6.5% ABV from a 750 mLer
You know you’re a New Yorker when you sing and dance to your ipod while walking the streets. I’m not talking a slight, unwitting head bob, a silent mouthing of the lyrics to a favorite song in particular. I’m talking straight up, belting out the lyrics with a 90% accuracy aided by impromptu dance moves and shit like you’re home alone on a Saturday night, drunk on wine, with nothing better to do. Or better yet, like you’re Tony Manero in that famous opening scene. You’ve finally reached full uninhibition. You don’t care that you’re on a packed Broadway sidewalk. You don’t care that the M&M Store bag-toting tourists are gawking at you. (It’s a story they’ll certainly share with friends when they get back to Tulsa. Golly! Get a picture, Suzie!) All you care about is enjoying your music. The way you want to enjoy it. Everyone else around you be damned.
With minimal private living space in the city you have to live publicly. Uninhibited.
Restaurants become your dining room. Eating at home in NYC would involve cooking in a kitchen the size of a closet, chopping and dicing things on a precariously-balanced cutting board teetering on the edge of the sink, boiling water a few inches from a sauce sloshing around, having to actually back out of the kitchen to fully open the oven door, and if by some miracle you can actually prepare something edible this process is finished off by pulling up to the closest thing you have to a dining room table, the coffee table, where you knock a few magazines and Netflix out of the way to free up a plate-sized space to chow down. Nah, not worth it. But are restaurants really better? You’re not doing the cooking but you’re jam-packed into a minuscule dining space. You’re nearly sitting on someone’s lap. You can’t remember if you’re on a single date or a double because another couples’ table is one inch away from yours. Your business is everyone’s. So you might as well make it that way. You’re going to overhear what other diners are saying and they’re going to likewise overhear you. All the lovey dovey shit you might say. All the embarrassing “job interview” questions you exchange on a first date.* Everyone knows the couples on first dates. The lack of rapport is palpable. However, this close proximity dining can be most embarrassing when you’re spatting with a longtime romantic partner, hilarious when other diners are doing the spatting. There’s a million stories in this city and you can’t help but hear every single fucking one of them.
The bar becomes your living room. I have countless friends in New York. And in how many of those people’s living rooms have I stood? Maybe two. That’s just not how it works here. My friends could be homeless for all I know. No one wants to go to another person’s part of town. And few have living rooms big enough to accommodate more people than the one or two that actually live in the pad. Thus, you make bars your living rooms. You go there to celebrate, to mourn, to watch sports and big events, play games, shoot the shit, catch up on old times, create new times, and just like Tim Riggins, to make some memories. The drawback of this, of course, is that there’s gonna be a lot of people in “your” living room that you don’t necessarily want there. Ugly people, loud people, smelly people, and dumb people. You have to find the bar with the patrons, the ambiance, the culinary output, the TV setup, and the drink most simpatico with your desires. And you will.
The subway becomes your car. Instead of sitting in a car in bumper to bumper traffic, you’re standing crotch to ass, face to crotch, hand to crotch…goddammit, how come someone’s smelly crotch is everywhere I turn?! Instead of perfectly modulated air or heat in a sealed environment, you’re…well you’re always sweating your ass off. Doesn’t matter if it’s a dog day of summer or the middle of winter, you will be sweltering. Instead of peaceful music on your ipod dock DJ’ed by you, you’re listening to white noise, and squealing teenagers, panhandling ragamuffins, and that Mariachi band that goes from car-to-car on weekends. Damn, they’re good. I always toss them whatever loose change I have.
The park becomes your backyard. Instead of sitting peacefully on your porch smoking a cigar, laying in your hammock drinking a lemonade, grilling a big tenderloin on your massive propane grill, and playing catch with your Weimaraner, you’re mentally figuring out how big a chalk outline of your dead body would be and finding that requisite amount of hopefully dry grass space throughout Sheep Meadow, hopefully the Great Lawn, or maybe a Westside or Eastside pier, or some other place you know, and plunking down amongst all the other sweaty bodies. Trying to read or do a crossword, but it’s too sunny. Trying to wet your whistle, ah, but the closest vendor is one-hundred yards away and charges $4 for a Gatorade. Trying to enjoy a bee-you-tee-full Padron but, “Hey guy! Could you put dat fuckin’ see-gar out, before I snap it in two.” And, grilling a nice steak, ha. Yeah, right. Get a reservation and have a good credit limit. At least your teeny tiny dog found a rock to shit on. Now does any one have a plastic baggy I can borrow?
A back alley becomes your love den. A nice five-bedroom house with a massive bedroom, a canopy bed worthy of a sheik with nice silk sheets and fluffy pillows? Yeah, right. Neither of you have a car of course and she lives in Park Slope and you live near Columbus Circle. Your place? She’s not that kind of girl. Her place? Eh, I’m not interested. And cabs are pricey! The back alley seems perfectly fine for a quickie. Ooh, and so romantic. I guess it wasn’t garbage day today. And did that cardboard box just rustle? Why, it must be some poor fella’s house. Just shut up and hurry up. OK, I’m trying. I’m sorry the brick wall is scraping up your palms and I’m sorry you’re tired of having that skirt above your head. Yeah, I do agree, it does stink back here. Whoops, just grafittied the wall.
I sit writing this in my detestable Starbucks. For it is my office. I have the absolute worst seat in the house, the one right next to what would be called the “Fixin’s” Bar if we were at a Jersey Turnpike Roy Rogers. My back touches this counter, my laptop screen visible to every one that visits it after receiving their order. You wouldn’t believe how long people spend there preparing their coffees. What exactly are they doing? I drink my coffee black so adding stuff to your coffee seems somewhat foreign to me. Having said that, I drink my iced coffee with Sweet’N Low and a splash of skim milk so I know how long it takes to accomplish that menial task. Like fifteen seconds. Yet all these Upper West Side mommies, real-life Gossips Girls, wannabe artistic scenesters but really Central Park West trust funders, and lingering Columbia U students take upwards of two minutes to add all the ingredients they want to add to their coffees. Cinnamon and vanilla and nutmeg and, well, I guess that’s just the cheapskates’ way of making their Joe more fancy.
But, alas, I still prefer being here to writing at my home office, i.e. my lap on my sofa. I can actually focus better here, enjoy myself, put myself in that special little place I need to go to get writing done. Sadly, I can’t stop my special little place from playing bad Muzak (on sale for just $11.99 at the counter!). You win some, you lose some. Each person at the Fixin’s counter, oh, and there’s a new one every twenty seconds or so, stacking up like lemurs at the edge of a cliff, tries to read what’s on my laptop screen. It’s a natural human reaction, I understand. Luckily, I have become fully uninhibited. The most important thing in this tiny and cramped world I live in. So I DON’T GIVE A FUCK–can you see that over my shoulder? Should I bold that?–I DON’T GIVE A FUCK and have no problem if they read this. If YOU read this, fat mommy behind me in ill-fitting Capris, revealing a little too much of your prickly bobby-socked cankles, chowing down on an 800 calorie Marshmallow Twizzle and frozen limeade on your emasculated working hubby’s dime, propping your Peg Perego “Duette” stroller with your in vitro-fertilized ugly twin babes right beside my right ear, allowing them to loudly bellow in off-key synchronicity the theme song to some show I’ve certainly never heard of nor ever will because I don’t have any fucking kids. Lady, you punish me with all the above and yet you still want to read over my shoulder? Well go ahead, I just don’t care…
My second career The Lost Abbey brew, kindly shared with me by my pal DW from his The Lost Abbey Patron Saints Club bi-monthly shipment. I’ve just gotten into saisons hardcore this spring and early summer and this is a nice example of the style. Very fruity with tastes of lemon zest and orange citrus, a mild spiciness, and a potent yeastiness. Slight hops and a minimal sour funkiness, but I would have preferred a perhaps more bold use of Brett for added complexity. Incredibly drinkable and refreshing, it smells a heck of a lot better than it tastes, but it tastes pretty damn good too.
*I would never go on a first date to a restaurant. Dumb.