NOTHING IN BROOKLYN
i can remember walking on 17th street (or maybe it was somewhere else) towards 5th ave in the late afternoon on my way to class and seeing this large restaurant with lots of outdoor seating. this is almost 2 years ago now.
to me, the restaurant seemed to be one of those places that caps off a “perfect day spent exploring lower manhattan.” i don’t mean to be sassy. some of the outdoor seats allow one to see the western part of union square so the view’s nice. and i’m sure the food is good enough.
it just feels slightly problematic because i’m sure the bill by the end of meal has customers paying more for location than the actual food. but even with that injustice in mind, i would walk past people seated there, seething with jealousy.
they were young, very attractive, very trendy, with a glass of pinot noir or pinot gris (that’s right, very posh) in hand, laughing over something “hilarious” or “stimulating.” god dammit, it was 4pm.
meanwhile, i had a presentation to do or a 20-page business proposal to submit. but what the hell does that feel like? to defy responsibilities and priorities for the day in that way? put everything on the back burner?
i mean, i think it’s clear i’m involving some of my own baggage here. and who knows, maybe those people went back to work afterwards and designed a really good logo, finished editing a commercial, or closed a deal with proctor & gamble.
well, yesterday turned out to be that day for me.
still jet-lagged, i woke up around 7am and just dawdled a while, doing all those bullshit things like checking instagram, facebook, email…the bullshit recharging routine.
i remember listening to duncan trussell’s podcast with his mother a while ago and they were talking about how we have those activities that help us grow as people and those which recharge our brains and get us ready to face scary obstacles. reading about the kardashians, watching the kardashians, writing about the kardashians (dammit), being on social media, candy-crushing, and other likeminded diversions recharge us and get us ready to be productive in the world. it’s a little disconcerting to me that i need a diversion first thing in the morning. isn’t that what sleep’s for?
after cleaning myself up, i walked over to this quiet place for coffee and ended up having a cafe au lait, which i guess is a very close cousin of coffee.
at this cafe, they have this beautiful rooftop set up with only a few seats. on the surrounding walls, there’s some very captivating graffiti that i won’t try to describe. it looks nice. there’s also some shitty, accusatory 20s-angst shit like ‘grow up’ in gross bright green as well.
it was my place for the morning (and this other girl’s, who was seated in a corner to my left) where i wrote in my journal about saying goodbye to a person i worked with in china and how i received a most unexpected and emotional send-off after only knowing her a little over 2 months.
i thought about the organic process of building a friendship, what i must’ve done right over that time, and how to use this experience for dealing with other people i meet going forward. i also thought about when i might see her again.
i had a brief conversation with that girl to my left about nothing in particular. i was drawn by how she dressed. she was wearing a tank top that exposed her flat stomach with dark translucent pants that flowed a little bit and reminded me of bell-bottoms. as you can imagine, this is not my area of expertise.
i thought about how different she looked from the girls i saw in china where they wore flowing dresses like flappers in the 20s.
then before i left i thought about the best way to exit. maybe it would be to say bye, introduce myself, and ask a little bit about her and whether she’s been in the neighborhood long. nope, too aggressive. i decided to just introduce myself and say bye but crumpled under the pressure. i said ‘take care,’ and left. i walked out onto the street with a slight adrenaline rush. my body was reacting to an action i didn’t take and i felt like a coward.
i thought about my lack of self-confidence sometimes and why it’s there. i don’t always think i’m a coward. i think kool a.d. has it right. "i suck very much sometimes and other times i think, ‘yo, i’m the fucking man." it’s hard to stay focused.
i thought about what i heard greg proops say in a recent podcast how the key to life is walking around confidently. i felt a bit down.
after a little hop and skip, i walked onto the street from the jefferson l stop and towards this place called cafe ghia. i had read about it and was there for the vegan scrambler.
now, i’m definitely not a vegan but i got respect for what that style of cuisine achieves without any meat or dairy.
i walked and sat at the bar. i took a moment to looked around. i saw a younger mother and father with their daughter, who must’ve been 5 or 6. i thought about what kind of person that kid might become when she grows up. i saw a couple dudes at the other end of the bar who seemed like they had taken a break from practicing with their hair metal band from 1986. it was real impressive to me.
throughout the day, i had flirted with the idea of getting a mimosa until i saw the menu and was faced with the biggest decision of my day. they offered a screwdriver that was only $1 more. now, it came down to a question of how much actual work i wanted to achieve today. it required being honest with myself about what more i could do.
well, i don’t know how honest i was but i definitely consumed a screwdriver at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and it felt great. i think it’s also important to note that i was carded. the bartender actually thought i might not be 21. it wasn’t one those quick handoffs either. he took my id and studied it carefully. i felt like a male model.
i also felt that wonderful tingle in my thighs after those first two sips.
and once the scrambler arrived, it was fucking on. i demolished it while doing my best to savor every bite. the tofu was soft. the carrots, sweet potatoes, and kale were appropriately spiced by a black bean sauce and juices from the jalapenos. the avocados were perfect. i sat there, immersed and thought about how i might replicate this at home.
towards the end of my meal, i remember thinking about those people over at that restaurant near union square. i felt like i knew what it was like to be them now. i was wasting my day and it felt significant.
after paying my bill, i walked out with a nice little buzz and past a group of guys i had seen on my way over to cafe ghia. i thought about how we were all in this fantastical twilight zone. i mean, i assumed they were in it too. it seemed fun to roam around in this offbeat universe for now but i imagined how lonely it could get.
with those thoughts in mind, i walked into the nearby cobra club. i hadn’t been there since attending the free comedy show they do on fridays a few months ago, live from outer space.
cobra club takes on a coffee shop guise during the day before slowly transforming itself into a comfortable dive bar by night. it kind of feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. i had gone there some time last december on a sunday afternoon to complete a final paper and witnessed the mutation firsthand.
i took a seat at a mostly empty bar and ordered a screwdriver. i surprised the bartender and myself. pretty much everyone involved in the transaction, including my money. lincoln and the washingtons i handed over seemed shocked and disappointed in me.
i started thinking about whether i had anything at all creative to offer so i took out my journal and read through a few ideas i’d jotted down over the summer. they are mostly incomplete and i wasn’t quite sure how to build on them so i brooded like a dummy.
after finishing my drink, i went to the bathroom and took a couple pictures that you see above to commemorate this odd day. peace to cunt brain. i have so many biological and existential questions for you.
i departed and returned to my apartment where i spent the rest of my day watching episodes of girls, veep, and silicon valley while drinking pinot noir. i am not proud.
perhaps free time’s overrated.
i am not proud.