Storyline: Nicky

(5 entries)

Monday, October 20, 2003

My generation

Or, maybe, just my weekend. We were on a rigorous schedule. If the hours had been flip-flopped, and “drinking, crying, and vomiting,” had been replaced with “riding, swimming, and singing campfire songs,” it would have been just like the girl scouts.

(However, it still doesn’t hold a candle to the fucking nineteenth century, when the difference between demigods and cokeheads was that cokeheads were real.)

But that does’t mean that your old pal Jack didn’t have some fun this weekend as well. Once we got through a very dangerous Friday, during which I prayed to a God I had not previously believed in, I was able to confront what turned out to be a lovely Saturday night and Sunday morning. But you aren’t having fun if you aren’t pushing your Earthly vessel to the limit of almost death. Every. Single. Moment. Live fast, die hard, and —

Well, to put it more simply, I went to the bar. I met my friend Oliver, who is the only good-looking guy I’m currently aware of who knows a lot of women, many of whom are beautiful, and still prefers whichever ones are nice and interesting. Also, his fucking name is Oliver. He is Mister Sensitive.

As soon as I show up, Oliver is in a tizzy (he is my only straight friend who can pull this off) because recently a guy he knows did some apparently bad thing to some girl in the bar. I was never clear on what it was, although apparently it transcended propriety in a way even less refreshing than the way I talk to women in bars. The girl in question is sitting down the bar from us. Oliver, who was not personally involved in whatever this thing was, nor present when it occurred, feels he should go apologize to this girl. We are talking extreme sensitivity here, though not actual sense.

So he runs off to do this. After a while I get curious, and I follow him. However, the wronged party is very animatedly talking to Oliver, who is doing his “active listening.” So I focus on the girl’s friend. Yes, it’s that kind of movie!

Hello, girl’s friend. I have never seen a stranger so happy to see me. She’s a cute blonde with a giant shit-eating grin. At first this makes me nervous — girls with PermaGrin can’t be understood by those of us who are not doing the same drugs. But then I realize it’s only one of her many facial expressions, as she runs her face through a few more. I love facial expressions. They are enough to make you think you’re talking to a real person. And that’s what was happening. So we chat for a while, and she asks me my name, and I ask her name, and I ask what she’s drinking, and she tells me what she’s drinking, and I ask her about her prop: a big ol’ Pentax 35mm sitting on the bar. Since I’m a photographer, this is a good prop for you to be wooing me with. So we talk about photography, and she suddenly says to me:

“What’s my name?”

“Excuse me?”

“Tell me my name.”

And I don’t remember her name. Her big grin turns to a giant pout. “You don’t really like me.”

“No, no, I do really like you. Of course I know your name, it’s, uh —”

“My name is Nicky, you asshole.”

“Of course it is, Nicky. I knew that, you didn’t let me —”


“Okay.” Jeez Louise. “I’m sorry, I —”

“Forget it.” Her giant pout has turned into a giant scowl. She has a pretty big head. I’m thinking about her facial expressions.


“Yeah, what.” She hates me.

“Can you smile for me again?”

She looks at me with the scowl. Then she giggles. Then she scowls. Then she smiles by accident. And I kiss her just quickly.

Then she’s all smiles! Look at this! Nicky thinks I’m great! Why the fuck does Nicky think that? We don’t know.

“Nicky, I’m glad I met you,” I say with all sincerity (this makes her so happy!). “Give me your phone number and I will call you soon, and we will do exciting things.” I reach for a pen.

But Nicky is not smiling! Nicky’s puppy-dog eyes are all droopy! Never has a face been so easy to read. I love it! Maybe I can finally understand somebody. Nicky, what’s wrong?

But then it hits me. “Nicky,” I say, “Do you want to come home with me?”

She’s 500 watts again. “Yeah!”

“Okay. Say goodnight to your friends. Get your jacket.”

So she says goodnight to her friends, and gets her jacket. So we’re walking down the avenue, happily making out. It’s about twenty minutes since I met her, which is enough to make even me dizzy. What a wonderful lady!

Under a streetlamp I notice her sweater is pulled off her shoulder a little. “Say, you’ve got a tattoo.”

She shrugs. “Yeah, I’ve got a few.”

(Once again, I was a little slow. I know you, gentle reader, are way ahead of me on this one.)

So we get to my apartment and she sits primly on a chair, taking it in. I offer her anything from the bar. “I’ll have chartreuse on the rocks.” Interesting choice! I make it for her. Please select a record album. She chooses Blind Willie McTell. “I’ve got the same record,” she says. Wow, how different from, you know, regular girls! Is she being as weird as she can be, just because she figured out I like weird? But no, she is the real item. I have hit the jackpot.

Let’s hope we’ll be hearing more from Nicky in the weeks to come. Full disclosure: she had a lot of tattoos.

by Jack, 3:14 PM | Link | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 23, 2003


I have this rare talent for discovering what the deal breaker is and mentioning it within the first thirty seconds. I find people’s insecurities and stamp on them.

I should do opposition research. On chicks in bars.

So while I may have my moments of friendliness, and even extended moments, much more common is basic hostility behind a thin veneer of wit. My hosility is based on a universal love of humanity, which is in turn based on hostility. I feel I can be mean to people because they know I love them. However, I actually don’t.

I need to upgrade my jive. I keep trying to sleep with women by telling them how ugly, stupid, and annoying they are. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like them! I love that kind! Don’t they appreciate my refreshing candor? Fuck them!

However, here’s a good come-on: “I’m an event coordinator, and, baby, you’re the event of the year.” That’s the kind of thing I would say if I was trying to trick people. Instead, I just tell them how ridiculous they are. They will come around eventually.

Sample conversation:

She: “Why should I talk to you? You keep making fun of me!” He: “What do you mean? That’s why you should talk to me! It’s exciting! It’s a challenge!” She: “I don’t want a challenge! I want someone to be nice to me!” He: “You just say that because you’re a —” etc.

In addition, I think I already fucked it up with Nicky. I am a champion.

by Jack, 3:44 PM | Link | Comments (5)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Failure to thrive

Anyone who’s seen the Charlie Chaplin vehicle in which he is much beloved by a portly, wealthy gentleman, but only when that gentleman is drunk, understands much more about my sex life than they’d probably admit.

No one would accuse Nicky of being a portly, wealthy gentleman, but I will. When we woke up after the night we met, though, everything seemed good. She was smiling the best anyone can when hungover, groggy, and exhausted from athletic bad sex. She wanted to eat. We set out into the street, arm-in-arm, and reasonably pleased. We found food at a diner. The waitress seemed to know we were people who were having post-first-date-sex breakfast. That pissed me off. For example:

N: “I’ll have an orange juice.” W: “Large or small?” N: “I dunno, uh —” J: “Go on, get the large.” W: “That’s right. Impress the lady.”

Nicky’s beautiful giant head, made that much bigger by her hangover, bobbled more and more precariously as she attempted to nourish it. Finally she announced it wasn’t working. She wanted a bloody Mary.

I happen to know the best place for bloody Marys, and I don’t even like them. That is what a great guy I am. So off we went. I figured, buy her a drink, put her in a cab, and get on with the day. Reasonable. Friendly, but resolute.

About four Marys (for her), three vodka-and-sodas (for me), and a couple hours later, it became clear she was staying on that stool as long as possible. Not that I had any reason to get rid of her. I liked her, of course. I liked her a lot. I just didn’t want to overstay my welcome.

We talked for hours in the bar. Also, as the bar filled up, people wanted to talk to us. Some guy found her fascinating, and the fact that she was with with me he found doubly fascinating. I wasn’t sure who he was hitting on. Also, Nicky began to give me some kind of heartfelt speech which had “You’re a great guy, I mean a really great guy” in it, so I was waiting for the “But” clause. She never got around to the “But,” though I think it was because she lost her train of thought rather than because there wasn’t any.

Finally, by the time night fell, she was drunk again, and in a different way than the night before. She was limp and lolling. No smiles. “I’ll take you home,” I said.

She leaned on me as we walked to the curb. I tried to hail a cab by raising my arm; she tried by wandering in front of them. Finally we stopped one by my method and got in it. “I’ll just drop you off and go home,” I reassured her.

With her head snuggled against my shoulder, she murmured, “You’re such an asshole.”

Now, I had no idea what that meant. Was she mad I was accompanying her home, because I had — shudder — overstayed my welcome? Or was she mad that I said I was going to leave right after because I had not overstayed my welcome? Do you understand the issue of the overstaying of the welcome? It is a critical issue.

I decided that “asshole” was a word more applicable to those whose self-interest leads them to abandon — but maybe only because there was no obvious term for guys who didn’t know when to go home, other than perhaps “greedy.” I took her across bridges and highways and she said, “Stay.” So I stayed. And the next morning, the second morning, she certainly looked surprised to see me. She shuffled around in her kimono while I washed my face. It’s good in these situations if people smoke, because that’s always an indicator of how stressed out they are. Nicky doesn’t smoke. But she’s got that big signpost of a head. Do I need to say it? I had overstayed my welcome.

She treated me to an awkward, yet oddly clingy hug, and I was off again to the borough of my preference.

by Jack, 12:09 PM | Link | Comments (3)

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Settling into a routine

I decided to make one last stand. I decided to call Nicky and invite her out. But before I did, the phone rang. “You wanna go to a show tonight?” she wanted to know. Yeah. Okay.

Some friends of hers were performing their alt-country drag act, or whatever it was. We decided to meet beforehand for a drink, because that’s the way we begin an activity. I arrive at the bar in question — not My Bar, where we met, but reasonably close, since I have a very limited world — and she’s finishing up her first vodka-and-something.

I kiss her cheek and call for a drink. We face each other, turned on our barstools like true romantics. I’m watching her head. Something is wrong.

“Look,” she says. “We need to talk.” Ohhhh boy. I drink my drink and she probably said something like this:

“Glad…great…fun…ex-boyfriend…trouble…confused…love with somebody…travel…city…glad…but sex…happy…trouble…friend…mistake…not saying…you know…okay?”

I was busy reminding myself that I needed to pick up my leather jacket from the dry cleaner’s, and that I was out of lightbulbs. “Look,” I venture, when it seems she’s done, “I understand what you’re saying. What do you want to do?”

“I want to go to see the show with you,” she replies. So we go. Watch and learn, friends.

The show, how lovely. We sit there in the club and enjoy it. I make a lot of great faces at her, she makes them at me. I meet her friends and charm them. The usual bullshit. We retire to yet another bar. Even more usual.

“Look,” I say, “I know what you’re saying about being confused about me. I know you’ve just got out of a long relationship and are seeing this other guy. I’m not saying there has to be anything between us. I just don’t think you should rule it out.”

She gulps and nods.

“I’m just saying it should be investigated,” I tell her.

She frowns. “Yeah. I know.”

“All right,” I say. “What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.” Frowny frowny.

I get up, take her hand. “Let’s go.”

Yes, friends, she gave me the Let’s Cool It talk, and then we went back to my apartment. What world are we living in?

Still, it was our best time together. Her eyelids fluttering, her mouth gaping. I was doing that. In the morning she looked more confused than ever, but I just let ‘em wonder.

by Jack, 5:20 PM | Link | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Nicky by noonlight

I’m taking a second last stand. I decide to invite Nicky on our “first date,” by which I mean a planned rendezvous, not at five in the morning, where we’re both sober for most of it. Since we are interested in photography, it’s off to Chelsea to see some photo shows. Sounds reasonable, right?

Some of you may wonder what a fellow like me wants with a daytime excursion not involving drunk girls: why rock the boat? The truth is that I feel my non-relationship with Nicky is being to get thin. Just because I am a drunk who likes pretty girls doesn’t mean I’m shallow. In order for the booze-fueled, mediocre sex to continue or, god forbid, improve, I need a little conversation to give me something to think about. Laugh if you will. I prefer people to be “people,” not just, as my supposed friend Meg says, “something to whack off with.”

So we agree to meet one afternoon at a café. (She’s available afternoons because she works nights as a bartender. This shouldn’t surprise you or me because everyone I know is either a bartender, sleeping with a bartender, wants to be a bartender, or just spends all his or her free time around a bartender. Is there really any more useful friend to have? Maybe a bartender who knows CPR.)

Nicky looks pretty ragged. Of course, she’s hung over, she hasn’t been awake very long, and she seems to be very lost in the sober, waking world. I buy her a tremendous coffee. This gives her enough energy and me enough reassurance that we might make it across town. We head for the L train (why hasn’t some smartass hipster from Williamsburg updated the Billy Strayhorn number for the crosstown set?).

We arrive, hand-in-hand, in the world of the west side. We pop into a friend’s gallery but he isn’t in. We trudge around looking at photos. We make comments about them. We cross the street to another gallery. Repeat. Nicky is already looking weary. We trundle down the street, with me pointing out stuff. We’re surrounded by other couples doing about the same thing. Nicky looks increasingly uncomfortable.

She stops in the street. “Let’s get a drink,” she says.

We go to the Empire Diner for sandwiches and whiskey-and-ginger-ales. Some of the color is returning to her face. She relaxes.

“Sorry,” she says, “What’s with all those people, you know, like guys trying to be smart talking about art? It bugs me.”

“Like me, too, I guess.”

Sip of drink. “Well, maybe.” Sip of drink. Chuckle.

Thus endeth the outing, somewhat prematurely. With whiskey safely inside us, we head back for the subway, inside of which we run into the ex-boyfriend she was telling me she’s having trouble getting out of her life. No kidding. What is he doing in my subway?

“Hi,” we say to each other. They chat for a bit. She’s much more animated with him than she’s been with me. But he just sort of stares at her in reply. Poor sap.

Anyway, I give up. Things aren’t what they’re not. Next time I see Nicky, it’ll be by accident, and we’ll go home together. I will let things happen, not make things happen. It doesn’t work, does it?

by Jack, 5:02 PM | Link | Comments (1)