We’re on our third round of daiquiris, the legit kind, when I confide to Sophie this is my first time ever having legit daiquiris and I now know that I fucking love them — that they are delicious and a great delivery mechanism for alcohol.
Before this evening I’ve only ever had the gaudy frozen kind from trying-too-hard beach bars, and they gave me brain freeze instantly and a hangover before too long. The only reason I ordered my first one that night is because when she showed up half an hour or so late because of work stuff I was finishing up a straight whiskey (while writing in my notebook because yeah, I’m that fucking guy) and she said I could get that anywhere, pointing to my glass of Johnnie Walker, that the place was known for its daiquiris and that she was going to have one of those.
A man of habit and unrefined palette and blind brand loyalty, I initially bristled internally about her dismissal of the drink you could find more often than not (to, like, I guess, a scary degree to some) serving as an extension of my left hand, but then I remembered that I’d just recently been telling myself that liking whiskey isn’t necessarily the most unique or compelling personality trait, if it’s a personality trait at all.
I followed suit on her order even though I was a little bit worried about chasing whiskey with a daiquiri. But I figured it was something Hemingway did all the time, so why not me? (I have no idea why I feel like I can do things Hemingway did, or that his is an example I should ever follow, but whatever. I’m no better than any of the other stereotypical white dudes out there who want to be a writer.)
She tells me she actually makes “a pretty mean” daiquiri and invites me to her apartment back in Brooklyn to have one or two.
“Better to get out of this place soon, because the later it gets the more rowdy it gets,” she says. “And we’re coming up quickly on that time of the night that the 23-year-old crowd finally comes out.”
I accept her invitation and tell her I’m all about starting early and finishing early, that I like to be home at a decent hour these days, so I can hydrate and listen to music before falling into a semi-drunken slumber, instead of passing out hammered and waking up still drunk the next morning.
“Yeah, the 30s are . . . not quite as wild, are they?” she says. “Oh, and just so you know, this doesn’t mean I’m going to sleep with you. I have a three-date rule. My pants stay on until then at the very earliest.”
“I wasn’t going to make any assumptions one way or the other, but thanks for letting me know upfront,” I say. “This way I won’t even try to shoot my shot. But just remember, you can’t sleep with someone if you never spend the night, and I really like sleeping in my own bed.”
“Are you actively trying to blow this?”
“I was just kidding. I really would like another daiquiri though.”
“I know. Just wait ’til you get one down the hatch. I make good shit. Let’s go.”
We do the semi-awkward first date thing where I go to pay for the check and she offers to split it and when I say I got it she tells me I can Venmo her if I want but I tell her I never will and she says she’ll get the Uber back to her place, first to a liquor store on her block where we can pick up some rum and limes and whatever other supplies she might need because she can’t remember exactly what she has in-house, and I don’t fight her on that, and then she says “Oops” while she’s typing on her phone.
“Maybe I’m a little bit buzzed because I think I just got an Uber Pool.”
“I mean, that’s fine with me.”
“I don’t want to cancel it and mess with my rating.”
“Yeah, don’t do that. Maybe we’ll meet some interesting strangers or something anyway.”
I know an Uber rating is somewhat sacred. I’ve been trying to get mine built back up after it took a dip earlier in the year when I had my first ever (as yet undiagnosed) gout flareup and had to take some embarrassingly short rides to the podiatrist a couple blocks from my place and then to the pharmacy to get some analgesics. It’s been an uphill battle. Plus, an Uber Pool, a new offering from the company, is an easy way to save a few bucks, especially if you’re not in any real hurry.
“I hope we’re not in a car with weirdos,” she says.
“If we are we can try to make the most of it.”
We leave the bar and while we’re waiting a few minutes for a car to arrive she tells me she sometimes has a tendency to get a little bit car sick and that it might be better for her to sit in the front seat if possible to try and prevent that from happening.
“Shotgun is yours, for sure,” I say, intuiting that you don’t want to tempt fate when you have a few daiquiris sloshing around inside you.
“We can just pretend we’re holding hands in the backseat, though,” she says, then takes my hand in the street and I feel a little bit elated about it, though also worried that my hands are obnoxiously sweaty. Holding hands is an intimate thing, if you think about it, especially if you think about it too much, which I do, but I’m mostly glad we’re taking such a step so soon. I think I’m falling in like pretty quickly and keep reminding myself silently to do what I can to not blow whatever might be happening here.
The car shows up and there are two people in the backseat. Sophie takes the front and I get into the backseat on the passenger side. The strangers say hello as they slide over to accommodate me and then just as we pull out into the street they start making out furiously, something I can only assume they’ve been doing before we hopped into the car and that they’re drunk enough to continue on with in front of two new strangers who they will likely never again cross paths with.
Nothing is worse than the sound of PDA. Unless you happen to be one of the participants.
I’ve been lucky enough to drunkenly kiss people in public plenty of times, and understand how if the person is a good enough kisser the rest of the world around you kind of ceases to exist, so I hold no ill will toward these people. No shame in getting after it. As we drive along I wonder if they’ve been together for a long time, or if this is the welcome result of a first night together gone really well that is progressing to something even more intimate when they get to their destination, wherever that may be.
I’m delighted when Sophie reaches her hand back through the tiny space between the seats on the passenger side and takes my hand again. I hold on somewhat awkwardly, enjoying it, until she eventually slowly pulls away.
I assume she’s got to use two hands to type to someone on her phone or something, but then realize she’s taken the right hand that was seconds ago clutching mine and is holding it over her mouth. She burps softly but seems fine.
This until we’re on the Williamsburg Bridge, when I hear other strange noises coming from upfront that form a strange symphony with the smacking of lips directly to my left in the back.
“Miss, are you okay?” the driver asks with the kind of tone that conveys he’s thinking, Oh god no, not this shit again.
“I’m fine,” she says, but then goes back to making vaguely guttural noises.
He takes one hand off the wheel and hits the switch to power the passenger seat window down. You know, just in case.
I, too, put my window down because I reason that the more fresh air we get into the car, the better she’ll feel.
We’re halfway across the bridge in a place where you can’t pull over when she, without much warning aside from some more verging-on-sickly sounds, leans out the window, kind of like how Heath Ledger’s Joker manically does in that one scene in The Dark Knight and lets a rather impressive stream of not-yet-digested daiquiris fly.
I’m sure by now you know where this is going.
The stream of vomit launches against the wind and flies backward, the wind blowing a pretty hefty amount of it through my open window and onto my face and torso.
“Oh no,” the driver says flatly with what I think is a combination of stoicism and resignation — his acknowledgment and rye acceptance that it is indeed this shit again, another Friday night driving around the drunken semi-youths of New York City.
I should tell you I don’t have a strong stomach.
Far from it.
I’ll puke if you look at me the wrong way.
The couple sitting next to me continue their make-out session, completely oblivious to what has just happened.
Until I lean my head out my window and vomit as well, following suit just like I did when Sophie ordered that first daiquiri.
We’re on a sick, sad adventure together and, hey, you know, buy the ticket, take the ride.
With my head out the window I hear her saying to the driver, “I’m sorry, oh god, I’m so so fucking sorry.”
I let out one last heave and then settle back into my seat with a heavy sigh, chiming in with my own apologies while the woman sitting next to me, who has finally pulled her lips away from her date, realizes (and probably smells) what is going on.
She promptly vomits into her date’s lap.
It’s quite a scene.
The man in the back with me somehow does not throw up himself. Which I feel is an achievement.
The driver remains stoic, which I find admirable.
But he also shows no mercy. When we finally make it across the bridge, something like eons later, he pulls over to the side of the street at the first opportunity, just starts muttering, “Get out. Get out. Get out.”
The four of us do, stumbling from our respective doors and assembling as an unruly group on the sidewalk, where the man from the back starts absolutely cracking up. His date chastises him for doing so but he just yells, “Only in New York!”
I assume there are people vomiting in ride-shares all over the world at this very moment, that what we’re experiencing, strange as it is to think, is not really all that unique. Nothing we ever do is.
But I laugh along with him anyway, put my arm around Sophie, who I can feel slightly recoil for a second before accepting I guess that if she’s touching me she’s touching (mostly) her own vomit.
The woman from the Uber vomits more, off to the side of the sidewalk.
Then we have a bit of a conversation, once she gathers herself, standing on the side of the road, a few of us covered in puke. We actually exchange numbers so we can suss out payment for the inevitable charge from Uber for a thorough car cleaning. Sophie says she started it and she’ll take care of it, and then we go our separate ways.
I still wonder if that couple decided to request another Uber or not, to make their way home all covered in puke.
Sophie and I decided to go ahead and not do so. Her place was only a few blocks from the bridge and we figured some fresh air might do us good.
“Do you still want to come over?” she asked.
“Sure,” I say. “But only if you’re feeling okay. That was a pretty gnarly experience we just had.”
“Well, we’ll get you some clean clothes and you can use my shower.”
“You have clothing at your apartment that would fit me?”
“We all have exes who leave things.”
“I know tonight has been gross on several levels, but wearing your ex-boyfriend’s clothes is beyond the limit for me.”
“Okay, that’s fair. Maybe you just go home and if this isn’t just some story, if there’s more there, we can see each other again soon?”
“Or we just go into a store and I buy some clothes real quick.”
“You really want to do that?”
“I hate to admit it, but it’s not that often that I have a great first date, and I don’t want it to end.”
“I puked out the window of an Uber. That constitutes great for you?”
“It’s been a rough couple years.”
We walk into a bodega where I purchase a pair of very Dad-esque plaid shorts and a T-Shirt that says “New York Or Nowhere.” We also find some semi-fresh limes. Daiquiri night remains on.
On the walk to the liquor store we hold hands again and I tell her I love New York but I’m not sure it’s where I’d want to be forever, and she says it’s fine to not be sure where you want to be forever, especially at the stage of life we both find ourselves living.
“But it’s fine for now,” I say, and she responds that “fine for now” is pretty good, then says she feels pretty sober now and that we should fix that, because the night is young.
So we buy some rum and go back to her place, where we take turns showering and I change into my new duds.
She makes some stellar daiquiris and we have a couple each, then fall asleep on the couch together in the middle of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
We’re holding hands again when we do.
The next morning I wake up happy, with a kink in my neck from the couch slumber.
She kisses me goodbye on her building’s stoop, asks if she can get me an Uber home.
It’s a nice spring day, so I decide to hoof it the two miles or so back to my apartment.
I walk home smiling, happy to finally have a nice story to tell.