December 27, 2015
That jarring feeling when you misjudge the weather because you haven’t left the house all day. The blue sky looked deceptively warm but now the air pushes straight through my light jacket, freezing but grounding. It’s unsettling to think that all of the air in my house has already been squeezed through our crappy little AC, what good was it to my lungs after its already had it’s soul crushed. It used to be out here, free to roam.
I was the kind of hungry you get after sleeping in late, eating a sandwich to cover breakfast and lunch, then drinking on an empty stomach. I walked down Metropolitan past a group of girls in dresses piling into a black Uber SUV, heels and preened hair. They were overdressed for this side, but once over the bridge, anywhere from down to uptown, no one would cast them as out of place.
Jay was running late, I grabbed an IPA, sat at the bar and took in the people floating about. Commodore was a dive bar I suppose, dark, low key, retro arcade games and old school booths. A hipster hangout but a no bullshit kind of place. The food and people set it apart, one often follows the other. The best fried chicken plates in Williamsburg, good and cheap, exactly what I was picturing when I suggested it tonight. Biscuits, honey butter and organic fried chicken that crumbled in your hands – simple yet precise, making a satisfied mess of every table.
The hops in the beer gave it a sharp tang, a lot more flavor than the Mexican Tecate I’d been drinking with the students that lived in the loft next door. They were good sorts, their midweek parties would drive my roommate Ben crazy, but he was hardly ever home. He worked on movie projects and was away for weeks, sometimes months at a time – the ideal flat mate and an amazing pad. I ended up back there after a gig one night, and it turned out he had a room coming up, I moved in two weeks later.
She tensed her upper arm as she poured us another, black tattoos, touches of red, they looked good against her white tee.
Yes. The automatic response to the question of another beer. She tensed her upper arm as she poured us another, black tattoos, touches of red, they looked good against her white tee. A dude slipped in beside me, grabbed another beer himself and returned to a table. I really didn’t mind sitting at a bar alone. Sitting at a table however, it’s just a different feel. Instantly he buried himself in his phone and proceeded to check it over and over again, looking up and around, tapping his foot, painful to watch. Put someone on a stool at the bar, they are a lot more chilled. The social acceptance of drinking alone at the bar is a beautiful thing.
Jay arrives, we grab two more beers and whiskey shots. As is tradition, he bitches about his job for at least twenty minutes, halfway through he starts to pay a lot of attention to the bartender while still keeping the rhythm of his rant. Two plates of fried chicken and a kale salad arrive in front of us, after two bites I have to slow myself down. That hungry.
“I saw your last video.” He said, “The remix of the Odeza track. It’s tight.”
“Thanks dude, pity I got no rights to sell it.”
The bartender continues to serve up and down the bar, but you can tell she is listening to Jay. He speaks at a level most would be uncomfortable with, like someone eight beers deep in the line at the bank, Its still a little weird, but you sort of get used to it. She bent over to grab something from the fridge, we both look but Jay’s eyes linger awkwardly as she comes back up, like he wants her to catch him.
“20k for six seconds.” Jay said, “This 19 year old ‘vine star’ we are working with. It’s crazy man. The game has totally changed. Last year we are working with De Niro, now this.”
An agency job, surrounded by interesting people, good food and a regular income was starting to sound good.
We had developed a pattern of avoiding the reciprocal question about my work, didn’t blame him, an agency job, surrounded by interesting people, good food and a regular income was starting to sound good compared to my home studio surrounded by deli coffee and cheap takeout.
As sign off and head out I spot this dark haired girl that I keep seeing around. She has on a cropped red jacket, her hair is up. Not her best look, but she is cute in that indie movie kind of way, packed into a booth with three guys and two other girls, the table covered with frozen margaritas and the messy remnants of fried chicken. As I get closer she glances just a little longer than normal, kind of pausing in her conversation before looking at her friend and continuing.
You know how it goes, Williamsburg is a small place, once you notice someone you’ll see them everywhere. At gigs, getting coffee, the subway. I did have a chance to talk to her once – I didn’t take it and now I had built her into this fantasy. I had to know her name and resolved to man up and talk to her next time. I didn’t mention it to Jay until we were down the street, he was the kind of guy to waltz up to their table and be a dick about it. The polar opposite of the scenario I had run over in my head – seeing him open his mouth in her vicinity might trigger some kind of cerebral sinkhole inside me.
The kind of guy that liked to fill a place with his confidence.
We walked a few quick blocks to Night of Joy, Jay was the kind of guy that liked to fill a place with his confidence, watching him swagger into a spot was always amusing. He ordered dark & stormies with spiced rum and we grabbed a table in the corner.
You could tell he had that hunger tonight, normally it meant we would bounce around chatting to various groups of girls. You know those people that will transform a night out? They can just shape it to their own agenda. Good or bad but it beats those same old nights where nothing of interest happens.
“Dude, you need to get amongst Tinder.”
I sort of laughed. “Not really my thing man. I like to keep it old school, I did hook up with Lucy after she messaged me Twitter, that’s pretty close right?”
“Nice. But Tinder is about frequency,” he said, “I’ve got something new lined up every other night. Last week I went three nights in a row. Took two of them home.”
It sounded very high maintenance; I pictured the countless hours of awkward conversation, weighed off against the potential of sex, which could just add more awkward hours to the equation.
“That’s some serious work you’re putting in.” I said, “You looking for love or something?”
“The girls on here, they have busy lives, they want to get straight to the point, to stare down the barrel and see if you’re legit.”
“I have this strategy. I match with everyone that matches me, and then move straight to text message with anyone I like the look of. I’ll try and get them to text me a photo first, try and spot any frauds but no messing around with random dick pics until I’ve met them. This is New York, the girls on here, they have busy lives, they want to get straight to the point, to stare down the barrel and see if you’re legit. They don’t have time to fuck around.”
“Sounds like they do.”
“Yeah. Well. You’re right. There are girls that just want to get amongst it – and good on them. What’s so crazy about that? You meet for a quick drink after work. If it’s good, you have a couple more, maybe grab some dinner. Some want some fun, others at least want to find out as fast as they can if you’re worth their time. A lot of them won’t sleep with you straight up, but on the second or third round for sure. You just have to put in the time.”
“Sounds like a lot of time and energy to me.” I said. “You mess with too many of those Manhattan girls one is gonna bite your balls off. An army of pencil skirts chasing you through Greenwich, wanting to string your ass up.”
“Mase, mate, you’re turning me on.” He said as he pinched his nipple through his shirt.
“I know this guy, he lined up a girl to come and meet him in LAX while he had a stopover.”
“I ain’t trying to mess with them, I just love the energy of that first or second date awkwardness. The game face, the pitch, the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude. Everyone putting on their own show. Sure you meet some craziness, but man, you just have to indulge. I know this guy, he lined up a girl to come and meet him in LAX while he had a stopover. She said he better make it worth her while. We are talking the airport run, in traffic. They hooked up in the toilets. Then he caught his flight.”
“Ridiculous. That is crazy. You see many people you know on there?”
“Of course, people from work, the mutual friend angle can be key.”
“I can’t believe that, you are on a couple dates a week?”
“Yeah, no shit.” Jay sat forward and reduced his level slightly. “Get this, a couple of weeks back I ended up at this girl’s house on the upper east side. She’s getting crazy, wants it really rough, I went along up to a point but it got too much for me. Some of the shit coming out of her mouth, man. Anyway, so we finish up and we are lying there, she tells me she leaves the side door open, that I should bust in one night and just take her.” Jay looks at me with wide eyes and sits back.
“Dude, that is kind of rapey.”
“Yeah – think that’s what she was going for.”
“Imagine if you kick down the door in a balaclava and some dude is already there?”
“I wonder how many guys she asks to surprise her like that?” I said. “Imagine if you kick down the door in a balaclava and some dude is already there? Doing the same thing. I mean, I’m sure you were special and all, but she needs to sort some kind of schedule for that.”
“Don’t think I’ll be going back there.” He says, “You want the address?”
We flicked through the app on Jay’s phone. He gave me the recipe for what he looks for. “I hate pictures cropped from group shots. If a girl can’t just hold up her phone and take a decent selfie then it’s a clear warning sign – the shot is probably from some wedding two years ago when she happened to come off way hotter then she is.” He said.
I felt for the human race. Something as raw and sacrilege as a random hookup had been reduced to an algorithm.