Sunday, November 15, 2009

A duel

There’s nothing like music to set the mood. Last night, after The Grates were finished with their set, a happy bouncy feeling lingered over the crowd. Just the thing to encourage incautious smiling.

One of my smiles landed on a guy who was standing about 30’ away from where I was with my friends. He smiled back. A little while later I looked his way again. He was still looking at me. He smiled, I smiled. He nodded and started walking towards my group.

Since it seemed rude not to, once he reached us I disentagled myself from my friends and said hello to him. After making me repeat my name a few times, he asked me what I was drinking.

I looked down at my empty hands and curled one as if holding a glass.
“I’m having an invisible Stella,” I told him.
“Can I buy you another one?” he asked.
“But I’m not done with this one,” I pointed out.
“When you’re done with that. An invisible one. Or a real one,” he said.
“Ok. I’ll chug this one then,” I replied, and he watched me gulp down half a glass of invisible beer.
“That was good. Don’t go away. I’ll be back with a Stella.”

From 30’ he looked cute. Mid to late twenties. Maybe. Hopefully. Once I saw him up close I noticed he was still cute, but closer to mid-twenties. Perhaps.

He came back with a beer. We were talking about the bands that had already played when someone else joined us.

“I remember you now,” he said by way of interruption. He was tall, good-looking, and more age appropriate. I had said hi to him earlier. He was a music journalist and fellow fan of The Grates I had met a few months ago when they had played at Pianos.

“How was your show yesterday?” he asked.
I hesitated for a moment. “It went very well, but how did you hear about that?” On Friday I had participated in a shoot for an upcoming episode of Party in Your Mouth. Not too many people knew about that and I couldn’t imagine how Guy #2 could have heard. Some of the band members from The Grates knew about it, but I couldn’t imagine their talking to Guy #2 about it.
“It was your debut show, wasn’t it?” Guy #2 confirmed.

Guy #1 leaned closer to me and gently placed his hand on the small of my back in a she’s-with-me move. He kept it there for only 2.3 seconds, but it was enough for it to register with Guy #2.

“You’re confusing me with someone else. You’re talking about a music show, right? Mine was a cooking show. Sort of,” I clarified.
“What kind of cooking?” Guy #1 asked, taking the opportunity to participate in the conversation which continued as it was tugged in different directions: from cooking to music, to fame, stardom, and world domination as both of them dueled for my attention.

In the olden days and Bridget Jones, girls got treated to the thrill of duels and having men go at it in fisticuffs. Now, in the music halls of New York, this is as exciting as it gets.

Out of attrition, Guy #1 won. After some minutes of this the last set started and group conversation became impossible. Guy #1 stayed by my side and occasionally tried to whisper in my ear comments about the music and Guy #2 dropped out.

It was a long set. We bobbed to the music. We danced a little. He asked me for my phone number. I gave it to him; I was enjoying his company even if he seemed a tad young for me. Besides, I wasn’t triggering a flight response in him with my weird replies.

“Do you live in the area? Can I see you next weekend?” he asked almost in one breath when the last song was almost over.
“Sure. Give me a call and we’ll figure something out. I live in Brooklyn,” I told him.
“I have to go now. My friends and I are going to a place on Bleecker. If I call you, will I get to see you next weekend?” he repeated.
“Yes. I’m not sure when. Can’t remember what I have going on next weekend, but give me a call,” I reassured him.

The last song was building up to a frenzy. It would soon finish. They would turn on the lights and we’d all get kicked out of the main floor of the Bowery Ballroom and be spit out onto the drizzle falling on Delancey.

“So. See you next weekend?” he insisted.
“Yes. See you next weekend,” I agreed and he leaned over to kiss me on the cheek.

And then it was over. The bright lights came on and I saw how smooth his face was. It was born-a-whole-decade-later-or-more smooth.

By then he was already stepping away, going back to his friends, smiling and waving at me.

A friend of mine placed her arms around my shoulders, “He was wearing a bracelet so he’s over twenty-one. You’re good.”

I wasn’t too worried. Guys sometimes seem to ask for phone numbers just to see if they could get it. Once, at a party where I was wearing a particularly fetching feathered hat and a fifties style dress, three different guys had asked me for my number. Not one of them called.

Perhaps that would be it. A sweet inter-generational interaction at the Bowery Ballroom aided by Grate music.

Except that my phone is ringing and it’s a number not in my contacts.

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