Last week, an anonymous individual sent a letter to 11 Seattle gay bars promising to poison their patrons with ricin. The Capitol Hill pub crawl organized in defiance was, by all accounts, mobbed. As the doorman at C.C. Attle’s succinctly put it, “Yeah, everybody’s out tonight. They’re like, ‘FUCK YOU, RICIN-MAN!’
While the demented would-be poisoner claimed he would strike on a Saturday night in January, the crawl took place on Friday. Drinking in quantity and perpetuity was judged to be the best revenge, with bargoers everywhere planning to party even harder the next night and pretty much forever after. (CNN later reported that business on Saturday was also up.)
Most crawlers did not estimate the threat to their lives to be a serious one. "I think it's bullshit," said C.C. Attle's patron John Zima. Mr. Zima ("like the drink—they discontinued it, so hopefully people will forget soon"), standing near a sculpture of an enormous muscleman in the back room, said hell, yes, he'd definitely be out again in 24 hours, "with a bunch of straight girls." At the equally packed Madison Pub, a gentleman named Francisco said, "Nothing scares us—we're gonna go out and spend our money and get drunk!" Then he and everyone around him toasted the sentiment beneath an Obama Hope-O-Meter, which showed 10 days, 8 hours, and 47 minutes remaining until the inauguration.
The doorperson at the Wildrose, asked for thoughts on the threat, said curtly, "It's a full moon and a lot of people. That's what I think." A patron named Megan (beautiful in her eyeglasses) was more forthcoming, expressing real fear about homophobia in general but assessing the immediate danger as minimal. "I think you're more at risk from your drunk friends"—one of whom was play-punching her—"than you are from any situation at the bar."
Purr and the Cuff both had many signs posted about not leaving drinks unattended. Purr's read, "For your safety, we will pull all drinks that are left alone." (The vulnerability, the sorrow of the left-alone drink!) At the Cuff, a handsome older fellow in leather chaps said thoughtfully, "I think it's good to be safe, but I don't think he 'd send an invitation [like the letters]. It seems silly for him to try it when everyone's expecting it." The Cuff's signage urged you to have a friend watch your drink or to just finish it (sound advice). Another, more permanent sign warned of "CHICKEN X-ING."
Everywhere, people danced and embraced and made out with abandon. At 1:30 a.m., Kevin York of Pizza Fusion—which gave out free pizza to crawlers all evening, no proof-of-gayness required—said they'd had their busiest night ever.