Dim lights, big city

Scenes from back East, this being only one. Home yesterday.

I’m sitting in Logan International Airport, which, I have to believe, is where they set the scene in Garden State where all the automatic faucets turn on. WiFi is expensive; incredibly, I sat for five minutes trying to decide whether to pay, until I finally realized that writing this entry and pasting it in later was absolutely legal. At least I think it is. I’m due back home in Irvine about nine tonight, seven hours from now. In the meantime I’m trying to collect my thoughts about the weekend. For example: at some point we go to a bar at the W Hotel called the “Underbar.” (Underminer: “I am beneath you, but nothing is beneath me!”). I’m on a corner of a low sofa, deciding whether to follow the vodka and tonic with something. I’m fascinated by the waiters and bartenders. They all wear black, and the women knee-high boots. Mod haircuts. I suppose they are fascinating because they are employees, and I am thinking of how the pageant is orchestrated, with us paying to take part. I will eventually order a Red Bull and vodka, making a face. It tastes like medicine, but the pour was generous. The hour is creeping up on two. There are black leather pallets for sitting, candles, and the air is electric because someone has had the marvelous idea of playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Next to me my friend starts laughing. I can see what he’s laughing about: a boy in a white button-up and pre-faded jeans, with that special gelled-porcupine hair. Gelled Porcupine: “I am so totally Red Bulled up right now. I’m so high. I’ve been smoking this new weed, called kemp. It makes you hallucinate, but in a good way.” He’s got a friend there, who probably went too far the night before, because his face looks like a canceled transaction. We’re waiting on two people I’ve just met. One of them has dated ten people, in a year, apparently. These numbers are always approximate. This guy sort of looks above your head when he talks to you. He’s wearing one of those glossy blue dress shirts where you (i.e., me) can’t find the last plastic pin until you’re in public. The other one feels a little trapped to me. He’s in his last year of medical school, and for some beautiful reason, he’s reading Italo Calvino. On the other hand, he’s just announced that tonight is a good night for pickups, because anyone who hasn’t fled the city for Memorial Day is depressed. Bad sidewalk bluster, in other words. They are doing a lap. (Cher from Clueless: “Always do a lap before committing to a location.”) This is not going to produce any results. Italo Calvino is also waiting for a second date with a girl with a tiny, cute face and long hair. She arrives; the blue-shirted playa disappears in a puff of smoke and Italo starts chatting her up nervously. It’s late. She’s got a drink, something see-through like a vodka tonic, and is moving a straw around in it to stall for time. The rest of us try dancing around to A-Ha but it’s too late to make a scene. We leave Mr. And Ms. Calvino to themselves. The last I see of them, both of their faces are absolutely terrified, but their shoulders and elbows are still faking it.