the life of richie

BACK TO 119

Posted in is by Rich on July 7, 2009

They meet at the trendy bar next to the MoMA for a drink. They arrive first and secure a table. Amanda notices a much older man with two young teenage girls (think fifteen/sixteen). What is the what?! she wonders. Rich hopes that perhaps he is their kindly uncle or an avuncular father or fatherly family-friend to one of the girls (though he is Asian and neither of the girls appears to be) and not, well; but Amanda insists there is something untoward going on; but why must there always be? There’s Brittany!

Brittany arrives. The three discuss careers and lives and –– what they had imagined their lives would be, and how that has and maybe has not entirely corresponded to what is. (The older man & two teens take a table for dinner. This is the last time Rich will record their story; the rest of their evening’s narrative will unfold off-camera. He does not watch the three have their meal, or observe if there is conversation had; if the prandial talk is anticipatory, predatory, or desultory. He does not notice them leave; perhaps he and Brittany and Amanda leave first. He will think of them only hours later when, falling asleep in Amanda’s apartment in Hoboken, he wonders if it could not have been as innocent as he believed. And how would he himself be perceived? If he were instead of him, were one of the young girls at the Asian man’s table, looking over to scrutinize the attractive man in his late twenties or early thirties –– or, heck, on a spry day, even mid-twenties Rich might pass for –– that man sipping the g & t with the two young women, what would she think?)

The parenthetical sits stewing in its own suspicions. Meanwhile, the three have been discussing relationships in their own lives. Brittany mentions that she sometimes prescribes e-mail that he has sent her to friends who could benefit from Rich’s advice; that Rich is able to relate any human relationship to a similar conflict in literature; and it’s true, and it is humbling the influence one human being can afford another; he thinks that he and Brittany and he and Amanda (and maybe, to an extent, now Amanda and Brittany) share a symbiotic correspondence which both nurtures and promotes; not like Spanish moss, which just seems to devastate southern trees, he tells them.

He thinks of walking up Sixth Avenue to 53rd Street earlier tonight, passing all the workaday drones buzzing from their offices, heading home in heat, in their little me-pods, their iShells, saying to Amanda, “If I had not gone into teaching, that might be me; and I know I would not be happy. But that could’ve been me. That man there, in the suit, dyspepsic, could’ve been me. Even that rather forlorn-looking creature drowning out the world with her tunes could be some facsimile of me. If I had not…then…” But he could do nothing but teach now, he realizes; even if it does not, well. When Brittany is in the unisex bathroom, Amanda says, “We should invite her out with us. She’s fun!

Brittany returns & texts her friend Brennan. The three take the train down to Union Square. Rich does not know that he will recognize Brennan, but is the first to recognize him –– sitting on the wall, listening to music. Rich remembers when Brennan would sit in the back of the class, scribbling in his notebook while Rich carried on with something that did not necessitate the sedulous transcription of notes, and know that Brennan was lost in some thought, some selfish reverie only he had access to; he looks the same now, sitting on the wall to the park, listening to music.

The four walk to 119 on 15th Street. It has not changed since Rich would drag friends here some ten years ago. On a Monday, the bar is nearly empty of patrons; but full of ghosts for. There, Gabe and his brother and Rich’s sister, out for a drink for Rich’s birthday. There, Lauren, at 3 a.m.; and they have been drinking for almost twelve hours now, and are not finished yet. There, his professor; they made out in that booth, which was in rather questionable taste (both the kissing and the booth). There, Elizabeth and Virginia and Virginia’s boyfriend and Elizabeth’s friend (with whom he would later make out), and it is late (so late) and they have tickets to Long Day’s Journey Into Night the next day, which will make the next day a very long journey (even with Vanessa Redgrave). There, Golchehreh, sitting across from him as he chainsmokes, fanning her hands to fend off the carcinogenic ghosts he conjures.

Then, a return. As if pulled from a trance. The bar is again empty, except for a few patrons at the bar, two people playing pool in the next room, and the four of them at the knackered booth. Here, he feels found again; and restless still. The mind continues to accumulate memories which proliferate like callouses. Amanda is enamored of her new boyfriend, and Rich wants her to be enamored, even if he does not know he wants that for himself anymore (the enamoring). He wants it for Amanda, and for Brittany, and for Brennan too. But for himself –– Does he still want all of that?

Cannot this just be enough? Sitting here, the four of them; with the real and the imaginary playing host to the symbolic. Here, in a dive bar, tucked away off Union Square.

Here.

(Enough.)

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