4 | The Hipster: Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

A few days before Thanksgiving, The Hipster broke up with me. Hahaha. Of course he did.

Unsurprisingly — to literally everyone, including myself — he balked at the breakneck speed at which he had jumped out of one relationship and into another. We had gone out for pizza (that he never respected the sanctity of pizza really should have been the dealbreaker) and afterward, sitting on his couch, he had become noticeably withdrawn. It was a lot of blah blah and then some yadda yadda, a little more blah blah, the sum total of which was: you’re great, this is great, I want to be with you, I can’t be with you. Cool cool cool.

I couldn’t face going home, pathetically deflated and alone, so I spent the night there. Just thinking back on how emotionally excruciating that sleepless night was, I’m sad for my 22 year old self. I lay awake, looking through the breaks in his shitty venetian blinds — the ones that came with the apartment and he had never bothered to replace — staring at the crystalline curves and sunbursts of the Chrysler Building. (Insert here: trite Sex and the City metaphor about how He was My Chrysler building. Ugh, anyway.) Saying goodbye the next morning wasn’t awkward at all. Sure. My despondence was almost less about the actual heartbreak, and more about being daunted about how boring my life was about to get. I was like too bummed to even cry.

In the following weeks we saw each other regularly at our grad school classes. It was Torture. I mean, for me. Pretty sure he was already banging dating other chicks. I pretended to be cool with being “just friends” (or whatever), but, in truth, I really was heartbroken. I’d see him and his delicious butt in those skinny jeans and my heart would leap into my throat. While I was supposed to be learning about differentiation, I’d just spend class thinking about all the Best Nights Ever that I was surely SURELY missing out on, actively putting my energy toward not (ugh, god, vom) thinking about whatever much cooler than me heiress he was surely SURELY falling in love with.

And then, about three weeks after we broke up, we got back together. Hahaha. Of course we did.

We celebrated the reunification of this psychotic chemical attraction love for the ages by taking off to California the day after Christmas. We road tripped from San Diego to San Francisco over the course of a week, visiting friends of his, friends of mine, making a detour in Tijuana (haha sure sure, v smart and completely sane idea for the two of us) and generally just running amok on a different coast. For reasons that will hopefully (hopefully!) make sense later, I’m going to save the story of this trip for The End, because, well, it would end up marking The End for us.

So anyway, when we got back from California, it was a New Year and a New Us. Lololol jk jk, same old us, same old bullshit. Even after we became a (somewhat? maybe?) real couple, much of the time we spent together that winter was basically one big dare. It was very hard for us to Slow Down. It didn’t matter if it was like a Tuesday and we were both secretly Exhausted. If either one us intimated that maybe we did want to possibly check out That Thing or That New Place, the other put on their big kid skinny jeans pants, laced up the converse and grabbed the bourbon. Neither of us would admit to being normal human adults who just wanted to go to bed at a reasonable hour the weak link. Before FOMO and YOLO were cultural touchstones emptily bemoaned in hashtags and gifs, we were the actual human avatars of those acronyms.

One Friday, however, I got to his place after work and he told me that he didn’t care, he was tired and beat up and didn’t want to go out: he told me he was putting his beautiful brown foot (possibly my words and not his, who’s to say, really) down and we were Staying In. This was Unprecedented. However, I readily agreed, because for me, the benefits were twofold. One, and most importantly, I got him all to myself. Two, that weekend one of those polar arctic something-ageddon vortex snaps was happening and it like hurt to blink if you were outside. So, we over-tipped our overworked delivery people and hunkered down. It was intimate. It was slothful. It was glorious.

On Saturday night one of his friends came over with red wine and dominoes — the game, not the “pizza,” how dare you. The three of us played for hours, shunning the sub-zero weather and The Scene. Not to sound, like, a thousand years old but the standout memory from that night is simply how simple it was. We definitely had music on, something like St Germain or Ali Farka Touré, but that was it. There was nary a Boomerang of a falling domino to be found. I am the queen of The ‘Rang, I’ll readily admit it, but it was easier to be anonymous then, easier to disconnect if you wanted to. All these years later I remember being so happy and having so much fun in the minimalism of that night.

Cut to: Sunday evening. By that time the sparkling novelty of our insanity-free Norman Rockwell wholesomeness had worn off and we were officially Stir Crazy. We were, after all, 20-somethings and certified lunatics. Thankfully, someone in his crew called to say they were going out, and we were saved, from our sloth and ourselves. I already had my coat on by the time he replied to his friends to tell them we’d meet up. The Hipster’s friends were (still are) a super tight Crew, and they were forever doing something on Sunday nights so as to stave off “Sunday scaries” (again, before that was even a thing). Ice-ocalypse or shine, they could always be counted on for a good showing and a bit of mayhem.

We met everyone at Ace Bar, which effing miraculously still exists, and it was absolutely dead. So, we took over the tucked-away back part of the bar, draping ourselves over booths and readying the pool tables. I was tasked with heading to the bar to pick out some tattered board game or another, again attempting to add that whimsical touch of wholesomeness to our alcoholism impromptu Sunday cocktailing. Turns out, the only other degenerates brave souls who felt the sirens’ call of cheap booze on a frigid Sunday were two older men posted up at the end of the bar. One had white hair and looked like an extra from The Sopranos. The other was slack-jawed and paunchy, wearing a trench coat and looked a little bit like a cartoon villain. Naturally Paulie Walnuts and Boo Radley start to chat me up.

Now, I say Naturally, not because I’m gorgeous conceited but because this is just what happens to young girls in bars, especially in the vicinity of older men. More often than not these flirtations are unsolicited, uncomfortable and it feels like you need Seal Team 6 to run a special black ops extraction mission in order to get you out of the haltingly polite conversation you feel contractually obliged to have when you really want to just be back with your friends. Ugh, anyway. Despite my exaggerated aloofness and intense concentration focused on picking out the perfect board game that none of us would actually play, Boo Radley really kept trying to buy me a drink. Now, I’ve accepted many a drink in my eon, I mean, day. However, I’ve always done so with a bit of w(e)ariness because a. these oh-so-generously offered drinks are never free; they cost your soul time and patience and b. like, OMG old man in trench coat, you are literally the exact caricature of who I was warned about talking to when I was 12 and in D.A.R.E.

As broke as I was (was? am? always, constantly, whyyy), I didn’t feel right taking the drink and just bouncing to go back to my boyfriend and friends, so I declined and managed to extricate myself from the conversation, fake smile plastered onto my face, stupid board game under my arm. As I sat down in the booth and started tell The Hipster my Get a Load of This, These Guys at the Bar story, Paulie Walnuts and Stranger Danger sauntered over to the pool tables. I elbowed The Hipster to be like See! That’s the Guy, but he wasn’t paying attention because at the exact same time someone else at the table was stealing my sanctimonious thunder, saying: Holy shit it’s Steve Van Zandt.

Oh hahaha lololol neverrr mindddd old homeless man hitting on me was v famous rock star and television actor false alarm it’s kewl. Being the only people in the bar, we quickly became fast friends. And, so, on a frigid Sunday night we played pool and shot the shit with the rockstar and the consigliere — both of whom, incidentally, turned out to be very nice.

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