Friday, September 24, 2010
So, to pick up where I left off, Danny and I are in New York City, in Pyramid Club, on Christmas eve, 1992, and it is empty, save for the afore described bartender, and a friend or two of his, sitting at the bar. After making a big deal that I was visiting from Chicago, I pass around what I thought was orange flavored candy I bought in Chinatown. I assumed it was candy, it looked like Chinese candy words, but in reality it was loose orange tea. Dehydrated orange peels, to be precise. After a few seconds, we're spitting out the pungent mess. I buy everyone I 'harmed' a drink, which I was loath to do, because that was all the money I had for the night.
Not everyone in Chicago is a total idiot! I said in embarrassment.
Danny and I chugged a few 40s to be frugal before arriving at Pyramid, while we got ready to go out, because he was low on cash, too. Getting ready with Danny was something that was usually more fun than the clubs themselves, and I treasured another night of it.
We stayed a little longer at Pyramid and danced, and then we were off to Cafe Aback, where we met Cheri, a coworker of Danny's. His roommate Michael worked there too, so it was, thank God, free drinks. In the taxi on the way there, he kept making me promise to not let him dance for Tony, the owner. He said he was tired of performing there for free; he'd happily do it if he got paid. Tony could always charm a dance out of him, no matter how hard he resisted.
"Tonight I'm determined! No pay, no dance!" Danny kept repeating.
After listening to Tony's non-stop begging for a while, Danny gave in and begrudgingly flung himself around the dining room to Holiday. Cheri and I stood at a little side bar in another room with a pool table, to wait out Danny's performance. I knew she hadn't known him very long, and I wasn't surprised when after giving her a look that suggested this was an inherent need of Danny's, his need to perform, and impossible to stop once the ball got rolling, she gave me a look as if to suggest:"I know."
The bartender fed us shot after shot, because, according to him, we were dressed as the picture of 1920s Berlin decadence meets 1970s Harlem superfly, in our sequins and polyester, black lipstick and rouged eyes.
I just love how you two look! he said every time he slid us a Jager.
We were bored waiting for Danny to stop dancing around the dining room, a room we could hear but not see too well from our position, bored but mesmerised by a guy trying to teach a buxom girl how to shoot pool. She was obviously a prostitute, but she was hot, so the guy didn't seem to care what the night would end up costing him, we concluded between sips of Jager.
Because the way they were dressed though, Cheri and I kept checking with each other to make sure this was still indeed a bar in New York in the 90s, and not some early eighties soft core porn movie; their clothes looked like costumes to us, and they way she giggled sexily, while he pressed determinedly into her backside, was all too clichéd, and their little show just went on and on, never getting past the "now darlin, aim your stick at the little white ball" phase. I'm sure to them we looked liked impoverished immigrants, who somehow wandered into the hottest bar in New York, and who, by the looks on our faces, obviously had no understanding of the ins and outs of American seduction. There was just the four of us in the room, so it was hard not to notice each other.
Dang Cheri, I'm really drunk, are you? I asked.
Yeah! We gotta get away from this bartender! she said.
Meanwhile, the party in the dining room was roaring at full steam, Madonna turned up full blast, and the few faces I glimpsed seem to like the show Danny was giving them.
After what felt like hours, Danny was back with us and soaking wet, demanding we 'leave this instant!' He refused to talk about what happened in the dining room, promising to tell us all about it tomorrow. We were off to a big night club, exactly what and where I can't recall... it may have been Twilo, or someplace like that.
The next day was Christmas, and we opened presents, Michael, Danny, and I all warm and cozy in our pj's and hang overs. Danny gave me a Barbie, Madonna's Sex book, which I sold on Ebay a few years ago to help pay for an unexpected move, and a book of Jean Cocteau drawings, which I still have. I don't remember what I gave him for Christmas that year other than the necklace I made for him, because I was pretty broke, having just started a new job. After presents we went to brunch, where Michael told his side of the dining room story, and Danny told his side of what happened at Cafe Aback...
It turns out there was an unseemly group of people at a table, not so subtly suggesting a payment from the owner, in return for certain favors. The owner didn't want to make any payments, so the group decided to demonstrate that they were serious. (Do your own math.)
So while Danny danced around the dining room, one of them threw a bottle of beer at him, which missed him but smashed into a wall. A certain celebrity saw who threw it, and yelled at him, saying he could hurt someone, where he said 'shut up n****r', which sent her boyfriend flying across the table, aiming for the insulter's throat. More beer and beer bottles fly across the room, but the music was so loud, and the crowd was so wasted, no one really noticed, myself included.
There was like $20, 000 worth of damage to the restaurant! Michael said. Oh well.
For lack of funds, we spent the rest of Christmas day at the movies and walking around Manhattan without incident. I was leaving early the next day.
I couldn't sleep that night, due in part to the large chunk of sexual tension which had found it's way into our already cramped twin bed. When two pragmatists share a bed, it's always a long night...
Anyway, I hadn't realised I didn't have money for the train to La Guardia, so we tore the place apart, looking for loose change. Danny said I was going to have to ask a stranger for some change, which I ended up doing; I was a dime short. I got lost trying to find the subway from his house, because I never took it back then. After walking up and down the same block four times in my high heel platforms goddamn the seventies!, lugging a bag the weight and feel of a dead body, I finally find the subway entrance, and wait twenty minutes for the train and board the nearly empty car, Danny's written instructions in hand for the transfer from the train to the bus in Queens. After a few stops, a tall man in a Santa hat boarded and made a big production about putting his briefcase on the floor in the middle of the car, almost like he was doing performance art, causing everyone on the train to stop what they were doing and gasp in fear to watch him. All he did was pull out a few papers, which made me wonder why everyone over reacted the way they did.
A few stops later, a hundred ten year old kids squeeze into my train car and fill it up, shattering the early morning calm with their excited chatter. At the next stop, the doors open, and a very drunk homeless lady, clutching an open bottle of vodka in each hand, swayed a moment before she stumbled into the car, to the only open space, which of course, was next to me. She gave me a heartbreaking look that seemed to say:
"Yeah, most people look at me like that. Don't worry, hun, nuttin'll happen to ya."
Please don't let her puke on my Gaultier backpack! I prayed to myself. She eventually moved on without incident, and a few stations further, the train stopped and the doors opened, and a voice inside me screamed:
Get off the train!
But this isn't the right stop! I answered back.
And sure enough, this was the stop I needed, and I jumped off in the nick of time. I was distracted by the penises Danny drew on his note for me. I thought, Why does he draw penises on everything? as I almost miss my stop, almost making this horrible day I was having a million times worse.
By the time I got the bus in Queens, I knew I was going to miss my flight, and I started to freak out; I never missed a flight before, and I didn't know what was going to happen once I got to the airport- I had no money. I was so upset, I got off at the wrong airline, and had to beg a ride back on the bus.
"Sir, I'm lost, and I don't have any money, and I need to get to United Airlines!" I said, voice quavering and eyes welling up, to the driver.
"CAN WE HURRY THIS ALONG!" Barked a hardened old New York woman.
He gave me a smile and her a dirty look, and motioned me aboard.
At La Guadria, the ticket agent said she could easily put me on the next available flight, and I began to relax a little, til I remembered I would have to panhandle again at O'Hare, to get the train back into the city, and to work.
Some kind stranger gave me train fare, but I had to walk many blocks from the train stop in the freezing rain to get to work.
Of course it's raining! I thought, getting soaked to the bone.
As I sat idle for a few hours doing nothing more than a haircut or two, and waiting for the day to end so I could crash into bed, little did I realise that was my last weekend of drinking, and a new phase of my life was starting. I was going to learn how to grow some legs, and walk on dry land...
Posted by BC at 10:52 AM