Friday Night Out

September 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

meatpacking

Mini-movie

Charles wanted to go out again last night, so we tried Los Dados on Ganesvoort Street, in the meatpacking district. I had a blueberry margarita and pork taquitos: good but not great. I don’t usually like tequila but last night it tasted like cactus, not motor oil. We sat in the back to avoid the bar music, but had to contend with workers drilling electrical outlets through the dinner hour. They apologized very sweetly, and we weren’t in the mood to care. Charles made friends with them all, as he tends to do, while I sat in the glow of liquor and hot sauce, dreaming up plots for thrillers.

It’s a festive neighborhood, the wide cobblestoned streets full of young people clumped on the sidewalks and corners, smoking and fiddling with their phones (when are they going to make a cellphone that doubles as a cigarette case?),  the facades of new buildings lit up in changing colors reminding me both of early modernist painting and of ships. The fresh rain and cool wind made me reconsider my earlier declaration that I’m sick of New York. I’m not—just yearning for mountains, desert, country roads and fields of long grass gone to seed, grackles* and bramble bushes. Instead we investigated a shoot involving an ugly bald model in a silver evening dress and pink lipstick.

I could go out every night and take pictures of events like that, and then I’d get advertisers on this blog. I could jazz it up by choosing a celebrity or two to stalk, keep a running diary. How hard could it be? Throw in a weekly feature on medieval torture devices and female orgasms (the most popular search terms used to find this blog) and I’d have a success. Perhaps a serial about Bob, a fellow with a touch of Asberger’s who works hard researching medieval torture devices, and his clever wife Mary who finds a new means of achieving orgasm every day.

* “The Common Grackle forages on the ground, in shallow water or in shrubs; it will steal food from other birds. It is omnivorous, eating insects, minnows, frogs, eggs, berries, seeds, grain and even small birds.

Along with some other species of grackles, the common grackle is known to practice “anting,” rubbing insects on its feathers to apply liquids such as formic acid secreted by the insects.

This bird’s song is particularly harsh, especially when these birds, in a flock, are calling.”—wikipedia

A Hedge of Rubber Trees
by Amy Clampitt
The West Village by then was changing; before long
the rundown brownstones at its farthest edge
would have slipped into trendier hands. She lived,
impervious to trends, behind a potted hedge of
rubber trees, with three cats, a canary--refuse
from whose cage kept sifting down and then
germinating, a yearning seedling choir, around
the saucers on the windowsill--and an inexorable
cohort of roaches she was too nearsighted to deal
with, though she knew they were there, and would
speak of them, ruefully, as of an affliction that
     might once, long ago, have been prevented.

Unclassifiable castoffs, misfits, marginal cases:
when you're one yourself, or close to it, there's
a reassurance in proving you haven't quite gone
under by taking up with somebody odder than you are.
Or trying to. "They're my friends," she'd say of
her cats--Mollie, Mitzi and Caroline, their names were,
and she was forever taking one or another in a cab
to the vet--as though she had no others. The roommate
who'd become a nun, the one who was Jewish, the couple
she'd met on a foliage tour, one fall, were all people
she no longer saw. She worked for a law firm, said all
     the judges were alcoholic, had never voted.

But would sometimes have me to dinner--breaded veal,
white wine, strawberry Bavarian--and sometimes, from
what she didn't know she was saying, I'd snatch a shred
or two of her threadbare history. Baltic cold. Being
sent home in a troika when her feet went numb. In
summer, carriage rides. A swarm of gypsy children
driven off with whips. An octogenarian father, bishop
of a dying schismatic sect. A very young mother
who didn't want her. A half-brother she met just once.
Cousins in Wisconsin, one of whom phoned her from a candy
store, out of the blue, while she was living in Chicago.
     What had brought her there, or when, remained unclear.

As did much else. We'd met in church. I noticed first
a big, soaring soprano with a wobble in it, then
the thickly wreathed and braided crimp in the mouse-
gold coiffure. Old? Young? She was of no age.
Through rimless lenses she looked out of a child's,
or a doll's, globular blue. Wore Keds the year round,
tended otherwise to overdress. Owned a mandolin. Once
I got her to take it down from the mantel and plink out,
through a warm fuddle of sauterne, a lot of giddy Italian
airs from a songbook whose pages had started to crumble.
The canary fluffed and quivered, and the cats, amazed,
     came out from under the couch and stared.

What could the offspring of the schismatic age and a
reluctant child bride expect from life? Not much.
Less and less. A dream she'd had kept coming back,
years after. She'd taken a job in Washington with
some right-wing lobby, and lived in one of those
bow-windowed mansions that turn into roominghouses,
and her room there had a full-length mirror: oval,
with a molding, is the way I picture it. In her dream
something woke her, she got up to look, and there
in the glass she'd had was covered over--she gave it
     a wondering emphasis--with gray veils.

The West Village was changing. I was changing. The last
time I asked her to dinner, she didn't show. Hours--
or was it days?--later, she phoned to explain: she hadn't
been able to find my block; a patrolman had steered her home.
I spent my evenings canvassing for Gene McCarthy. Passing,
I'd see her shades drawn, no light behind the rubber trees.
She wasn't out, she didn't own a TV. She was in there,
getting gently blotto. What came next, I wasn't brave
enough to know. Only one day, passing, I saw
new shades, quick-chic matchstick bamboo, going up where
the waterstained old ones had been, and where the seedlings--
     O gray veils, gray veils--had risen and gone down.
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