The first time we kissed, I was barefoot. In Greenwich Village. In the late-summer. This is: Disgusting. However, I could have been standing in a puddle of bubonic plague and giardia for all I cared; all I knew was that he had me pressed up against the side of a building (It was NYU. It was classy, ok.) and he was finally FINALLY kissing me.
That night had begun as all nights during that era did: Best Friend and I eating Thai food and getting ready at her law school dorm. Getting ready involved concocting horrible outfits, me obsessing over whether or not we’d end up Meeting Up with The Hipster, and drinking — exclusively — Diet Coke with vanilla vodka (It was Grey Goose. It was classy, ok.) I probably made us listen to a mix CD I had made that went from Cafe Tacvba to The Clash to like 112, or something equally
schizophrenic cultured. Sometimes, before we headed out and she headed to bed, we’d ask her poor introverted roommate (soz we were lunatics, Ellen, our bad) to take pictures of using an, ahem, camera — the pictures from which we actually printed out. Like actually took film to an actual drug store. Wild.
On the night when the stars aligned, I was wearing an “outfit” in the genre I like to think I pioneered myself: punk rock hoodrat. The foundation around which this masterpiece was built, was a white t-shirt, men’s, that BF and I had ripped apart, cut up, and tied TIED back together. There may or may not have been a ribbon involved. IDK. I wore this off-the-shoulder number, with its “sexy” peek-a-boo holes down the side seams, over a purple bra, paired with jeans and a pair of her heels that I proceeded to baby-deer in all night. My hair was in a side-part, slicked back ponytail, accented with a fake flower, and very large gold hoop earrings. In complete aesthetic harmony, the pièce de résistance was my studded belt. Oh, wait, did I mention the lip liner? Dark lip liner, silver lip gloss, natch. BF was wearing a pink mesh MESH muscle tank that she had “like picked up in Europe” accented by a silver Tiffany’s choker and super scrunchy gelled hair. So, obvs, we looked super
I don’t truly remember the set-up, but I’m sure The Hipster and I had made some vague too cool non-committal whatever it’s fine I’m breezy plan to “meet up at some point.” He was, after all, now Single. BF and I decided it would, of course, be better to wait until later to reach out to him so as to be all stone cold fox about it. Sure, sure. I just needed to be drunk enough to have the balls, let’s be honest.
Back then every Night Out felt like possibility and adventure and Ohhh what’s going to happen? Where will we end up? Who will meet? (As opposed to now where it’s all like Who will we meet? Us, the people we came out with, no new friends, clearly. Where will we end up? Home, in bed, at a reasonable hour because I want to go to the gym in the morning, obvs.) So we left her roommate in peace and set out for god knows what. I don’t remember all the stops on our tear that night, but I do remember it was after dancing at Parkside Lounge that we decided, for our respective reasons (me: antsy AF, her: we needed somewhere else cool to go next) it was Time to go, ahead, do it, call him.
It is important to remember that this was the Land Before
Time iPhones. (See aforementioned daguerreotype situation.) We had cellular devices, sure, but we barely texted and we certainly didn’t Google anything. So when we wanted to be all like Heyyouout? we more often than not — wait for it — called the other person. With our actual spoken words and inflections and pregnant pauses and nervous laughs and meaningful…sigh(s). There was, I’d argue, so much more spontaneity. So when I, on my piece of shit silver flip phone, at 100 V. Vodka Diet Cokes o’clock, stalked called The Hipster and he yelled through the phone, amidst the din of Saturday night bar crowds, to meet him at “the bar with the green light,” I thought: that is a completely manageable task.
Now, I don’t know if you know this, but there approximately Eleventy Fuckton Million bars in New York City. And This Fuckin Guy gives me the color of a fucking lightbulb as the ONLY distinguishing feature of where I’m supposed to meet my destiny, I mean, him. A true testament to
insanity love, neither BF nor I balked. Can you imagine what four-square-yelp-google-map-location-pin-air-drop-box-geotag fuckery would ensue now if someone did this to you? But, nope, we were just like dope, another layer to the Adventure. We had lit-er-ally (and I’m using that correctly for once) no idea where we were going. Well, ok, we knew it was below 14th street, because, duh.
So, off we went. I have no idea what time it was or how many places we stopped in on the way. I do know that I had already broken one martini glass (and would go on to break two, yes two, more that night) because I for sure definitely needed to be drinking martinis all night. Wut. Gross. But lo and behold, an hour or seventeen later, we turned a corner and nuh-uh, no way: a bar with a green light. As we entered the dark Alphabet City dive, I thought, surely, this had to be, please sweet jesus let it be, OMG THERE HE IS this is the place. Twenty-two, drunk and in love, this was not coincidence, or the consequence of only sketching around the same neighborhoods. Nay, NAY, this was MOTHERFUCKING FATE. The gods, all of them, (The Hipster was Indian, so I was kewl with being Hindu now, duh) had blessed this
Shenanigans! Mayhem! Drinking! Dancing! Ensued! From No Malice Palace (the name of which I didn’t learn for years) we went to Joe’s Pub, which at the time had super exclusive club nights that were impossible to get into. (I have no idea if they still do because I know zero things about being out after midnight anymore.) Naturally, The Hipster got the three of us in. Naturally, I broke another martini glass, tried to take my shoes off, got yelled at by the bouncer because of the aforementioned broken glass, and was just all kinds of ridiculous. At some point in the merry havoc we lost BF to sleep, a slice of pizza, a dude (all three?) and we were deliciously alone.
Because at some point the bars do actually close, soon he was walking me home. It should be mentioned that for that first year after we graduated, home was technically my parents’ house (SO much has changed. Ugh. Anyway.), but I spent my weekends between BF’s law school
closet dorm room with her sweet twin bed and The Hipster’s more adult than me apartment in Murray Hill. Anyway, after hours (hours) of traipsing around all the Villages in the land I could no longer deal with the death traps shoes I was wearing. So I took them off as we strolled, slowly, taking each other in, proceeding to cut my foot (that was my cue to put my shoes back on). The Hipster, under the guise of making sure I was ok, told me to stop walking, leaned me up against the building (Remember: NYU. Classy.) and leaned in close.
After a cursory look at my foot, that was probably now a deep shade of gutter punk, he grabbed my face, pulled me in and finally there we were: sucking face at four in the morning across the street from people probably getting shanked in Washington Square Park. Always up for a public show of gallantry, in the middle of our make-out, The Hipster verbally assailed a
stranger in scrubs medical student on his way home from being up all night (probably dealing with drunken assholes like us). Not letting me go or breaking our closeness, The Hipster asked him to examine my bleeding foot. I melted into him, not caring at all about the foot or the doctor, only that I could feel the heat rolling off him, feel his hands letting me know that I was his. The man/maybe doctor assured me my foot was fine and maybe, MAYBE, I should put my shoes back on.