While waiting at the baggage claim, I began to notice the people around me. I was surrounded by the type of diversity that could only be matched by Obama’s Cabinet. Hey, there’s a gathering of Hasidic Jews! Wow, there’s a guido with nine gold chains being swallowed by a thicket of chest hair! Oh my, an honest to goodness Muslim in a burka! I felt like Dorothy fresh out of the tornado-spun house. A member of the Lollypop Guild could have walked by and I wouldn’t have thought twice. The myth was true — there are people out in the world that don’t look like this:
I know! It’s weird, right? I about called my entire extended family to say, “Hey, I found everyone that voted for Obama. I’ll get their addresses so you can send them nasty letters.” But, really, 29 straight years of not-so-much-diversity, and now, here I was, amongst the masses, yearning to be free and all that. But free of body odor and poor fashion sense? Well, they’re still working on that.
After a few hours of waiting, Matt and a few others from his flight were promised home delivery of their bags within 24 hours. This seemed to please him, well, enough as possible, so we could finally leave the airport and see the city I’d only seen in shitty Sarah Jessica Parker movies. We stepped into a cab waiting at the curb, and it was everything I’d hoped for: nice smells, friendly driver, hi-def television with Zagat reviews and sports highlights. Wait, what? What is this 21st century hokum? When I get into a cab, I want torn seats, unfortunate looking stains, and to be treated like an asshole. This is mandatory. Is it all true? Did Rudy really clean the place up? Will I never see an honest-to-goodness prostitute? Some dreams are meant to die, I suppose.
To top off our oddly unsatisfying cab ride, we discovered that Brooklyn is not the friendliest looking place at midnight. Those looking for a picturesque tour of the area should not venture out after dusk. The streets are empty and look more unwelcoming than a prison yard, not to mention all the stores are closed, shuttered off with steel gates and padlocks. It’s like wandering into a no man’s land. I half expected Snake Plissken to roll by and warn me about land mines.
It’s not that I expected people to be frolicking around with butterflies and baskets of puppies, high fiving each other as they passed. It simply never occurred to me that the entire city wasn’t a bustling Metropolis at all times, day or night. Add another notch to my clueless bumpkin belt, I suppose.
As we exited the cab with luggage in tow, Mickey greeted us from a second floor window with a slur I won’t use here (lest I offend my more sensitive readers), and it was at that point that I officially welcomed myself to the city. I expect this to be the first of many unpleasant names thrown in my direction, and, by George Jefferson, if I won’t welcome them all with open arms. We were finally there, after all the day’s frustrations.
We took a brief tour of Matt’s new apartment, which looks exactly how I thought it would (cramped but full of character), and headed out for a walk around the South Slope area. Again, not much to see that late in the evening, but you can still get a good idea of what the neighborhood has to offer: groceries, laundromats, bars, coffee shops, etc. I’m still not entirely sure what a bodega is, but I’m pretty confident they’re everywhere. Is this where one would go to purchase the drugs? These are the things I need to know, just in case I want to flame out gloriously, like a character in a Bret Easton Ellis movie.
I get the feeling I won’t go that route any time soon, considering we stopped into a bar after walking around awhile, and I had one beer and declared my night of drinking over. I’m more likely to overdose on potato chips than heroin. It’s just as expensive, but one leads to obesity and the other to fashion shoots. I’m on the wrong track here. What’s not going to help my waistline is the pizza. Our first meal was some authentic fuggin’ Brooklyn pizza, and after one bite, I declared a jihad against pepperoni. It’s all over for them; no end in sight. Hell, if one measly slice of pizza at 2 am is that good, then I’m certainly in for a treat once I stop eating peanut butter three times a day. Nothing against you, crunchy JIF, but there’s a war going on, and you are but a grunt in this army.
We called it a night after the beers and pizza, and I began my first night of several sleeping on an air mattress. My sublet was not to begin for a few days, so I was welcomed into the gentle bosom of the Dwyer/Gifford household. Thanks again, gentlemen. Your hospitality was greatly appreciated, as was the bosoms. One can never get enough of those. The next few days were to be spent getting to know the city and its many quirks. I went to sleep full of excitement and Parmesan cheese with visions of supermodels dancing in my head. Ahhh, dreams are important, kids. Never let them go.