No Cover and another Open Bar
after work last night i stayed for a drink. just one this time. my usual makers mark Manhattan. while i sipped it i stared beyond the other end of the bar and out the window onto the empty street. it was raining. i ran my finger up and down the stem of the glass and my eyes were lost and the music and voices and hustle and bustle of the bar smothered into a low, distant hum. i was thinking about where i was and where i sat and the whole time ignoring what was going on around me. when i finished my drink i tipped the bartender and called a cab to come get me.
i was dropped off in Williamsburg. a parade of hipsters, young and thin, dressed in old clothes that either hung loosely from their shoulders or fastened tightly to their hips, marched along the streets. laughing and smoking cigarettes. falling over each other, drunk on youth. i got to the door of the club and the bouncer was hollering orders to the herd. have your id's ready! no outside drinks! no re-entry! once you leave, you cant come back in! a kid with shaggy hair and a shirt that looked too long for him kept trying to walk in and the security guard kept pushing him away. they did it over and over. the kid would walk to the door, try to walk past security, and the guard would grab his shoulders and push him to the side, hardly even noticing the kid, like a parent dealing with a toddler while trying to hold conversation with someone else.
i stood in the rain and called the friend i was supposed to meet. a cab came to a stop and a group of four crawled out speaking Japanese. or at least i think it was Japanese. they had smooth, dark skin and their hair was jet black and orange. they huddle in the rain, talking to each other excitedly. it looked like they didnt know where they were. they snatched nervous glances at everyone. when they looked at me i took a hit of my cigarette and managed a smirk. they just looked away.
my friend answered. she'd already left Williamsburg and was at another party on west 40th at bryant park. i cursed her and the rain and, just for the hell of it, those lost Asian kids, then hailed another cab. When i gave the address to the driver he asked me how to get there. this is his first day on the job. he didnt know the streets too well yet. i groaned and pointed east. thats the best i could offer.
when we pulled up the rain had only slightly stopped, the drops were lighter, but were still falling. the street lamps reflection on the wet street struck up a light so bright it almost felt like day. in front of the building stood my friend and behind her, sprawled along the stone steps to the entry way, lay about a dozen smoking scenesters, bathed in make up and hair gel and snug retro fashions. we hugged and i said i need a drink. she was already slurring her words and when we got in the elevator she muttered, -i gotta take a piss, and pressed floor 9.
when we get up there and the doors spread open, the music, loud with no low-end, a popular disco track from the early 80's, washes over us. our voices are drowned out. i can only see her lips, her lip ring, moving in front of me. i point to the bar and then to the line to the bathroom. she nods her head. a strategy is in place.
we meet in back line. its so long shes still waiting and has hardly even moved. everybody is dancing, loosened, swaying with their age. people look a little more dressed up. the crowd is older. a seasoned set. i see suit jackets and skinny ties. flowing dresses with long open backs and thin shoulder straps that remind me of cocaine and lawlessness. a friend that i see far too infrequently (the kind i know would fit easily into my word, that would challenge and inspire me and make me laugh, the kind i wouldnt hesitate to call "best" if given the chance, but seem too busy to make the effort, so the relationship has never gone beyond occasional sightings and accidental bumps) comes over and we make arrangements to share a cigarette on the balcony and catch up.
the balcony is thin and covered by scaffolding. we squeeze between a few bars and find a nice area to lean. he tells me he is working on a screenplay and i tell him I'm working on my memoirs. we discuss our relationships, women, and the complexity of our desire for them. he ask, -who are we to be to so lucky? to have women with such patience? and i say, -yes! and why still, will we never appreciate it?
we shake our heads and drink to being men. he says he wants to move. to go to spain and to write. i say me too, and i dont care if anything ever comes of it. i dont care if i write myself into a grave and the only thing i leave behind is a pile of unread paper. he says me too. then we shake our heads again and drink to lies.
She comes from the bathroom and we help her onto the balcony. she stumbles and grabs the railing. the rain is soft and pleasant. we are all silent for a moment, listening to words rumble through the city. we clink our plastic cups and drink to nothing. The music goes on and on.