Thursday, December 23, 2010

Culture. Schmulture.

I want to be cooler. 

Not in an overall acceptance kind of way. I want to be the kind of person who makes the most of living  in one of the world's most fascinating cities. I've been alive for 29 years and stomped my way through Brooklyn and Staten Island while making a small mark in NYC itself, yet I don't feel like I've fully seen it. And I want to...badly. 

I'm not the best at being a loner, and I don't see that as a fault. I like to share my experiences and small joys with those that will get the same fulfillment from them. Most recently, my friend Jon has attributed to this aspect of my life in ways he may not even be aware of. I think I relinquished my will to his demand after a night of theater and binge drinking months ago, but that's a whole other story...The planning of yesterday's outing started on Monday with the following conversation. 

Jon: What are you doing Wednesday?
Me: Anything you want me to. 
Jon: Galleries. Lots of 'em. 
Me: I'm in. 

Immediately my Google calendar began buzzing with invites that began at 10am Wednesday morning and extended through the afternoon. A little overzealous? Maybe. But I held no doubt that the day would prove rewarding. 

I arrived in SoHo a bit after 10am. The weather definitely felt of Christmas but it was pleasant enough to not have to build my clothing into layers of puff. I wore my sunglasses, Boho hat, and blended into the crowd. When I can walk around on Spring and W Broadway, easily stop in at any store and buy items without a second thought, that's when I'll know I've made it, financially speaking, in life... Until then I'll stick with the sale racks.

When I found myself in front of what would have been our first stop, I saw Jon was not there. A cell phone ring later, we were chatting and I was told he was still on his way. 

Me: You realize you're totally going against the gay stereotype with your lack of punctuality, right?
Jon: Go f**k yourself.

I *heart* him. 

I later sent him this photo from an Anthropolgie dressing room and told him he owed me $185 and would have to carry my shopping bags all day. 

Forty-five minutes later I'm drinking an Americano coffee in a cafe called Ground Stop. It's the kind of place where everyone looks like they just walked out of a European sample sale and are adorned with non-prescription glasses. I sip my brew and wait for Jon who arrives with his signature smile. He doesn't want coffee, he wants art, so we make our way out of bourgeoisville and across the street to our first stop... which turns out to be closed down.

Well then. A walking journey takes us to the SoHo Photo Gallery...which doesn't open for several hours.   

Me: If you wanted me to start preparing for the marathon with you, you could have just said so. No need for the elaborate "we're going on a gallery walk" cover story. 
Jon: They were my mind. 

We jumped the E train and walked toward the Hudson River on 23rd street. Between loading docks and nightclubs we came to a building filled with various galleries. One floor introduced us to a set of artwork that was on the market for $10,000. I kept my hands in my pockets and made sure not to allow my inner klutz near anything in the room. 

As we made our way uptown, we found more hidden gems and popped into several more galleries. We saw photos that amazed us and artwork that elicited the following responses:
Jon: I feel like I'm camping with hillbillies. 
Me: I think my 6 year old goddaughter could have done a better job.
It's all about interpretation. 

Amongst a slew of warehouses and cobble-stoned streets we found a chain of galleries, where we stopped in on a Jeff Bailey exhibit and came across a 1950s photo of our friend Billy Yoder's long lost relative. (It's not, but sure as heck looks like him!)

It was closing in on 1pm and our stomachs were starting to grumble, but before heading to the Upper East side we returned to the SoHo Photo gallery. There we found a pleasant gallery manager, an amazing experiment with color by a photographer named Rick Sammon, and the coolest bathroom I've ever tinkled in. 

Afterward, I had an official food headache so we ended the gallery portion of our day and jumped the train to Taco Taco, a (clearly) Mexican restaurant on 2nd avenue between 89th and 90th streets. 

Me: Is the food good?
Jon: I don't know. I only know they have fantastic Horchata.
Me: (perplexed) You mean they play Vampire Weekend songs on rotation.
Jon: (deep breath) No. Horchata, the drink.
Me: It's real??
Jon: (pats my hand) Realer than Santa Claus. 

We take a seat by the window, because that's the scenic thing to do and not because we thought it through and realized how cold we'd end up. Jon orders us Horchatas and when the milk-shake-like-thing-topped-with-cinnamon arrives I take a sip, then ten and soon enough my drink is gone. Obviously, I hated it. 

I ordered steak fajitas, Jon orders something a friend recommended. We eat like starved artists and Jon, after wiping his mouth delicately with a single napkin, proclaims, "This is amazing." I, after using not one but three napkins at once and still chewing on steak say, "Hell yes."   

Itis sets in and I'm mapping out my plan to return home. Jon begins one of his speeches. 
Jon: You have a demanding profession.
Me: This is true.
Jon: You're on holiday.
Me: I'm amazed by your power of observation.
Jon: There's no way in hell I'm letting you go home at 3pm. 
Me: But I'm tired.
Jon: Drink a damn Redbull, Lauren. You're 29. What would you do at home?
Me: Sleep. 
Jon: In other words, be a loser.
Me: Not sure I would have put it that way but-
Jon: I won't let you do this! 

My willpower is sitting on the plate in front of him. 

Me: Fine. What do we do?

Jon whips out his Blackberry as I tuck my now dead Droid into my purse. Little Fockers is playing just a few streets away and will help us kill a few hours before the Beatz & Brands showcase. If I'm going in, I'm making it worth it. 

The sun is starting to set as we walk toward 86th street. I'm distracted by wondering if we're walking in the right direction. In doing so I miss the sight of a unicycler almost running me over. I turn to Jon who is looking at me dumbfounded.

Me: What?
Jon: Don't tell me you did not see that.
Me: What?
Jon: Lauren a unicycle almost ran you over just now. 
Me: What? Where? 
Jon: You know those leashes they put children on? I'm buying one for you. Walk!

We make it to the theater with enough time to grab center seats. A guy behind me kicks my chair. A couple in front of me decides to take an abnormally long time to sit down. Then they giggle and talk. 

Jon: (waving his hat at them) You two! (to me) Shit, I thought we were obnoxious. 

We're lost in the funniness of Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro for a few hours before gathering our belongings and jumping the train once more to Bowery. As we resurface I see a familiar face walking ahead of us. Al, my brother from another mama, is headed to the same event. He falls into step with us as we're carded at the entrance. 

Me: There's liquor here?
Al: Open bar by Belvedere. 
Me: Well color me drunk!

Vodka and soda in hand, I work my way around the space checking out fashions by MadeMe and jewelry by Endless Noise NYC. Beautiful stuff. Catch up conversations with Kathy Iandoli and Nicole of Nina Sky. Then returned to my post by Al so we could talk life. A few vodkas later, my doll of a lady friend, Jenny, arrives and shares the news that she's landed a new gig after months of unemployment. If that's not a reason for another vodka, I don't know what is! 


By 9:30pm I'm falling apart at the seams. I look at Jon pleadingly. 
Me: Please tell me I've put in my cool time and am allowed to go home now.
Jon: You've done well, grasshopper. We can leave. 

After saying goodbye to our mutual friends we share a cab to Grand Central. Surely I rambled on about something that I'm not sure I remember and then we are suddenly at the end of our journey. 

Jon: Listen hot mess, make sure you get home safe and text me. 
Me: Same. 
Jon: Next week, Amy Winehouse and George Michael are storming Frenchtown. 
Me: Which one of us is Amy Winehouse?
Jon: (stares at me.) 
Me: Fine. But I'm not sporting a beehive unless you grow some facial hair. 

We hug. We part. 

I jump my train and start writing this blog. 


..... is Good.