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There was a lot mumbling and muttering (or whatever the equivalent is in written form) about NYC during the Das Boot section, and whether or not Jay would end up there next. Well, sure enough, in these pages we find out he did. This section takes up almost directly after leaving the boat, and tracks his efforts during the first months to navigate the city and find a job and, maybe, love. Continues for several months in this fashion.

Hello, NYC! i (21/26)

April 7, 1991

Choose a different dreamscape

It’s 11am… No! 12:29, post noon (Daylight savings, see?)

Wow. Some weirdo get-down shit last night. It was, you see, my weekend night, Friday and Saturday nights rolled into one, since I don’t work today (Sunday) and so I felt the urge, the need, the desire and possibly the means to head successfully into that sweet Manhattan night. So 10:30pm, post dinner shift, Pedaled rapaciously across a dark + scary park to Dennis’s abode at 159 West 80th Street. Convinced him of the merits of my plan. He seemed less than enthusiastic, perhaps a bit low on the nefarious “it” scale, of which I’m sure I’ve spoken. HOWEVER! I had enough for us both, so…

McAleer’s Tavern, or pub, is where the beer did flow from tap to pitcher to cup to collective gut and the temp rose as hormones blinked alert and alive and Dennis and I meet a tableful of young women. Consecutively, I talk for extended periods first to Laura then Amy (no, Amy 1st) Laura goes on about wealth and her considerable possession of it (apparently all a lie, I find out later). 

[I hear church bells on Riverside. But it’s almost 1pm. Perhaps they didn’t get the Spring Forward memo… That’s got to be one of Quasimodo’s major fears, that he’ll forget about Daylight Savings and screw it all up. He probably has nightmares about it: ringing them early, or late. And he can’t set an alarm to remind himself about it either, for the same damn reason. There’s a Far Side cartoon to be found in there, somewhere].

Later, I feel abandoned by both girls, and I stand at the bar, nursing a lone beer. Laura is engrossed with a black guy from Dartmouth. Amy entrenched in an old acquaintance who she (re)met 3 months ago. Finally, I take the initiative and cut my losses and leave. I’m out. Heading for Dennis’s place nearby (he left quite some time ago). And frankly I don’t even feel that bad about heading home empty. BUT! Light touch to the small of my back as I cross into the street. I turn. Amy has followed me. We turn onto a side street, sit on the some random steps and I spill my drunken guts, deciding (in infinite wisdom) not to question the merit or, conversely and more likely, the banal content of my words. She listens sagely. Is her point to lift my spirits, to collect me for Laura (her roommate who she had been pushing me toward earlier) or to consider me more closely for herself. The latter becomes the strongest candidate. She goes back to pee + get water. I’m left alone on dirty Manhattan corner, leaning against a storefront. 

“Man… he tried to hit me! Did you see that? That guy tried to hit me!”

I bob my head, noncomitingly.

“What are you doing here, man?”

“Waiting,” I say.

“You got to assert yourself, man. No, listen! This is some good advice. You got to assert yourself to get their respect. Got a quarter?”

I give him my change. I start to wonder how long it takes to pee. I suddenly imagine Amy in bar convincing Laura to come out to me instead. This image disappoints me. I determine that if, in fact, it is Laura, not Amy, who joins me, I will slip away w/o much ado. But no! Amy reappears, cup of water in hand. I am relieved and so, apparently, is she. We hug. Is it heartfelt? She clings to me (and I to her?) We go to a bar and yap some more. But first we watch her friends leave in a taxi: Laura yelling from open cab door for Susan to come along right now! “Are you coming or what?” Amy’s confidant (Susan) pushes in beside her. Black guy from Dartmouth hesitates. Cab pulls away, door flapping, black guy running, chasing cab down the street and out of sight.

Amy + I go to another bar where I spend the time trying to convince her to come home w/me (all my staunch codes of conduct and ethical scruples and philosophy of feigned indifference… all this discarded in a heartbeat). She tells me in vague way about a writer, boyfriend.

In cab, heading for 96… 95th + Columbus… I give one last, semi-passionate petition, thwarted. I sit back and watch the street shadow wash over her face which, at that moment, looks very pretty indeed. At her stop, she leans over and kisses me lightly on the lips. Then she’s out. I head for home.


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