Where You Are Doesn’t Change Anything

Take Me Home Tonight
Take Me Home Tonight

For a good amount of time I thought of New York as the answer to life. Like most people my age in LA, I am always complaining about it. I complain about how it can sometimes take an hour to drive a mile, how you can never park your car, and how Saturday nights end at 1 AM. We complain about these things to each other, and it usually ends with somebody saying that the that the answer to our dissatisfactory lives is to move to New York. It’s so obvious how true it is. In LA you’re in traffic all the time—in New York you don’t have a car. In LA the bar closes at one. In New York you get to the bar at one.

I, too, compile these ideas together as I sit at my cubicle and stare out the window. There is more happiness to be had in other places of the world. Women will fall into my lap like fallen leaves. A funner career will open its arms out to me. So when a New York new years trip presented itself, I didn’t hesitate to take it. My friend was sort dating this one girl who lived in Jersey in classic 2014 style—text and comment on Instagrams constantly, don’t say much in person, don’t go on dates, maintain a slightly DGAF attitude, don’t seem overly invested in the whole ordeal—but he told me she would have a lot of friends with her and to come along. “Sure,” I said, keeping the magical thoughts I had about New York in mind. “Let’s do it.” Over the six days of being there, I knew, I would get the woman who’d be less snobbish than women in LA, meet a few cool writers I was emailing back and forth who lived there.

It didn’t exactly work out that way. Most of my good friends, or at least people who I’d thought of as good friends had perfectly formed, solid reasons for not hanging out. The writer I was so excited to meet had a meeting

On the night of new years, my friend’s kinda sorta generic 2014 girlfriend (KSG2G) brought a few of her friends to come out with us. The kind of sort of generic 2014 girlfriend introduced me to Erin. I’m Persian, and whereas in LA this can be an almost fatal/ absolute drawback/ handicap in meeting women, I had heard rumors of New York women actually taking a liking in the skinny, brownish male— and my introduction to Erin might have shed light on the idea. It was almost as if I was a celebrity of sorts as she shook my hand long and smiled, looking into my eyes. When I caught her looking at me amid conversation with KSG2G and my good friend Harvey, it was money in the bank. Shortly after, we headed to a pre game with about fifteen others, which somehow took place at Denzel Washington’s apartment. How? I don’t know. I don’t ask questions, I just show up and drink. But, I should describe the layout of this grand apartment, although the opportunity to do so was probably in the last few sentences—this paragraph growing fluffier by each additional piece of immaterial commentary. But, here I go: Basically, it was all all glass, wood painted black and pristine silver metal—something like an Apple store but a lot doper, and a place you live, rather than a place you whack off to the newest iPads. I didn’t make it up the stairs, but there was a glass staircase leading you up there. 

Erin and I talked a little more in the classic Jewish pre game conversation, which, after excruciating over analysis, offers the following subjects: 1) where we went to college 2) what you studied 3) A list mention of the schmucks you might mutually know 4) A girl named Rachel 5) Sarah 6) what are you drinking 7) shot? Erin and I went through all these subjects together over the course of our hydration situation, and it concluded with a few shots of vodka. When it got to 11:00, we headed to some club. I can’t remember what it was called. Basically, it was one of those places that was so packed it make you question the purpose of your life. You would stand there and have the heat and pressure suffocate you and you’d begin to question why and how anybody ever though going out was fun. I got a few drinks spilt on my shoulder and as it got closer to midnight it only got more crowded.

“Let’s go,” we decided.

KSG2G, KSG2B, Erin, another gal and I headed out. It was my first time experiencing a NewYork winter, and the tight air sucked my face into a trapezoid of terror as we reached the sidewalk scanning the streets for the Uber. We spotted him and the five of us packed in, but we had one of these types.

“No five people.”

“Big tip,” KSG2G responded. “Please.”

“No five people. I lose job.”

“You guys go,” I volunteered. “I’ll meet you all there.”

“Are you sure?”

“Don’t worry,” I said, opening the door.

“I’ll go with him!” Erin announced.

She conversed a little bit with the other girls, hushed them, they gave us the name of the hotel to head to, and we were off.

We walked on the center divider on a busy street, honks and lights and hot dogs everywhere. I left some spacing between my arm and body, giving her the chance to slip her hand in if she wanted to, and it was like she read my mind, as I felt her hand settle in to the slot shortly after.

“Holy shit,” she said, “I’m freezing!”

“I know. Me too. Um. Fret not. I will find us a cab immediately.”

It wasn’t exactly immediately. I stood there like a desperate asshole for at least ten minutes, wearing this coat that was much more stylish than functional, feeling the freezing poison penetrate my neck, chest, and the New York dream growing ever more elusive with each yellow cab that passed with a lit ‘occupied’ sign. There was no luck with Uber, Lyft at surge prices and unavailable—and Sidecar, usually left as a last resort back home in LA, not even existent. I walked down streets indiscriminately, making rights and lefts and turn-arounds at random. After trying dozens of yellow cabs with passengers already in, I finally hailed one down.

“Erin!” I shouted, and she trotted over, holding her scarf into her neck. I typed in the name of the hotel and got the intersection and gave it to the driver and we were off.

I told her, “Thanks for coming with me, by the way. Very nice of you.”

“You don’t need to thank me. I wanted to come with you.”

“That’s nice,” I said, putting my arm around her and cradling. It was a big car and we had the whole back row to ourselves, but we were packed tightly, not a centimeter of air spacing us. She opened her purse, then her wallet, and told me she had various slightly illicit goods. “Sure,” I said, gumming them together.

We talked a little longer, her hand tucked into my arm, and I eventually said, “Happy New Year” and gave her a quick kiss. She smiled, held my arm and rested her head on my more-stylish-than-functional coat for the rest of the way.

“Standard hotel,” the driver said. “You guys have fun.”

“Thanks!” I said, handing him the cash. Erin followed me inside the building and we reached the concierge. She began unwrapping her scarf.

“Phew! We finally made it.”

“Wasn’t so bad, was it?”

I called my Good Friend Harvey to ask him which hotel room this after-party was in. “805,” he said.

“Hi. We’re heading to suite 805, our friends are staying there. Can we go up?”

“805?” he asked suspiciously.

“Yes,” I said. “805.”

“There’s only five floors here,” he responded, looking at me a certain way.

“Are you sure?”

“I work here,” he said. “I’m sure.”

“Oh.” I turned to Erin. “Well, this is confusing.”

“Call your friends,” she commanded.

“That’s right.”

“Mike, where the hell are you?” He gave me the exact address, and after typing it in to my phone, I realized there were two different Standard hotels in Manhattan. I darted outside to see that the cab that dropped us off had just taken off. I waved my hand in the air, knowing he wouldn’t see it, as he drove off. I turned to see Erin in the window, a look of severe anguish in her eyes.

“Shit. Well, um. You wait here,” I said. “I’ll get us a cab. Hang tight.”

“You’re not going to find one.”

“Um. You’re right. Probably not. But that’s like the whole philosophical thing, right? Never know what you’re gon’ get,” I said, in a Forrest Gump impersonation. She wasn’t having it.

“I’m not waiting here by myself,” she said, getting up.

“But you’re gonna freeze,” I said.

“I’m not waiting here by myself. Did you hear me?”

“All right.”

If I thought the first attempt to hail a cab was tough, I was an Alexandre Dumas (dumbass). Where were all these people going? I didn’t understand. I was freezing, anxious, lost in a city I knew nothing about. Hundreds of cabs drove by us, each of them complacently disregarding my wave-downs.

“They have people in them!” Erin shouted. “Why are you waving at them?”

“Because I don’t know! What if their lights are just on by accident!”

“This is ridiculous,” she said, dropping her head into her hands. “Absolutely ridiculous. The worst.”

She was silent.

After another ten minutes , she and I trying our best on basically opposite ends of the block, I finally hailed down some dude who was just driving around.

“However much you want to drive me two miles,” I said, and he said thirty, get in.

I waved her over and she got in. It was another SUV. In the back seat, she sat all the way left, and I all the way right, our heads turned opposite ways—the maximum amount of spacing between two people in a back row made actualized.

I was the first to talk.

“Hey, look. I’m sorry. But I’m not from here. How was I supposed to know which spot to head to?”

“Let’s forget about it, I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Well, I don’t want it to spoil your whole night. It’s still new years. And it’s only one. We can still kick it.”

“My night is ruined, okay? I’m freezing!”

A long, thick silence overtook us for the rest of the way. We looked out of our respective windows and didn’t turn. I realized, then, that I’d never seen anything like this. Women had yelled at me a lot in time—but never like this. This was something else. The only conclusion I could think of, as I turned to her briefly and saw she was hugging herself and shivering, was that it was from the weather. Being cold sucks, I learned. And right now I was looking at somebody whose skin, mind, soul had been penetrated by it. I wasn’t even talking to Erin, cute girl from the pre game anymore. I was talking to Angry Cold Person. A few more awkward minutes swept by us as I tracked our navigation to the correct Standard Hotel.

“Any more of the goods?” I asked, to no avail.

We got to the hotel room and my good friend Harvey approached me right away. I told him we’d talk about it later. There were only ten people left in this suite now, and Harvey said I definitely should have come earlier, that’s when it was a lot of fun. After a few minutes, Erin huddled with KSG2G, and she looked like she was breaking down. The entire thing was bothering me now. Erin strutted over to me, said “bye,” and walked out the door.

“Don’t take it all personally,” KSG2G said.

When I go out in LA now and come back home alone, or when I go on a particularly awful hangout session, I refer back to this night. Basically, every night.  Don’t let this evil head get you to think things would be different elsewhere. I take reprise in knowing, with evidence, that everywhere you go, you’ll have to deal with adversity in some way, and, sometimes, Jewish women who take the cold weather out on you. There is no la-la land consisting solely of unicorns and rainbows. LA has its flaws, but be grateful for the seventy degrees all year round, my LA buds! I guess this is also the opportunity for me to drop my thesis, also the moment that I break the writer’s rules and tell you firsthand: this is my thesis. Well, here it is. If you ever think the love of your life is waiting for you elsewhere, don’t buy it. She will probably go insane to you about the weather and make you pay for too many cabs. TC mark

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