Getting ready to meet up with someone you never met for the first time can be a bit unnerving. Getting ready to meet up with a bunch of people you never met for the first time can be a hell of a lot more.
The plan is to meet at Therapy – a cool bar/lounge – at 5 p.m. for drinks. The name alone makes me giggle. I always thought therapy is the place you go to on the weekdays, in-between errands. Not anymore.
I need a quick shower to freshen up. The only problem is that wet hair and humidity equals to white man’s 'fro. Product doesn’t make much of a difference in taming the mane. So, I wear a cap to avoid the mass of curls that will continue to erupt from my head as the night goes on.
There’s a black dress shirt and a pair of jeans on the bed, but I decide against it (even though it looks good on me). In the end, I end up wearing cream chinos (that look like they’re four sizes too big), a black shirt with a v-neck sweater, and a black jacket. You can always throw off a layer if it gets too hot. To up the geek factor, I take an umbrella in case it rains again.
As I run to Hell’s Kitchen and walk into Therapy, I see there’s no one there. Not just from the group, but in general. I do remember Billy telling me there’s a small bar/restaurant next door, just in case Therapy isn’t open. When I open the front door, I see he’s sitting at the front table, waiting for me.
We enter Therapy together and place our bags and coats at the front of the lounge, where we’ll Bogart the entire seating area. A few moments later, I see a shaved head walking up the entrance. It’s Cooper. He looks just like he does in his pictures. He’s wearing a black shirt and jeans. Thankfully, I didn’t wear the same thing, or else I have a feeling we’d end up on Us Weekly
’s “Who wore it best?” page (he'd win).
Chris saunters in soon after. He’s as tall as a sequoia. I’m starting to feel like a hobbit.
Eric, Brechi, and Mike end up strolling in within minutes of each other and they take their places around the three tables we saved.
Even though I feel like ordering my ‘old man’ drink of scotch rocks with a dash of Coke, but think it’s best not to freak out the others with my esoterically-eccentric taste in alcohol. Since I’m not a fan of barley and hops, I go with something from the menu. Fuck, it’s Happy Hour in New York! I might as well indulge in some libations before my VISA is cut up in front of me in little pieces by the server.
For the couple of hours, we talk about such topics as JMG, playing against a certain team, and Sunday brunch. It feels like we've known each other for a while, even though some of us have only just met. There’s no drama, a few laughs, and a lot of pictures being taken by four different cameras.
Of course, some of them couldn’t help but poke fun (lovingly) at the one from the land known as Canadia. And, I cleared a few things up for them: I am not from Halifax, I know Mike from Canada, we’re shorter up North, and being compared to Wikipedia isn’t bad (it’s better than being called an idiot).
On top of that, no one mentioned my accent (I didn’t say about once), and Cooper made me blush (which is a very hard thing to do).
But alcohol can only satiate our hunger, so the group walks down a few blocks to Vynl. It’s decorated in a way that can only be described as a disco jukebox exploding inside of a long and somewhat narrow space. It’s bright, colourful and more plastic than my Olivia Newton-John records (bah rah BUM).
Everyone places their orders and the words “I have to work out after this to burn off the extra calories” aren’t said. No one cares about counting carbs and eliminating bread from their sandwiches/burgers. But, Mike’s mac-‘n-cheese looks like it can make anyone gain two pounds by looking at it from across the room.
The seven of us eat, drink, discuss whether or not Pink Cadillac
was sung by Natalie Cole (it was), although it was first sung by Bruce Springsteen (who knew?).
Unfortunately, some of us have to get going to other events and/or home to their poop scoop duties. Some goodbyes are said, while some cab it to the 20s and go to another bar. Before we walk inside, we’re carded. It’s non-discriminatory. They don’t care about how old you look, but how old you really are. How novel.
We don’t stay for long, and since my voice is shot, I decide on not having anything else to drink. I’m here for a few days and laryngitis doesn’t work for someone as vocal as I am (or can be).
With Billy and Cooper going in another direction, Mike walks with me a few blocks to his subway stop near 34th street. Before he goes, he talks about going to Burlington and I tell him it’s gentrified and much prettier now. Unfortunately, he was talking about Burlington, Vermont, not Burlington, Ontario (I’m such an egocentric Canadian).
In the end, they made me feel welcome. I wasn’t a wayward tourist to them, but part of their group. If you added a lot of yelling and pointing fingers, I’d think I was at home with my family.
If this becomes a weekly event, I wouldn’t mind coming on a regular basis. Only next time, I hope they pick a place a little closer to me.