Pour some batter on me
Breakfast must be the most important meal of the day because, after I eat it, I want to nap through everything else. In fact, I’m lying in bed right now, lethargically writing this column under the hazy chemical influence of maple syrup and bloody mary. I’m so tired, I feel like I ran a marathon, but all I really achieved this morning was the marathon consumption of pancakes.
So be it. My gluttony was for a good cause. In the tradition of service organizations nationwide, the Sacramento Valley Leathermen host a monthly all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast to raise money for charity. And, in the tradition of philanthropic flapjack fiends everywhere, my friends and I were all too happy to donate $7 to partake in the benevolent breakfast buffet.
Oh, who am I kidding? As much as we were glad to support groups like the Lambda Players and Breaking Barriers, charitable giving was not our prime motivation. Frankly, we were curious about our hosts. When the Leathermen aren’t flipping pancakes, they teach classes on BDSM at the Geery Theater, offer boot-blacking services at The Bolt and throw parties for leathersex enthusiasts. So, what happens when they are flipping pancakes? Chaps and spatulas? Whips and whipped butter? Syrup and stirrups? Fruit cocktail and … OK, I’ll stop now. Suffice it to say we were intrigued.
Even on a bright Sunday morning, the Mercantile Saloon was dark as night. A burly man in a leather vest stood near the door, through which I could see neon beer logos and hear the pulsing rock of Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize.” More comfortable with books than bears, I detoured to the parking lot, where the Lavender Library, Archives and Cultural Exchange of Sacramento was hosting a used-book sale. I took my time perusing long tables of 50-cent paperbacks, waiting for my friends to show. I giggled silently at some of the titles—Sappho was a Right-on Woman? Finding True Love in a Man-Eat-Man World?—and eventually purchased a hardbound copy of Dan Savage’s Skipping Towards Gomorrah for $1.
When my friends arrived, we entered the darkened bar and followed the savory smell of sausage to the back patio, where nearly every table was occupied by men—and a few women—with bountifully laden paper plates. I was relieved (and slightly disappointed) to note that, except for a preponderance of black leather vests and the occasional 1980s metal hit blaring barside, the event was indistinguishable from the average Elks Lodge pancake breakfast. There was nothing to do but join the chow line.
A buffet against the back wall featured pancakes (cooked fresh at a large griddle station), scrambled eggs, sausage links, biscuits, gravy, fruit cocktail and coffee. My friends sampled everything, but I was on a mission: I wanted pancakes, a whole stack of pancakes, and nothing but the pancakes. Granted, I also ate a cup of fruit cocktail, but that was entirely for nostalgia’s sake. (It was the elementary-school kind with square chunks of peaches and pears and one rubbery maraschino cherry in every cup.)
I’m happy to report that the pancakes were delicious, with a fluffy texture that allowed them to fulfill their primary mission as vehicles for maple syrup. The buzz from the rest of my table suggested the biscuits and gravy were the standout event.
After approximately two buffet trips per person, and one visit to the bar for distinctively peppery bloody marys, we settled in to digest and people-watch. That’s when I realized that, for me, the pancake breakfast aroused more curiosity than it satisfied. I had questions about everything: Why did some people wear padlocks around their necks? Did that guy really introduce his companion as his “slave?” Do slaves have jobs? Are they in love with their masters? How did all these folks get into leather, and what is the mystique of cowhide anyway? Why not silksex or denimsex?
Any of the dozens of people around me could have answered these questions, but I was too shy to ask. Instead, I waddled home with a belly full of dough to pose them to you—and to take a nap.