There’s nothing quite like a solid trip to NYC to help remind me that there’s nothing really wrong with my brain or failed sense of accomplishment. Well, nothing too staggering, anyhow. I drink - act like an idiot - my girlfriend hates me for a day - I trudge through some daily, touristy, on-my-feet rituals with a devastating hang over - and force hundreds of cubic feet of cornea-scalding gas from my ass, in various public places.
Repeat daily until exhausted and unable to pee whilst still standing up.
It only took three days to hit my limits this time. I must be growing up or something. But probably not.
Most of the first night there was spent at the Russian Vodka Room. Dill flavored vodka is the shit, if you’ve never heard. It really is good. The savory vodkas are quite remarkable to me, since the entirety of my vodka consuming career has been soaked in the fruity varieties, which in comparison, are pretty nancy-boy. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a nancy-boy, because I intend to return to my Mandarin & Tonics post haste. But I really enjoyed the deviation.
Horseradish vodka. Pepper vodka. Pickle vodka. Hell, there was probably some Beef Stroganoff vodka up there somewhere. In glass decanters with spigots, lined up above the coat rack next to the entrance. Wood paneled place, full of babbling Russians who represented different stages of liver collapse. I loved them all. Them and their caucasionoidal-ethnicalish-but-could-be-Boston-Catholic-for-all-I-really-know-ness.
There’s the two mail-order-bride types sitting by the rubber wait-station. Young, early twenties perhaps, sipping on vodka martinis and chattering away. Looking around the room, obviously commenting on the attire and appearance of all entrants and inhabitants therein. They’re probably waiting for someone. Waiting for their dates, husbands, “uncles”, whatever. But really, unbeknownst to them, they’re actually waiting to get behind that bar.
Because behind the bar is their shadow. The late-twenties/early-thirties post-fox Russianette. Sure, she’s still attractive, but she’s been hit by a few trains in her day. And those trains probably started out as vodka martinis and ended up in compromised situations with “uncles”. The attitude has gone from kittenish and cute, to hard-boiled and “what do you fucking assholes want from me, huh?” She doesn’t mean to come off so rough, but that’s what the dealt cards demanded. That and some hardcore therapy, probably.
At the other end of the bar from the kittens stands three twenty-something dudes. Slump-fucked-up and high-fiving. They’re drinking beer by the time we get there at ten o’clock. They’ve been there since five. Although they are the same age, and really, in the same boat as the kittens, the two groups will probably never interact based on premise. The dudes have the appearance of their exact intentions: getting droopy-eyed drunk and forgetting today. The girls have the appearance of upwardly mobile future housewives of L.A. Producers, likely drinking to forget tomorrow.
The dudes will more than likely be the bar-backs for the kittens in ten years, and will likely mean more than that to each other, if time does not harden each beyond reach. Cookies crumble under the most-impressive weight of ironies such as these.
Sitting against the wall that faces the bar, in orange-lit booths of soft clothed seats, sit what I like to refer to as “the establishment”. Groups of older, more experienced vodka drinkers who always knew what they were in for when they curled up next to such fires. They differed from the younger ones not in how they treated the booze, because they were all knocking it back with equal impunity, but rather in how they reacted to their environment. They were much more sure of what it was they were looking for, even though they still had yet to find it. Their eyes were on the levels of their glasses but their vision scanned knowingly from their past to their imagined future.
They obviously held no expectations of the night. They hardly seemed to expect to see the end of it.
But not all The Establishment were necessarily content with themselves. Oh hell no. A couple of them were tucked in those booths, silently sipping their queasy creations with the sullen appearance of church. Of a burnt-out professor at a community college. Of a once-proud bear, now sleeping pathetically, bitterly in some too-damn-hot southern zoo. Dog food in, dog food out.
I took them all in. I get the slight sensation that I’ve been taken in, if only just bit, as well.
We sit and drink and talk and drink and shit-talk and drink some good shit. It’s the proper way of those things. And proper ways have proper directions. Eventually, our pleasant surroundings and strange cast of characters blend smoothly into the interior of a downtown cab. We hit the corner of where we’re staying and duck into a downstairs club next door.
We were pretty much alone there, upon entrance. In their defense, it was a cold and listless Thursday night. Just after the first season’s snow, so the true drunks were biding their time and catching up on Tivo’d sessions of The Daily Show. No thing.
Beyond their defense was their blatant disregard for a man’s glass of alcohol, and potentially, his free goddamn drugs. As soon as I would place a drink down on ANY surface, Roomba vacuu-bots (or some other sneaky-ass shit) would scurry out and snatch it away. Thinking I had been boozebambled after going up top for ten minutes for some cancer, I kindly asked the bartender where my fucking drink magically went. Seeing as how there was NO ONE else in the place, it had to have been the help who helped themselves to my rye and ginger.
Apparently, the ‘tenders of this particular establishment have a “no drink left behind” policy, put in place to “protect the patrons” of the bar from “date-raping miscreants”, and that the practice of snatching any and all drinks that aren’t touching someone’s lips is a standard by which ALL New York bars rightly adhere to.
Which, regardless of what anyone says or believes, is complete and total bullshit. If it is a standard, rule, guideline, law, whatever…then these douche-balloons were the only ones bothering to stick to it. In most other Manhattan spots, I placed my drinks next to the exit door, ON THE TABLE LEFT THERE FOR JUST SUCH PURPOSES by the management, while out for a smoke. These assholes were obviously out to a) stop me from getting drunk enough to take a shit on one of their chaise lounges, b) pad some tabs by essentially making people pay for their first fucking drink TWICE, or c) both. I’m sticking with b), but only because a) is tough to judge by only looking at my eyes. You must train the eyes to watch my belt. That’s where I get all “telltale” about such things.
So I told him it was bullshit and that it made no sense, seeing as how a) we were the only ones in the club (so no danger of strangers and their evil free drugs there), b) I would probably PAY for whatever drug someone would be willing to drop in my drink FOR FUCKING FREE, so whatever, and finally c) I was really, really drunk and that drink was really, really expensive so please, please, please… let me, get what I want. Lord knows it would be the first time…
Dude begrudgingly gave me another drink on the house, and I begrudgingly told them that they had a fine policy of protecting their patrons from free drugs. So both of us are lying assholes who pretend to do each other favors. It’s awesome like that.
I remember peeing in the women’s restroom shortly thereafter. It was pretty nasty in the ladies’ pee-cave. It was even nastier after I left.
Whatever. At least I didn’t shit the chaise. That’s all I gotta say ‘bout that.