January 17th, 2010
My father always told me that if I could make money for making friends...that I’d be very rich.
I’ve been living in the Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn for about a year. In the last month, I’ve made more of a conscious effort to explore my new community. My efforts have worked in my favor because fascinating souls are continuously crossing my path. In bulk. I guess I just had to be open to it. My new acquaintances (who are quickly shifting into friends) have welcomed me with open arms and just seem to speak my language. No. not Cantonese…just like minded authentic types who quite simply …get it. You know who you are.
Last night my friend Paul had his birthday party at his new (not yet furnished) apartment in a nearby neighborhood in Gowanus. This underdeveloped section of brownstone Brooklyn has an artistic community, an industrial feel and a canal almost solid with algae feeding on human waste. In 2007, a minke whale swam into the canal, beached itself… and died.
Yet all these random elements add a mystique to the neighborhood and I found myself at a party that was candy for the writer’s eye.
The guest attendants were every shape, color, size and represented a variety of tax brackets. Basically, it was a Benetton Ad. But edgier. I met a yoga teacher, a couple of Bulgarian guys, a chef, someone who pissed off the balcony, a painter, a lady who just sat on a chair while hugging her small bodied violin, a mechanic, a documentary filmmaker, an unemployed for lifer, a doctor and an Eastern European woman running around saying odd observations like, “You have an arm!” There were straight people. Gay people. Confused people. A hipster type lesbian earned herself a captive audience while she limberly and interpretively became one with the music. She came. She danced. She left.
There was some little intense guy working as the DJ. He was standing by the laptop wearing giant headphones while and (this confused me) breaking a major sweat. A few times other party goers got by him and changed the song. Bad. Bad idea.
Paul, who is a lawyer in his 30’s, won bonus points from me for making the absurdly awesome decision to go through the hassle of getting a keg into his third floor walk up. I hadn’t been to a kegger since my closeted homosexual friend in college told me that he thought the middle Hanson brother was “pretty.” It came to my attention that I put on an unintended show for some guys (and maybe a lesbian or two) when I bent down for an extended amount of time to fill my beer. Looking back, I wish my refill had been done with a Winger song in the background, in slow motion and in fuzzy lighting while a fan blew my hair. Next time.
Later in the night, a good looking writer asked me if I wanted to join him and some friends at the Canal. Hearing the setup, this canal he spoke of sounded like a bar. But no, he and his friends were heading across the street just to hang out on a bench by the waterway filled with sand, gravel, mud and a substance described as “black mayonnaise.” Just the phrase…going to the canal. I immediately thought back to high school in North Carolina where teenagers went to “the reservoir” to make out, do drugs or just tell people they went to the reservoir. I felt like my new handsome creative friend was trying to speak to me in some code that I was not able to break. Maybe he just wanted me to join him for a harmless “let’s get to know each other chat” like two potential lovers on the veranda of The Love Boat. But in this case it would have been on a picnic table overlooking a canal filled with curious white goo that is a mix of bacteria, protozoans and various contaminants.
I gracefully declined his invitation. My gut told me that I needed more concise information as to what this “going to the canal” business meant. He should have just been more clear with his code speak and said “Jax, the eagle has landed. Let’s go to the canal because the duck flies at midnight.” Then I would have known that he wanted to invite me over to watch “Breakin' 2” while eating noodle strudel with plastic sporks.
His lack of clarity resulted with my decision to stay put at the party and learn that yes..yes I do have an arm.