My Happy Ending

Two outta’ three ain’t bad.

It was an ambitious Friday night, especially for an impoverished (well, money’s tight anyway) recluse. Once again, I’d inked three events into the weekly minder: an old friend’s rock show, an old friend’s country show, and an old friend’s going away party. I blew the budget, but I almost made all three.

I roped Heather into the plan, on account of her cop being out of town and all. You know, I threw her a little sympathy. I kid. It’d been a minute since we’d hung out. And by now, she a Certified Old Friend herself. Even if we’ve only been friends (and then some) for a year or so, we’ve seen each other through some rough patches (not to mention led each other headlong into some rough patches).

I picked a hip sushi place on Avenue C called Ten, Japanese, according to my research, for Heaven. Ends up Heaven is closed, which all things considered seemed kinda’, well, perfect. So we went for Cuban. The place was right across from Sidewalk Cafe, where I released “Out of Your Head” way back in 1996. It was the first stop on a romp down Memory Lane. The Cuban was great. I blew my Dinner For Twenty Bucks plan straight away, not on the Happy Hour Dos Equis, but on lobster ceviche and grilled red snapper.

I was longing for a piece of fish as delicious as the grouper I enthusiastically devoured at Mate & Jenny’s in Eleuthera just a week ago. It wasn’t that, but it was delicious. Beats the Amy’s Organic Frozen Pizzas and Weight Watchers frozen dinners I’ve been eating all week.

And while it’s not saying much, Heather’s company beat the big red chair in my big white empty living room by a mile. Of course, it’s a little weird hanging out with Heather. She knows my worst better than most. There’s a thin veneer of hurt left over that pops up now and again. Which is fair. All things considered, that she only occasionally pokes fun at me is something of a marvel.

I blew through the meager contents of my wallet in a snap. The corner store next to Sidewalk is lit by really bright fluorescent lights. I used to walk there after Sidewalk shows to buy Camel Lights. We stopped through for the ATM, and I swear I saw Jared Leto shopping for beer. Anyway, I took out $60, which is saying something: you know you’re in a pinch when you don’t go for the $100 fast cash.

Alphabet Lounge was filling up and Elisa was already playing with her band when Heather and I took our spot at the end of the bar. Elisa reminds me that we met way back in 1996 at her very first open mic ever. “You seemed so professional,” she told me. “You already had records out.” “That just means I released too many records too early,” I said. Anyhow, she’s great, and her band rocked, and ten years seemed like ten minutes.

Oddly enough, she tuned back into my life via that darned New York Times article, so it was ironic that I was hanging with Heather. She said, “I read you sites everyday!” Which is certainly cool, but easy to forget that anyone actually does (despite bloggers’ obsessive attention to site meters).

Cecilia played after Elisa. They played after me a few weeks ago. They’re really quite a band, despite there being less than fifty people there to listen. They have three front women, all related, and an amazing backline. They just got off tour with Alicia Keys, and you can tell. They’re clearly not sweating the musicianship like I have to. I play so infrequently with the band that there’s a part of me that’s preoccupied with making sure the band knows the starts and stops and changes. Cecilia, as Heather pointed out, were nothing but great energy. All they had to do was enjoy it. And it showed. Still, we’d had our fill by 9:30. Heather had a date with some Godiva ice cream, and I had more stops before the night was through. We parted at Astor Place, thanking each other for getting each other out of the house.

I walked to McManus Bar at 19th and Seventh for my buddy Lionel’s going away party. I passed my old office at 770 Broadway, I paused at the spot on 12th Street where I watched the Twin Towers fall, and I hustled past some of the West Village haunts of one of my previous, more painful relationships. I dated Lionel’s big sister way back in Saratoga Springs — see also: Memory Lane — and have hung out with him a few times since he moved to NYC. He writes for The New York Press, though he’s moving to Chicago to do the freelance thing. I have to applaud myself (‘cuz no one else is around to do so) for walking into a bar alone on a Friday night, but I’m glad I did. He’s a good kid, and I was happy to buy him a beer, give him a hug, and send him on his way.

I was making zero headway trying to warm up a friend of his — apparently asking what she does for a living was an abhorrent inquiry — so I pulled on my orange cashmere scarf (flair!), my navy blue pea coat, and headed for the 1/9. Alas, my dear friend Kevin Anthony’s other country band, The Boscoe Stompers, was going to have to perform without the benefit of my applause as I had a date with an H&H bagel, Gatorade, and the big red chair.

I climbed into bed at 12:11. Freezing rain was falling outside. I slipped off to sleep five beers heavier and a hundred bucks lighter, but with the beautiful stink of the city all over me.

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