It was a hot summer night. A looming thunderstorm had been lurking in the stratosphere since noon and the city smelled of on-the-verge-of-combusting trash. It was before the talks of Hurricane Irene, before the lines out the door of Fairway and H&H, and before drugstore’s shelves had become barren of bottled water and batteries. Just a typical summer Thursday and I was ready for another typical Thursday happy hour.
I bobbed and weaved my way past the gawking tourists that cluttered Bryant Park, wondering how they could be so oblivious to the fact that hundreds of people were trying to simply walk down the sidewalk all the while marveling at the fact that a skyscraper could make so many Asians closer to drooling than my grandmother on her Vicodens and afternoon vodka. Eventually, after a few shoulder checks and death glares, I made it to the blessed East Side to meet Emily on the corner of 42nd and Lex.
“So where exactly is this meat market happy hour you’ve been speaking so highly of since Monday?’ I asked as we hailed a cab.
The destination was The Thompson Hotel on the Lower East Side and the occasion was a happy hour being held by Emily’s friend’s boyfriend and two of his co-workers who worked at a predominately male insurance brokerage firm of about three thousand employees.
“Our odds are looking good. Apparently there are some good-looking gents at this company,” Emily elucidated with an enthusiasm I hadn’t seen since we met the “founders” of Five Guys.
Hmmm…insurance dudes, I thought to myself. Geeks, schisters, studs? I wasn’t sure of what we were about to encounter, but I was hell bent on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and I always loved an excuse not to take the subway home.
What Emily and I walked into was no less a meat market than Ottomanelli’s on a Saturday morning, as prime rib and New York strips virtually spilled onto the sidewalk of York Avenue. It looked as if we had a diverse crowd to work our way through—definitely a few dorks, definitely some schisters, a little ethnicity, maybe a few misplaced hipsters, and very few X chromosomes.
After catching up with Emily on some weekly gossip, it was time to part the testosterone seas and assess what kind of cuts of beef we were really dealing with in the unchartered waters of the Lower East Side.
Eventually, with Emily nowhere to be found, I got myself into an inescapable conversation with Matty and Mark, two Dockers-donning Manhattanites who were neither full-on geeks or schisters, but most definitely could absolutely never be defined into any type of “stud” categorization. Obligingly, I asked the not-so-dynamic duo where they called their place of employment.
“Well, Bacchus—wait, your name is Bacchus, right?” Matty paused to confirm as I restrained myself from rolling eyes and walking away. I politely nodded, but he had already continued speaking.
“We work at this little company called ING. Maybe you’ve heard of it,” he chuckled as he nudged Mark, as if he had just made the wittiest joke of 2011 in the Tri-State area. Soon thereafter, the conversation turned to Matty’s ex-girlfriend in Long Island and I politely excused myself to the bathroom before I was forced to stab myself in the thigh with my rusted apartment keys.
I staggered through the crowd, noticing that my five glasses of wine and no dinner had quite the affect on both my long distance vision and ability to properly walk in my four inch heels. I eventually found Emily and the rest of our estrogen-fueled group. As we were deciding whether to stay or to head back to home base on the Upper East Side, a gentleman in a lavender and white gingham-patterned button down with a navy tie and black rimmed glasses rolled up. He was well dressed and he was surely handsome, but this was all lost as my stomach longed for a morsel of food and my feet yearned for freedom from my nude patent peep-toes. He could have been Michael Chiklis, shirtless and chasing down a drug dealer in The Shield and I wouldn’t have cared at this point in my stomach-eating-itself, wine-induced stupor.
“Oh hey, Jimmy!” our friend Bonnie exclaimed. “I haven’t seen you all night. Have you met my girls?”
The dapper, but suspiciously too well dressed Jimmy shook his head no as Bonnie continued on with the introductions. “Girls, this is Jimmy Papabeariezzo. Jimmy, these are my girls.”
As I was about to excuse myself from the gaggle circled around Bonnie and Jimmy, this Jimmy character decided to strike up a conversation with who else but me? I politely smiled, told him my name, all the while mapping out when I could end the conversation and hail a cab home.
“So where do you live, Bacchus? In the city?” Jimmy asked in such a manly yet soothing voice that I had to wonder why he was in the insurance field instead of doing voiceover work for National Geographic documentaries.
“I live on the Upper East Side,” I politely replied. With that, Jimmy perked right up.
“Is that so? I do too,” he eagerly added.
“And how did you end in the neighborhood?” I courteously asked while trying to decide if I’d be ordering takeout from Gracie Mews or Yuko for dinner.
“Well, when I moved here a about five years ago, my girlfriend at the time—“
“Wait,” I rudely interrupted with confusion. “You’re not gay?”
Jimmy’s jaw immediately dropped to the floor, his face flooded with confusion and insult. I had clearly just ruined my chances for a cab-share back to the ‘hood. Here’s to another lonely, Sauvignon Blac-hazed ride back to the Upper East Side. Definitely going with the burger after this doozy…