Thursday, June 26, 2008

Carry On

New York City is a place of adventure. When you live here, it is easy to forget that. You get caught up in the routine of it all, or distracted by a smelly homeless guy pushing a shopping cart, and the magic spell can fade. And then, just as suddenly as it began, you rediscover your love of the city, and it is alive with adventure and the wonderment is fresh again. This is what happened to me.

Tonight started as a fairly run-of-the-mill trip out to Gym Bar. Hottie Zach has been out of town for weeks on various errands and I have been adrift in a sea of pride events across the country. I have been pressing him to reconnect and finally tonight we managed to get together. He asked if Roommate was coming along too, so I sent him a text message to join us and after my second one, he agreed to be there after the show.

I was the first to arrive at the bar, which happens sometimes. I have a reputation for being tardy, so when I actually show up on time somewhere I am invariably alone. As it happens, I lucked out with the One Train and arrived five minutes early. The sports bar was packed with the usual crowd of scruffy thirty-something men just beginning to blossom into bear-hood. I made my way through the place, casually looking around for the friends I knew wouldn’t be there yet while actually searching for an open corner to hide in until they arrived. Unfortunately, busy gay bars rarely have unoccupied nooks and I had to make do with a slot sandwiched in between three guys and an empty bar chair.

While waiting, the tallest of the three men introduced himself. He was Lucas, recently relocated to New York City by way of Chicago and before that Houston. Lucas asked lots of questions about the bar, how often I was there, and if Wednesday was my usual night. It turns out that he and his two roommates were all flight attendants for Continental. “International!” he insisted, which I guess is more high end. I fly all the time so the ability to open a Coke can 50,000 feet over open water doesn’t have the kind of magical allure to me that it must have for others Lucas has engaged over the years. Or perhaps it has never worked and he has yet to realize that the swinging 60s are over and his Boeing Boeing existence is not filled with the jet set glamour and intrigue it once held. An alternate theory might be built around the fact that despite being a SIRIUS subscriber, he had never heard of my show, didn’t know SIRIUS had a gay channel, and only ever listened to The Beat.

Our conversation quickly fell to long patches of silence and his friends made very little effort to engage us either. Lucas must have been after me and not roping for his shy friend in the t-shirt with the kitty surrounded by writing on it that more than implied that his pussy belonged to Daddy. That is probably for the best, since for someone to realistically be his Daddy, he would need to be on the sunny side of sixty. As soon as Zach arrived moments later, Lucas and company took one look at his velvety soft brown eyes, cream cheese smooth skin and muscle-packed torso in his simultaneously loose and tight fitting t-shirt, folded their weak hands and walked away from the table. I barely had time to introduce him before they zeroed in on other prey by the dart board. Roommate arrived seconds after Zach, a beer firmly in his hands (“You know I always keep one in my backpack just in case,” he joked), but already the flight attendants were a dim memory.

Zach was as pretty as ever, if a little forlorn. The magic spirit of Manhattan has left him and he hasn’t even gotten to the miseries of August yet. I think his expectations for the city might have been too high when he moved here last fall. In any event, he needs something dramatic to shake things up and make this the city of his dreams. He asked me who I thought might be the secret surprise guest at the Pier Dance on Sunday. I decided on the spot that it must be Madonna. She was just photographed at a baseball game here in the city and her tours usually coincide with gay pride, except this year. I find it hard to believe, with a new album and tour to promote, that she would miss out on the free publicity boost such a surprise appearance would make. Also, I heard that the surprise performance disappointed last year and the organizers are probably anxious to make an extra big splash this year, and nothing would top Madonna. Nothing.

We mused on the weekend pride plans since they both are joining me at the parade viewing party on Sunday. They consumed several beers. I peed in the men’s room even though it smelled like a dead homeless guy. Zach confided that he lost seven pounds on a low carb diet while I wondered what pounds he could possibly have had to lose. The hands spun around the clock over our heads and before long it was time to catch a cab to get the 12:12 train home. The only problem: no cabs! Suddenly, it was a taxi shortage. There were groups of people waiting on every corner, and Eighth Avenue, usually the sight of dozens of free cabs, looked like a scene from I Am Legend, except without tall weeds growing up through the pavement. Leaving Zach and facing the realities of an almost certainly missed train, Roommate and I ducked into XES for one more drink before walking to the station to catch the 1:00am train.

XES is a cozy nook of a neighborhood bar that was the site of a horrible nightcap with Roommate and Jonathan after the Dolly Parton concert in May. That night an excruciating drag queen attempted suicide with a microphone and a series of shot glasses, almost dragging the rest of the patrons down with her. Tonight it was karaoke, but as Roommate pointed out, it was still better than that drag queen. I ordered him a Blue Moon and we discussed at length how perfect the bartender was for Roommate. Meanwhile, bartender sat in the corner wolfing down a salad from Hale & Hearty like he hadn’t eaten in a month, which his tight, toned body seemed to confirm.

After XES, we walked up Sixth Avenue to Grand Central. By now the weird taxi shortage had ended and the streets were an embarrassment of yellow, lighted riches. The city was filled with the sounds of New York (aka a woman yelling “Fuck you bitch!”) and I was starting to feel the magic of adventure again. At Bryant Park, I spied a Mr. Softee truck and decided to indulge my permanent craving for a vanilla soft serve cone. “I’ll have a large please.” I told Mr. Softee, a reasonably hot, twenty-something Chris Noth clone with a shaved head and relaxed demeanor. Without words he held up a giant waffle cone. “This?” I was horrified. I already had to pee again so bad I considered jumping into the bushes in the park. There was no way even I with my legendary love of ice cream could finish all that in four blocks. “A small then.” He smiled, having been down this road before.

As I walked down 42nd Street with my cone, I was happy. Mr. Softee was filled with the snarky kindness that is a hallmark of Manhattan life. It is almost as if our borough motto is: I don’t care if you live or die, but I am going to tell you something for your own good anyway. I guess you need that kind of world weary wisdom to dish ice cream out of the back of a truck at one in the morning to drunk people. And to live in this city. Some people see it as rude, or brusque, but I see it as basic equipment. This is a practical town. When there isn’t a car, you walk. When you want something, get just enough. We all have the ability to fly away, but sometimes it makes more sense to take what you are given and just make it work for you.

1 comment:

JarredFehr said...

Love your blog Derek. Always a good start to my mornings. <3