Thursday, September 9, 2010

Night Light

David Young emailed me today after he read my last blog with some measure of concern. “You sound depressed. You should talk to your doctor about getting on Lexipro.” Let me be clear about something: I am not depressed. I am in love with someone who doesn’t want to be with me and my entire world has collapsed in around me like a mine explosion. But I am not depressed! My social life on the other hand is coding and unresponsive. So even if I can’t have the man of my darkest fever dreams, I can at least get back to having fun. After all, this is Manhattan. If you don’t party, you will notice what a hell hole it is and want to head out of town on the first thing smoking.

So after resorting last week to blogging about quite literally nothing just to fill the Internet with my babble in an effort to dispel the rumor that I had died, I sent Matt Kugelman an urgent text message last night demanding that we hang out tonight. Eminently likeable, I met Matt two years ago while waiting in line at Bowery Bar and it has been friend kismet ever since. What I like about Matt is that I can have a serious deep friend conversation with him or I can have a mindless spin on the town, or both at the same time. After all, why choose?

We met up at the new Shake Shack location in Hell’s Kitchen. I am pretty sure that building used to be a flop house for the hookers who would ply their juicy trade on Eighth Avenue north of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. But now it is the meeting place of two gays in shorts on a cool September evening. While chowing down on burgers and shakes, we bonded over a shared love of Mr. Pibb and caught up on the last two months. Matt told an hilarious story about one of his friends that I could recount for you, but I think the scene works better as a diner montage, viewed through the window from the street: Matt in his form-fitting denim cut offs, me doubled over laughing, sipping on my vanilla malted.

After a few thousand deeply satisfying calories, we decamped from the Shack and headed up the street toward 52nd Street. Matt had friends at Bamboo 52 and Therapy, both bars steps apart from each other. Walking in to Bamboo 52 first, Seth the DJ approached us immediately in between spinning Rehab and Tears Dry On Their Own in a suddenly nostalgia fueled rock block of the singer formerly known as Amy Winehouse. I ordered my usual sex on the beach but while waiting for it, spied something that looked better at the bar. It was a green tea vodka and lemonade and the watery emerald color of it was instantly appealing. But while I was coveting something else, Matt sipped the drink I had ordered and immediately approved. “It’s all sugar!”

“And alcohol!” I volunteered, as if they were two separate food groups and therefore twice as nutritious.

While Matt was delighted by our drinks, he was perplexed by the bartender. He handed her a twenty dollar bill for the drinks and she took the money and said, “Should I leave this open?” What?! Did she want to hold onto the change to use toward a future drink or was she so daft that she thought she was holding a credit card. When he said no, she brought him back a five dollar bill as change making a reasonable tip impossible. I told him that he should have held the five up and said, “I’m leaving your tip open” and walked away.

The friend Matt was meeting at Bamboo 52 was a large-breasted blond gal named Jamie but known locally as Tit City. Drag insult comic Bianca del Rio gave her the nickname during one of her many notorious appearances in her show and I guess it stuck. Tit City was the kind of party girl I thought died out in Manhattan after Parker Posey immortalized them and the falafel carts they love in the 90s, but perhaps I don’t get out very much and they are very much alive and well and crazy. Let me put it this way: when she said her job as a nanny(!) was coming to an end next week, I naturally assumed it was because she didn’t think the child in her care would live that long.

Jamie was there with two young cute gays, a set of empty volcano glasses as big as her own set, and in what I think was a spontaneous collection at the bar, a lesbian couple named Nancy and Nancy too. The two gays were baby face and fresh meat. Baby face didn’t say much to me or to Matt, but fresh meat was more social. Naturally, my attempt at being nice by complimenting his watch backfired and it all came out like some kind of horrible insult. Where I meant that it was cool that he was wearing a watch when so many people don’t anymore, it suddenly became me demanding to know what kind of loser would be seen in public with a watch on. I have a vocal tone that turns the plainest of platitudes into a bitch slap. No wonder people don’t like me.

But Jamie loved me. She caught every one of my evil asides and clutched it next to her ample bosom like a cherished love letter. After leaving Bamboo 52 (the Nancys, being middle-aged lesbians, did not sign up for a trip to a second location) the five of us became suddenly trapped upstairs at Therapy in the bitter end of Peppermint’s show. When a bunch of tragic drag queens trotted on stage at the end, I turned to Tit City and said, “Is it first time in drag night? Because if it isn’t, those bitches look horrible.” Jamie looked so happy with my insult, I thought for a second a single tear of joy might roll out of her left eye.

After the show broke up, Matt could finally make his way to the seats near the stage to find his second set of friends. They were all clustered together around a tiny cafe table filled with empties and a small plastic hand grenade. Apparently it fell off the costume of one of the performers, but if the last ten minutes we caught were any indication, everyone in the first few rows was lucky there wasn’t a live pin in that thing. As I started to leave, I put the hand in hand grenade and handed it off to Matt’s diminutive friend David.

I liked David because David liked me. He said he felt short standing next to the two of us, which frankly he was. But he loved my hearty laugh. “You wouldn’t love it so much if I was behind you at the movies.” I said, “I would have just ruined Marley and Me.” In response, he threw his hand over his mouth and gave a polite geisha laugh which is always my favorite thing.

I hated to leave. It was a magical evening. I hugged Matt good night and headed out the door. The air didn’t feel as cool as it had earlier when I first stepped out of the office at the beginning of my night on the town. But that might have been the clutch of drag queens smoking outside Therapy as I left. The queens that moments later would be embroiled in an honest to goodness cat fight. Well, that is the power of a night in New York City. You just never know what is going to happen next. A few laughs, a delicious burger, strong cocktails, a good friend, and even some fresh meat. For the perpetually heartbroken, it’s the cure for the common existence and just what the doctor ordered.

1 comment:

Norma said...

You break my heart and then you make me smile.