A strange thing happened to me between bars.
I ended up buying a beer for an NYU kid, the first time a “minor” had ever asked me to purchase liquor for them.
I had to say, I was amused.
“Is this adulthood?”, I thought “Moving from being afraid of getting ID’ed and caught to being solicited by others to buy beer at multi-ethnic groceries?”
What led me there anyway was trying to maintain a solid buzz after a day of physically-easy, but soul-taxing work at the movie theater and a brief stop-over at bar to see Najia Dar and her cadre of post-test-partying aspiring doctors.
Najia, who had found new drive in the throes of med-school post-college graduation, had been recently so busy that she couldn’t come out to see me and a fully bearded Rob Malone when we were in her neighborhood, at the Trader Joe’s downstairs.
So, when she invited me out, I came to say hi and because it was billed as some sort of recompense for her hermit-ude.
We met up, with her Texan friends already present, and everyone started dancing. 6 beers deeper than me, as I just sat at the bar, trying to figure out why the blond, British bartender had bought me a drink.
“You just smile and nod and leave a big tip.” One of Najia’s friends offered and it was a cue for a nice conversation with a member of the opposite sex, until she started to talk about her impending marriage.
I never did find out why that bartender bought me a drink, but I did leave a 10-dollar tip (“Good job,” the same friend told me.)
Soon the bar filled up with Najia’s doctor-mates, who I saw to my displeasure both were more educated and more attractive than me and wore on their faces the promise of a certainty of a profession and a life.
2 beers and a free drink in, I went walking, up past Washington Square Park and my old college, up University Place and to that old bodega.
Later that night, I would meet up with Jonny-Jon-Jon, who would later have a stranger start making out with him after he pinky-swore he was straight and then getting some late-night french-fries off the L train.
Right then, near Union Square, I was just trying to maintain my buzz, beat the day, beat my profession, beat my uncertainty about my future, just wanting to avoid the semi-hangover that comes on the subway ride to Brooklyn, between beers.
Looking through the fridge, I tried to find a tall-boy, a 24oz can, but they didn’t sell ’em except for a can of the newly neutered Four Loko, which I had learned from malt-liquor experience, was not a good deal.
“Where are all the tall-boys?” I wondered out loud in the bodega and the tall, skinny fellow next to me echoed the same sentiment.
As I reached down for my can of Coors Light, he asked me to pick him up two Buds and I did, handing them to him.
“No, actually, I mean, I thought… I forgot my ID back home.” He stumbled.
“Oh.” I replied. “Ha.”
Outside the deli, the kid gave me five bucks, when the beers cost four.
“Keep it.” He said.
I drank my sole beer on the L platform, waiting there to go out to see Jonny-Jon-Jon.
I finished it, in its brown paper bag, and tossed before I got on the train and had an extra buck to tip with when I got out to the bar in Brooklyn.
And that was who I was, right then.
On a packed Saturday, a crowd materialized around the Landmark Sunshine, a whole row just filled with my friends and friends of friends.
We all converged to see Jurassic Park on the big screen which, I was too embarrassed to admit, was my first time seeing it at all.
Andy and Matt Chao and I all met up before the show to hang out and find some source of food between conversations about Aubrey Plaza’s attractiveness and Matt Chao’s continuing/alternating insistences that he would either make a movie or buy a piece of property or both (“Or just get rich!”).
Rob Ma-Bro-Ne, for his part, brought a large contingent to the show including Ben Oviatt, Jason Chan and the Pennsylvania-imported Dickerson Bros, Malone’s fabled filmmaking brothers who feel like they could be Mario and Luigi in non-Halloween situations.
We all got kinda fucked-up for the occasion, as would befit a midnight screening of Jurassic Park, but Rob was in full form, yelling out not just lines from the movie at the screen, but observations including one about Laura Dern (“She’s so great! I can’t believe they ended up together.”) and conversations re: Michael Crichton vs. Stephen King (“Michael Crichton, much greater than sign Stephen King” Rob replied.)
Disaster was narrowly avoided when Rob began going off about the superiority of “The Lost World” (the book sequel, not the movie) and a good time was had by all.
I even tried to sneak in some flirting with the hippie-ish manager at the theater, who appreciated my comment at the box office that I wouldn’t call her by her name since I think it’s inappropriate when customers do that (which was actually an observation lifted from my stand-up). It got a smile, but eventually I was drawn too much into the film and the aftermath.
Matt and Andy and I all snuck sandwiches into the theater from Katz’s and rejoiced at samples and the combination of piles of meat and dinosaurs.
At one point, Rob started singing the theme song to the “Dinosaurs” TV show, in an impromptu karaoke-balladry rendition.
It got laughs from the audience and when a woman complained about the noise, she was booed into submission.
Justice, by crowd.
Monday was almost a disaster, for the pressure I put on it.
My life had been winding down recently, with classes ending and no auditions still and my attempts to invite a broad swath of my former associates and classmates to invigorate my writing group.
Instead, I ended up with a familiar string of text message excuses, sitting at Sophie’s alone, 12 minutes in to when everyone should have shown up.
What saved me that night, looking into my beer, were two things, well, two-two things.
The first two things being Alex Hilhorst and Keith Haskel, who had never met, showing up to the bar soon after willing to fuck around and talk and read a 1.5 page sketch-rewrite I had to show them ad they bonded slightly and we discussed The X-Files and even more of Hilhorst’s short career as Pee-Wee Herman’s assistant, as well as Keith’s MTV-Adult Swim comedy background.
The other thing that saved me were a couple of secret tacos.
I discovered the place on an artificial side street, tucked at the end of an alley, invisible to those not looking. “Oaxaca Taqueria” read a sign draped at a dead end. I walked in and was in luck.
It was Taco Happy Hour.
The tacos I got were Stewed Chicken, though there was a Mole special (which I later tried) and a Potato/Poblano enchilada I would have liked to get my hand on. The tacos were unusually large and full of unusual flavors for NYC-Mex, from the sour pickled onions to the salty salsa-verde which contrasted to the red-sauce the chicken was stewed with. For 4 bucks, they were well worth the price.
Leaving Sophie’s, I brought Alex and Keith back there for an encore and they were duely impressed.
“How did you even find this place? How would anyone?” Alex asked.
“You just go lookin.” I replied as we luxuriated in the half-lit grunge-splendor of the taco bar.
Later, I walked Keith home asking him for tips on online dating, which spilled over into the sort of ex-girlfriend-y sadness it seems like I can’t write a blog post without nowadays.
Suffice it to say, when you’re together with someone, in some way, you’re never alone.
I’m not sure when I’ll feel that again.
But I’m glad Monday, I didn’t feel that, alone with my beer.
2 Stewed Chicken Tacos w/fixins- $4.00 (during Taco Happy Hour, 3-7 and 10-12)
16 Extra Place (off 1st St bet Bowery and 2nd Aves)
F to 2nd Avenue.
One more thing:
I’ve got a couple sketches in a sketch show over at the Magnet Theater on Monday, March 7th. Normally, I don’t invite a lot of people to these types of things, but I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made and I’ve received some really great support/feedback/laughs on these sketches. More than that, I’m working with really great performers who are super-funny and really sell the material, as well as some old friends who might make their sketch debut.
If you have some free time, it’s free, and I bet it’ll be pretty funny. I would certainly appreciate anyone who would want to come.
The link to the facebook event is here.