I’m happily amoral, but I do feel bad about a few things I’ve done, including about a dozen girls. The following isn’t exactly a date, but has all the elements of a good bad date: me, a girl, alcohol, a parade, and lots of crying.
Everything was wrong with my relationship with K. She was my student, and I was dating her while class was in session. I later found out that she would say nasty things to the other girls if I spent too much time with them. Everybody at the school was japanese, so lot went on that I didn’t know about, since I speak eight words of japanese, and none of them are useful. She barely spoke english, and the lack of the future tense in japanese later led to some complicated discussions about birth control. To be defensive about it, she did lunge over and kiss me in the street, but to be honest about it, I knew she wanted me, I wanted her, and I got her drunk on two glasses of wine.
So I broke up with her. I figured it was the right thing to do, and the thrill of hearing “I never let the japanese boys do these things to me” had worn off. Plus, I was tired of her blackmailing me with the threat she would tell my boss about us. She seemed to take it well.
She didn’t. But because I believed she did, I agreed to go out and see a show with her on Halloween, performed by some of our mutual friends. So began my first and last Halloween spent in Manhattan.
I dressed up in my default Halloween costume because I never get my act together in time to come up with a real one, so I just put on my one suit and tell people I’m a man whore. Not a costume in any sense, but most people laugh. I hop on the train and head to the West 4th stop.
I get off the train and am faced with a crowd of three or four thousand people slowly grinding toward the West 3rd street exit. It looks like about a half hour of standing in line to get out. I turn around and see a crowd of about five hundred heading for the West 8th street exit, and I head for it, figuring five blocks is worth the shorter wait. What I don’t know is that Manhattan has a parade and that this parade bisects the two exits of the West 4th street. The place I want to be is about two blocks from the 3rd street exit, and about eight blocks and a parade from the eight street exit.
This parade is walled off, and there are a lot of cops.
So I set off to get around the parade. Since it ends somewhere above midtown, I figure it must be quicker to try to find out where it starts and go around it there.
Ten blocks later, I stop and ask some cops where I’ll be able to get to the other side of the parade. They say they have no idea.
Ten blocks after that, I stop and ask some other cops. Same response.
After walking twenty-nine blocks south, I find the beginning. I’m incredibly pissed off, and feeling stupid for not just jumping the fence, copping a feel off one of the barely clad dancers in the parade, and trying to get across without going to jail. Giuliani was out of power, so the cops probably weren’t allowed to shoot me at the time.
After that, I have to cover thirty blocks north to get to the show. I miss it, but hey, I’m at a bar and it’s time to get drunk. K is all over me immediately, and I try to fend her off and meet my friends without looking like too much of an asshole. I broke up with her, right? She should be over this. And I can’t be responsible for her because I have a date to go to after I catch up with my friends.
It doesn’t work. My friend Trent looks me right in the eye and says, “Dude, this is awful. I can barely watch this. You are a terrible person.”
“Oh, fuck off,” is the summation of my moral rebuttal.
K gets drunk rapidly. One drink usually gets her buzzed. Two drinks has her slurring, and since her english is already a bit broken, communication becomes almost completely emotive. Three and she is staggeringly drunk. She looks the way I do after twenty beers, and trust me, I don’t look good. She wraps up her third drink and she needs to go home. I decide I should at least walk her back to the train, since that might allow me to retain a shred of ethical dignity.
So we start back, and I’m basically carrying her. West 4th is closed, so I have to trudge another ten streets north to get her to the Union Square stop.
In case you think I’m doing anything nice here, I’m not. I’m pissed. I’ve walked way more than any New Yorker expects to walk on a party night, and I just want to get rid of her. I lie to her about where I’m going (small note: I don’t lie to women anymore, or anyone else, despite having a fair talent for it. It’s complicated and stupid and gets you into situations like this), and Union Square is the last plausible place where I could be trying to go home, and is conveniently close to where I need to go for my date.
When we get to Union Square, we get through the turnstiles and are about to part ways, when she falls to the ground, sobbing, and begging me to take her home with me.
I achieve a state of total disassociation at this point, which is not uncommon when you’re lying to people, or even just dating people under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement: later in life, when I was dating a bunch of people and not lying about it, I still had to compartmentalize all the separate feelings about each relationship and put them away and call them up at will, so they wouldn’t interfere with the relationship with whomever I was with at the time. I felt a bit like I was playing a video game without multiple accounts by the end of it.
The scene in the subway is surreal. Union Square is one of the busiest subway hubs in the city, busier by far on Halloween, and we were exactly at the time of night where people were beginning to come out or just switching parties. It was a mob of costumes, and costumes in New York are a notch above anything I’ve seen anywhere else.
K is dressed in a purple 1920’s cigarette girl outfit, genuine vintage and about as revealing as any Manhattan girl outfit on Halloween. I’m in my suit. Around us is an unbroken mob of zombies, fairies, vampires, dinosaurs, dead rock stars, cartoon characters and superheroes, walking vending machines and coke products, animals, robots, unicorns, nurses, and drunk guys without costumes ogling girls with generic outfits attempting to suggest any of the above with two square feet of spandex. K has fallen to the floor the way women fall to the floor in victorian paintings, her fur coat falling off her in a wave, and she is wailing openly while I kneel next to her trying to calm her down.
This is point in the night where I realize how much of an asshole I am. Yes, it took this long. No, I don’t feel good about it. It helps that, in the middle of the Union Square station, new people are thinking I’m an asshole at the rate of five hundred a minute. Twenty-five hundred judgements later, I realize that if the Christians are right, I still want to try to be indignant when they send me to Hell, so I tell her I’ll take her back to my place. She stops crying immediately and gets up to follow me.
Heading down the stairs, I hear an exclamation behind me, and turn to see K falling backwards against the rail. I grab her before she collapses, and carry her in my arms the rest of the way to the train.
On my way down, in full dress suit, razor thin asian dressed as a cigarette girl in my arms, coat still falling off of her, everybody is looking at us, and a guy to my right says, “Damn son. That’s the way you do it.”
I am James fucking Bond.
Despite how awesome this is, I still feel like a jackass, because I thought could just swing by and see my recent ex without consequences and conceal my planned date from everybody without logistical difficulties.
K, I’m sorry about the way treated you, but you did blackmail me, so I think we’re square.
Lesson 1: Don’t lie.
Lesson 2: Don’t go to Manhattan on Halloween.