Mistled'oh!Christmastime 2008 was particularly rough for me, for some reason. I suppose it was just the season itself. They always say that it's the most depressing time of year for lonely souls, although I still haven't a clue as to who "they" are. They never introduce themselves at parties. Maybe those mysterious, amorphous they are right. I was feeling particularly down in the dumps when the blizzard hit that December evening. I blew off plans to see a show in Long Island because of the snow. I didn't need that grief. So I went off in search of some other, unknown, grief instead.
My buddy Chris was throwing a party. There was mistletoe, food, egg nog and ladies were present. I'd never been to a party with mistletoe as an adult and was infused with the holiday spirit, amongst other spirits, by night's end. I had been going through some stuff emotionally, and hadn't really been touched voluntarily by another human being in longer than I'd cared to remember accurately. At the end of the apartment part of the party, as we were clearing out to take the party elsewhere, I was feeling impish and impulsive (and drunk). I smiled at B and gestured to the mistletoe above our heads. She smiled that smile that we know all too well (those among us who have been passed over for taller, thinner, or god forbid, better looking folks know it well, at any rate), and actually followed it up with the excuse. You know the one. The tried and true chestnut "You're awesome, but really, I'm just looking for a buddy right now." A buddy. Because that is what I'm best at - being a freaking buddy.
I tried to play it cool, letting the drunken bravura act as a shield. "Thanks for not laughing, at least. It was a stupid idea." I tried to let go of the awkward taste in my mouth - the taste of an attempted light-hearted gesture stillborn. We partied some more and I acted as normal as I could muster. Later on, I made the mistake of attempting to explain myself, though it was more like shoveling shit on an open wound than it was applying salve. I sent her a message via Facebook that read like this:
I'm sorry...i've been going through a ridiculous patch and the whole mistletoe thing (which I've never tried and only did on you because i figured you wouldn't laugh at me, and you didn't, so thank you) was just me being weird. It's been a particularly ridiculous year and I didn't mean to be too nuts. You're awesome and I meant it when I said that it was okay coming from you when you said I was "awesome...but." Seriously, though, I've heard "you're awesome...but" from way too many people lately and most of them I don't believe, but you're not one of them.Sometimes I can be such a toolbox. I wasn't really trying to be more awkward. Somehow I managed it. I'm good like that. So, the next time I saw her, at her birthday gathering, at a bar I don't particularly enjoy, I asked her if she got the message. She said "Yeah, I got it. Case closed. You don't have to say anything else about it." And then she kissed me on the cheek. Shortly thereafter, I made my way back to my apartment because I wasn't feeling like being out. I just wanted to get some writing done and go to bed. Of course, this was not to be the case.
I walk the fifteen minutes or so back to my apartment, all excited to salvage my night with some writerly productivity (some nights are exploring for material (drinking is research), some nights you write about these (mis)adventures). After all, if I'm not in the mood to be out, I should capitalize on it as best I can. So I go to turn the key in the wrought iron pre-door door, and - snap! The key breaks in half and I can't get in. I call up both roommates on my cell. No answer. I cannot reach the ladder for the fire escape. In panic mode, I decide to do some crazy building climbing that would make Peter Parker, The Amazing Spider-Man himself, proud.
The door to the adjacent building had this diamond-pattern metal grate to keep out trespassers, so i used it as a sort-of-ladder to then grab a hold of a piece of metal jutting out from my building's roof. Despite everything being covered in ice and snow, I manage to get onto the roof and immediately wonder why i have done this. My downstairs neighbor is not only not in her bedroom, but if she had been, would she not freak out when someone knocked on her bedroom window? Instead of letting me in, she might have maced me. Still nowhere near the fire escape, and about a story below my bathroom window, surrounded by drifts of snow and spots of ice, eight feet above the frozen sidewalk. How the hell am I getting down?
I call my best friend, who is more than 50 miles away, and can clearly help me at this juncture. I suppose this is the returned favor for the summer previous, when she called me while I was sitting on a bench in the park with a lady friend, to tell me that she has gotten her car stuck on the side of a pond. Clearly I was in a position to help her from the other end of the phone on the other end of our barely shared sandbar. But that was then, this is (s)now. From the warm confines of her double-wide, she asks how I got up there in the first place. "Sheer force of will and a recessive monkey gene" I say, feeling more akin to a cat up a tree than a gorilla in the mist.
Somehow I survived the climb back down without landing prone on my back, concussed, as I had pictured myself winding up moments earlier. However, I still was no closer to entering my fortress of attitude. I called my buddy Davecat, and he said I could camp out on his couch. Of course, it meant trekking back from the way I came, since my car keys were in the apartment I couldn't get into. Not that I was a stranger to walking to Greenpoint and back.
I went to sleep on the couch, watching "Zoolander" on DVD. I think I absorbed some weirdness from the film, because I was dreaming I was dancing in a supermarket, drinking with a European pop duo of some sort. It was kind of like those "Do you wanna Fanta" commercials, but with Eastern European ladies instead of tropical ones. And the Fanta was most likely vodka in one hand and cranberry juice in the other. The details are fuzzy, you know from all the dream partying.
So, i'm drinking with these two girls who are pop stars from Europe and I've got a beer in my left hand and a piña colada in the right when Davecat wakes me up. Startled, I say "Davecat, there better be a REALLY good reason to wake me up -- I was dreaming about drinking and dancing with a hot European pop duo in the supermarket!"
This is when he says the weirdest sentence I've ever been told with a straight face -- "Wake up, we're going to Harrington's bar and surgery."
"...And surgery?" I inquire, and he says, "Yes, Jon '...and surgery.' It's the hottest new place in town, according to Time Out..."
Just then Davecat wakes me up for real (apparently the previous wake-up was part of my "Zoolander" fever dream) and I get to tell him about the dream within a dream, where he woke me up to tell me about Harrington's Bar and Surgery.
"...And surgery?" he asks. And I said "Yes, Dave '...and surgery.'"