Travels to and From Edwards Birthday Party at Gallery Bar, Ludlow Street, Lower East Side of Manhattan

(The names of the people in this story have been changed to protect myself from incurring the displeasure of those to whom I am comparing myself favorably)

I am a Bostonian and in Boston there is a code that isn't ever explicitly stated but is nonetheless generally understood which stipulates that when riding the T (subway) if you see someone that you know you don't disturb them at all. Indeed you try not to even acknowledge them so that you can both be comfortable with the fact that you're going to ignore each other for the duration of the ride. No offense is taken by either party. Both parties greatly appreciate that the other didn't violate the code.

Even if you are walking unwittingly toward someone you know in the same subway car trying to find a seat and you notice them, you must immediately turn 180 degrees around and attempt to procure a seat as far away as possible. The person may notice you too, and you will both be horrified. Eye contact should be avoided at all costs. Once eye contact is made, the mission of avoiding conversation is plunged into peril. Eye contact will virtually ensure some kind of conversation will have to be made. But we're very good at not letting it get that far.

Anyone who has the audacity to violate this code will certainly be the object of scorn later when the violated party gets to wherever they're going and sends a group email to their friends letting them know what an idiot the violator is. "I saw Denise on the subway this morning and she talked to me the whole way! IT WAS HORRIBLE!". All ears will be sympathetic.

This might seem sort of backward to the some, but in Boston we have weird rules and when you're one of us you understand them and if you can't handle it you go back to Michigan.

The reasons for this code are very intricate but essentially it's because making stilted small talk in a brightly lit area in the company of strangers who are prone (in Boston) to scoffing at any opportunity is very uncomfortable. One can't help but get the feeling that all their words are being judged.

Last Friday night I was on my way to my friend Edward's birthday party and had the rude revelation that this no talking subway rule does not extend to my adopted city of New York when I saw Jacklyn, who is apparently Swedish, and an acquaintance of mine, and she had the nerve to actually approach me and try to strike up a conversation! "Who didn't tell her the rule?" I wondered. She saw me get on the train, she explained, but didn't have time to come up to the car that I was in. So she waited until the next stop and got off the car she was on and ran up to the one that I was in! Can you imagine! And then she approached me and started saying things! As if to have an exchange of words! As it happened we were going to the same party, thereby guaranteeing that there was no way out of this nonsense for the remainder of the trip. My eyes darted around the interior of the subway car looking for some excuse, some hope of escape. Perhaps even a rope with which to hang myself. I thought about saying something like "Excuse me Jacklyn would you mind if I don't talk to you and listen to my mp3 player instead?" but I had a feeling that would be taken wrong.

Eventually the initial shock wore off and I got settled into the idea that I would have to talk to her. Jacklyn is actually very nice and has nice eyes and also looks quite good in jeans. But that doesn't mean I want to talk to her on the subway.

When we got to the party which was mercifully close to the subway exit (the quality of our conversation had been waning considerably and rapidly) we were surprised to learn that we had been grossly misinformed about it's start time by our mutual friend Angela. We, in fact, were the first people there. We went downstairs to the empty room where the party was to be; there was no one down there but a bartender (who was not even ready to serve us). I was looking around for a knife or something sharp to jab into my eyeballs, and just then our friend Edward, the person for whom the party was being held and I believe also the host, arrived. He approached us nervously and wiggled his jaw from side to side and chattered at us with all the grace of a machine gun. I was fairly certain, actually completely sure that the reason for this was that, even though it was only 9:30PM, Edward was already gakked out of his mind.

And so we were three. Edward was kind enough to buy us a round of drinks and unrolled a fifty dollar bill to pay for them. I had a Heineken, Jacklyn had a vodka tonic and Edward had something that looked like bourbon on ice with soda. Though there was no one in the place at all, music was playing at an unnecessarily high level and so Jacklyn and I, for the next half hour, seated on leather couches in an empty room, listened to Edward nervously shout at us over unnecessarily loud music.

Angela, the person who had misinformed us about the start time of the party, and who is also my best friend; a green eyed, pale skinned redhead who has never been very good with logistics, had naturally not yet arrived. The next person to arrive was Audrey, a black woman from Washington DC who was in possession of a birthday cake and extremely ample breasts, which bounced up and down in her white blouse as she walked toward us. Neither Jacklyn nor I knew this person, who, although very nice and also quite attractive, really only added another layer to the already multi-layered awkwardness of this situation.

The cocktail waitress had just come on and came over to take our drink orders and she brought with her a pair of obviously fake breasts, which hung like halved grapefruits in her pink halter top. Her skin was the color of a Commodore 64, which was the result of having spent many long hours in tanning beds.

Finally Angela arrived, and, after I had accused her of being a horrible human being and also not very smart nor adept at making plans, informed me that she had gotten stuck on the train, which is kind of an all purpose excuse in New York and is very rarely true. From the moment she arrived I started devising plans to immediately extricate ourselves from this place, which was growing more horrible by the minute. We had a few more drinks and said goodbye to Edward whose bulging eyes seemed by now to be the size of golf balls; by that time the downstairs had become absolutely riddled with assholes. We walked through the upstairs bar that was still surprisingly empty (which seemed to be inconsistent with the long line of people outside waiting to get in).

Controlling this line were three giant men who, I think it's safe to say, were not able to read past the third grade level, which is probably being generous. Jacklyn, Audrey and I and a few others waited outside for Angela, who had checked her coat and was taking a very long time to retrieve it. Perhaps she'll find a way to blame the train, I thought. While outside I was informed several times by the oafs that I was standing in the wrong place. Even when our party had moved halfway down the street that didn't seem to satisfy them. We had to be, according to them, "behind the velvet rope" which was literally a half a block away. I was bemused by the long line of people waiting to get inside the bar, a bar which there was nothing at all extraordinary about, unless you count as extraordinary the fact that so many people wanted to enter it, which I do. Actually, also extraordinary was the fact that it's emptiness could clearly be seen from the street yet no one in line objected to the idea that they were obviously waiting unnecessarily and were pawns in this establishment's game of attracting sheep-like customers. Finally, after what seemed like a very unreasonable amount of time, Angela came out with her coat and we walked to Local 138 on Orchard Street. As we walked by the line of people I was tempted to shout things like "I don't know why you're waiting in line, the place is empty and not that great. There's a lot of great bars in this city you know". So I did. No doubt the oafs were infuriated.

When we got to Local 138 the evening took a turn for the much better. The music was great; Black Sabbath, Butthole Surfers, KISS, Fishbone... we got drunk and nothing that I enjoy writing about happened, because a good time is fun to have but not to write about.

Around 3AM I decided I was drunk enough and my evening was over so I stumbled back to the F Train at Delancey St. I approached the ticketing kiosk which said the following on the screen:

UNABLE TO ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT DEBIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT FUCKING CASH AT THIS TIME

Of course it didn't actually have the expletive in there but that was how I read it. I went to the next kiosk over.

UNABLE TO ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT DEBIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT FUCKING CASH AT THIS TIME

I went across the street and subsequently to every other possible entrance.

UNABLE TO ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT DEBIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT FUCKING CASH AT THIS TIME

As I had only a credit card on me and I would not be able to go through the turnstiles without a new Metrocard, I was left with few options. Naturally there was no attendant at any of the stations to help my with this dilemma, which I have to imagine was a dilemma shared by half of the subway passengers in New York city that night, if not the majority.

I decided naively to walk to E 2nd St, the next stop on the F, which was a good walk and when I got there:

UNABLE TO ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT DEBIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT FUCKING CASH AT THIS TIME

As I would rather be gang raped than have to hail a cab and then to pay the fare I walked back to Delancey St, not sure what to do. There I noticed an entrance I hadn't yet tried: I don't even know what made me go down it, as I had already tried literally 14 entrances with the same empty result each time.

UNABLE TO ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT DEBIT CARDS AT THIS TIME
UNABLE TO ACCEPT FUCKING CASH AT THIS TIME

This time, however, there was an attendant at the station. This was our conversation:

Me: Can you take credit cards?

Him: (Totally uninterested in talking to me, which as far as I could tell, was his only job) No I can only take cash, sorry.

Me: Well do you know where the next station is where the kiosks are working? I've already tried two.

Him: (angrily, and as if he hadn't already had this conversation at least 200 times that night and as if I was the sole idiot in New York City who hadn't been able to work this out) JUST GO THROUGH THE FIRST TURNSTILE

And through the first turnstile I went. A half an hour later I was home in my neighborhood of South (Park) Slope, which is conveniently located between the great neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, and because of this convenient location I may never leave Brooklyn again.