Heading down to the South Street Seaport area of Manhattan, totally unfamiliar territory, fraught with the possibility of getting lost, I did.
My father is always very good at figuring out where he is, it's a sense he has, something like if you dropped a dog off in the middle of the woods it would find its way home, except that my father is much smarter than a dog. I've never heard of a dog with a doctorate in physics, have you? Sometimes I forget that I didn't inherit this quality and just decide to take the F train to a random stop in Manhattan and figure I'll just "feel it out" and find my destination from there. This never works out the way I picture it in my mind, in my mind I arrive 15 minutes early at the meeting place and sit comfortably sipping a martini, the waitress falls instantly in love with me, and when my friends arrive they comment about how remarkable I am when I excuse myself to go to the bathroom. None of that ever happens in real life except the part about waitresses falling in love with me. I don't even like martinis.
I had to meet a friend on Delancey St. at 6PM prior to meeting my other friends Angela and Stepinsky and a few others at Salt Bar on Beekman St., right off of South St. by the East River. I knew I had to go south and east from Delancey and that was about all I knew for sure about getting from to one point to the next.
I walked through Chinatown before I headed further east and that was about as far as I got before getting lost and losing all sense of where I was; in other words I had made it about 6 or 7 blocks.
I tried getting directions from a Chinese man, which was probably ill-advised so close to Chinatown; there was a minimal chance this man would understand me, and he didn't. Nonetheless I carried on trying to get him to give me directions to "Beeker" St. (I had forgotten the name of the street was actually Beekman.) The only thing I could think to do without using words was to mime Beeker to him, and the only way I could think of to do that was to pretend to be a chemist in a lab examining test tubes and beakers. I held two imaginary beakers at eye level and glanced back and forth between one and the other. While I did this I made an "ooooh....ooooh" sound to indicate the fascination I had for my scientific findings, which in retrospect probably didn't help as a clue for the Chinese man but seemed to me at the time to be exactly what a scientist holding two beakers would do. He would be really into his job. Also since this man was Chinese I imagined that this would be exactly what a specifically-Chinese scientist would do, if not the scientists of all the world. I can picture an Indian doing it as well. Mind you, this is to get directions to BeekMAN St., which I had forgotten. "Maybe he knows Beaker from the Muppets" I thought, again forgetting the correct street name. To imitate Beaker I sucked my face into my neck and turned my lips down, making a "mee mee mee" sound. In reaction to this the Chinese man began backing away as politely as he could, nodding and smiling, and turned and started back down the street.
I walked on and passed an attractive young woman pushing a stroller. "Hey mother, want another?" I thought, recalling that rhyme kids in my hometown would say if they saw a hot mother. (This inquiry would have implied (if I had said it aloud) that I could impregnate this woman by having sex with her if she so desired, in case you can't get it from context). I wondered if that line had ever worked on anyone. "Hey mothuh, want anothuh?". "Yes indeed! Sounds smashing! Let's get cracking!". I don't know why the woman is British in that example. I guess because British women are so promiscuous. I don't know if that's actually true. It sounds accurate though.
I stopped into a bodega for cigarettes and noticed the shelves in the place were suspiciously barren. They didn't have my brand. "Must be a front" I thought. Then I questioned that thought. People always say that when a store is under-stocked. How many fronts can there really be in the United States? 50? 60? Yet I'll bet every adult in the Northeast has at least once accused a store of being a front. I left the bodega cigarette-less. (I was cigarette-less, not the bodega.)
At this point Angela and Stepinsky called to say they were also lost and couldn't find the place, and I just gave up and hailed a cab, just then remembering that the street is called Beekman St.
I finally arrived at Salt Bar on Beekman St. to find Angela and Stepinsky sitting with our old friend Gus who was in town from Boston and Saul who also lives in New York City.
"You've gained weight" I told Gus as I shook hello. I immediately regretted saying that even though Gus is pretty thick-skinned and probably didn't mind; it didn't seem to be taken very well by the group overall and seemed to cause a moment of awkwardness, effectively demonstrating the disparity between how things are in my head and how they are in real life.
Saul looked exactly like one of Tom Hanks' friends in "Bachelor Party" except gayer, which is basically the way Saul always looks, sort of like a Hell-sea version of Harold Ramis circa 1980. Saul had gone incommunicado a few weeks ago and we were worried about him so it was good to see that things were back to normal, or Saul's version of normal.
We had some beer and ate some sandwiches from the bar. Then Angela had to go so it was just the four of us and we went to a sports bar around the corner to watch the Celtics beat the Cavaliers to win the series and advance to the NBA semi-finals. I tried to keep my celebrating to a minimum as there were plenty of Cleveland fans in the bar and I didn't want to rub salt on their wounds. One of them looked particularly desperate and kept yelling "FUCK". I can understand how it would be frustrating to be a Cleveland sports fan, but I kept my distance from that guy. It can be good to have interests but when your interests provoke you to indiscriminately yell "FUCK" in a bar full of people in might be best to take up something else, something less frustrating, and in the case of Cleveland sports fans almost anything will do. Orchid hunting, for one example.
We parted ways with Saul and Gus. Stepinsky and I headed to Low Bar back in Brooklyn. Keith was bar tending and Clean Steve was there and got us high in the back garden. We drank some beers; I can't remember what we talked about but I do recall doing most of the talking. The pot didn't put me to sleep like it usually does, I had become rather animated.
Around about 2:30AM my friend Eva came in flanked by her usual collection of disorderly looking bluegrass musicians. They pulled out their fiddles and soon it was a full on jamboree so Stepinsky and I drank some Kentucky Bourbon to be part of the moment. The music sounded so grand, it floated in the air.
"I'd like to live in the South Street Seaport area" I said to Stepinsky. "When I have enough money".
"Some day we'll have money" he said. "Some day".
I smiled and fell backward off my chair.