Monday, March 27, 2006

I Thought She Said Maple Leaves

Once we were buzzed up, we walked straight into one of those sprawling SoHo lofts, where the closets are bigger than my bedroom and the artists are far from starving. The last apartment we were in, at Astor Place, was converted from an old dance studio and I’m pretty sure that this loft used to be an art gallery. Or at least they had kept all of the art from the gallery. With dark, red walls and gigantic acrylic murals, it was definitely one of the most remarkable New York apartments I've ever seen.

Upon entering, we were confronted by a total contradiction (if not confusion) of New York inhabitants. On one side of the room, a European-style dinner was concluding, with a group of middle-aged Argentineans seated around a long, wooden table, drinking wine and casually puffing on cigarettes (inside !). The women were all extremely classy, in that artsy and wise way, stunning. The men were a jovial bunch, all obviously still very much in love with their wives.

Thirty feet away (30 ft !) , there was a boy’s club of sorts, a Lord of the Flies-esque example of what happens when your teenage years are spent in Manhattan and you don’t exactly pan out as expected. My friend, Sam, made the astute observation that we had just walked into a Twilight Zone predicament.

The boys didn’t notice us at first, because they were too caught up in their pool game. I’ve never seen a game in which the pool balls skip across the table at full force, landing on the floor, and we made sure to steer clear of both the game and the boys. I don’t think they knew quite what to make of three girls and, when they finally noticed us, all they could do was blankly stare at us.

They were checking us out and it was uncomfortable. In turn, we headed for the liquor table, and poured ourselves a glass of wine. We stayed there for a second glass. “The one with the dark hair, navy sweater, he’s kind of cute,” I point out to Melissa. “Toby, he’s, like, 18.” Oh. But that was the oddest thing about this group: there was no median of age. Some of the boys appeared to be 15, while others looked like they were at least 25 and we couldn’t tell where exactly any of them fit in this spectrum.

This entire arrangement was awkward and, quite honestly, a complete buzz kill. We couldn’t sit down with the Argentineans because they were speaking rapidly in Spanish, and seemed to think that we were friends with their sons. I felt like a call girl, and was growing increasingly more pissed off at my asshole friend, Luke, who had invited us to the “cocktail party at a really cool artist’s apartment in SoHo that always has good drugs.” I was also mad at myself because, collectively, I’ve probably sat through over 100 Spanish classes, and I’m still not fluent in the language.

So we sat down in front of the TV, and hand-crafted coffee table, and watched music videos. The TV was situated in between the dinner party and the group of kids, whose Ritalin supply was running dangerously low. It felt like we were sitting in some kind of vortex, where we could clearly see the disintegration of a generation. The cross-generational differences were staggering. On our left, was the old world and to the right, the new world: culture versus no culture, history versus no history and the fullness of the past versus the emptiness of the moment. In the middle of all this, Green Day videos were starting to give me a headache.

Two of the guys came over and sat with us, promptly taking out their sketchpads. The first one had a mustache, fisherman’s cap, and the voice of a 12 year-old prepubescent boy. Either he had a speech impediment or the mustache had cropped up fives years too early; it was hard to tell. He startled us a bit, although I did kind of admire his courage at being the first one to speak. He was cordial enough, but his little sidekick was giving us the third degree about who knows what. They invited us out onto the fire escape to smoke. Eh, why not? I tell Sam and Melissa that maybe it will have a good view.

For some reason, I had confused ‘fire escape’ with ‘balcony’. It wasn’t until we were outside, standing on a rusty piece of iron, with ten of these conversational terrorists, passing around their crappy east coast pot, that I became very nervous. I looked from Sam to Melissa, who were just as shaken – I mean that in the literal sense; it was very windy out there- and we decided we had to get the hell off that fire escape. Even though we were only two stories up, I was pretty sure that none of those boys would be able to break our fall.

So we told them we had to get going, which is when the one with the mustache grabbed my arm, telling me I had to stay a while longer. I told him to back off. He did. We climbed back through the window, I took another piece of bread pudding, said “gracias,” and we left for our next destination.

Meanwhile, 3,000 miles away, in my old stomping grounds, another group of partygoers was about to meet their ill-fated demise.

7 Comments:

Anonymous G said...

Haha, Luke took you there? Where was your next destination? I miss you and ny. AZ is already getting hot.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your best entry yet!
I like it when you write about me, referd to as an "asshole friend" or otherwise.
Need I remind you that were it not for my penchant for ,er, situations... that this entire entry would consist of-

Saturday:
"I sat across from a scowling girl brandishing an ear of corn." ?


Imagine the fun we'll have in summer!

7:03 PM  
Blogger Toby Shuster said...

our next destination...oh yeah, we went to becca's bar and met up with stuart. it was a mini highschool reunion, minus you! although stuart was so trashed, he walked into the glass door.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Toby Shuster said...

yes, although in that girl's defense (i forgot her name. some reference to canada), the service was really, really bad...
and i mean asshole in the most endearing way possible.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Told ya.

Oh, and where were these really good drugs?

9:01 AM  
Blogger Toby Shuster said...

yes, you are always right, mary. and drugs? i dunno, i don't do drugs.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Heart As Arena said...

Oh, Toby.

Toby. Toby. Toby. Toby.

1:34 PM  

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