The music was incredibly loud; you could feel the bass thumping in your stomach, churning all those gin and tonics into a limey soup.
A hundred or so people were smashed into a downstairs bar in the Lower East Side on some steamy Saturday night, drinks in hand. Arms in the air.
Sweaty, salty, dancing.
The girl next to me had smeared her eye makeup and looked like a blitzed vampire. Wait… Was that who’d I’d come to the bar with? Eh, maybe. Everyone was wearing the same costume. Black jeans, black boots, an array of leather and lipstick.
“Make you put yo hands up, put yo, put yo hands up.”
The drinks were overpriced, but some guy I didn’t know was buying. Another one, he asks. Sure, why not? You can’t do this scene without at least three cocktails, I tell him with a grin. But he’s not listening because he’s just trying to sleep with my friend. And I don’t really care because I’m out of cash.
“Hell yeah, make you put yo hands up.
Make you put yo hands up, put yo put yo hands up.”
The group I was with had danced hard for over an hour, laughing and jumping around the center of a low-lit dungeon. But the initial fun was dissipating as 3AM approached. So I decided to voyeuristically watch the Drink Buyer make moves on the gal I suddenly realized was not my friend, but actually someone I despised.
Now this acquaintance’s job required her to be stunning, and she certainly turned heads. But after a few nights out together, I realized she was self-centered—or, perhaps just dull because conversation perpetually lagged. And in this drunken, insecure state she suddenly repulsed me. Leaning, leaning, tripping, hiccupping. Her eyes were bloodshot as she asked me to fix her hair.
Come with me to the bathroom, she said grasping the air for my hand.
As she pulled me, a relative stranger, through dark corridors in search of a toilet to puke in, I oddly thought of my father. He’d once made the off-hand comment while we were watching an old black and white film that he felt bad for truly beautiful people who age poorly. I can’t recall who he was speaking about, but his words suddenly rang true. I imagined this fragile creature incapable of coping with the future—and maybe also the present—living with only the hope of being validated.
I told my drunken counterpart it was time to go home as she stumbled out of a graffiti-covered stall. She protested, citing her connection with the Drink Buyer. I lied and told her he’d left the bar—they’d already exchanged numbers, so she could figure it out tomorrow over coffee, Advil, or whatever the hell self-proclaimed “fashionistas” eat for brunch.
But he liked my dress! She was whining as I walked her upstairs, trying not to smell her acidic breath. Of course he liked your dress; everyone loved your dress. You looked fabulous tonight. Now we’re getting you a car.
She admitted she was tired, and that maybe it was time to go home as I tried to both hold her up and flag down a yellow cab. Once the driver confirmed my acquaintance’s address, her head bobbed toward blissful blackout.
I shut the car door and never saw her again.
But that was fine, for both parities.
Some people make you better, some people make you worse, and some people just distract from the glorious things you are about to discover.
For me? I want to walk with people who tell good stories.
Split meals with individuals who make me think.
Dance with friends who appreciate the same songs.
Laugh until my sides hurt!
So I’ve learned to swiftly cut my losses—and move on.