They say that New Yorkers have 8 million stories. Well, on Saturday night, I heard "T"'s story and it exposed me to a cool, little corner of New York City that I'd never known about before.
For those of you who read my previous post, you heard a little about "T" (who was going to sneak me into the English Beat concert.) Anyway, I showed up at the building and, as pre-arranged, called up T. He told me to buzz the intercom and take the elevator to the basement. When I get down there, I hear a deep throaty voice telling me to come into a tiny room on the side. I navigate through the semi-darkness and hesitantly open the door, only to enter what looks like the boiler room abode from Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man." In a tiny room not bigger than a suburban walk-in closet, T has created a little oasis in the city. Hanging light bulbs illuminate the space. Second-hand rugs cover the cold, concrete floors. And the tiny space is replete with televisions and a little couch. Strangely enough, in the corner is a wine rack stacked with a nice collection of Bordeauxs and single-malt scotches. Darting around the cramped space are two little kittens. The smell of incense and Newport cigarettes permeate the air. The whole scene is completely bizarre.
As for T himself, I don't even know how to describe him. He's a giant of a man who, sans afro, bears a slight resemblance to Samuel Jackson's character Jules in the film "Pulp Fiction." Mainly because he's got "Bad Motherfucker" written all over him. Could be the leather jacket. Could be the goatee. But anyway, T is certainly one of the more intimidating-looking people I've ever come across and he looks every bit the part of the bounty hunter that he once was. But, as it turns out, T is the coolest cat in town. We end up hitting it off and, after hanging out for awhile, he asks me if I'm ready to go to the show. He warns me by saying that we'll be going through some secret passageways but not to worry. Shit, since this has already been an interesting adventure, I tell him I'm game for anything. Let's go.
I follow T as he opens another door in the basement that leads to a catacomb of darkness. I can barely make out T in front of me. At one point, we were crawling on the floor under some pipes through spaces that we could hardly squeeze through (and for a guy who's 6'7, T moved like a cat. No wonder he was such a good bounty hunter.) Anyway, after about 5-10 minutes, he pops open a door and, bam, we're in the club!
T is like the mayor of the building. Everyone knows him and he walks around with the air of a man who owns the place. Whether they're genuinely friends with T or they're afraid of him, everyone in the club treats him with the utmost respect. When they find out that I'm with T, I get the same treatment. My first few cocktails are on the house. I'm ushered into the VIP area. I don't have to wait in the line for coat check or the bathroom. It's amazing.
The concert is great. The venue is cozy so it feels like The English Beat are playing a small show for some close friends. The vibe is great and though the band members have certainly crept up in years, they still put on a good show. All of sudden, I feel like it's 1981 and I'm 13 again.
But despite the enjoyment of the concert, I'm still more amazed at having met T. Having carved out this little oasis in the heart of this little cement building, he's made an interesting life for himself. Of the 8 million stories in New York, T's is a good one. And hanging out with him during the show, we must have look like the oddest pairing of people in the universe. But that's what I love about this city. We've all got our stories and sometimes we get to share them with people that we'd never meet anywhere else under any other circumstances. I've always found that to be one of the most interesting parts of life.
So thanks, T, for reminding me once again why I'll never leave this city.
Why I'm No Longer Capable of Adult Conversation
Last night, BossLady and I were invited to our neighbor's birthday party out in Brooklyn. Our neighbors are restaurateurs who specialize in food from their hometown of Sorrento, Italy. Their newest place is a little cafe/wine bar out in Willamsburg so they decided to invite some people out there to see the new place and celebrate their birthdays. It was a small gathering of friends and a very cozy affair.
However, at one point, I went up to the bar to get a glass of red wine. As the bartender poured a beer for someone else, she accidentally knocked over a glass of water. Before I could even catch myself, I actually heard myself yell in the gayest, sing-song voice ever, "UH-OH!"
I'm not 100% sure but I think the music screeched to a complete halt so everyone could stop and stare at the totally unhip guy with the vocabulary of a 15-month old infant.
Of course, this was only slightly more embarrassing than last week when one of my clients, noticing a band-aid on my hand, asked me if I was ok and I replied, "Oh yeah. Im fine. It's just a little boo boo."