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Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I stood outside some dive bar in SoHo a few weekends ago, wondering how much I'd have to slip the bouncer NOT to let me in. The Colombian and I were standing in line at 1AM to get into a tiny, dark room with a bar whose only illumination came from the never ending flashes of iPhones and Blackberries owned by people who must document every time they get shitfaced and then immediately notify all their Facebook friends via mobile upload.

I thought the gods of getting to bed at a reasonable hour had smiled upon me when the bouncer looked at his clipboard and said, "Nikki? There's no list for Nikki" in response to one of the women in our group telling him we were there for Nikki's birthday party. "Okay, no problem," I imagined myself saying to the big, black dude who was acting as the dive's gatekeeper. "We'll just be on our way then." But the bouncer sighed, lifted the velvet rope and said, "I'm only letting YOU guys in. Anyone else shows up for Nikki and they may not get in. Guys with shorts are definitely not getting in." Shit! I thought. Why was this guy being so agreeable? What happened to not getting in if you're not on the list? Why couldn't he make us wait in the thick, soupy humidity until we got tired and went home? If only I had a pair of shorts with me, I could have avoided feeling like an old man in a child's playground. Amidst the deafeningly loud, pulsating music, the smell of cheap booze and imminent sex wafted through the air, and all I could think in my best Danny Glover voice over was, "I'm too old for this shit." At thirty-nine, I don't feel or look old, and when I go out on a Saturday night, I don't need to be the oldest guy in the room.

So it did me some good when the Colombian and I took a ride out to Brooklyn last weekend to hear a reading of short stories. I thought we were just going to experience something literate, something cultural, which we did. But I had no idea we would be sitting in god's waiting room while doing so. The youngest guy in the room besides me looked to be around seventy. If not for the chilly air outside the theater, I'd have thought we were in Fort Lauderdale. The closest things resembling Blackberries or iPhones in the room were the cheap, little flip phones you get when you sign up for the $29 a month Senior Citizen Plan that gives you 450 anytime minutes and unlimited calls to Meals on Wheels and 911. The room smelled of moth balls, old lady perfume, and a stale fart, and the only things preventing anyone from getting in were uncooperative walkers. I looked around the room and couldn't help thinking that more than half the people there would likely be dead very soon, some by intermission. But it felt good, even comforting, to be fifty years younger than the oldest guy in the room, and it felt great to be home and in bed by 11:30.


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