Installment number three of Breaking Up with Booze. Feel free to judge as harshly as you like.
My first few months as a new New Yorker were an unapologetic (yet quite regrettable) shit show. I was finally part of the big urban fantasy, and the last thing I wanted to do was put all of my ducks in a row. In fact, I may have killed the whole badelynge and eaten them for lunch (except this was New York, so I would have enjoyed them over brunch).
Funemployed and armed with a fresh line of credit from Wells Fargo, I met up with an old high school friend to marry the night in a part of town known for its high-flying gaytitude - Hell's Kitchen. Our prelude venue was a quaint and flaming den called Bartini, where hags and their fags were making sweaty twerk-sandwiches to the remixed song stylings of hot top-40 messes (...mostly Ke$ha).
My friend, who was interning at the Frick Collection over the summer between semesters at Yale (I know...), modestly introduced me to an acquaintance who was out celebrating his last weekend in NYC before moving to Paris to work at the Louvre (I KNOW!). In a desperate attempt to hide my college-dropout embarrassment, I downed four Maker's-on-the-rocks (a smooth $50 investment) and started dancing on padded vinyl chairs. That probably didn't help my image much, but at least everyone could marvel at my superb balancing skills.
Eventually we strolled down to another bar (or club? I can't recall - I probably made out with a bag lady or two on the way), where I stole a lot of drinks off the bar. I'm the type of person who is physically awkward and doesn't know how to look inconspicuous if I don't have something in my mouth or my hand (usually that means I'm always chewing gum and clutching my te-e-e-e-elephone, but in a gay club it could be anything), so that night I was desperate for a glass of something over ice that I could stir with a petite straw.
My ninja skills only improve when I'm emaciated (as you may have learned last time), and during that 3 second interval after the bartender sat down a fresh cocktail on the bar but just before the intended patron turned around from his collective queen-chat to pick up the glass, I swooped in with my dainty talons and disappeared into a cloud of seltzer fizz.
Beyoncé impersonations ensued on the dance floor, along with a stumble or three into tastefully-decorated bathroom stalls and a few more displays of stealthy cocktail theft.
Surprisingly I found myself on the correct 181st street platform shortly thereafter, but failed to realize I was at the wrong end of the subway station which I had yet to familiarize during my short time in the city. I was very confused when I discovered myself on an escalator, and developed a whopping case of vertigo. I can't remember when I took off my shoes, but I definitely recall clutching them tightly to my chest, covering my torso with all the dirt and grim from the streets of Manhattan (yep, all of it).
When I made it to the street, I may as well have been in Tuscany. My apartment was a mere three blocks north and a short stroll east, but I could make no sense of Google Maps, so I wandered the streets of (way) uptown, with no shoes on my feet and heaps of dirt on my shoulders.
[The above blank space represents exactly what you think - lost time with no real recollection.]
I felt a hand on my shoulder, and a man's voice saying "Hello? Yo, hello?" For a split second I thought I was getting kidnapped by the head of a mail order tranny-bride service, and the adrenaline rush that should have put me in a desperate sprint for survival barely made it to my eyelids. Everything was blurry and sideways, and I realized I was laying on the sidewalk with my bag as a pillow and hugging my shoes with a formidable death grip.
"I think you should go home, yeah?" the man said. I don't remember his face at all, but his voice was ridiculously kind... like he must have been a voice double for Mr. Rodgers or something. When I tried in vain to squeeze my swollen feet into my platforms, he said, "I wouldn't even bother with those, man." Swoon.
He hailed a yellow cab for me (which is quite an illusive task so far uptown), and I fell asleep again during the three-minute car ride home. I had no cash on me, and glaciers retreat faster than me trying to find my credit card. The cab driver waved me out in haste and said in that quintessential New York way, "Forgedaboudit!" I tippy-toed up the five flights of stairs to my cozy little room and slept, naked and dirty, for two days.
Looking back on that night, I can't believe how incredibly lucky I was. I have no idea how long I was just laying there on the sidewalk in Washing Heights, and anything could have happened. I told the story to a friend a few days later, and she almost cried giving me the run around about rapists and guardian angels. I speculated that my guardian angel was probably a drag queen with similar life experiences, and she told me I should take it more seriously.
And I do. I really do. I have no idea what saved me from any number of truly horrible scenarios that night, but I can say that I now appreciate the value of a clear head and truly believe in the kindness of strangers. I'll probably be the person shaking someone awake if I'm ever in that situation again, hoping they'll learn the same lessons. Cheers to that. *clink*
Photos by Lydia Hudgens