The Daily Dump

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Monday, August 29

Dan Goes to Harlem

Yesterday, despite a wicked hangover induced by a college-like night of drinking (involving drinks with too few iced cubes, Eurotrip playing on the TV, unintentionally intimidating freshman girls, intentionally intimidating freshman girls, eating pizza and then going back to a bar and playing Oasis on the jukebox), The Girlfriend dragged invited me to a party a coworker of hers was throwing for his new apartment – in Harlem. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The problem was, in my hangover haze, I threw on a pair of soft, comfortable jeans, flip flops and (wait for it) a pink t-shirt with green piping. I figured if I’m not going to wear my pink t-shirt when I have a wicked hangover, I’m probably never going to wear it.

So, when I finally made it out of my house and over to The Girlfriend’s apartment and found out about this party, I was presented with this depressing dilemma: Go home and change, even though the walk over had left me dizzy and oddly full of gas, or go to Harlem in an outfit that was the verbal equivalent of shouting: “THIS IS MY FIRST TIME HERE! I HAVE CASH!” I opted for the latter, if for no other reason than because my tolerance for hate crimes is higher even than my tolerance for laziness.

Running with that decision, The Girlfriend and I finish eating dinner and she goes into the bedroom to get changed before we leave. I’m watching the TV in her living room as we have this conversation screaming back and forth to each other:

TG: “Should I wear open toed shoes? Do you think there will be used needles in the streets?”
Me: “Probably not . . . but what if you have to run?”

Although we left out the passport jokes, which we typically reserve for our travels to Brooklyn (“We can’t go to Brooklyn, I forgot my passport!”). Priceless stuff.

After a subway ride that can only be described as “unusual” (You go above ground, then back underground?), we arrive in Harlem and make our way to the party. At this point, it’s still early in the evening (8:00) and still decently light out, and I’m thinking to myself, “Hell, I could live here. It’s nothing.” It wouldn’t be until walking back to the subway later than night that I would realize that walking down the street in the daytime is nothing. I’ll walk anywhere when the sun’s out.

At the party, which consisted of The Girlfriend and I, a few brave souls who may or may not have been a gay couple (we’re still arguing this one out), the super of the building (think: 50 year old Mexican man named “Chino” sporting coveralls and a moustache) and the host, who was undoubtedly the most frenetic person I’ve ever met, to the point where when I asked him for a corkscrew I half-expected him to reach way down into his pants and pull out a mallet, a jack-in-the-box and a pair of cymbals before pulling out the corkscrew.

His personality, though, was by far more intriguing than his sometimes matrix-like behavior. He had a habit (and a knack) for making outlandish and pithy comments in such a way that everyone would find it hilarious. Now, this is a quality I appreciate in others, and also one I like to think I possess, so much so that, as the night progressed and we drank our “mojitos from a bucket”, conversations inevitably devolved into a competition of one-upping the other on bizarre, witty comments, culminating in this:

The Girlfriend and the host are involved in a discussion about how, when the host worked at The Girlfriend’s company as a temp, he made more than The Girlfriend did - even though he worked for her - and how this resulted in some friendly resentment.

The Girlfriend: “No, I didn’t hate you. Not at all.”
The Host: “Wow, you really hated me, didn’t you?”
The Girlfriend (laughing)” Stop, you know that’s not true.”
The Host (chuckling): “I always knew I sensed some rage underneath it all..”
The Girlfriend (still laughing): “Yeah, sooo much rage.”
Me: “Are you kidding? She and I got drunk on night and plotted ways to kill you!”
The Girlfriend (not laughing): . . .
The Host (not chuckling): . . .

Bottom line, just because the party is in Harlem doesn’t mean I can’t take a running start and jump far over the line of propriety and make everyone in a room extremely uncomfortable, including our pal, Chino, who, I’m pretty sure, slightly misunderstood me and was reaching for a knife . . .

Needless to say, we left the party soon thereafter, exiting to the street where there were, quite literally, sirens, screams, more Latin music than at the Puerto Rican day parade, and guys drinking bottles of liquor while standing outside their running Dodge Caravans. (Note: I was once with someone who got a ticket for drinking a paper cup full of wine on the sidewalk in front of his apartment.) Just a bizarre scene. The Girlfriend and I hustled back to the subway and headed home, none the better, none worse for our trip. Which just goes to show you: You can take a pink shirt into Harlem, but that’s still not a valid reason to wear a pink shirt.

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