Pearl Blossoms Pubescently
Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
74Trip End Sep 01, 2010
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We get to the mechanic and Pearl is sitting there on the curb, windows down, door open, naked and exposed, and I gnash my teeth at the cretin who’d leave her there, or the monster who would in fact take advantage of such a na´ve and willing treasure. We go inside, aim directly for the water cooler, and bathe in its cold, luxuriating powers, cup by waxy cup. The secretary is a young man with blonde hair and a blotchy “beard” like my own, his payos unspooling at the great heights above his conservative blue woolen shirt. There’s venom aat the end of my tongue, but he’s asking us arbitrary questions of Name, City, Date, License Plate, and we’re lulled into complacent fact-giving before he casually prints out an invoice. He hands it to us, but does so while stoking our ego, asking, “you have a piano in the bus?” I’m torn, but still ready to start asking the hard-hitting questions they pay me for, when Joey emerges from the back room with a huge grin on his face.
“Where you guys goin’ next? Because I think she’s fixed, as long as you drive her like a man.” What? But how – why did you leave her unlocked? How is it so much money? What did you even do to her? I ask none of these questions, but follow him outside, where Shmark is playing guitar, on guard, in the shade. Before everyone’s settled, he’s peeling the top layer of rubber from the tires, rushing down the busy street, narrowly missing a turning pickup trick, forcing our baby to handle the road like a Porsche (which she could be, were she interested, though I would discourage her from trying to be anything but her beautiful and talented self)
We get back to the cemetery and clean up the girl so she’s all back to normal, and find pairs of Tristan’s underwear in every corner of the place. We stack all of his stuff onto The Box – he brought a lot of stuff, it turns out, and man, nice and messy. It takes us a few sweaty hours, but before long we’re marveling at her renewed beauty, and take a few things back to the apartment to be deposited with Eitan.
After some time lazing and reflecting, we make ourselves determined to visit Caren at her office in the Empire State Building, getting up in the process to the 45th floor for free, but we laze a bit too long and fix our sights instead for Chinatown. Wandering as hungry aimless as ever, we choose the first restaurant with ducks hanging in the window, and prepare ourselves for a feast. Starting with light and fragrantly ubiquitous white tea cup, we dive into a platter of duck, and enjoy the fat as it rolls off of our lips. I even get lucky enough to find a few morsels of liver in there – so delicious – but the salty and crispy skin combines so well with the sweet, juicy dark flesh – that something or anything is quite enough, let alone everything
Dinner complete, Shmark and I part ways from Cornbread and head over to Rockefeller Center. It’s a tangled maze of tourism and shopping, that serpentine jungle you’re led through straight off of the subway, but in time we make it up to the surface to marvel at the architecture. I don’t know where it was that Rockefeller commissioned Diego Rivera to paint that mural, but these buildings do certainly remind one of that brash American spirit, the foundation of our success as a nation, and in spite of the swarm of people the Art Deco everywhere hits me right in the right spot. Shmark, further, is happy to snap pictures of the brass plate that reads “30 Rockefeller”, and it’s interesting to see even him swayed by the power of television.
We get lost a bit, but head on foot over to Grand Central Station, and that, too, is overwhelming in its architectural (or anyway for me, visual, as I wouldn’t know architecture were it to ooze from me) wealth. It’s on such a large scale – probably the size of one of Bangkok’s terminals – but it’s clean and beautiful and full of history or meaning. There’s even a Post-It art gallery in one of the wings; woo-hoo
We get back to Eitan’s to find that Tristan’s back, and he’s all smiles from his romantic Bostonian re-interlude. We grill him for the sexy details, and it’s of course good to see him one last time. We all take showers – separately – and head up to the East Village to meet our respective friends. I head further north off of the G train to AJ Armstrong’s, an Irish-style pub that plays awful music (Blink-182 and such) while being mostly low-key and neighborly. Inside, it’s Kuntz’ birthday, and I greet him with a tumbler of Jack on the rocks. The bartender there is wasted, and when I yawn with my order, she pours me a free shot of something-or-else to wake me up. Crystal, Edna, Edna 2, and Edna’s roommate, Jennie, are all there, so we get to be ridiculous together one last time before departure. Kuntz earns his drink by getting the bar to put the Dodger game on TV, and while Crystal struggles to get us to play a drinking game I’m mostly focused on baseball and Thad Willingsley’s 5-0 loss. Oh well, he had thrown over twenty-one consecutive scoreless innings prior, and that’s not bad.
After an hour or so, Android arrives, then Eitan, and finally Cornbread, Tristan, and a handful of Tristan’s drunken cousins. It’s all a mish-mash by then – the bar goes from playing Journey to the themes from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Duck Tales – but it’s good fun, and before they’re all drunk (me? Never), the bar closes and we head to a twenty-four hour pizza place, where I listen to Kuntz and Jennie debate about the numbing influence of the Internet and how our generation has lost the value of doing things hands-on
Everyone disperses from here, and the remaining few of us are left cruising the streets like high schoolers, looking for a convenience store that still sells beer, as no one is particularly tired and the night is quiet enough to where a chat in the park would do us some good. We do eventually find a place where Mick buys some Beck’s, and everyone says goodnight until it’s just myself, Mick and Jennie sitting on the stoop of some boarded-up brownstone. Mick’s talking about his exploits while working for a famous Californian brewery (whose name I shan’t mention here for the sake of privacy), and speaks of nights getting beaten up until he could no longer stand, or of experiences running from police, spending the night in jail, and I see from his huge flanged side chops that he’s a romantic of the Tom Waits variety. Still, his stories run dry in time, or he at least senses so, and mid-conversation he declares that he must go home, leaving only Jennie, myself, and the cockroaches that scuttle over our shoes. The moon is long-gone and the sky is becoming more of a pastel by the minute, but we pass a few hours discussing literature and the like before –