March 22nd, 2007
SOHO GADABOUT!by Anthony Venditto
Every one of us has a nemesis: an enemy we abhor; an unflappable foe that simultaneously drives us mad while inspiring us to reach down and dig deep for sterner stuff. Superman has Lex Luthor, Gargamel has the Smurfs, George Bush has the constitution and I… I have February. Every February catastrophe strikes me: one year my parents got divorced, once I had pneumonia. I got hit by a car in February, had my first heartbreak, the chickenpox, I was even arrested one February. Every year February pounces in an attempt to destroy me.
This year, though, I have a plan. I intend to spend as much time as possible in different neighborhoods getting snockered in an attempt to keep karma and February from catching up with me. The following is a log of what happened last Tuesday when I went out on a dry run.
11:30am- I wake up in a cold sweat. I know February is coming for me because the dream has started again. It’s the same every year: Tina Turner comes riding at me on a giant grey wolf dressed in her costume from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. She points a gnarled tootsie roll of a finger at me and howls, “February! Two men enter! One man leave! Two men enter! One man leave!” Over and over and over again. I cry myself back to sleep. It has begun.
1:00pm- I head west down Houston pointing my feet toward SoHo. It’s a perfect neighborhood for the type of defensively karmic drinking I’ll be participating in today. SoHo’s a modern day 9-5 gypsy marketplace, a poseur’s paradise where outsiders who’ve never been put out and insiders who seldom get the inside joke co-exist in the rarefied air of genuine artistic genius and jacks of all types of trades. In short, a perfect place for one to hide and drink an afternoon away.
1:45- Once Upon a Tart, Sullivan St. A cool shop for sweets and swanky sandwiches. I load up on cookies and blueberry muffins topped off with a large black coffee. It’s a scientific fact: When binge drinking one needs a good solid base of exotic meats and trans fats, lacking that it’s best to fill up on pastries and copious amounts of caffeine. See kids: I’m nothing if not health conscious.
2:15- The Cub Room, corner of Prince and Sullivan. Finally Jack Daniels! I order a double shot and a beer and shake the dust of the road off my boots. Settling in, something behind the bar catches my eye. I call over the bartender. “Excuse me, is that a Playboy Book you’ve got by the cash register there?” He chuckles. “It is, but it’s not what you think.” “Well are there boobies and stuff in it?” (a perfectly innocent man question.) “No. No boobies, it’s a book of cocktail recipes. Wanna check it out?” “Please.” Over another shot and a beer I familiarize myself with the 1971 hardcover classic;” Playboy’s Host and Bar Book.” The introduction promises the reader he’ll improve, “his speed, his icemanship, glassmanship and, above all, his orderly bar habits, even when the fling is at its wildest!” Groovy! The book’s filled with essays, esoteric drink recipes (The Applejack Daisy?) and instructions for a savory, aphrodisacal award winning smoked oyster dip.
2:40- A guy walks up to the bar and orders a drink. He looks my way. “Hey, is that the Playboy book from behind the bar?” “Yeah it is.” “I’ve always wondered about that book, Are there boobies and stuff in there?” (see: perfectly innocent question.) “No, no nudity, just a bunch of dated essays and bizarre pictures of 70s cocktail parties.” We shoot the breeze for a while flipping through the book and making snarky comments to one another. He’s a banker from Ohio who’s been living in the city for about a year. He ducked out of work early for a little nip. I begin to get a nice sense of camaraderie when he drops this on me. “See that girl in that picture there?” “Yeah, she’s a little cutie.” “She reminds me of this crazy chick I went to high school with, this girl Leslie. This girl was nutty.” “Really.” “Yeah, she used to hook up with a lot of guys. I ain’t gonna lie, I hooked up with her myself. I found out a couple years later she used to, um, save our stuff, like in a little jar. Then she’d use the slurry as lip- gloss.” He then looked at me with his eyebrows raised waiting for a response. I looked at him with utter disgust. Now, I’m no prude, but I was definitely tipsy and I began to feel quite indignant. “First off, there’s no way that’s true. I call Bravo Sierra on that story, it’s gotta be total B.S. Secondly, I’ve known you for like fifteen minutes. What in the world makes you think I would want to hear something like that?” “I just thought it was funny man.” “Yeah, maybe in Ohio.” I throw back another shot to get the taste of that story out of my mouth and hoof on out of there on my high horse.
3:30- SoHo Room at Spring and Sullivan. Five shots, three beers and a killer cup of java later and I’m feeling nice and sociable. Unfortunately, I’m the only person in the whole joint, there’s not even a bartender in sight. Then a door opened and in a swath of golden light SHE appeared: With the face of a dirty eastern European angel, a tushee like a stack of butter heavy flapjacks and the raspy voice of Harvey Fierstein. She asked me what I wanted to drink in a staccato baritone that cut thru me like a Ginsu knife. I ordered a double Jack, a beer and a black coffee, whilst in my mind I treated her to a thorough rogering.
3:45ish- My girlfriend calls! Golly, I love her. We make plans to meet up in a lil’ bit whilst in my mind I treated her to a thorough rogering. I continue to drink.
Later- Antarctica, on Hudson. According to the sign on the wall if your name is Sachima you get to drink for free tonight from 7pm till 11. Well that’s a nifty bar promo. Then I notice a pool table and my interest is piqued. Normally my pool game is dangerously inconsistent, but I’m in that glorious place where sobriety and complete drunkenness are in a temporary stalemate in the battle for my major motor functions. I decide to wait for my girlfriend to show up and then I’ll give her a master class in billiards. I crash into the bar and decide to push the envelope with a shot of Jack. They don’t serve coffee, so I mix things up with a Jack and coke. I’m a risk taker.
Still Later- My girlfriend still hasn’t showed up, but a small group of late twenty something female office workers have assembled at the end of the bar. I’m minding my own business, but I can’t help overhearing snippets of their conversation. They’re drinking shots of something called A Red headed Slut, and generally whooping it up. Lady 1: “… It was down in Austin at this place Momo’s. He was playing in a band and I thought he was cute.” Lady 2: “He was also like twenty years older than you.” Lady 1: “So, there’s nothing wrong with that.” Then the whole herd of them squealed in a frequency I still feel in my bones on cold, blustery nights. Ladies 2 thru 5: “EEWWWW! OLD MAN BALLS!” Lady 1: “No, he was sweet. So I let him take me out to my car in the parking lot.” I chuckle to myself. In that one sentence the lady just tore down decades of feminism. Lady 3: “So what happened?” Lady 1: “You know… we made out …and I kinda took care of him, you know, with my mouth.” Once again all the hens howled. “EEWWWW! OLD MAN BALLS!” It took all my will power to stop from asking her if she saved any leftovers to use as lip-gloss. Lady 2: “Now tell them the good part.” Lady 1: “Well the guy turned out to be Natalie Maines’ ex husband.” Lady 4: “Who’s Natalie Maines?” Lady 3: “Oh my God she’s the loud-mouth lead singer of the Dixie Chicks!” At this point the whole drunken gaggle of them collapsed in a pile of clucks and tweets and chicken feathers.
Time has ceased to have meaning- All thoughts of pool playing are gone. As a matter of fact all thoughts are gone from my head replaced by the braying cackles of the bridge and tunnel work wenches. I’m about to beg for mercy when my girlfriend shows up! She asks me about my day and if I learned anything. I tell her I learned absolutely nothing today. Then I tell her about my plan to outwit February. “Well baby you certainly sound sincere enough about this plan.” (She was totally setting me up) “I am, I really am. I’m seriously sincere about not letting February get the best of me this year.” “Well, you know what Martin Luther King says about that don’t you: ‘Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere stupidity.’ But I still think you’re a cutie baby. Now get me a shot of Jameson’s” Touche MLK, touche!