Okay, so Wednesday night I’m making out with a 26 year old Russian. In public.
Whoops. Got a bit ahead of myself. Let’s rewind.
So this is the time of year when it is traditional to be thankful. Those of us of the American ilk remind ourselves that we are extremely fortunate to be comfortably berthed on the good ship USA, the richest country in the history of the solar system. In global and historical terms, we are part of the one per cent, no questions asked.
I’m grateful for one thing. I’m grateful for New York City and for all of the intrepid citizens who sail in her.
I’m grateful that Thanksgiving Eve can start at the crappy bar that me and my friends all hate but we go there anyway because it’s near our work. And the conversation gets around to gay porn and I learn much, much more about gay porn that I would ever need or want to know and I’m laughing so hard that I’m sure I’ve cracked a rib.
Next stop. Korea town. Cheapest trip out of the country without having to actually leave the country. Food, delicious and cheap. Then it’s a glass of Johnny Walker Black with an Genoan theoretical physicist who walks me through the mechanics of Felix Baumgarten’s space jump.
After that, it’s straight home, or so I think. My local is on the way and I pass the bartender, who’s hanging out, having a smoke. He persuades me to stop in.
Enter the Russian and the cutie. They are a good looking pair in a blonde and pale and interesting kind of way. He has curly silver hair and I can imagine him in an astrakhan striding all manly like about the steppes. She’s bright and beautiful and is wearing tights that show off her piano wire legs. They’re merry and flirty and I would judge about two drinks past their best, which is a state in which I particularly like to encounter people because it means that I can ask all the nosey questions I want to and nobody takes offense.
My first question is, are they an item?
I ask the cutie and she shakes her head no. She doesn’t want to because they both live in the same building and have dogs and if things went wrong it could all get so very ugly.
The cutie drifts off to talk to a Latin with shiny raven black hair and I ask the Russian what he thinks about the cutie. He won’t sleep with her because she’s not clever enough. She watches the kind of television that involves people in bathing suits voting other people in bathing suits off small land masses.
The Russian, who is Jewish, scorns such paucity of intellectual rigor and fires off a few zingers impugning the state of American womanhood.
Jews are clever he tells me. I protest the sweep of that statement but he holds firm.
I point out that that the cutie is not looking bored with the Latin guy, whom it turns out she is conversing fluently with in Spanish.
Oh yeah, the Russian says airily. She’s fluent in that and Portuguese.
Okay, so let me see if I have this straight. She’s beautiful, trilingual, great fun, but reality TV is a deal breaker?
Eager to poke that beehive a little further, I ask the Russian what he thinks of the Latin.
“I hate men who wear ponytails,” he sniffs.
So, instead of the cutie, he gets me. Now, I’m happy to parse the subtext of Bulgakov any old day of the week. Yet, still I can’t help feeling that he’s missing the point.
Anyway, the bartender orders shots and the cutie drifts back. She invents a game. We will think of something really boring to say in English and the Russian will translate. And if it sounds sexy in Russian, he will get a kiss.
“You go first,” she says to me.
My sentence involves tax audits and other shit. The Russian translates. It sounds good.
“You have to kiss him now,” the cutie says.
I kiss him politely.
“No, no. Not like that,” the cutie says. “A real kiss.”
I kiss the Russian impolitely. The kid knows his stuff. Sometimes, for a few seconds, you just get lucky. What?
Then it’s the cutie’s turn. I don’t remember what her boring English phrase was but I do remember the kiss. She was sitting on the bar and she jumped off and was all over him. Impolitely so.
Like I said. A good looking pair.
I get ready to leave. I get both their numbers. I really, really want to know how this story turns out. I will write it for them if they want.
All this time the bartender has been standing by. His shift has finished and he’s now a customer. He’s been watching but not saying a lot. He steps outside for another smoke and he has a question for me. Perhaps it was watching the crackle between the Russian and the cutie.
His question is this. Do I know anybody whom I could set him up with?
It’s a good question. And I have a good answer. Because I happen to know a beautiful young woman who recently asked me something very similar. It could work. He’s a surfer. She’s a rock climber. They are both smart, dark, sardonic.
I never matchmake. Never. Not ever. But I’m going to break my rule this one time. Because both of them happened to ask. And because your 20s are when you should feel something good. There’s plenty of time later for pain and disillusionment when you’re older and the vicissitudes of fate have spanked you and sent you to your room.
Your 20s are the time when you have the energy and the creativity to woo the object of your desire and to enjoy every delicious moment of it.
Because it wasn’t until the next day that it struck me. I was on a train with time to think. And I realized the cutie had set the whole thing up. It was flirting theatre. And I was an extra with a walk on role. The cutie wanted to make out with the Russian but she didn’t want him to think it was a thing. So she did it brazenly and publically with me as her accomplice.
The Russian, although he may not know it, was outclassed and outflanked by a woman whose intellectual weakness is reality TV.