A remarkable Tuesday night for David.
“It didn’t fall to the street?”
“No, but we could see outside. The building was a reno job by a bunch of shady Israelis.”
I gave her my standard Hurricane Sandy story. Upper West Side. A run on bagels at Fairway. A line outside the wine shop.
She made kinetic sculptures. The sculptures never left her building in Brooklyn, because they were too big and too dangerous.
I knew no one at the party, held in an apartment at Beekman Place, a short street of tony buildings by the East River. I’d never been to anyone’s home there. I just don’t know old money. The invite did not come from the host, but from a woman I’d recently met online, who wasn’t “ready” for something new, having come off a seven-year marriage to a gay man that had accidentally produced, during the last of their once-a-year encounters, a baby boy. Although the father had moved out, he still came over for dinner every night. She — Sara — was a towering and brilliant Russian, who had no clue about men, and was too squeamish to go lesbo. But our connection was good and so she started to incorporate me into her social life. The party was called StewsDay. It was Tuesday and the hosts offered six stews — all vegetarian — to the guests, who were friendly and talkative. I swear I heard two men discussing the Peloponnesian war. One wore a floppy bow tie. And he wasn’t alone. There were plenty of blazered gentlemen wearing modest beards and cravats or bow ties, depending on, I guess, their moods. One of them stuck his hand out when I got to the wine.
“Hi, I’m a sexologist.”
“Ah, finally,” I said. I can be good at this kind of repartee if it’s at exactly the right moment and I’m not in the middle of bemoaning my life. So it was a lucky coincidence. I agreed to an off-the-cuff sex test.
“Mammal with the largest penis.”
“Correct! But which whale?”
“Wrong! Blue whale.”
“That’s ridiculous. It should be a sperm whale.”
“Speaking of sperm, if you’re not Italian, what’s the average speed of ejaculate?” I failed that question (around 14 mph), and the next (the Latin meaning of “vagina” is “sheath). He showed me a picture of his six-month-old, and yet I was suspicious. “Drop me an email,” he said.
The apartment was gorgeous. Floor to ceiling bookshelves. Two bedrooms. A six burner range. Walnut floors. The host was a young editor of the OED. But how could that job support such an apartment in such a location? Let’s just say it can’t. It was a job he could afford. He was painfully skinny. Red-dyed hair done in 80s new wave style, a purple smoking jacket, and pants that looked like pajamas. In one of the bedrooms stood a child’s bed, and over it little kid drawings. So he had offspring, too.
Sarah appeared. She had left me on my own when we arrived, and now looked guilty about it. “Are you doing okay? Are you having a good time?”
“You worry too much.”
It turned out that the OED editor’s girlfriend had been, back in high school, Sarah’s first and only lady lover. “It’s what fucked me up forever. Not because it made me like women more than men, but because it made me question why men are attracted to women.”
“It’s the vagina,” I said.
After Sarah made a face and ran off, I procured some stew (Thai curried vegetables, and some of the matzo brei concoction, since it was Passover time), and sat on the sofa, where a woman with the face of a vampire — hot, deathly pale, and dangerous — turned to me and began to chat. Artist something. Performance something. She was half Cuban and Scottish. Unfortunately, she was with a man. Fortunately, he was a nerd. And even though I’m a nerd, I believed that I was the superior nerd. But his name was Pip, while I was merely a David.
“Well, what do you do for money?” I asked impertinently. But this is New York. These are the questions you ask.
“I sell narcotic wines.”
“Yes. You can come over one night and try some.” I looked at Pip, trying to figure out from his blank face what was going on. But it didn’t matter what was going on. There was no chance that I would not visit her apartment, with or without Pip. She took my phone and tapped her number into the address book.
I thought about the confining horrors of work that waited for me the next morning, and that maybe I should leave. It seemed unlikely I would meet even more interesting people, or even more unlikely men who were, inexplicably, fathers. Where had I gone wrong? And that was when the spoken word and song portion of the evening was set to begin. An orange-haired woman wearing a plastic dress began to arrange her equipment.
“Wait, so who are you?” I asked, slipping on my boring coat.
“I’m the Impossible Girl.”
I sat back down. This kind of thing never happens to me on Tuesdays.