As first seen on Flipcollective.com
“It smells…like…like flowers in here.”
The four of us walk through a marble lobby, complete with doorman, $1,000 centerpiece, and an aroma I only ever associate with impossibly expensive hotel spas. Care for a cold towel, Miss Bahn? It’s literally the nicest smelling lobby I’ve ever walked into in New York – an incredible feat considering, just five minutes ago, we were awash in a chilly-breezed cocktail of old trash, dog shit, and that septic scent that sits just below the surface of any street in Manhattan. We have officially crossed the threshold into the land of NYC Rich People, evident in the complete and utter absence of lingering smell Korean take-out in the elevator, which, conveniently, opens right into the apartment where the party is being held. Oh, what six million dollars in New York will buy.
For whatever reason – perhaps the fact that the place is big enough I could roller skate around the living room – I am immediately uncomfortable. This apartment is too nice, too big, too filled with forty-five people I do not know. I don’t know the host and I feel like a mooch who has come here to strategically pluck cold hors d’oeuvres off of the 20-person dining room table while taking swigs from a plastic cup of wine someone else has paid for.
Yes, where is the wine? One must drink in situations such as these. When did inebriation become such a goddamn crutch?!
Seeing the heaping mass of guests’ shoes piled by the door, I take off my own out of mutual respect for obsessive-compulsive disorders and an abhorrence of filth. This does not, however, make me feel any less insecure in being here. In fact, until this moment, I did not realize that surrendering one’s shoes that the door of another person’s home makes you feel incredibly overexposed. Frankly, I’m just thankful I’m not wearing my tights with the holes in the toes, of which I have plenty of stuffed in my dresser drawer. Frankly, I’m a little confused as to why the ones I am wearing show no visible signs of abuse.
Wine. Someone pass me the goddamn wine!
“Here.” Sarah hands me a glass of something bubbly and white. “Is this the Pinot grigio?” she asks. “It’s delicious.” I laugh. I’ve never had Pinot grigio with bubbles in it.
The boys make their way over to the aforementioned dining room table, a massive slab of likely environmentally-friendly reclaimed wood that would consume the entire length of my living room. Everything is bite-sized: mini-cheeseburgers, tiny tacos, pizza nibbles. “The tacos are cold but they’re fucking great,” some fellow moocher offers. Cold beef. Yum.
I’m sitting at the table, surrounded by standing friends, when an effeminate 40-something man/boy approaches Sarah like a gay shark in the water. There is nothing straight about this man. And, therefore, I proceed to immediately (and regrettably) engage with him, assuming that he is both a friend of Sarah’s and batting for the other team. As it turns out, he is neither.
We start joking about Sarah’s ass (something I would not ordinarily do if his P liked Vs). Then I think I actually invite him to touch Sarah’s ass (again, the same). When I look down at his socks and say, “Oh! Are those Muji?” he gives me a high five that lingers into some weird, grasping hand clutch. And then, before I have the opportunity to realize that this guy is trying to pick up on the girls in this group and not the guys, my friends have abandoned me, having found his suspicious – and likely drug-fueled – enthusiasm for life to be a bit irksome.
Somehow we’re talking about Europe and when I ask if he goes there for fun or for work I get some roundabout response about how he’s tried to set up businesses there but how he just goes for fun, which he then uses to drop something about having a film in Cannes last year, which he then uses as an inexplicable segue into something about Germany, which then leads him to…
“I had a girlfriend there a few years ago.”
What? Girlfriend? As in, like, something with boobs and estrogen and all that?
“Last year I had one that lived in Paris.”
What the what? You’re not into boys and you’ve managed to score international babes? I’m so confused. Methinks the gay doth protest too much. I nod my head like I’m not coming to this profound realization in the brainspace that’s just inches away from his brainspace. Out of my peripheral vision, I see my friends eyeing me with that alarmed Do We Need To Come Save You look that I am incapable of confirming and they are equally so of inferring.Assholes! Do you see what’s happening here? I’m drowning in douche! Save me, goddammit. SAVE ME!
“So what do you do?”
I spit out some explanation about modeling for money, which always sounds like a cousin of prostitution when put in such a way, and then say how I started a blog in 2008 and I finished two books last year and blah blah blah fucking blah. I’ll have rehearsed this three times this evening by the time I get a cab back to Brooklyn.
I extend the “courtesy” of asking what he does for a living. Real estate brokerage, real estate development, accessories line (started in 2009 during the recession, because, well, why not). I don’t ask, but I’m trying to figure out how any of these lead to getting a film in Cannes, the likely answer being a director buddy of his asked for a $200 loan to pay the cinematographer for which he would in return be bequeathed an “Associate Producer” credit, Hollywood’s lowest form of knighthood.
Girlfriend references be damned, I still can’t tell if this guy wants to sleep with me or decorate my apartment.
Sam, who has been watching concernedly from afar for most of this exchange, raises his neon green Tetra Pak of Pinot grigio.
“Jenny! Come have a glass of wine!”
I smile at him – that frozen, plastic smile that one wears at a family reunion when your grandmother’s third husband has you pinned against the wall while he regales you with pained stories about his second hip replacement. I cannot move out of my horribly diligent courtesy. I need a real excuse to abandon him. Like a fire. Yes, a fire would do.
Eventually, my friends slide their way close enough that I can use their proximity as an excuse to stand up quickly and be compelled to dance, thereby shutting down the prison-like necessity to carry on conversation about a whole host of things contributing to my brain melting inside of my skull.
Relief is short, however. Within thirty minutes, I am standing next to a gentleman whose opening line is something about his cocaine vault. I laugh violently, waiting for his segue, an assurance that the joke was a joke. But he only stares at me with the same wild-eyed animalism that the last guy did, grinding his teeth while he offering me, unprovoked and without invitation, his best Christopher Walken impression.
These are the types of conversations that drive people into bad marriages, if for nothing more than to save them from the comparatively worse conversations between the desperate and the single. He continues to rattle on, having now taken to parroting everything I say while in Walken character. I stare longingly at the long table of used napkins and now-freezing snacks, sad that their bite-sizedness required no forks or other sharp objects that I could now use to plunge into my eyeballs.