As Tiny and I headed to the address Yankee Jim had sent via text, I was still reeling from our hardly paranormal but verge-of-magical experience with the toothless, braless, drooling palm reader. My hopes of having a head-over-heels-into-hangover night with Jim was exceedingly (as well as unrealistically) high. From the bullshit of Billy Blue, to the babysitting incidents of Jason, to the intermittent dates with Burrito Boy and Mr. Born-and-Bred Upper East Side, I was far overdue to meet a spectacular, single, successful man with a few morals and somewhat of a personal hygiene routine.
Upon arriving at the “venue” where Jim had directed us, I swiftly descended from the la-la-land of fairytale endings to the grim reality of a dirty side street in the heart of Greenwich Village. I looked shamefacedly at Tiny, wondering how quickly I could transport us to either the Upper East Side or some sort of fairytale Wonderland where it was completely acceptable to constantly pop pills and feed your pet cat marijuana, considering my fairytale hopes were currently being washed down the sewer alongside a drunk NYU student’s vomit.
The “venue” was allegedly a music hall, littered with what I at first believed to be homeless people, but upon closer inspection, realized that they were actually the musicians whom were about to perform as the evening’s headliners. Jim rushed out to meet us at the door, where we were demanded to pay a ten dollar cover by a Neo-Nazi-type bouncer.
As we handed over our cash, Jim repeatedly apologized about there being cover, yet never offered to cough up an extra ten spot or two on our behalves. Considering Tiny and I had just paid that same small fortune for an ancient troll to stroke our palms and blindly speculate what our futures held, I was completely fine with contributing another ten dollars to the homeless musicians who desperately needed a shower, as well as new black eyeliner (to enhance their stage presence, of course)—but I was most certainly not fine with the lack of chivalry from Jim. I wasn’t expecting him to present me with a dozen roses and a bottle of Veuve, but I had traveled through many zip codes to meet up with him, even after his numerous flake-outs the weeks prior.
With our hands stamped and skeptical attitudes in full check, we saddled up to the bar. Jim gripped his half-full Bud Light with his back to the bar, making it very clear that he would not be ordering another drink anytime soon either for himself, his date (me, or so I thought until this point), or his date’s friend. Tiny and I ordered our own round and quickly let the chugging process begin—it was time to get our blood alcohol levels back up in order to endure whatever musical performance was about to begin in this unfamiliar environment of dirty, unbuttoned flannel shirts and cheapskate dates.
As the band started their first set and my Bud Lights began to flow through my veins, I warmed up to Jim, attempting to have a somewhat interesting conversation over the screeching guitar and squealing lead singer's vocals that some might call music.
“So when did you graduate?” I asked, about twelve octaves louder than I typically spoke, directly into Jim’s eardrum, just to ensure our conversation would not come to an awkward halt and we would have to either uncomfortably stare at each other or nod our heads to the off beats of the band.
“2008, from Fordham,” Jim bellowed back.
“Wait, I don’t think I heard you,” I awkwardly laughed over the clamor of the homeless rockers. “Did you say ’08 or ’98?”
“2008” he confirmed, as he held up a peace sign to indicate the correct decade as I about fell off my chair. “And I just got back from China about six months ago—I was doing Teach for America over there.”
Well this explains a lot, I thought to myself. He’s hardly legal and has been paid in rice and bamboo for the past eighteen months. No wonder he couldn’t spring for our cover or our beers. I was surprised he wasn’t thinner, given his financial circumstances, but I do suppose a diet of rice, beer and high sodium soy sauce over a year’s time would slightly bloat just about anyone.
Jim clearly was not concerned about my age, because rather than continuing our conversation, he leaned over and kissed me. When in the Village, do as the Villagers do, I thought as I kissed him right back.
Before I knew it, we were in a cab, headed back to the Upper East Side. I knew as soon as my ass hit the taxi’s pleather seats that this would be a one-night-only, rob-the-cradle special. Clearly I wasn’t going to find my Prince below 59th Street, so why not ride this out ‘til “The End” and wake up in a proper neighborhood?