Then again, I’ve become freaked out by people in general. Last night, after a pre-Valentine’s dinner at 15 East (Omakase! Sparkling wine!) where I didn’t take a single photo because I’m trying to learn to enjoy experiences without documenting them, I embarked on the folly of finding a place for a drink on a Saturday night at 11pm. Flatiron Lounge would be the nearby grown-up option but as we approached the door, a balding beefy man and his date were being turned away by the doorman as he yelled, “I’ve been kicked out of nicer places that this!”
I would’ve taken bridge-and-tunnel (yes, Brooklyn is also connected to Manhattan by both) over the stumbly date rapists that have turned the entire East Village into their campus, though; young white men in untucked shirts roaming in four-dudes-wide sidewalk-hogging packs, yammering about “sticking my dick into her” and hanging out cab windows yelling “Asian drivers suck.”
It was already bad in 2003 when James moved to Carroll Gardens from an apartment on the same block as the Palladium that had been transformed in the Palladium dorms. I read blogs like EV Grieve and Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York where "yuppie" is still bandied about earnestly and frequently agree with the sentiments despite my pro-chain, suburbia-loving stance while other times I think “C’mon guys is the transformation of the East Village really that bad?” Ok, it is (I still like Dallas BBQ, though).
There’s no respite. This is the norm. These carousing beasts force me to be elderly. I am not (though I noticed a weird vein emerging in my right under-eye circle last night) but it’s impossible to not have old-timer thoughts like, “I know I wasn’t like this when I was their age.” Because I wasn’t. (Aside: I’m glad to see Carrie Brownstein wearing a bold red lip. We’re similarly aged and I tend to shy away from red lipstick because I feel like it dates me. I wore it last night and tried not to feel ineffectual and decrepit.) I don’t want to complain about young people (plus, it’s more fun to complain about Brooklyn parents).
Eventually, we ended up at Company, a no frills bar where you can get a seat and has a few patrons over 30, that saved us a few months ago when we faced a similar what’s tolerable East Village dilemma. It gives off the aura of being divey enough for couples to sneak into the bathroom together, but isn’t because the bouncer will break it up. Strangely, it’s on the same block where Tenth Street Lounge used to be, a bar that seemed very fancy and grown-up at the time, and where I ended up with James on Valentine’s Day 1999 before we were dating. He gave me a yellow rose, which angered me with its unromantic associations. Yellow roses are for moms.
Company’s juke box, though…rather all juke boxes now…ugh, I’m coming to terms with the fact that for the next nine years I will be hearing Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden (I don’t mind The Breeders) instead of Michael Jackson and Madonna. I never thought I would be nostalgic for the last decade’s ‘80s nostalgia.
My biggest fear is becoming an old-schooler. I’ve probably mentioned this epiphany of a scene before because it cautioned a 24-year-old me about what I could become if not dilligent. The lights came up at Satyricon, beyond last call, time to go home. In a haze, I could see a mass of dark, shadowy figures shuffling towards me like zombies in leather trench coats, frazzled shoe polish-black hair covered in floppy hats. Fields of the Nephalim, I thought, but less stylish. It was a 2am reveal of burnt-out undead trapped forever repeating habits of their prime (never mind that I was dating a stoner old-schooler, 20 years my senior at the time). Were they 32? 42? They seemed ancient, waxen, fleshy shells going through the motions for eternity, and they scared me shitless.
I vowed not to become the Satryicon undead. It’s one of the reasons why I’m hesitant to go to Williamsburg bars anymore. Someone will see me at 4am in the light and I’ll force them to confront their mortality. Well, assuming NYC 24-year-olds with no worries are actually capable of questioning what they might become. I think I’ll just lock myself in the apartment and become a shut-in. So far, it’s working since it’s quarter-to-five and I haven’t experienced fresh air yet.