Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Two Nights

Becalmed. Oops, ouch, stilled. Bike broke. Walkin' blues. But there is a virtue in living the city at everybody else's speed.

Two nights ago, I met S at her hotel as she arrived from LA and we went off for a drink and then a walk on the West Side. I like water. I mean, I love alcohol, but I like looking at water. We went to the river. I took us to the river. There we found the Circle Line dock, and we started walking along it toward New Jersey. That is to say, we walked west on the Circle Line dock, encountering no wizened security guards, no infrared sensors, no nothing --- just a long walk on a long pier past half a dozen of those freshly painted Circle Line ships, until we reached the end, where we turned right at the rope-swoggled cluster of piers and found an unassuming shelf at the outermost reach of the Circle Line's extremity. There, facing the river, some meditative soul had set up a single folding chair on the pier's end, but I took a seat on the seawallish edge and slung my legs over, again toward New Jersey. Over the rushing water. It was a move far more frightening than it deserved to be. S, possessed by a confounded sense of self-preservation, sat demurely on the other side of the same low wall, feet pointed landward. She lacks a certain desire for eternity. She has a job. A house. A dog. I wondered how shocking it would be to jump into the water. Cold, clearly, but no colder than the Minnesota lakes where I swam night and day just a week ago. And a rushing current, sure, but would it overmatch my strong strokes? And darkness and directionlessness too -- the worst of it all ... but would it really be so bad after a few drinks? Out in Minnesota I found I swim better when I've had a few drinks (he said with the certainty of the doomed.) I hold my breath longer, quickening fear forgotten in a swanning wash of alcoholic calm, and my swimming is commensurately stronger. Weightlessness. Freedom. How you gonna keep 'em down on the dirt once they seen Atlantis?

Look at that river, I said. Sparkly. Eternal. New Jersey lights shone us a bright soft horizon and long-distance reflections, local illumination flashing back off a million little wavelets, and uncommon quiet floating over the post-midnight vista. There we were, blithely perched on the edge of Manhattan, feet a dangling. Glimmer glimmer. Whoosh.

Tonight, I met an editor at a new (two weeks old!) eatery on W. 21st that announces its intentions with a steerhide carpet on the sidewalk outside. First NYC beachhead of a celebrated Ft. Worth spot, this place trumpets its carnivore cred not just via floor coverings but with such delights as kangaroo carpaccio and a split marrow bone for smearing oily protein sludge on bread. If I want to look at dog treats all night, I'll bring snacks and a bedroll and hunker down at Petco.

But what we had was very good. If scallops were always cooked to such perfection, they'd be as popular as shrimp. (What happens to all those scallop shells as it is? Do scallop middens clutter shores near and far? Do most folks even know what a midden is?) All my stuff was good, and the editor didn't comment on his giant stuffed tenderloin. No half-dead kangaroos bounded past the table -- just a half-dozen worried-looking staffers.

Eventually we left and walked a few blocks. I accepted a cigarette -- sure sign I'd had enough to drink -- and then he got into a cab and I was left to call my good-time Charlene pals the Twin City dancer lesbians, but they didn't answer. Neither did my uptown Solomon, so I ducked into an inviting spot called Gstaad, where surfing films played on a screen opposite the bar and modish blond wood furniture from Switzerland helped establish le vibe. Der vibe.

That was drink 6. Or maybe 5. Being so very good at holding my alcohol on dry land and in lakes by moonlight, I mattered it not at all. Eventually I left again and occupied myself walking westward in cell phone conversation with a pal in NoCal.

I found my way home, wrote the preceding in a pickled state, and went to sleep. Then I woke up, reread it, deleted a few sentences, and posted it here for your diversion. Don't worry -- I won't be jumping into the river. I'll swim at the gym like a good model citizen.

No comments: