Saturday, November 08, 2008
"So what's this other party downtown?" I asked.
"It's at this bar on Bowery," he gave me the address. "If there's a list, I'll make sure your name is on it. I'll be down there with a couple of friends in about half an hour."
DJ Darla and I hopped in a taxi and headed over to the Bowery, where some of her friends met up with us.
Even as I passed the young, semi-hip crowd to get to the bar, I didn't count on George showing up. Still, it was one of those random nights out in the city that seemed sprinkled with fairy dust. It was this energy that drew people to New York, this wondrous feeling that anything could happen, so you better be ready to follow the adventure.
Darla and I found seats at the bar and ordered drinks. About halfway through my cocktail, I felt someone to my left tap my shoulder.
"Hi!" I smiled at George, who somehow snuck past and grabbed the bar stool next to me. "Did you just get here?"
"About ten minutes ago. Indie Film Director is here, so I was watching him outside for a bit, trying to impress these two girls, seeing if he was going to make a spectacle of himself."
George introduced me to a couple of his friends, who promptly left us to chat.
"How was the meet and greet?"
"Lots of people wanting to take pictures, some autographs, though Singer Spencer gets the worst of it. I did get to see some friends who came from out of town to see the show, so that was pretty cool. The rest of the band wanted me to come back to the hotel with them, but I said I had to find that girl from the front row." George smiled and I noticed he had a slight overbite.
A photographer from the concert came over to us. When I talked to her at the show she seemed down to earth, but in front of George Guitarist she was different. She fawned over him, name-dropped, and seemed practically under physical strain in her effort to impress him. I didn't get it, because it looked so obviously phony, and this is a woman who claimed to have had a lot of contact with celebrities. In any event, George was gracious in listening to her, but after a couple of minutes we turned back to each other and continued our conversation.
It's funny, I didn't even think about him in terms of being in this band that was about to make it big. To me he was a guy I saw across the room (or stage) that I found attractive. I just thought it was great that we were getting along so well on a personal level too.
George is not from the country that Foreign Band now resides in, so we talked about travel and living abroad. When he found out that I love to sing, he offered to produce a track for me. He also has separate creative projects that he works on and so do I, so that was another topic of focus for us, along with what inspires us. This was especially fascinating for me, because George is somebody who makes his living doing creative work, and it's not an easy life, but it's akin to the kind of life I want to have someday.
George's friends came around and asked if we wanted to go to another bar, so we all piled into a taxi and were dropped off at some place on the Lower East Side.
At that bar, some Italian guy came over with a bottle of wine and asked us to share it with him. I thought maybe he was a fan of Foreign Band, until he asked George what he did for a living.
I turned towards George with a pseudo-puzzled expression, "Yeah, what do you do again? Are you some kind of musician or something?" I teased.
I guess the group of us had some kind of great energy to us, because strangers kept coming over to us. They didn't know who George was, so it was rather puzzling, but fun, though George and I would quickly turn our focus back to each other.
His friends were good-natured about it. "Hey George," one of them called out, "what the hell happened during your guitar solo? It fell apart."
George nodded toward me, "Ask this one, it's all her fault."
"You better get at least a kiss out of it," his friend replied, "Though I don't know, you'll get a face full of red lipstick."
George just smiled. I reached over to the nearest table, grabbed a cocktail napkin, and wiped off my crimson lipstick. Before I realized what I was doing, I leaned over and kissed George. He kissed back and put his arms around me. The rest of the bar ceased to exist.
It gets a little blurry past this point. We must have closed out the bar, because I didn't get home until after 4:00am. We shared a taxi, which dropped me off first then continued on to his hotel.
George called me the next day and I saw him that night. I'll keep that story to myself.
Since then. we have exchanged a few emails. He asked me to send him a sample of my singing, so that he could produce that song for me. He and Foreign Band are working on their new album and playing more gigs abroad, but they'll be back in America next year.
I have no illusions about having any sort of relationship with George, though I would like to maintain a friendship if possible. I see him more as a muse and mentor. He and the rest of Foreign Band work incredibly hard for every ounce of success they attain, and it has motivated me to get my own life together and turn my focus to artistic pursuits above all else. What could have been a frivolous hookup with a musician turned out to be a rather significant turning point for me. Who knew.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I discovered Foreign Band X months ago, was floored by their music, and amazed I hadn't come across them before. Added to the pleasant surprise was an announcement that they'd be playing New York soon. Usually I'm late to the party and discover bands after they've toured for their best album, broken up, died, etc. Not this time. I bought a ticket and anxiously awaited the day of the show.
Despite spreading the word to my friends, I ended up going to the concert solo. No big deal. Either I'd run into people I knew, talk to new people, or enjoy the music on my own. Done it before and would do it again.
The day of the show, I got to the venue more than an hour early. Usually, I don't care about proximity, but that night I wanted to be as close to the front as possible.
There were a cluster of girls at the front of the line and a guy I knew socially through clubbing, Journalist Jason. Jason greeted me warmly, introduced me to the girls, and gave me a swig of something out of an energy drink bottle that looked like Gatorade and tasted like rubbing alcohol.
I chatted with the group, who were massive Foreign Band fans. One talked of flying to various cities to see them live. Another showed me a tattoo design she created involving a full-length portrait of the lead singer. These gals were hardcore and fun to talk to, especially since they were as enthusiastic (if not moreso) about Foreign Band as I was.
At one point while we were outside, I saw a cute guy in black jeans and a hooded sweatshirt wandering around.
"That's George Guitarist! He's such a sweetheart," said one of the girls in line.
Singer Spencer was more the acknowledged heartthrob of Foreign Band, but George was definitely more my type.
Doors at 8pm, and we were finally let in. I was lucky enough to get a spot in the very first row of people, dead center. Not the best for people-watching, but great for band-watching.
After the opening band, the roadies came up to get Foreign Band ready for their show. George Guitarist came out with them to set up his instrument. He looked over at me and we smiled at each other. I felt a jolt of excitement in my stomach.
The show began and the crowd around me erupted in fanatical screaming and arm waving, as they reached for Singer Spencer, an intense and elusive performer who teased them into a frenzy.
Unlike most of the people around me, I focused on George, who kept looking at me and smiling. Or was he? With the bright lights, the audience mostly in darkness, could he really be aiming his attention at me?
During one song, George had a guitar solo and he came around to the center of the stage, right across from me. He waved a beckoning finger at me and I smiled. Then he mouthed,
"You are so fucking hot."
Somehow I managed not to have my jaw fall open in shock, and instead blew him a kiss.
There were a few more glances exchanged during the rest of the concert and then it was over.
Afterwards, I lingered at the venue, where I ran into people I knew. We chatted about how amazing the show was. One of my friends said,
"That guitarist seemed really into you!"
I'm sure I blushed. "We did kind of have a moment."
I wasn't going to try to get backstage or wait around for the band to come out. Instead, DJ Darla (an acquaintance) and I planned on going to an after-party downtown, in the hopes that the band might turn up later.
As we were heading outside, I felt someone tug on my hair.
I turned around and it was George Guitarist.
"Do you know how many times I fucked up out there because I was staring at you?" he said.
I laughed and asked him his name, partly because I was so nervous I wasn't sure I remembered and partly because I didn't want to seem like such a fangirl.
"Are you going to the afterparty at Downtown Club?"
"What after-party?" He looked confused.
"You don't know about your own band's after-party? That's no good." I took out a pen and paper, wrote down the name of the place and address, along with my name and phone number.
"I have to talk to some friends downstairs, but I'll come out to this later."
We smiled at each other again and went off in opposite directions.
When we got outside, I asked DJ Darla: "Did that really happen?"
She confirmed that it did.
We didn't want to get to Downtown Club too early, so we went to Tiki Bar for a drink or two first.
My head was buzzing. "You know, I don't even expect George to come to the club later, or to ever hear from him, but what already happened tonight was pretty cool."
"You never know..." said DJ Darla.
I went outside for a cigarette and saw I had a new voicemail:
"Hey, this is George from Foreign Band. So there's this other party happening downtown and I can get you on the list if you want to meet up there. Otherwise, we're still in town tomorrow and I don't have anything going on in the evening, so maybe we could do something then. Give me a call."
Reality check, please.
To be continued...
Sunday, October 05, 2008
I didn't used to be this way. I used to rely on a firm schedule and found comfort in social activity that was planned days--if not weeks--in advance. Now, not so much.
I say "let's play it by ear" a lot. I won't buy concert tickets more than a few weeks ahead of time. I have no idea how I'll use up the rest of my personal and vacation days this year. I get nervous when somebody asks to do something more than a couple of days from now. I panic if I feel like my time is being imposed on.
What changed? Did I suddenly realize what precious little free time I had? It's not as if it suddenly dawned on me. How did I go from being so rigid socially to enjoying spontaneous plans so much? How did I go from being thoroughly dependable to a more unknown quantity?
J had a lot to do with it. Between the two of us, we had a healthy social calendar. There were birthdays and weddings and holidays and funerals. There was his giant family and my clan of friends. There were our mutual friends. There was always something to do, something we were invited to.
For a while, I loved having days filled with so much to do, with a person who adored me so much. Then I started realizing that we never had a full weekend to ourselves, to do nothing. Even in the early stages of our relationship, we never had that long stretch of time where we sequestered ourselves in bed and tuned out the rest of the world (mental note to make sure that happens in my next relationship). And when we did have a so-called lazy day, even those had a rigidity to them; there were workouts and errands and little things that always seemed to take longer than expected.
Eventually, the time time we spent together started to feel structured, even when it centered around fun activities. I became frustrated that so many social obligations were stacking up weeks and months into the future. I felt like I had less time to myself, too. Despite asserting to J that I was not a phone person, there were frequent phone calls (he checked in with me up to five times a day). What started out as a feeling of having this loving person so dedicated to me grew into a feeling of being smothered and controlled. Some of our biggest fights were about my need for more personal space. I could see how the relationship could become codependent. I had a life outside the relationship that was beginning to feel hampered.
Since the breakup, one of the things I cherish most is having my schedule back to myself. Invited to a party? No need to check with J to see if there is a conflict on his end. Want to stay in all weekend and be a couch potato? I have the final say. Want to spend days in a row being a social hermit and ignoring all calls/emails/texts? So be it. My free time is all my own.
The problem is this nervousness I've developed about making firm plans too far ahead of time. I was the furthest thing from spontaneous for most of my life and now I've swung to the opposite extreme. Last weekend, I had no plans for Saturday and set plans for Sunday. I ended up going to a last minute gathering on Saturday and bailing on Sunday plans.
Have I become less dependable? Maybe a little, except with my mother and closest friends. With everyone else, it's a crap shoot. I'm probably a frustrating person to date right now and yet potential suitors are on the horizon. My independence and new-found unpredictability is probably attractive to many, yet I've been on the other side of the fence, dealing with people like today's me, and I know how maddening it can be.
There's nothing I can do about it right now. I'm enjoying the last minute, the unexpected, following my whims, carving out my own trajectory. It leads to adventure. I am all about adventure these days.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I always said that no blog would be worth sacrificing a relationship for. That I'd respect a significant other's wishes for privacy and end the blog if it was going to become an issue. J did not want to live in a fishbowl, which I respected. He made assumptions about what I wrote about and, to the best of my knowledge, never actually read a single post, preferring to imagine it as something more base and sensational than it was.
J is no longer in the picture. I won't go into why, at least not in this post. I won't go into when, because this gives me a 14-month blurry timeline to play with.
I have accumulated a lot of stories these last 14 months, and there's no need to do something so ordinary as tell them in chronological order.
Let's start with Barman Ben.
For those just joining in, or those whose memories are as bad as mine (that's why I have to write everything down), a brief rundown on this Ben character:
I met him nearly two years ago at Cozy Bar, where he still bartends today. Handsome, charming, mysterious, the man was a cocktail of trouble, and I instantly developed a maddening, overwhelming crush on him. He intrigued and inspired me so much, I wrote a short story about him, possibly my best fiction to date. I gave him a copy of the story and he loved it; he mentions what a good writer I am to this day when introducing me to other patrons. Ben himself is an actor (stage and screen). One of the Cozy regulars, Magazine Mitch, teased me about my crush when not mercilessly hitting on me. He and I went to see Ben in a play where he appeared entirely naked. Ben flirted, and I could have sworn some spark was there between us, but nothing ever came of it. Then I started seeing J and my visits to Cozy Bar became less frequent.
Barman Ben got under my skin in a way few other men ever have, and while I made peace with the fact that nothing would ever happen between us, there remained a secret thrill of seeing him behind that bar, and a lingering question mark in the back of my head. What if?
One night X months ago, I went to Cozy Bar with my friend Dancer Denise. We expected a girls night, but within minutes of arriving got caught up talking to others. There was a special energy to the place that night and it was extra-lively. Lots of familiar faces, retro music, and a buzz of effervescent conversation had us in high spirits in no time.
Barman Ben was behind the bar and his usual dapper self. I stood at my usual spot at the corner of the bar and fended off overtures from the men around me, polite but disinterested, watching Ben without watching him. All this time and he still had a mesmerizing effect on me.
"Why don't you just tell him you want to fuck him?" Magazine Mitch asked.
"Can you not say that so loudly please?" I knew Ben couldn't hear us, but I couldn't be too sure.
"Do you want me to tell him?"
"I'm sure at this point he pretty much knows." I shrugged.
"Face it, Dolly, it's never going to happen."
"So that's why you should get with me."
I laughed. "We're not going to make out, Mitch."
"I liked you better before you lost the weight. You were less cocky then."
Denise ended up leaving with a cute boy she picked up at the bar. Barman Ben and I raised our eyebrows over the spontaneous pair-up and smiled. I felt him looking at me throughout the night but made it a point not to look back... much. He was exceptionally flirty with a random girl I ended up talking to, as if to show me how well his charms worked on others. There was something pointed about it, and I smirked at the prolonged hug he gave her when she left.
He teased me about not having my money ready quickly enough when I ordered drinks. I teased back the next round, waving around a twenty and smirking with mock impatience. When he gave me my change, our hands lingered, squeezed together, took an inordinate amount of time to separate. I looked down at my drink, remembered to breathe.
What was happening here?
I sensed a new curiosity from Ben, an intrigue. I didn't dare imagine anything would come of it, not after the way I tortured myself about him in the past. So I played it cool, flirted with guys who talked to me but made it clear I was a dead end. Eventually, it was near closing time and it was just me, Magazine Mitch, and a handful of others. It was past last call, but Ben still served me and didn't take my money.
Then it was just Mitch, Ben, and me. Past 4:00am. The three of us stood outside and smoked cigarettes. Mitch and Ben discussed music I wasn't familiar with and I focused on being still. I didn't want to appear as drunk as I was. Ben sent me a sidelong glance from time to time, which I matched.
I lit another cigarette and continued to listen to their conversation. Out of nowhere, Ben pulled me over to him, had me stand in front of him like a human shield and talked to Mitch over my shoulder. I smoked while he pressed against me and felt me up from behind, hand up my dress, against my thighs and hips.
Ben took the cigarette out of my left hand, threw it into the street, and placed my hand between us on his crotch. Just like that. And just like that I complied, stroked him over his trousers like it was the most natural thing.
I understood two things right then:
1. This was not about hearts and flowers, this was physical. The romantic portrait I conjured of him in my story was not the same Barman Ben grinding against me. And that was okay, because--
2. In that moment, I knew I would do anything he wanted me to. He could have stripped me down right outside the bar in broad (early morning) daylight and I wouldn't have blinked.
Magazine Mitch carried on talking as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening before him, until he finally said,
"Should I leave you two to it then?"
"Come back in for a few minutes," Ben nodded at the door. "Both of you."
Ben poured Mitch half a pint and led me to the back room. He put my handbag on the pool table, pulled me over to the wall and said,
"We're going to do this, but we're not going to do this tonight."
And then we were kissing.
There weren't any butterflies, because butterflies are the stuff of stories that might have a happy ending, and this was a dead end from the start. So kissing Ben didn't make my heart take flight. It actually felt like an out-of-body experience, like it must be happening to someone else, maybe somebody a little less numb with alcohol.
Ben unbuckled his pants, but this time he didn't need to guide my hand. His own hands travelled south, past fishnet and lace boundaries, but I was too drunk to feel anything beyond a surreal thrill.
He guided me to a nearby couch, sat me down, and stood in front of me. Halfway through he said,
"You're good at this..." he tilted my head so I looked up at him, "and you know you're good at this."
Of course, this is when Mitch decided he needed the bathroom. He wandered past and started saying something to Ben, only seeing his back at first. Then he realized.
"Oh. Never mind then."
I think I laughed, despite having my mouth full.
Ben didn't let me finish and I don't know why. I think he was close. Whatever the reason, that was it. He took one taxi home and I took another, but not before Mitch congratulated me.
When I woke up that afternoon, it took me a while to believe that what happened with Barman Ben really happened. I wish I had been less drunk, to remember what he smelled like, what he tasted like, what his hair felt like between my fingers. It's okay. I remember enough.
I finally kissed him. Yes, there was the other stuff, but that didn't matter to me as much as the kissing did, because that's all I ever wanted. I didn't want to bed him or date him, I wanted one moment, mouth-to-mouth. And I got it. That's enough for me.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Is anybody still reading? Would anybody attend my comeback tour? So much to say and no idea where to begin, so I figure I'd dip a toe in.
Anyone still out there?