Tracie called me because she hated her job; not because she wanted to see me. Tracie, the über-feminist, was working as a Camel Girl
. She wore a vinylized, milleniumized version of the dress of the fifties' future (red) and a pillbox hat, what do they call that? Retro-Futurist
? I don't think she had to pay for it. They gave her a tray of faux-beaten steel, which was full of cigarettes and had a goose-neck light mounted on it. The better to see her wares and her cleavage. She was the kind of person who couldn't decide if what she was doing was an "ironic subversion of male fantasy
" or "degrading and sexist and therefore glamorous, you know
I remember the first thing I ever heard her say was "he's got to have nine inches, or it won't work for me." This was not in reference to me.
She called me and asked me to hang out with her while she was on the job. This was the closest we ever really got to dating. So, in I went, forty minutes on the subway, to a club called 13 which coincidentally happened to be on 13th St.
No. That's not what happened at all.
She told me to meet her at a club called the Elbow Room. She'd be working the Elbow Room, on Bleecker St. I'd tried to get in there my freshman year to see some funk band, and couldn't 'cause I wasn't 21. So this was my first time in there. And, indeed, funk bands were playing. They played for a whole set on the main stage, and she wasn't there. And in the show upstairs, where there are couches, and it's quieter, the band played the whole thing and she wasn't there.
Now to 13, which I remembered was a place she said she might be.
Okay, so up to 13 by foot the 13 blocks.
My ID worked here, too, and they let me go upstairs. It was thick. You had to slide around the rim between the wallflowers and the dancers. I saw her tray before I really saw her.
Because of the goose-neck light.
It was kinda hard to yell over the noise, but we talked and I followed her around for a while as people didn't buy cigarettes from her. We talked about indie-rock.
No, that was our first date. We went to a Sleater-Kinney concert. This was later.
So we talked for a while, and sometimes I sat down and she walked away, and came back later with the same number of cigarettes.
Eventually it was over, and people were leaving. Conveniently, it was raining lightly.
So we were out on the road, and it was funny that she was wearing her plasticy red costume under a grey wool overcoat. She still had the red boots showing, and the fishnets, and it was just too much color. But anyway, we got to the door of her her dorm. I used to live there too. We met at a party on the ninth floor early in my Senior year. She'd forgotten all about me 'til May.
At the door, we finished whatever it was we were talking about, and I paused to allow her to invite me in so we could hang out.
Instead, she said, "well, good night. Thanks for coming."
I walked 13 blocks back to Bleecker St. The rain came in really handy.
The sky in the city, if it's the right kind of night, closes over you in a grey-orange dome. All the street lights light up dirt roads. And you're as exposed as someone on the porch in the noonday sun in the wild west. It's like a midway, with loud people going by and all the twinkly lights on both sides.
I was going to have a beer because
I walked into Kenny's Castaways, where there was a blues guy up on stage. I sat at a little round table and ordered a pint. My pint arrived and the singer finished almost immediately.
This is when I knew I was going to get drunk.
I had to drink the pint quickly, 'cause I didn't want to just sit there by myself and drink a beer. So then I went back out into the street. I chose West.
I bought a beer in a place I went into to listen to their jukebox. In fact, I think I may have bought two, because I listened to their juke box for quite a long time.
Then, at some point I was in Cafe Wha?. That's not on Bleecker St. That's just a little bit north. That's where Jimi Hendrix played, but it didn't feel like it inside. They didn't charge me a cover, but I didn't rip them off much 'cause I was only there for about twelve minutes. No band was playing, there were just loud speakers and a lot of people sitting in booths.
It was four in the morning and I was by myself, so I decided to go home.
Oh, on my way to Cafe Wha?, or it may have been around the corner from Cafe Wha?, I passed by some guys who were either breakdancing or fighting capoeira-style. They were under purple lights and a marquee. So wherever that is, that's near Cafe Wha?.
But I had to go up to West 3rd St. to catch the subway, so I had to go north of Bleecker. West 3rd St. has a MacDonalds and a Burger King. But before that, there are some red buildings or ones that look maroon. And a girl or a woman of around twenty was wrapped in a red silk scarf and sitting at a very small card table. There was either a chalkboard with a price on it, or I only knew when she said it that she would read my palm for $5.00. I must have been four or five sidwalk squares past her when I turned around.
Yes, I would have my palm read. A kid who may have been her friend or might have just been watching laughed at me and said something about her as I walked up to the little stool she had for me. I don't think I paid him. I paid her.
She mushed my palm around a bit and asked me some things or said some things. I didn't look at my palm, I looked at her.
She stopped and said "...and you have beautiful eyes." I said "thank you. So do you." She went back to reading my palm, or I got up and left, but either way I don't remember anything else she said after that.
I went to the subway and went home.