West 35th Street

The first thing I do when I leave work is to call Berkeley. It was easy enough, I would go hang out at her apartment in Whitestone for a few hours, probably smoke a few butts on the fire escape, she'd ask me how Brianne and I were, and I'd tell her I wasn't sure. That is true, but the truth is I want to almost hook up with her, even though she was Brianne's best friend from high school, and I know I could. I say almost hook up, because actually doing it would be wrong, but almost is fine, and it would give me a rush because strangely I would feel secure.

    But of course, she doesn't pick up, even though I had talked to her two hours prior (typical), and Ryan, Becky, Murph, Tom and Grier don't pick up either, so now I'm wandering in New York City aimslessly by myself, and Mike's party at Katwalk didn't start until 11, giving me 5 hours to myself. It definitely isn't worth taking a train all the way back to Long Beach just to come back here, so I figure I'll go check out Katwalk and see what it's about. I walk from the office I work at on West 42nd to Katwalk on the corner of West 35th and 5th. They had just opened, but I sit down anyway and order a white russian, figuring I have nothing better to do. A Hispanic man in a nice Giorgio Armani suit (I can tell by the stitchwork and the way the shoulders sit)pulls up next to me a minute later and asks me if I have the time. I tell him it is 6:20, and he starts asking me about where I work and what I do, but seeing as how this sort of conversation is useless, I change the topic randomly and show him a sketch of a family coat of arms I've designed and plan to get as a tattoo since my family never had a coat of arms. He seems mildly interested until he is distracted by the World Cup game on the TV. He starts yelling, and even though I know very little about soccer, I can tell I've him impressed him by mentioning a few names like Crespo, Kaka, and Zidane (all of which I learned from some Adidas commercial) and he gives me his business card. His name is Romeo Vargas, and he is an executive at Morgan Stanley downtown, but I couldn't give a shit.

     After staring at the goldfish in the tank behind the bar for 10 minutes, I decide this is too swank of a place for me and walk across 35th to a little pub called O'Reilly's. I am getting hungry at this point, so I get an order of calamari, and start randomly writing the beginnings to a poem on a placemat. It sucks, so I violently scribble it out and start again. I notice the girl two stools away is staring at me, smiling. She's not cute, but I'm bored, so I humor her and smile back, and besides, Duran Duran's Come Undone has just come on, which puts me in the mood to be social and lie.

     I wave for her to come over, and briefly think, "What kind of girl drinks by herself at 7 at night?" until I realize I'm doing the same thing and don't want to be a hypocrit. My calamari comes and I ask her where she works and what she does, because I figure it is genuinely more interesting than just asking her name and where she's from, which is the worst, and then I tell her my name is Dominic, and that I am a bike courier from Maspeth. She seems strangely interested in me being a bike courier, which if she is being honest about is a huge turn off, but she could just be forcing conversation, so I push on. I decide to get cute and do the only bar trick I learned in college and make her a rose from a drink napkin. She, of course, find this charming, which I, of course, despise. I excuse myself to the bathroom. The calamari feels like it is tearing through my system, so I sit uncomfortably on the John and read someone's writing on the wall of the stall. It says that if I am interested in a good time to call Jamie at 212-743-9861. I quickly whip out my phone and dial, not expecting anyone to pick up, but when they do, I tell them that they are either a sick fuck, or their friends are assholes. I hang up and finish my business, but realize karma is a bitch, because there is absolutely no toilet paper, and I am in the only stall at the place. I stnad up and gingerly pull my pants up and poke my head out. When the girl I was talking to isn't looking, I slip behind her and hop out onto the street, which I was planning on doing anyway. I strut down three blocks to Penn Station like I have a stick up my ass because it is far too early at night to have soiled myself. I tell myself that I barely made it, even though the shit wasn't going anywhere, and leave the bathroom feeling like I have a new lease on life. Outside, there is an old homeless man sitting on the sidewalk by the Hotel Pennsylvania in a beanie with his eyes half shut beseeching me for money because he is hungry. I dig in my pocket and count out twenty two dollars and change and tell him confidently to come with me. He looks confused, but follows me for a few blocks to the Midtown Chinese Buffet near 37th and I tell him it is all he can eat, and to help himself. Seeing as I have no more calamari in me and that I stuck that girl with a bike courier's tab, I celebrate myself and get a small plate of lo mein. We sit down and I can tell by the changed creases in the homeless man's face that he is grateful. He tells me his name, which I don't feel like telling you because you weren't there, but he did tell me about how he was a trumpet player in a jazz quartet that played in the Village at a cafe on Bleecker until he started getting into a daily regiment of cocaine use, which he swears wasn't his downfall, but rather it was having to loan money to a dead beat brother-in-law who he never heard from again. I'm not sure that I believe him. I tell him about Brianne, and how we are never really open with each other, even though I am normally a very honest guy, and he starts giving me some advice on love, but he's starting to lose concentration and begins to mumble, so I smile and nod until I excuse myself. I decide that I am extremely bored and go just in the bathroom where I jam my finger down my throat until I start to gag and open the bathroom door just in time so that everyone at Midtown Buffet sees me vomit all over the generic red carpet. I start bellowing about food poisoning and MSG and cooking cats as their wait staff looks at me as wide eyed as possible for them and a few patrons get up to leave, easily the most entertaining thing I've seen all night, until I realize that the homeless guy has left, sticking me with a bill I already planned on paying. But I get out of that because of the scene I caused, and leave Midtown satisfied and walk to the Toys R Us in Times Square. I play around on a giant keyboard, reminiscent of Tom Hanks in Big, then get mad when I figure out the store only put that there to capitalize on that movie's popularity, and refuse to step to Heart and Soul. Instead, I walk through the life sized rendition of Barbie's house, and decide that I should take Brianne on a date here for fun if I don't break up with her first.

     I walk outside onto the corner, and one of the most beautiful young women I have ever seen is standing next to me at the crosswalk. She had typically straight blonde hair and unoriginally dazzling blue eyes, but is breath taking all the same, and a street band behind us is playing "Moondance" by Van Morrison, which probably enhanced her further. She looks at me with a fuck-small-talk smile before she asks me what the weather is stupposed to be like. I tell her it's going to rain any minute, and as if on cue, it starts pouring through the neon glow of Times Square, and she looks at me, amazed. I know it's complete luck and coincidence, but seeing as everything is going my way, I just smile and wink. She keeps observing me, trying to figure me out when I offer her to join me on a ride in one of those bizarre bike taxis that no one seems to know the real name of. She is apprehensive, but then I pull out my business card that says my name is Romeo Vargas, an executive at Morgan Stanley, which instantly piques her interest, and she decides to join me. We get in and as we pull away, I look around to make sure as many strangers as possible notice what a pretty girl I've landed before she tells me Vargas sounds Hispanic and that I don't look Hispanic. I tell her it's because I am from North Hispania as a joke, but she is dumb, and I feel horrible and angry that I have inadvertantly convinced her that a place called North Hispania exists. As one might expect, this launches me into the mind set that I might be in love with her, so I have the bike taxi take us uptown to 82nd and York to a fun out of the way bar called Saloon. During the year, it is generally a Manhattan College bar, but this being June, it is relatively quiet and a good setting to try and unearth intellegence from this girl, or invent it if I have to.

     I pay for the bike taxi and buy us a round of drinks before she excuses herself to the bathroom. I sit there and stare at my cell phone, wishing Berkeley or Brianne would call, but they don't, so I tell myself that I should plan on altering my night according to the girl in the bathroom. After about 15 minutes, I understand the truth is that she gave me the slip, but seeing as I lied to her and of course Billy Idol's "White Wedding" is on, I smile and accept the fact that she might have been the only girl I ever loved, and order myself another Stella. I pay my tab and decide that Saloon isn't classy enough for me and get the hell out of there. I take a cab back to West 35th, making a conscious effort not to talk to the driver, but I still have about 45 minutes to kill before Mike's party starts at Katwalk, and seeing as I couldn't write at O'Reilly's earlier, I get dropped off at Playwrite's Cafe, assuming by the name it will spur my creativity and maybe then my poems won't suck.

     I sit down and order a Stella, but I still can't think clearly, and all I can write down is the line, "This is momentum" which I stole from an ad on the subway this morning. A girl feigning an Irish brogue scoots up next to me and starts telling me how "lovely" she thinks it is that I can just write while at a bar. Blondie's "Rapture" comes on, and it becomes instantly clear. I tell her she is lying about her accent and that my guess is that she is from Kew Gardens. She smiles sheepishly and apologizes while correcting me that she is from Broad Channel, where the fucking airplanes practically land on your roof. I fakingly smile and accept it, pretending that I somehow find her charming, when the truth is that I despise liars. She asks me what I am writing, but I won't show her. My sternum hurts from leaning hard against the bar by now, so I quickly cross out "this is momentum" and scribble "Go Fuck Yourself and Mind Your Own Business" on my napkin and fold it up. I tell her that I need to make a call and to please watch my poem and make sure no one reads it. She agrees with a grin, and I get up and walk out the front door back onto 35th street, wondering how long it will take her to lose patience and open up my poem that I dedicated to her.

     I decide to call my mother because I miss her and she tells me it's late, but that it's okay since she doesn't have school the next day. I tell her that I think I want to make a living going to midtown Manhattan bars and just writing on placemats. She laughs and reassures me that everything will work out fine, which isn't what I am looking for, but the fact that she is being motherly is good enough for me, and I feel a tinge of depression wondering if she'll be the only woman I'll ever love.

     I quickly forget about my mother as the most disturbingly obvious 6'4" drag queen walks by me, and I make a mortified face that only I know about. My friend Paul calls me and tells me how excited he is to see everyone tonight, and that he's getting off the train from Long Island in a moment, and I am slightly surprised that I am genuinely looking forward to seeing him too.

    I hang up and stroke my cheek, feeling that I haven't shaved in three days, and know that if I somehow see Brianne, she won't want to kiss me because my face is so rough (or she doesn't want me to smell another man's cologne), but I am not worried, because to see her, I'd have to talk to her first, and I hadn't done that in about a week. I see Katwalk illuminated up the street and figure that waiting outside for 10 minutes is tolerable, even though I can tell Mike's birthday is going to end up being one of the most boring nights of the summer, and I eventually decide I should've just gone home to Long Beach or left Saloon with the girl from Times Square.

     But the truth is that my glass of Stella stayed consistent, my poetry wasn't that bad, and I had met women that I could have fucked in parallel universes. And I didn't even have to do one god damn dishonest thing to do it. I look up at the TV at Katwalk and am surprised that Mets shortstop Jose Reyes is only batting .258 and am glad to see that Hernan Crespo scored a goal and that somewhere, Romeo Vargas (the real one) is happy, or at least happier than he was. I eye a couple of girls down the bar from me too drunk for their own good, meanwhile wondering if I am too drunk for my own good and say "Live it up", while I decide if I should be Doug, the Merrill Lynch broker, Adam, the charter plane piolt from Detroit, Arthur, the young artist opening my first exhibit down in Soho next month, or if I should tell them what the truth really is.

View strumbles06's Full Portfolio
Kayla W's picture

I have to be honest, I wasnt going to read this because I was discouraged on the length. But Im glad I did because the word choice was great and I like the phrases that you used. Best of all, it tells a story. Pure sweetness, good job.