Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome

When I was at the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, I had chatted with two women at the reception desk, one in her 20s and one probably in her 70s. When I said I lived in Taos and was on my way to Silver City, the young woman said, “Silver’s funky, like Taos. You’ll love it.”Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome   The elderly woman turned to her, wrinkled her nose, and said, “I don’t like Silver.”

The young woman frowned her disapproval. “Oh, now,” she said.

Dissension! I had to go.

The young woman was right – Silver City is a lot like Taos, with its liberal/hippie/artsy vibe. It’s got a vegetarian deli and food co-op, well-trafficked coffee shops and bookstores, a Center for Healing Arts, a tattoo/piercing parlor, and art studios everywhere.

Yankie Street is the heart of the art district:

Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome

The Yankie brothers were big players in Silver’s early days.

But there was art everywhere:

Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome

She needs to feed that dog more.

Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome

Still life(s) in an alley.

Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome

Beige isn’t a favorite in Silver City.

Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome

But grimacing heads and corn angels are!

Silver City, New Mexico: Where Even Straight Florists are Welcome

The Holy Trinity: La Guadalupana, Mexico Lindo, and Bob Marley.

I wanted to talk to some locals, and cruising down the main drag (Bullard Street) I spotted a good-looking bar called Isaac’s – with a gay flag hanging out front. Which, for southern New Mexico, is like spotting a rabbit at a coyote convention.

Isaac’s is a friendly, mixed-crowd kind of place, serving food, a full bar, and 20 beers on tap. I chatted with the bartender, who was originally from El Paso. (Another town where there’s likely a dearth of gay flags.) He said he’d come to check out Silver with a friend, who then skipped town and left him stranded. Drowning his sorrows one night, the then-Isaac’s-bartender told the now-Isaac’s-bartender they needed some help, and asked, Could he mix drinks? Sure he could. That was three years ago, and he said now he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

I also chatted with a potter enjoying a buffalo burger at the bar. He’d been in Silver 13 years, and had made his living as an artist the entire time. No small feat anywhere, much less in a town of 10,000.

As I was finishing my Stone IPA the potter said to get the full Silver experience, I needed to check out the Buffalo Bar across the street. “Why?” I asked.

“I just want you to get the full picture,” he said.

Cryptic! I had to go.

The first thing I noticed about the Buffalo Bar was the long, neat row of motorcycles parked out front, no gay flag in sight. I took the only vacant barstool and considered my tap options – Bud, Bud Light, or Bud Amber. I ordered from the bartender who buzzed back and forth between the patrons and called every one of us Hon.

The guy on my right was wearing a leather vest with a POW-MIA patch on the back. He gave me a disinterested look, then turned back to his female companion, who had a long braid trailing her red bandana and more cleavage than I could ever hope for.

(And Internet, please don’t think less of me when I say I had a flash of that leather-clad man ditching his date, tossing me over his shoulder, and whisking me away for a Very Special Motorcycle Ride. I know. I clearly have a problem.)

The guy on my left, wearing a button-down and sheepish smile, announced that he was a florist, but a straight one. I assured him that his heterosexuality was fine with me. Just as long as he promised not to hold hands with or, God forbid, kiss a woman in public, because, you know, that would be gross. And unexplainably immoral.

We chatted and drank Bud. We were the only two non-bikers in the bar, and about every five minutes one of the men would raise a glass for some deceased compadre, and ask that we all do the same. Which we did, with reverence and gusto.

We finished our beers, and my button-down friend bet me the next round on a game of pool. He said, “As long as you’re not a shark, okay?” We laughed.

After I beat him, he not only bought the next round but also insisted on buying me dinner. I balked – this was starting to feel like a date – but then he got me by asking, “Don’t you want to eat the best Mexican food in the world?”

Well. We ended up at the Jalisco Café, and though I wouldn’t say it was the best in the world, it was damn good. My florist friend warned that my enchiladas would be spicy, and though I demurred by saying I was used to spice, he ordered me a tall glass of milk, “to keep the heat down.”

I didn’t need it.

On Wednesday – Scamp Porn 2.

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