Private Magazine

Tag: bar hopping

Great Expectations

dead

This weekend, my maniacally reclusive BFF/fellow writer/ex-boyfriend, Eddie, is setting me up on a blind date.

Eddie gets me. We’ve shared many treasured moments. We used to have this thing where we’d get drunk at Hutch’s. We consumed their entire Fall/Winter 2013 cocktail menu. One time Eddie wore overalls there. Not really sure why, but I’m going to let him set me up on a date.

The man Eddie’s setting me up with is Kevin. Kevin’s the brother of a married man I know – one that I would have a scandalous affair with, given the opportunity.  In lieu of that, I guess his brother could suffice. The married guy never sealed the deal.

Eddie told me that Kevin is in desperate need of a woman. He’s allegedly “handsome” and a “talented musician.” Kevin is ten years younger than his married brother, aka in his forties.

Eddie arranged it so I’m supposed to show up at Kevin’s house this Friday night. I just got out of a strenuous three month relationship – it’s time to let my wild side back out.

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Friday rears it’s head, like the Lockness Monster ready to party. I scroll through Kevin’s Facebook photos again. He seems fuckable. I apply scandalous perfume, Elizabeth & James Black, which has a similar effect on men as Calvin Klein Euphoria did in 2009. Men love that shit.

Then I realize something. I can’t show up at Kevin’s empty handed. I mean, I wasn’t planning to get tipsy at a stranger’s house. But bringing a bottle of wine is the polite thing to do. Luckily my favorite store, Liquors, is on the way.

It’s seven on the dot when I pull up to Kevin’s crib. He lives on Englewood. I think this is his house, anyway, or near it at least. It’s hard to see numbers this time of night. A tall, lean-bordering-on-skeletal figure is walking towards me. He’s coming from the driveway next door. Whoever it is, they’re concealed by shadows.

“Hey!” I say. “Kevin? I brought this, um, wine.”

The presence gets closer, until he’s standing next to me. Kevin has skinny legs clad in black denim. Thin, straight locks of hair brush against his sharp jaw. I zoom in on the outline of his lips parting through the night air.

“That’s great,” he says. “Well, let’s go inside”.

Kevin leads the way towards a house that’s kind of Frank-Lloyd-Wright at below-sea-level. He pushes the screen door wide. There are two lit stairways. One is ascending towards light, and the second is basement-bound.

We descend the basement steps. A thin veil of light slowly envelops us. I was told (warned?) by Eddie that Kevin lives in a basement.  It’s ok, though, because he owns the house and rents it out.

The basement is bare, not the cozy Man Cave I was expecting. There’s no couch. It doesn’t smell like weed. There’s not even a poster of Chris Cornell on the wall. My fantasy totally implodes. Kevin awkwardly pats at his midsection, like he’s broken out in a rash. Maybe female DNA hasn’t yet been introduced to this domicile.

There’s a mattress on the floor, computer desk, and tiny makeshift kitchen. Kevin heads towards an open bottle of Barefoot Refresh, sitting on the counter. I hear something…. the flaccid, jingling sounds of a song I haven’t heard since college. It can’t be. Is that the fucking Shins on the stereo?

I’m confused. Eddie told me that Kevin is “aggressive.” But Barefoot Refresh and The Shins are telling me otherwise. I pour myself a glass of the real shit I brought.

“So!” I say, “What did you want to do tonight?”

“Stay here I guess,” Kevin says. He sits at the computer desk. There is a guitar on the floor.

“Hey, play me a song! What kind of music do you like? Wait – is this Elliott Smith?” I pause. “A Fond Farewell” is on.

“Yes, yes it is,” he says.

“I’m a fan,” I say, “Do you think he was murdered?”

“I’m actually very into that idea,” Kevin says. “Yes, yes I do.”

I sit across from him in a shabby chic armchair with a hand-dyed tapestry flung across it. I have to say, Kevin could be sexy. He just needs self confidence. There could be a makeout session on tonight’s horizon. Especially since, let’s be honest, I’ll probably drink all of this wine.

My phone rings. It’s my friend Maurice. He’s a total social butterfly. I’m sure he knows what’s going on tonight.

“Hey, what are you doing?” Maurice says.

“I’m not sure. I’m on this date,” I say, sitting on Kevin’s lap. This surprises him.

“Ya, I’m not sure where I’m going, but I know I will be doing some dancing,” Maurice says, “There is a show at Dreamland, maybe Nietzsche’s.”

I put my hand over the receiver and ask Kevin, “Do you want to go out? To Dreamland?”

“Uh, I’ve never been there. Been wanting to, but haven’t,” he says.

I get back on the line with Maurice, stand up, pace around the basement in my black velour peep-toe pumps with metallic silver heel.

“I’m not sure what we are going to do, but if we venture out, I’ll call you,” I say to Maurice. “Ta-ta.”

Ciao,” says Maurice.

Spinning around, I see Kevin making himself cozy in the chair. I have a feeling we won’t be going out.

“I mean, we don’t have to go out,” I say. “We can watch a movie.”

“Yeah, uh, sure,” Kevin says.

Suddenly, he stands up and just kisses me out of nowhere. With his teeth. It lasts approximately seven seconds. His kissing style could be described as “Iguana-esque.”

“Oh, wow, ok,” I say.

He puts a movie on, “The Machinist” starring Christian Bale. We are watching on his laptop. The last time I watched a movie on a laptop with a guy was in my room at Hendrix Dorm. Who knew I could get nostalgic for my college days while hanging with a middle-aged dude?

Watching the movie is awkward because we are sitting in two different chairs. It’s not cozy. No couch, remember? The credits begin streaming down the laptop screen. I’ve had like four glasses of wine, and decide to teach this guy how to make out. Eddie’s words flash in my mind – “I think you could bring out his aggressive side.”

After forty minutes of intense, one-on-one makeout coaching, I consider him a lost cause, and pass out in his bed.

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The next day, I send Eddie a Facebook message depicting my date. I’ll have to wait another day for his reply, since he’s not back from Portland yet. He was there hanging with one of his Craigslist sugar mommas.

“I really don’t know, I’m confused,” Eddie says.

I tell Eddie about taking my shirt off and passing out in Kevin’s bed. I tell him how Saturday and Sunday have passed, but Kevin hasn’t called me. I tell Eddie that I feel like I’ve made a lackluster impression. But why?

“I was tipsy,” I say, “I couldn’t drive home. But I’m proud of myself for only being mildly-drunk-in-high school slutty. Not full-blown, hit-it-and quit it-on a-first date-slutty. I left him wanting more.”

“Well ok, dear,” Eddie says. “I’m sure you did. I’ll email Kevin and find out what he thought.”

I just have the gut feeling that I scared Kevin away. But how?

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“Kevin told me that he doesn’t want ANY type of relationship at all,” Eddie says. “Not sure what that means. He said you’re pretty and cool, but thought you were going to have sex with him. That’s why he thought you went over there, and why he can’t talk to you anymore.”

“He doesn’t want to talk to me…because I didn’t have sex with him the day I met him?” I say.

“Yeah, I guess so, dear,” Eddie says. “He is a lost cause.”

“Yeah, I’ll say.”

I learned a valuable lesson from my date with Kevin – the answer to the age-old question of “Is there such a thing as hittin’ it too soon”? The answer is yes, obviously, but the conundrum doesn’t end there.

Whatever energy I project to the male species, I yield the equal and opposite reaction.  I wanted a noncommittal makeout session. Kevin seemed like a good possibility for someone I could go out with casually from time to time. Who knew a socially-awkward, romantically-inept basement dweller would diss me? For not having sex with him two hours after meeting him? Maybe humanity really is fucked.

It was silly of me to try and make Kevin a stand-in for his married brother, anyway. Now the married brother probably found out an exaggerated version of the story, and is all jealous and annoyed. But maybe he has no clue. I think I’ll just stick to that pursuit for now.

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Tragic Mike

Men

I’ve taken a new number at the meat market of life. The edges of my soul have hardened, like cheese left in the sun. With that salty taste always deep in my throat, I’m forever thirsting for more.

That’s what I should have expected, after going out with someone I met at The Bend.

————————-

When I came back from Austin, I met some guy at the place formerly known as The Bend. It’s now called “The Exchange.” Honestly, we only went in there to see if it still carried the same seedy ambiance.  Sure enough, my friend Maurice and I found ourselves seated besides two guys in their early thirties. Something in the air between us whispered “I’ve got issues.”

It was early evening – cocktail hour. We’d gone to some old crusty hippie gathering at Nietzsche’s, featuring a crock pot of slop. I met DBGB’s handsome new bartender. Ladies, he has a man bun. Maurice and I were topping off my homecoming with the rest of The Exchange’s wine when I began a questionable flirtation with one of the weirdos there. He had narrow droopy eyes and muscles, which I never really care for. Honestly, I prefer hairy torsos and bellies that double as a comfy pillow when I drink too much. His stance seemed apropos for hanging at Bottom’s Up. His friend’s glasses were clear plastic frames with tinted lenses, which might insinuate he sells coke. But despite all these oddities and incongruities, we exchanged phone numbers, because well, I haven’t written a blog in a while.

Sure enough, my date with Justin proved to be very bloggable indeed.

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Gin

Go figure, Justin’s house is near mine. We meet up at the neighborhood tavern. I’m not super aroused by the sight of Justin, and literally exhale a poignant sigh of despair while getting ready. I just need some writing material. A writer’s life is filled with sacrifice.

Justin’s puffing on a cigarette like it’s 2006 when I drag my lazy ass feet to the door. We sit at a lopsided table with a bucket of ale. Justin’s all about the baseball game on the TV – and is that a tribal tattoo peeking from under his tee shirt? I begin drinking. Justin’s got a serious look on his face. Sure enough, he begins an elaborate story.

“Century Grill never gives me many hours bartending,” he begins. “I used to work way more at Templeton Landing, but after the summer they always get rid of people. So I’m kind of strapped for cash.”

“You just need a side hustle,” I reply. “I’m going to make candles!”

“Well, I used to be a dancer,” Justin continues. “My friend Mike and I, we were strippers. His name’s Mike so we called it Magic Mike’s, showed the movie, and after did our dance performance. We sold tickets and had it at this hotel in Corfu, and later ended up doing a bunch of bachelorette parties.”

“Ok. How innovative.”

“My girlfriend at the time, she didn’t care for it. She was a lawyer and 10 years older than me. She bought me this Cadillac and I was making payments on it and everything, but when she broke up with me she took away the car and now I don’t have one. I had saved up $10,000 but I wasn’t working so that went pretty fast. So I have a rental car, which is expensive.”

“Why not just get a hoopdy for $700?”

“I have credit issues, financial issues. My dad, he’s paralyzed after an accident. I have to go up to the Adirondacks and see him. It’s stressful and hard, but I’m dealing with it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“And also, my other ex girlfriend, I asked her to move in with me, because after a month of seeing her I realized she was living in a grimy basement on the Lower West Side and I felt bad. So she moved in, and one day she got all dolled up for a ‘job interview’ at nighttime, and didn’t return for six hours. She was all glassy eyed when she came back, and turns out she sold her phone for heroin. I forgave her, and a few weeks later she disappeared again and I never saw her since.”

“Since when?”

“January.”

“Ok…”

I feel like Justin just dropped a whole JFK terminal of baggage on my shoulders. So me being a pretty empathetic person, I agree to accompany him to Hardware for his “friend’s birthday celebration.” It’s Monday after all –  it should be a chill, drama-free evening…

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Chandelier

I’m texting with my mom while Justin’s outside smoking. She’s asking me all about Justin’s last name, which I’m going to find out asap, since the last guy I met in Allentown turned out to have been in prison for holding his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint.

“Justin what? I’m sure he’s a nice man.”

“No he is BORING *yawn*.”

Justin suddenly shows up and starts reading over my shoulder.

“Justin…?” he says.

“Oh yeah, sorry, my mom, she just likes to find out who I go out with and stuff.”

“My name’s Jason.”

The shards of strength it’s taken to maintain my stoic expression disappear. My mouth slackens; my eyes become a blank stare.

“No, I know, I just told her the other day when I first met you, I must’ve said Justin.”

Jason rolls his eyes but buys me another drink so it seems he’s gotten over the error.

——————————-

Jason is driving me home in the  rental car. I rejoice in the night finally coming to its conclusion. He lives in the hood, not gonna lie, but I agree to check out Jason’s paintings. They’re landscapes and actually pretty good, if the photos of them on his iPhone are any indication. Besides, Jason’s friend, the one with the glasses, has given him some “epic pot” that he says I can try.

We enter Jason’s clean, well-lit dwelling off Genesee. Sure enough, his landscapes glow from the walls in blue and green hues.

“Wow, neato! Loving the colors. They make me happy!”

Jason’s dug out the marijuana, a couple hundred dollars worth in a large Ziploc – quite a bit for someone who by their own admission “rarely smokes.” We sit on the couch. I’m moderately buzzed, not in a bad way, and when Jason begins making out with me I go with it for five minutes or so. A make out session never killed anybody.

I turn away and start puffing away on the weed. When I look back at Jason, he has removed all of his clothes. He stands up and moves toward  me in true male stripper fashion.

“No, wait -” I say. Overwhelmed, I burst into tears. “I don’t want to do anything,” I choke out between sobs.

Jason looks confused and sad, then his expression shifts to annoyance.

“Are you on something?”

“No!”

“Do you have issues, were you raped as a child?”

“What? No!”

“Are you worried I’ll never speak to you again?”

“Definitely not.”

I continue bawling and dry my face on a couch pillow.

“I don’t want to sleep with you. You look like my cousin.”

The cousin thing – which hit me about halfway through the night, a cousin I don’t really like on my mom’s side – pisses Jason right off. He starts pacing around, still naked.

“Your cousin? That’s the most goddamn stupid thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Just take me home!” I shriek, cry some more.

Jason drops me off down the street from my house. I run across the muddy lawn, breathing a sigh of sweet surrender at being home.

 

 

Update: One week later, I was in Rafferty’s (the local tavern that Jason and I went to) with Maurice. A random biker approached us and told me, “The guy you were here with last week is a convicted sex offender.” He found his profile  for me on the U.S. Dept. of Justice Sex Offender Web site. Sure enough, it was really Jason. He date-raped a 19 year old ten years back, when he was 22.

How to Get F’ed Up For Free: The Lackawanna Scene

zion

This is the scene I observe, while peering into a vacant Ridge Road bar called “Cherry Stone”…

A television broadcast of the Miss America pageant flickers down upon a bedraggled bartender. He’s perched upon a stool, hunched over, gazing at his reflection in the lacquered bar top. No customers are in to dirty its surface. The clock on the wall tells an incorrect time. Miss America accepts her crown, drips Absolut Raz tears and grins her angel dust smile.

This is the Lackawanna scene?” I ask my co-worker and companion ,S.

“Let’s go inside. Clear our minds. Decide our game plan,” says S.

“But this guy probably won’t give us any drinks for free, since we’re his only customers,” I reply.

Earlier today, I sarcastically mentioned to S. that I’m suffering from a dating dry spell. Also, that I need a change of scenery.

“Every man I meet and date has a beard, tattoos, a bicycle, and emotional baggage,” I said. “I mean, does anyone else exist?”

“Come over later,” S. casually invited. “We can go out in Lackawanna.”

“Go out…in Lackawanna?” I stopped walking. “I’ll pack an overnight bag and be over by ten.”

I’m already a familiar degenerate within the Buffalo Scene, the Cheektowaga Scene, the Hamburg Scene, and definitely the Tonawanda Scene… so it’s time to penetrate  the Lackawanna Scene.

——————————-

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So here we are, at the wood-paneled pit with a questionable smell known as Cherry Stone.

“Well, we’re here,” I say, coming through the entrance and sitting down with a sigh. “Do you have any wine?”

The seemingly-intoxicated proprietor – sitting on the stool next to me -shakes himself from his stupor and runs behind the bar. This man – short, with a snowy mustache, ripened age of 60-something – removes a Barefoot bottle from the top shelf. It’s empty, except for maybe a quarter-ounce. He gives it a swirl, and pours the remains into a plastic cup, offering it to S. as a sample or something.  We look at each other.

“I’ll get a new bottle from the basement,” he says, and disappears. S. and I settle into our chairs, and I brace myself for a potentially boring night. A night free of chaos and lawlessness, unusual in its usual-ness…? Shit. I might even be in bed by midnight.

The tipsy barkeep returns from the wine cellar. He fills two glasses with ice and pours wine up to the brim.  Us girls whittle away some time, kind of ignoring the ceaseless stare coming from the bartender/owner guy.

“So, is there another joint around?” I inquire.

“I don’t know, I’ve only lived here two weeks,” says S.

“Around the corner, on Electric, there’s the old C2’s,” Mr. Cherry Stone says with an ominous look, eyeballs drifting in divergent directions. “That’s where all the real weirdos are…”

We close our tab and set sail for C2’s.

————————————

 

Coming around the bend, I see a man in a motorized wheelchair zipping away down the middle of the street, away from a tiny brick shack. A Labatt light illuminates the threshold of “the old C2’s.”

We enter; the place is packed with sloppily-dressed, dirty, and drunk white guys in their thirties and forties. Some lean against walls like moths; some are engaged in an infinite game of pool. Many linger around the lengthy bar, with a stumbling 40-something behind it.

I sit down at the end of the bar.

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“I”ll just have a chardonnay,” I say to a drunken dad in a baseball hat.

“Three dollars.”

He hands me a giant goblet brimming with wine. I begin to hand him my credit card.

“We’re cash only, though,” he tells me.

“You are? Shit.” I  take a slurp of chardonnay. “ I don’t have $3…” I look around the room.

“It’s fine, I don’t care. There’s an ATM over there but whatever. I’m the owner too.” I’m realizing the bartender/owner thing is popular within the Lackawanna Scene.

“No, I’ll get $3 before the night is done. Don’t you worry!”

I revolve around the room and start talking to the Lackawanna lads.

“Hi!” I enthusiastically squeal, running up to a skinny, discolored man in a gray Marlboro tee .

“Hey there,” he says.

“So, what’s your name?”

“Steve.”

“Is this the happening scene or what? I haven’t been here in gosh…ages! So  what are you drinking?”

“Uh, just a Bud.”

“Wow! You have great taste. I didn’t know it was cash only, and haven’t even paid for this yet…I just don’t know what to do.”

“Uh, there’s an ATM right there.”

I immediately bail on Steve and strike out with a few more bar flies. I’m surprised they don’t interpret my frenzied advances as an offer of sexual favors. Please. They can’t afford my sexual favors.

Turning around to the back of C2’s, I find myself at the pool table. Three sturdy gents with beer bellies are standing around holding pool ques, although I’m not sure if a game is actually in progress.

“So what’s the story here guys, are we the gambling sort?”

I can tell that one of the guys – a blonde, full -figured fellow in a plaid scarf  -is Top Dawg of C2’s.

“Nah, we just come around here and act silly!” The guy with the scarf bellows, grabbing his friend and putting him in a headlock. “Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure! But actually, I haven’t paid for this yet. I’m in debt.”

“I got you, girl!”

He runs up to the bar and throws a wad of singles at the bartender/owner, who shakes his head in mock exasperation.

“I’m going out to the back patio,” this fellow declares, raising a hand to his lips to insinuate smoking a blunt. His green scarf trails behind him elegantly as he strolls outside. He beckons me to follow him.

“Oh, that darn Schmitty!” The owner jeers, drinking a shot.

I follow Schmitty outside, and despite the freezing temperature, there’s a group of maybe 15 people chilling on picnic tables. A couple more guys – Schmitty’s pals – sit down at our table. One of them pulls out a Seneca and removes half its tobacco. Schmitty unearths a plastic baggie from his pocket – cigarette pack cellophane with weed inside, lighter-sealed shut. Quaint.

Our crew – yes, I was adopted into the C2 crew – stroll inside with a new vision. An emaciated guy, obviously same-sex orientated, is twirling around the room in a Fruit Loops hoodie. From the looks of his pupils, he’s eaten some pills. I’m accosted by a man with a ‘stache and a margarita glass full of ice and Pepsi. He divulges that my wine glass inspired him to get his drink in a wine glass, too.

My night with the triple OGs of C2’s is turning out to be pretty great. I wouldn’t necessarily be caught here again, but would definitely rate the Lackawanna Scene four stars in terms of hospitality.

Wings