Monday, August 16, 2004

Whiskey and Rain 

Punk Rock Mike is impossible to get in touch with. He doesn’t have a phone, and doesn’t have a regular job. There was a time when he worked in a comic book store on St. Marks and when you wanted to find him, you could stop by there. Even if he wasn’t working, you could leave him a note. These days he works in film, with a specialty in horror, and I’ve heard he appears in at least one of the Toxic Avenger sequels. But there is no way to contact him.

Which makes it odd that I see him as often as I do. It's Saturday evening, I'm on my way home from another noon-to-dusk brunch, sending out word to the lads and lasses in East Egg that I wasn’t going to make it to Jay Gatsby’s party that night. There is this storm coming up the coast, I am too hungover to get my SUV on the LIE and the girl in the hooker wig is throwing a Blackout Anniversary party on the Lower East Side. All this does not go over well with the “city friends are for weekdays” set, who are in the midst of greeting Hurricane Charlie with a charlie hurricane.

I'm rescued from this by ALC, a tiny, Finnish hottie who masquerades as a New York City school teacher during the day. She walks up to me near the subway entrance, flips my phone shut and starts quizzing me on my plans for the night. “Walk with me,” she says. She has a dinner she's going to a Barbuto, and her lateness had gone beyond merely fashionable to haute couture.

“Hey, isn’t that Punk Rock Mike?” she says, pointing at a guy in a grey shirt and cut-off camouflage pants. And so it is.

Now we’re trying to coordinate a trilateral plan for the evening, Punk Rock Mike is getting a look in his eye that’s got me thinking, “Okay, my little Finn, I’m afraid you’re going to have to fend for yourself. I have a feeling punk rock Mike and I are going to get ugly tonight.” Also, I’m pretty sure that Punk Rock Mike has no idea who she is, even if he’s acting as if he does because that’s what fellas do when cute broads remember them.

So the plan gets laid out like this. I’m to meet Punk Rock Mike in an hour and a half at the Tile Bar on Seventh Street and Second Avenue, and then we’ll go to a party on Avenue A. The Finn will call when her dinners done, and then we’ll all go down to the blackout party.

Two hours later I discover that is that there is no bar called “the Tile Bar,” and it’s not on Second Avenue and Seventh Street. Mike has no cell phone, and doesn’t call other people’s phones. He’s screwed up the plan and there’s no way to fix it. Fuck. I start to wander around the east village. Sully calls and is confused by the idea of a blackout anniversary.

“Doesn’t anniversary mean a year?” he asks.

“Uhm, yeah.”

“But you blacked out just last weekend. I think it’s a bit dishonest to pretend its been a year.”

I end up on First Avenue, outside a bar called WCOU, which must be a sister bar of WXOU, where I used to get drunk on laundry days when I lived in the Far West. Sitting inside is Punk Rock Mike. “You are in a lot of trouble,” I tell him

But he’s not really. We go to the party where the pretty girls ply me with booze and flattery. Mike and I swap stories about bars, bands and broads. Two blonde doctor girls inspect the wound I received on Friday night and reassure me that I probably won’t lose any limbs even if I never get it stitched up. There are rumors that a team of ninja drunk assassin girls may be going to the blackout party to collect the price on my head, and the whiskey helps me forget all about it. The Finn calls but it's too late for entertaining young women with wit. Matt and Laren called on their way to Otto but it’s too late for eating also. It’s too late for everything, really. Everything except serious drinking.

I step out onto the fire-escape four stories above Avenue A to sip whiskey alone, burn tobacco and watch the rain make the black pavement glow with light reflected from the cobra streetlights.

"Eh," Punk Rock Mike calls. "We're off to Mars Bar."

Well, yes. It's not to late for that.