“great job in the show last night”
“who was that hot actor in your scene??”
I had taken to sleeping with my cell phone under my pillow.
In my old apartment, I had slept with my bed near the window, my head resting toward the light inching out of my wrong-way-slatted blinds, and there I could afford to put my cell phone on the window ledge, where it was both inconspicuous and accessible in groggy half-wakeful times.
But as part of my adjustment to living somewhere new, I had no more blinds, I slept by a wall with a window on the other side of the (admittedly small) room and there was no ledge either.
Some nights I would appropriate the broken-ass IKEA chair the Norwegian-Professor-Owner of the apartment I was subletting had left me, rolling it over praying that one of the wheels wouldn’t fall off and have to be meticulously rescrewed, knowing that it was only a matter of time before it did.
But even this was a stop gap and the chair was an unreliable place for something as precious as my cell phone.
I had recently obtained an obstreperous case for my phone, one taken from my more fashion-conscious mother, called an “Otter Box” which not only made it resistant to falling (we had attempted several dropping experiments) but also made it waterproof (we had not conducted such experiments to test this).
I was pleased my phone had become invulnerable, but I still didn’t want to trust it to that damn chair.
So under my pillow it went.
Which is how I awoke to those two text messages, the entreaties of my sister to be hooked up with my 35 year-old co-star in the play I’m in.
It’s hard to take a stern tone while text-messaging.
“Who are you talking about?” I asked.
“The guy you sold all the art to.” She replied with a buzz or a beep.
My sister was referring to the play she’d seen me in a few nights previous, The Confidence Man.
In it, I play an artist named Aubrey Black, among other people, who mocks a beleaguered former hedge-fund manager who thinks his last shot is convincing me to sell him my paintings.
The play had been going well, I thought, with the regular hitches that a massive installation piece involving 30 actors set on a boat might have.
I’d even received praise from an elderly couple the other night who I thought must have been pretty P.O. ed at a show that had them not only stnading but walking for 90 minutes. Instead, they were so grateful they asked if they could leave money anywhere.
Embarrassed, I told them the show was free, but if they want, they could grab a drink at the bar, the proceeds of which I believed went to the company, which they headed off to do, slowly.
However, now there was a problem. My sister wanted my co-star’s number.
Again, the challenge of a “stern” text-message.
“Cecily: A. He’s like 35 and B. No I will not give you his fucking number.”
I then thought better and decided to include a word of encouragement.
“There are plenty of guys your age.” I told her.
“Age 25 MAX.” I added.
“Comon Nick, I need dating material!” She implored.
I sighed. My sister had just returned to town and could use a distraction, since classes hadn’t begun yet and she was looking to set down a new life.
“Well, there’s the other guy in my scenes but he already has a girlfriend and besides shes very nice.” I told Cecily.
“Blondie?” She texted.
“Check.” I replied, my texting code for yes.
“not my type” she said, with a three-word dismissal.
I sighed again out-loud.
“Sigh.” I texted my sister, still groggy from the previous evening’s show and the sounds of paint-chipping down the hall.
“Look, sis, I wish I did have a stable of boys to farm out to you, but I don’t.” I told her.
“Boo.” She replied and I was finally able to put down my cell-phone and head out.
And as I put on my shirt, I felt bad for a second, but then thought better and rolled my eyes.
What was I thinking, I thought. My sister had always been able to find “dating material” her own damn self.
At this point, I should probably mention in brief: I have a girlfriend.
Pertinent points of information as pertain to this blog:
A. Her name is Eva.
B. She is very pretty and cool and smart and stuff.
C. Yes, her and I are in agreement and she is my “girlfriend” (Not my not-girlfriend, or “faux-girlfriend” or “lady-friend” or what have you).
Eva and I met a few weeks ago when my poof of hair attracted an old friend from high school, Aviva to my sidewalk location, feeling complain-y about the bar I was at, Asian Pub.
Eva was there with Aviva, a hip-artist-type, then as well as now. I started talking to Aviva, as awkward sidewalk-reunion conversations go in New York and she told me that her and her friend Eva were going to a bar down the block to celebrate Eva’s birthday, since past, but still present in memory.
Feeling my dissatisfaction with the night, as well as the opportunity to catch up and spend some time with some cute girls, I convinced my friends to come out to the bar, The Grassroots Tavern.
As the night went on, I found myself talking to Eva more and more, in smoke breaks I joined her and Aviva for and later at a seedy EastVil diner we headed off to the 3 of us. We spent all night having “deep conversations” (the result of 9-dollar pitchers at the Grassroots) and talking about love and sex and life and the such with the ladies filling in their side and me awkwardly attempting to demystify the male side of things, as a particularly unfortunate spokesperson.
It was only until I got on the train with her, as Aviva walked to head home that I realized, looking at her dead-on, that here was a young lady who was very pretty and off-beat and cool, who I had spent all night discussing what we had wanted out of life and love with only to realize that they were somewhat similar.
An opportunity. But the next stop was mine.
So I hurried.
“Um, I’m sorry, I know this is kind of the cop-out-y-est way to do this especially since I’m getting off at the next stop but you know I was kind of wondering if–”
“Bring it.” She said, interrupting, with a grin.
“–Could I have your number?”
And she read me off the digits as I rushed them in my phone and realized that the door was closing as I left with an awkward wave.
And the rest?
Well, the rest is like, awkward history.
I was planning on ordering Chinese food when I found my sister aboard the boat.
“Cec?” I asked amazed.
It was near the end of the first show of the evening of a two-show night and I had realized that I was dinner-less facing an 11:30 out.
Reaching out in the dark, I had texted my parents, who live 4 blocks away asking if they could come by and leave dinner.
They hadn’t answered, so I made plans for Chinese, when there was my sister with two slices of delicious Chicken-and-Ricotta pizza from Bleecker Steet Pizza.
“Aw, man.” I said, hidden in my room. My sister had come on the boat and managed not even to disturb anyone, bringing me my pizza while the show was going on.
“Thanks, Sis-star.” I said, with a smile, feeling a warmth that was both love- and pizza-related.
“Don’t sweat it.” She said as she handed me the box and left the room.
I geared up for some pizza when something hit me. How had my sister found the room? I was on a boat in the middle of the show, “off-stage”. There was no way she would have know, unless:
My sister was on the deck chatting up my 35 year-old co-star who she thanked with a coy smile as she headed off the boat.
“Todd!” I called manically, ina stage-whisper-shout. “TODD! Motherfucker!”
But he was off to his next scene, unhearing.
I was glum.
But at least, at least.
I had my pizza to console me.