New Editor’s Note: Whilst our good friend Bubbles has been in town, I have been sharing snippets from “The Bubble Bath”, a long-ass travelogue of a shared adventure from many years ago. Since Bubbles officially and finally departed Bonnywood earlier today, I thought it appropriate to share the last segment of that ancient saga…
Original Editor’s Note: We’ve just stumbled out of “Splash”, a gay bar in Manhattan where we’ve been presented with exhibitionistic bartenders, show tunes, and a pack of horny architects. It was all great fun, but we are now in serious need of nourishment before one or all of us end up in a squad car, and I really don’t relish capping of our time with Bubbles by sitting in a drunk tank…
Somehow, we manage to flag down a cab. I don’t really remember the details of this acquirement, but there we were, piling into the vehicle, all of us bellowing and banging up against one another as we try to get settled in the car. Both Terry and Bubbles have achieved that specialized level of inebriation wherein they think that every sentence that comes out of their mouths is the funniest and/or most profound thing that has ever been uttered in the history of the planet.
I’m only dimly aware of this, because I’m just a hair below their exuberance on the drinking scale, but I’m cognizant enough to realize that we are making asses of ourselves, becoming those people that nobody wants to talk to when you reach a certain point in the evening. They are both high-fiving each other over everything they say while I’m squashed up against the door, hoping that they both fall out the other door and get run down by some arrogant chauffeur driving a fancy limo. It might get a bit bloody, but at least there will be silence.
Happily for all (well, except for the cab driver), the rocking and swaying of the vehicle stirs up the cocktail mix in my belly, and I finally tumble over into the Dark Side where Bubbles and Terry have already set up camp. Now all three of us don’t care about anything but our own satisfaction. Life is good. (Well, except for the cab driver.)
And for a bit, I actually do have some humanistic feelings for the plight of this man who has been saddled with transporting Bubbles and The Supremes to wherever the hell it is that we want to go. I lean forward to speak with him intimately, because when 2-for-1 drinks have been involved, you think that everybody is your best friend and that these friends are waiting with trembling anticipation to hear anything which you might wish to share with them. I knock on the separating sheet of plastic-glass that divides our life experiences.
The driver is not really pleased with my behavior. Knocking is not something which he wishes to deal with right at the moment. In fact, based upon his reactionary expression, my life is about to end. I realize that perhaps this is not a situation that I would like to face, the ending of things. But I persevere. This man must know that we wish him no harm and we come in peace. I make a weak attempt at détente: “We’ve had a bit to drink.”
Absolute silence from behind the wheel.
Fine. I did my part for social justice. If he doesn’t want to play along, exchanging olive branches and sharing a peace pipe, well, then that’s something he can take up with his personal god at the appropriate time. It’s no longer in my hands. (Wait, did Terry just throw his underwear out the window? Not sure, but something white just exited the vehicle with tremendous speed. You really have to pay attention around here or you end up alone at the senior prom.)
Suddenly, the driver lowers his expectations and decides to minimally communicate, barking out a single word: “Where?”
Oh. Well, he’s kind of rude, but he does have a point. Where are we going?
Terry comes to life. He wants to go to a restaurant that he remembers from a previous visit to NYC, some establishment in Little Italy. (I think it was Little Italy. Keep in mind, we’re all buzzing, the cabdriver hates us, everyone in the back seat is talking over one another, and I’m still mystified by what might have been thrown out the window, now no longer certain that anything actually was tossed. Focus was not something that any of us really had at the moment.)
Terry and Bubbles share enough directives with the driver that he seems satisfied. Next thing I know (I might have taken a short disco nap) he’s letting us out on Mulberry Street. (So, of course, I think of Dr. Seuss, and before I can help myself I’m singing a homemade song about green eggs and ham because, well, we had been drinking. No one joins me, so I take that to mean my voice is so beautiful that they don‘t dare mar my artistry.) I don’t recall who paid for the taxi, but I’m assuming someone did. Or maybe he just threw our asses out to be rid of us.
Dubious financial transactions aside, there we are, standing (swaying?) on Mulberry Street. Terry has done something fancy with his phone that resulted in directions being downloaded. (Technology will save us all!) We stagger down the lane, managing to not kill anyone because our reflexes are really slow and the more-sober pedestrians we encounter are able to run really fast. We troop up to the designated address of the infamous restaurant from Terry’s former nirvana-like eating experience, our hearts beating with overwhelming anticipation.
And we find that the building at said address is dark and empty.
I think I cried, as it was so emotionally devastating.
But we recovered quickly. There were tons of restaurants on this street, most of them still open and quite happy to serve food to inebriated people who didn’t have any sense and were quite willing to part with some disposable income. Eventually, we all agreed on a nice Italian place that had tables spilling out onto the sidewalk. We took up residence and menus were immediately shoved into our hands. I think I cried, as it was so emotionally supportive.
(Side note: Italian restaurants are great when you’ve had too much to drink. There’s all this pasta, in just about every dish, and things get soaked up. Keep this in mind when you’ve been in a bar with dangerous drink specials and beverage-servers who are wearing nothing but jockstraps, and you suddenly realize that you might have gone over your personal limit and need to take recuperative measures.)
Wiping saliva off our chins after perusing the menu, we placed our orders. Shortly, mounds of alcohol-countering delicacies were being slapped down before us. We jammed our heads into the feed trough, with sounds of satisfaction and delight soon echoing up and down the street. The massive carb intake worked its wonderful magic, and we made our way back from the land of Manic Frenzy and returned to the blissful environs of Mellow Reflection.
It was a perfect feast, indeed.
Yet even though we were now stuffed, sated and relatively sober, we ordered dessert as well. Something ridiculously rich, which you had to slowly ingest, especially since we were so full that we could barely breathe.
And that’s where I choose to end our time in the Bubble Bath, even though that journey was not quite complete. Good food, deepening night, attendant waiters, savory fare, delectable company, witty conversation, and memories that crystallize in a perfect fulcrum of happenstance. Tomorrow could be dealt with later.
It’s all you can really ask for, right?
Previously published. Some changes made for this post. For those of you who were invested in the previous installments of “The Bubble Bath” I shared, detailing shenanigans in Atlantic City, and you’re wondering how we got from AC to NYC, well, all in good time. There are 23 episodes of The Bath, and I’m sure I’ll get around to them eventually.
Story behind the photo: A random shot from “The Sweet Tooth Hotel” in downtown Dallas…