There are about five years post-Hipster that are sort of this weird blur that I don’t remember a lot of. I mean, I remember them, but it’s all a bit jumbled and hazy. Now, if you’re thinking that mainlining Jack Daniels is perhaps PERHAPS detrimental to one’s health and well-being, you might be like right or whatever ok. Ugh. Anyway. Those years were a bit messy and I was, in a word, lost. The novelty of being newly released from college and inflicted upon the workforce had worn off RUHL fast. While I spent four years teaching in the DOE, I’ll never really know how I lasted that long. Not only did I feel like all my intellect and creativity were being straight up Dementor’d out of me under the fluorescent lights of my overheated classroom, but like also have you ever heard of 13 year olds. Ugh gawd all 8th graders should for sure be quarantined on an island where some kind of Darwinian social experiment is allowed to take place and only the non-heinous survive. We need to Lord of the Flies that shit, stat. I used to sit in my car every morning before work, staring at the generic tan brick building and listening to The Cure and Belle and Sebastian’s “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying,” on repeat until the last possible second before the bell rang, willing myself to go in and not burn the building down.
Oh and yeah during this time Best Friend and I also had a devastating fall out that was so bad it is still referred to as The Divorce. (NB: We are life partners again and all is good.) I was heartbroken that she wasn’t in my life, still wallowing in the loss of The Hipster and feeling sorry for myself that I was a glorified babysitter most days. Clearly I was in a v good place.
Unsurprisingly, my dating life during those five years was
a bit of a shitshow fairly insignificant. I went out with some people, even some for more than two dates mainly because I was bored and needed something to do, but really I just made out in a lot of bars because what else do you do when you’re in your mid-20s and in a real dumpster fire kind of place. Besides, I was so hung up on The Hipster that I was never truly going to SEE anyone else anyway. After The Hipster and I broke up for reals for reals, OF and I maintained a constant, if at times strained, friendship. Loyal to both of us, she saw each of us in shifts for that first year after The Hipster and I decided we could no longer torture each other and pretend to be friends. There’d come a time when he and I would be able to hook up hang out again at the same places and parties, but it took some distance. It felt a lot like my life in those years had become cobbled together, with me pulling together a patchwork of friends and experiences to create a life I was sort of iffy about. I wanted more, something different, but this Other Life was elusive. I didn’t know quite what I wanted to do, what needed to change, let alone how to enact said change, so in the interim I spent a lot of time with OF stumbling around the East Village, drinking and dancing our faces off at places like La Linea and Baraza.
One of these East Village nights, OF and I had been out for a friend’s birthday, bouncing from gay bar to gay bar when we decided to take a breather for a bit to grab a drink away from the grinding go-go boys who ruled The Cock. It’s the name of a bar. Relax. So, feeling
inebriated brave, we went across the street to Mars Bar. Mars Bar was notorious in its heyday: just the shittiest, grimiest, junkiest, scariest rock and roll bar that ever was. So like, yeah, sure, let’s go there. While OF ordered the beers, I went to the bathroom. There was no Ladies’ Room at The Cock, shockingly. But, clearly, I was firing on all cylinders to think I was gritty enough to handle the bathroom situation at Mars Bar. My bravery was short-lived. I opened the piece of graffitied plywood hanging on by a hinge door, saw the needles on the floor and turned on my heel. I gave OF the high sign, she grabbed the beers, and we left skid row the bar. On a pile of lumber in the construction site across the street (that would soon become some luxury apartments and a TD bank gross) we drank our cheap beers and planned our next move.
Lit was my favorite bar in the entire world in those days. It was dungeon dark, grimy, subterranean and small. Long after New York City’s smoking ban had rendered the city’s drinkeries a bit more sterile and unpolluted, smoke from American Spirits and Gauloises cloaked the dance floor at Lit in a pretentious grey haze. Saturday nights the DJ spun only 60s rock like The Vogues, The Kinks, The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits. Bourbon was cheap and anything could happen. It was, in a word, Heaven. That night at Lit, in between dancing around in my leg warmers and drinking whiskey, I met a skinny hipster with shaggy black hair and baby gauges. He was
a slacker who worked at Whole Foods An Artist.
The Artist chatted me up while I was getting a drink from the bar and I have no idea what we talked about or if we could even hear each other, but he was v cute so obvs I scribbled my number onto a cocktail napkin. We went out a few times, made out a lot and even crossed the river to explore the wilds of the not-yet-colonized Williamsburg. When my dad heard that I was hanging out there, he about had a heart attack. While it wasn’t as bad as it had been in the 70s and 80s, Williamsburg in 2003 was still a far FAR cry from the douchified trustafarian wasteland it is now. Williamsburg back then was like four rock and roll bars, two Thai restaurants and 17 bodegas in a sea of sketch. One night over drinks outside at Juliette, I asked The Artist about his influences and artists that he liked. He sort of just stared at me, shrugged and was like “Uhh, I like don’t really follow artists. I just do art.” So, yeah, while The Artist was SO pretty, he was also so SO dumb. During the brief tenure of our dating, he spontaneously got a pineapple tattooed right above his Apollo’s Belt because, “IDK I was bored and it looked cool.” Clearly, we were made for each other.
Aside from The Artist the only other guy I ever really gained dating traction with during that time was an Irish guy that I met, wait for it, in a dive bar. Newly arrived from London, The Irish Guy worked in some kind of tech and was altogether very
boring nice. Cousin Best Friend and I had been at The Red Lion stalking Gavin DeGraw listening to cover bands when we decided we needed a change of venue for a bit. So we sketched a little farther on down Bleecker and ended up in some shitastic NYU bar where jello shots were being passed around and we were obligated to scoff disdainfully at the crowd even tho we were obvs toats down to dance to Sean Paul. The Irish Guy and his buddy approached us and we had some polite conversation while they bought us drinks. He was cute enough and like aforementioned, very nice. Shockingly SHOCKINGLY I am a sucker for an Irish accent so obvs I gave him my number.
Because The Irish Guy was new to New York, I was often the one to plan our dates. I was ok with this since because, duh, I, of course, knew all the kewwwl places. However, being a bit old fashioned, The Irish Guy wasn’t keen to cede total control, so one night he told me he was going to plan a date for us. I, skeptically, but happily agreed. Said date was right before Christmas and it was one of those bitterly cold New York City nights. The air was painfully crystal clear and you felt like anything you touched might just shatter into a million glittering shards upon contact. The Irish Guy told me to meet him at The Spotted Pig, which was an auspicious beginning to the evening. In theory. In fact, it marked the beginning of a night where we would be turned away from no fewer than three places because it seemed every company ever was having their holiday party in the West Village or Meatpacking District that night. We grew quieter and more awkward the colder we got, strangers who didn’t yet know each other well enough to have true banter or be able to laugh at such a stupid conundrum. He was insistent that we needed to find a “nice” place, one assuredly he heard about from a colleague or looked up in Time Out, but at one point I looked at him, mutiny fomenting, outside The Park and finally he agreed to finding any open bar that served alcohol and had the heat on. Fast.
We ducked into a place a couple doors down. From the outside it looked like Generic Dive Bar, however, upon entering we quickly realized it was Regulars Only Motorcycle Bar. We were too cold to care. We ordered drinks and tried to be innocuous, which was never going to happen, but was also sartorially impossible. The Irish Guy wore only blue collared shirts and, in those days, I was typically in some kind of H&M dress-ripped jean jacket-grimy converse
disaster situation. But, the few crusty patrons nailed to barstools ignored us, and after a drink we felt brave enough to attempt a game of pool. This meant that he played pool and I tried to keep the ball from skipping across the table and into someone’s skull. I am v terrible at pool, but the beauty of drinking pool is that after a few drinks it doesn’t really seem to matter. At one point in the evening, in from the tundra wafted the scent of hot pizza. The bartender had ordered a slew of pies for the bar. Probably for his regulars, mostly, but he generously welcomed us to a few slices and as we leaned against the pool table, grease dripping down the sides of our hands, I remember thinking that it had turned out to be one of those perfect uniquely New York nights. But, I’m pretty sure that bar is now an Artichoke Pizza so barf.
For some unknown and godforsaken reason The Irish Guy and I decided to host a joint New Year’s Eve party at his place. He was flying back from Ireland on New Year’s Eve morning so I picked him up from the airport — IN THE SNOW — I am v gracious faux-girlfriend HERO, I know. Shadowing me as we picked up supplies for the evening, was both The Irish Guy, underfoot and picking out the wrong snacks, and the feeling that I didn’t actually want to be doing this. That dread/panic state of brittleness had set in; that gunky feeling that accompanies the dawning of the realization that ohhh I have to break up with this person bc he is making my whole body tense up by just saying hello to me and wanting to kiss me. On top of wanting to murder him for picking out the wrong cheese, I had a horrible horrible cold that was rendering me bleary and exhausted. Really, all optimal hostessing conditions.
While I may have been initially concerned I wouldn’t have the stamina to host a raucous New Year’s Eve bash, I quickly learned that hosting The Most Boring New Year’s Eve Party in the History of the Entire Universe Ever is actually far worse to navigate when one already feels like hot garbage. I’m not quite sure what I had envisioned, but quiet conversation between The Irish Guy and his three tech colleagues was, uh, not it. For my part, I had invited Cousin Best Friend and her friends. Always a good time, they rolled in boisterous, carrying a case of beer and a handle of vodka. I had not had time to send them the memo that it was a little less Jäger Bombs and a bit more tame word games and Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve at whisper level in the background. Her and I could have fun in a paper bag tho, so there was a bit of a reprieve from the stultifying boredom. However, when she and her friends indicated that they were going to leave and hit their next party, because duh, I asked her to take me with them. The
Advil Cold and Sinus mixed with booze hysteria in my eyes told her I was 100% dead serious. Thankfully, she had better scruples than I and (gawd rude) reminded me that I probably had to stay at the party I was hosting with the person I was dating.
The Irish Guy and I didn’t last a week into the new year.