Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Interboro Boy


"Last week I went to Philadephia, but it was closed."
--W.C. Fields


Maybe I should have gone to Philadelphia.

I had been thinking about making a daytrip to the City of Brotherly Love on Saturday to visit a woman I met on a whitewater rafting trip.

(I don't know why I wrote "a whitewater rafting trip" as I've done it only once in my life. But, no matter.)

However, as the week progressed, I became less enthralled with the idea of spending half of my Saturday on the bus to see someone who said she wasn't looking for a serious relationship.

We didn't have firm plans, but I did my ostrich routine and just didn't call her. So on Friday she called me and wanted to know what was going on.

She said she thought she had scared me off and I assured that this wasn't the case, which it really wasn't. I'm just lazy and reluctant to shake my routine. I apologized and we talked about a future trip. But I still felt like a dummy.

So, no plan for the weekend and most of friends were busy or out of town--what did I do on Saturday? Not much of anything, really, but I covered a lot of ground.

I knew I had to get out of the house. It was a beautiful night and as summer starts to dwindle I become more and more manic about enjoying every second of the warm weather while it's still around.

I really have to think about moving to some place warm because I've lived in the Northeast all my life and still dread the coming of winter. Maybe I should move to L.A. just to avoid this yearly melodrama.

My aunt, who is at her summer place in the Berkshires, called and told me how, now in her later years, she is obsessed with going out on Saturday night, something that hadn't bothered here for the longest time.

"I don't want to spend another Saturday night listening to Garrison Kellior," she declared.

I spend too much time with Netflix. I know, you can keep the damn thing as long as you want, but I get this urge to shoot it back as soon as possible so I can get the next damn DVD. Is there a Twilight Zone story here?

I thought out going out on one these singles dinner date events, but after hemming and hawing I realized I was too late.

Then I checked a wine-tasting event web site and found a woman I know was holding a wine-tasting at her apartment in the Upper East Side. Tickets were no longer available on line, but I figured I could sweet-talk her into letting me if I gave her cash at the door.

So off I went to where I thought her building was--the exact address isn't posted online unless you pay. When I got there, though, I wasn't sure and I couldn't remember her last name--we hadn't seen each other in over a year.

I didn't have the nerve to do a Seventies cop show routine and press all buttons in hopes of geting the right one to zap me inside. That might have worked for Baretta, but I knew I'd probably get my head stomped in.

I was looking at the buzzer when this guy came out of the building, stood about two feet behind me, and lit up a cigarette. At times like these I am reminded of my father, who, when driving, got a tad annoyed if another motorist had the nerve to get to show up in his rearview mirror.

"I could park on top of the Empire State Building and some son-of-a-bitch will come crawling up my ass!"

Yes, Dad, got a little excited, but I had similar thoughts myself as this guy breathed smoke all over me. I decided to take a walk around the block and come up with a plan.

I'm thinking now that this guy was the building's super and might have been able to help me if I told him I was looking for the wine-tasting. But he was gone by the time I got back, so that door was closed and locked.

Riding The Rails

I thought about doing the stake-out, where you ask people entering the building if they're going to the wine-tasting. That can be a little unnerving in the big city and may get a blast of mace in your mug or a swift kick in the privates.

Hell, I'm from Brooklyn, I could have crossed the street and shouted "Shirleeyyy!" like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire but then I'd give away my outerborough roots and shock all these Manhattan sophisticates with my uncouth ways.

While I standing there, a young woman with an eye patch, a cane, and a pronounced limp, approached me and asked if she could use the bathroom. I explained to her that I was an outsider like herself and suggested she try the Italian restaurant on the corner.

She limped away and I wondered if her condition was the result of an accident or birth defects. Her appearance contrasted sharply with all the healthy, happy, and apparently well-off people eating their dinners in the surrounding restaurants.

It was time to get the hell out of there. If I couldn't get in, I was going to go to one of these nice bars. I started walking...and walking...and walking some more down Third Avenue.

It was such a nice night, I just enjoyed being outside, seeing all the people having fun. I didn't join in, though, but just played the observer.

By the time I reached 58th Street, I had to answer an urgent call of nature. I ducked into The Carriage, a very attractive, spacious bar that for some reason, is almost always empty.

I'm not sure why that is, but all I saw when I went in were two men and a woman at the bar, two guys playing pool and a young woman on the video poker machine. It turns out the pool players and the video girl were employees.

One of the pool players, a large African-American man approached me and asked for to see my ID. Now this is the second time in three months I've been proofed.

I'm sure it comes from the owner's fear of losing his liquour license rather than my youthful good looks, but it means a lot to me, since I keep getting e-mails encouraging me to sign up for AARP.

I got one spritzer and walked to the subway station at 59th Street. It's located below Bloomingdale's, where I worked one Christmas season 32 years ago while I was a freshman at Hunter College.

The store was closed now and there was a homeless man sitting at the top of steps wildly waving his arms and I reached into my pocket, expecting the usual request for spare change. But this man was too far gone, too deep in his own world to notice what was going on around him.

I saw another guy on the subway, who had apparently melded with his Ipod and was performing in his own low-level concert.

People sing along with their music a lot on the train, but this fellow seem possessed, as if he thought were really on stage some place, instead of the N train to Brooklyn.

When I got back to Bay Ridge, I still didn't want to go home, so I did some more walking. I couldn't help but notice that the noise level increased in Brooklyn.

People seemingly remove the mufflers from their vehicles, blast their car stereos, shout instead of talk, and where the hell did all these motorcyles come from? Manhattan seemed like the Cloisters in comparison.

Something caught my eye at the corner of 78th Street and it turned out to be the glow from an immense projection TV in a second floor apartment...across the street. I know these things are supposed to be big, but this was like the screen at the Ziegfeld Theater. I don't know how much was space was left in the apartment to move around in.

I stood there for a second wishing I had the guy's phone number, so I could wait for him to change the channel, then call him from my cell and say, "yo, put that shit back on!" Oh, well, another night perhaps.

I made a loop at 84th Street and decided to walk home. As I passed by a ski lodge-theme bar on 72nd Street--the other place where I got proofed--I saw a beefy man speaking on a cellphone who wore a t-shirt that read "Dip Me in Beer and Throw Me to the Drunk Girls."

I suspect the drunk girls would sober up very quickly if they saw this fellow coming toward them, but I wisely kept that opinion to myself.

I went home and watched my latest Netflix movie, Kontrol, a Hungarian film about workers on the Budepest subway station. I fell asleep, woke up drooling on myself, and had to rewind the middle of the picture.

I had been out for hours, traveled to Manhattan and back, and I only spoke briefly to three people: the one-eye lady with the cane, a bouncer and a bartender. And now I apparently caught some kind of stomach bug, as my guts are in a major uproar.

All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

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