told me about his last run-in with Oshun, the goddess of connections, love, and good times. To illustrate her powers, Angel swept an arm over the table and around his head saying, "This, all this, is Oshun. Laughing, new friends, new connections, a few beers, some food...this is all Oshun. She brings people together, but man, she does it in ways you can't expect and it's roundabout as hell sometimes."
He had a crush on a guy recently, and crushes go the same way in his world as they do in mine. You just want that person you barely know in your life, NOW, straight away.
Most of us just have to suck it up and deal with it one way or another, but Angel has a few tricks available to him that many of us do not: he cast a spell. The spell was designed to bring this man into Angel's life, which is incredibly dangerous. They barely know each other, and for all Angel knows, the guy could be some kind of axe murderer.
Doubly dangerous, Angel did not ask Oshun's permission to cast the spell in her name. He did, however, make her a generous offering of oranges and honey, two of her favorite gifts. Angel wrote his name on a piece of paper and laid it across the name of his crush, sliding it under the skin of the five oranges. Oshun's number is five. He said a prayer and cast the spell. It was Sunday night.
Friday night, five nights later, Angel and a friend were settled into a big communal booth at Cobalt, which, if you did not bother to click on the link up there, is one of DC's better-known and more crowded gay bars. Angel and his crush met eyes across the room, and their pupils danced together. He texted his friend Michelle "the chase is on."
Just as he was getting up, Angel's friend's ex-lover (that phrase CRACKLES with bitchy drama already, doesn't it) huffed up. He demanded to know what his ex was doing with Angel, hurling false accusations left, right, and center and maybe being a little too heavy with the shoves.
I have hung out with Angel only twice, but I can tell you this. He might be small and gay, but he takes shit from NOBODY. I'm quite sure that he spat something terse and decimating at his accuser.
"Honey, the next thing I know, that motherfucker leapt through the air like he was Spiderman and shit, knocked me into a crowd of people. Drinks flew all up in the air, everywhere, queens were all screaming and flailing their arms, it was a mess, and we were like Alexis Colby and Crystal Carrington on Dynasty."
I didn't catch the reference.
"You know, like on Dynasty, that soap opera, whenever Alexis and Crystal would just go at it, fighting on the floor, hair and dresses all flying all over the place, scratching and shit."
"Anyway, guess who pulls me up from the floor? The guy who I slammed into when that motherfucker attacked me, that's who. And guess who that was? My man, that's who."
"My spell worked. Oshun brought him into my life, alright, but not the way I wanted it. He touched me, and held me by my hand, sure, but now he probably thinks I'm some kind of spic that goes around getting into fights at gay bars."
People are all the time asking me, "what is this blog named like that for," and all I can say is: What else can you say after you tell a story that involves dive bars, Santeria, and invokes Spiderman and the cast of Dynasty to describe a fist fight in a gay bar?
See the URL, people. I can't make this stuff up.