After a long hiatus, I am finally somewhat settled in at my Brooklyn apartment. The next step is to find a job. I’ve been applying like mad to anything having to do with writing/editing/publishing, and also for some jobs that I hope will want to hire a big guy with no real discernible skills besides writing (these consist mainly of security gigs at bars, hotels, apartment buildings, etc).
Bushwick is cool. My neighborhood is decent with some good places nearby, including one of my favorite bars/restaurants, Tandem, and a new place that is a combination cafe/hot dog restaurant/bar/yoga studio called The Cobra Club. Go figure.
As of late my life has consisted mainly of slowly getting the apartment in shape, applying for jobs, and getting my wheezy ass back into shape. However, a few nights ago, the incomparable Ben Miller was in town. We met up for drinks, and happened into something weird.
Since he was staying in Jersey and I’m in Brooklyn it was only fair for each of to meet somewhere in Manhattan. He was getting into Penn Station, so I found a decent looking pub in the area called the Rattle and Hum. It was lively for a Tuesday, and had a very good selection of uncommon beers. Lots of good belgians. Anyways we had a few rounds, trashed the new Batman movie, and then decided to venture off for something a little quieter.
The place we settled on was called The Archive. It had good yelp reviews and looked fairly classy, judging from the photos. Mind you, this was in midtown Manhattan, so we weren’t expecting a dive, and we didn’t get one. Dark wood, quiet music, sparse crowd, candles…in short, a typical small Manhattan lounge. We ordered drinks, took them to a table, and drank them while talking basketball.
After about 30 minutes we found ourselves dry, and went back up to the bar for another round. After putting in our order, we started making small talk with the bartender, who was very cute, and from California, as it turned out. We batted around some casual small talk: where we were from, how Ben and I met, how I had just moved to NYC, etc. It all seemed very inoffensive, but I guess I was wrong, because at that point, guy-in-a-ponytail decided he wanted to join the conversation.
“Hey,” I heard a voice say, not loudly or aggressively. I turned.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“You two are the dumbest people I’ve ever met.” he said, with sort of a smile on his face. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, and at first thought maybe he was drunkenly trying to joke with us.
“Uh, OK. Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Wherefore are we stupid?” Ben said before I could stop him.
“Here, in this bar, you’re all being stupid!” ponytail said. His friend, who looked like George Costanza with hair, winced and looked like he wanted to disappear inside of his bar stool.
“Wherefore means why, but nice one,” Ben continued. “What’s up, man?”
We continued back and forth in this manner for some time, with ponytail continually saying we were the dumbest guys he’d ever met, referring to us as “dumb and dumber” at one point, and saying something about how he lived there.
“Ok…” I said, confused as to why this had anything to do with me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about defusing drunk fights, it’s to be generally conciliatory or neutral, and maintain eye contact, so that’s what I did. I never apologized or acted like he was right, I just sort of shrugged it off as if to say “If that’s what you feel, fine. What do you want me to do about it?”
“What are you going to do about it?” ponytail asked Ben. Seeing that I wasn’t in the mood for his games, he was no solely focused on Mr. Miller.
“Be nice,” the bartender said, not a little nervously.
“I’m so sorry,” Costanza muttered under his breath to me.
“Watch you walk out the door,” Ben replied, drawing my attention to the fact that the bartender was closing the two gentlemen out.
“Yeah, you are!” ponytail sort-of shouted, misstaking this for some sort of victory. “Because you’re a pussy” (This is all being paraphrased from memory)
“Yeah, OK,” Ben said, and we tried to turn back to our conversation with the bartender. My drink was done. It was good.
I heard the tell-tale sound of a bar stool scraping across wood as ponytail kicked his chair out, and I immediately stood up put myself between the asshole and Ben.
“I’ll come over there,” ponytail sort of kind of shouted again, while Costanza threw himself into his drunk-asshole buddy, kind of pushing him away from us. “You’ve got a big mouth,” he said, again directed towards Ben.
“I’VE got a big mouth?” Ben asked, amazed.
Ponytail wandered off and disappeared in the bathroom, leaving the bartender, Ben, myself, and Costanza all alone.
“OK, can somebody tell me what just happened?” I asked to anybody who might have a clue. Ben and the bartender muttered equally confused platitudes.
“Please don’t take it personally,” Costanza said, not really looking at either of us. I tried to make nice and say hey thanks for helping us deal with this guy, and shook his hand, but he didn’t seem at all interested in talking to me.
We concentrated on our drinks when ponytail came out of the bathroom and as far as I could tell, he and his friend walked out without incident.
It was, without a doubt, one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me. I still have no idea what he possibly could have gotten so pissed off about. The bartender, as modestly as she could, explained that she thought he was jealous that we were talking to her. I didn’t press the issue, but surmised that perhaps he had been trying to chat her up all night, failed, and then got angry when we rolled up and began talking with no problem. Scenario two is that he didn’t like that we weren’t form New York, which is a really weird thing to get upset over in midtown Manhattan. Scenario three is that he saw my Texas tattoo or overheard I was from Texas and just decided I was an asshole.
In any event, we spent another twenty minutes or so drinking and talking to the bartender, and at the end of it all, she (Jennifer) gave me a handwritten list of good bars in Manhattan and her phone number and email. Suck on that, ponytail!