—Sunday, September 25, 2011—
“You are the only thing in any room you’re ever in.” – Elbow, Starlings
I was supposed to meet Lynn around 5:30 or 6 p.m. in Hell’s Kitchen. There was a Thai place there that I liked. She texted me around 4:15 p.m. from the PATH station in Hoboken, letting me know that she was on her way. I looked down at myself to make sure I had dressed appropriately because I’d have to leave right away if I didn’t want her to be waiting for me at the restaurant.
Closing Spotify, on which I’d been listening to Elbow all afternoon, I got up and left my apartment within just a couple minutes. I was still walking through the playground near 31st Street & Astoria Boulevard as I saw a train arriving, heading towards Manhattan. I sprinted up the stairs to the station, refilled my MetroCard and made it onto the train with only a few seconds to spare.
Seconds after rising above ground in Times Square, Lynn texted me that she was walking to the restaurant. This was perfect since I was on my way as well. I beat Lynn to the restaurant and waited outside on a bench. She texted me, “I’m here. I’ll get a table.” I laughed because she was clearly pre-texting me. I would sometimes do the same thing, so I knew she must be close. As soon as the light changed, I saw her coming from the south, looking for the restaurant’s sign.
We greeted each other with a hug and I asked how she was doing. Lynn said she was sweating and that she was disappointed I’d beaten her there since she prided herself on always being the one who was early. She didn’t like that I’d stolen her thunder. Oh well. Despite my often tardy track record with OHD up to that point, I typically liked being early and usually arrived at least 10 minutes ahead of date time.
I hadn’t seen Lynn since she had come to my Hoboken apartment three months earlier to check out my room. I was moving to Queens but both my roommates were staying put in NJ, so they needed someone to take up my third of the rent. Lynn was that person. She lived in my old room in Hoboken and that was pretty much the extent to which I knew her.
The restaurant, Pure Thai Cookhouse, was fairly tiny but there were two seats readily available when we stepped inside. Lynn went to wash her hands and I reviewed the drinks menu until her return. She had completed an organic juice cleanse earlier that week, and it was only her second meal since finishing, so she was really looking forward to it.
After mild deliberation, we ordered beers, hoping they would cool us down. Once upon a time, Lynn had been allergic to beer and ever since she had kicked that allergy to the curb, she loved trying new ones. There were certainly better places to sample new beers than a Thai restaurant, but at least the few beers they had were unfamiliar to her.
We were not particularly good at the whole placing orders thing. We talked so much that we were neglecting the menu and the waitress had to return to us at least three times. While we decided on appetizers quickly, the entrees took us a while. Yes, it was a Thai place but its menu was a little atypical, which was one of the reasons I liked it. There were new things to try there, unlike the barrage of Yum Yum’s down the street. Eventually, we got our grub sorted out and ordered, so we could continue to chat.
Lynn commuted each day from Hoboken all the way out to Long Island, and while I couldn’t possibly rationalize that decision for myself, she explained to me that it was just the right job at the right time. It had helped her break into a field in which she actually wanted to work. Also, she was previously living in Hoboken and loving it. Okay, I understood better. That made sense. You gotta do what you gotta do if you want to get to where you’re going in life. Or something like that…from an inspirational movie…probably.
It was funny telling Lynn what it was that I did for work, because I wanted to be lazy and tell her that I did the same thing as her roommate Phil did. See, my former roommate, British Phil, was practically my doppelgänger from across he pond. We were basically the same size, we had a kindred sense of humor, we both played music and we worked at competing investment technology companies — his being British, mine American — in similar roles. Unfortunately, he was the one with the cool accent.
Elbow, the band we were going to see, was not a group with which I had great familiarity. I was only going because Lynn was a fan and she guessed I might like them. I mean, I knew I wasn’t getting roped into a Taylor Swift concert or anything, but I also didn’t know any of their music before Lynn told me of them.
I had acquired Lynn’s email address from when I moved out and she moved in because all the roommates were emailing on the topics of first month’s rent, utilities, cable and the like. I had only met her just once, but I quickly knew that I should try to take her out. She was cute and immediately funny.
Since we were both existing in the year 2011, we both had Gmail addresses and that meant that I could stalk her on Gchat, which was how I asked her out. When I did so, she looked at the list of dates and suggested Live Music Date since she had already purchased a solo ticket to the Elbow show. It was a great sign right from the get go — someone who liked live music so much that she frequently and unflinchingly went to shows on her own. I though that was totally awesome.
Being on a date with Lynn had to be one of the more effortless things I’d done in a while because she was incredibly easy to talk to and kept the conversation moving at all times. She was funny and inappropriate and I loved it. I have no idea why she had previously warned me that she was “super awkward” on dates, because she was anything but. Lynn was the good kind of insane that was as funny as it was real. She could turn the corner pretty quickly from flippant to serious, and kept it light the whole time. I liked that she didn’t have a problem speaking her mind either. She was clearly fun.
With my just-inked-yesterday tattoo clearly visible on my right arm, we talked about the design and the experience of getting it done. The tattoo became an obvious ice breaker into my life and psyche, because it directly signified the most influential experiences of my more modern years. Lynn didn’t mind tattoos, but she also didn’t think they were for her. She would freak out too much during the process. She once had to go with a friend, merely to get their tattoo touched up, and Lynn almost passed out as she watched. I’m guessing she was not one of those kids who grew up watching surgery shows on Discovery Channel.
I was skeptical that were broaching the subject of Halloween a bit early, but we found ourselves discussing costumes with the holiday over a month away. Dressing up for Halloween was definitely something that got Lynn excited. She was Carmen San Diego a couple years before and people didn’t get it. What idiots! Lynn spent the whole party in character, sneaking around and being mysterious. I knew exactly what it was like to go into character for Halloween. I wasn’t sure if I should tell her about the costume I was thinking of though. Well, might as well, right? She had a good sense of humor.
My Junior year of college, I went out to a Halloween party as a pedophile. It was a pretty sick get up, and the best part was that I got all of it out of my buddy Austin’s closet. Not sure what that said about him. It also didn’t hurt that I drove a Chevy Astro Van at the time either, which was the perfect prop, in addition to the candy and stuffed animals I kept in my pockets all night. I spent the whole night being a total creep. Good thing everyone there was out of my character’s desired age range.
Luckily, Lynn thought the costume sounded hilarious, so I breathed a sign of relief. But when I told her that I reprised a similar role for my Senior year, this time involving my adorable, entirely enthusiastic, 4’10” girlfriend as my accomplice — ruh roh. She was not a fan. That was out of line, apparently. It wasn’t like I had made her do it! It was actually her idea! Point is, I thought it was hilariously creepy at the time. In retrospect, both years of dressing up like a sexual predator were pretty fucked up in a way I wouldn’t want employers, family, friends or humans on the street to hear about. Yet, it’s here on this blog.
As we devoured our Thai delicacies, we talked a lot about the apartment in Hoboken where I used to live and Lynn currently resided. I asked her how living with Phil and Seth was going and she told me that it was great. She had hated her previous roommate and living with boys was way easier. It was a really nice apartment too, and thankfully Lynn had updated the decorations.
She had removed the very large Middle Earth poster that hung in our living room, framed our more decent prints and generally spruced up the place so that it didn’t look so much like a college townhouse. I asked her how she had set up “my” room. She had it basically flipped around and it sounded like there was more space in there now, which was likely the case since I had a lot of crap. It took British Phil and I a solid twelve hours to move my shit out of Hoboken and into Queens. Insane, but I swear I’m not a hoarder.
She also told me that she left up the strip of paper reading “You Are Beautiful” on the mirror in the bathroom. It was the only thing of mine that I left behind and I left it specifically for her. The intention was twofold.
In college, I had a number of friends who started a women’s group called Project Peg and over the years, it often focused on body image and what it meant to be beautiful. Each year, it was not uncommon for the members to hand out stickers or pieces of paper with the words “You Are Beautiful” on them. I used to give these out to friends on occasion as a little reminder that they were beautiful just the way they were. It was something that I’d taken to heart and I felt like sometimes people just needed that daily little boost. I left my piece of paper there for Lynn, so that she would have that reminder should she want it.
Also, I knew I wanted to ask her out and that she didn’t know anything about me. I figured that the little sticker would make her think about what kind of guy might have had it in his bathroom. Answer? A champion of women everywhere. Plus, maybe it would make for good conversation down the road. Turns out, it made for great conversation.
Speaking of beauty, in all its forms, Lynn looked really great. She had on a loose fitting black top which was cut low and open so that you can see her bra every now and then (Yes, I looked. Jesus, I’m a human.), but not in a way that was too revealing or improper. It was actually very flattering and modestly provocative. Anything that can be stylish, casual and sexy at the same time is an A+ in my book.
I wonder why women always feel the need to tell me that they can eat a lot. It’s like some kind of disclaimer for having an appetite. It must be some old fashioned view of women as thin little birds or something, but I always find it funny when a woman says something like, “I am going to eat this whole thing,” or “Just warning you, I can eat a lot,” or “I really like food.” These are all very normal things, common to most humans.
You don’t need to provide an excuse for eating, ladies.
Yes, I am a champion of women. You are welcome.
Enough ranting. Lynn warned me that she could eat and in turn, I let her know that I had been a member of the Eating Team Federation in high school, which was basically just the wrestling team when we didn’t have to cut weight. In the off-season, we would go to all-you-can-eat pizza nights at Papa Gino’s and one time, our heavyweight Chris ate 21 slices, which was more than three pies. Pretty impressive, I know. I was never on that scale, but I was a good eater for my size. After all, I wrestled in the third lightest weight class (119 lbs).
We had covered a lot of ground by the time we finished our meals and we talked for a while, pushing what was left of our food around on our plates. As I got up to use the bathroom, we checked our phones, and that cheeky bastard British Phil had sent us both the same text message: “Lynn/Evan says you’re boring and you should talk about me more because I’m a much more interesting subject!” As I typed, “Such a wanker”, Lynn spoke what she was typing aloud: “You’re a cunt.”
She had really stepped it up there. If only there had been a Like button for real life.
We walked up 9th Avenue to find another bar and had to play a game of Frogger as we crossed to the other side. We ended up at a bar named Valhalla which had a large number of taps along the wall behind the bar, reminding me of The Ginger Man in South Norwalk, CT. My buddy Tim used to live near there and that was the bar we would hit up when I would visit — lotta hot moms.
Wait, this was so weird. Lynn didn’t know Tim, but Tim had lived across the hall from her, well, from me, in her apartment.
I took a few minutes to explain the history of Lynn’s current apartment in Hoboken to her. Tim, Donny and I had moved in the previous July. Tim and I lived across the hall from each other and we were stoked to be reliving our Senior year of college, during which we had been roommates. By October, Donny had moved out to take a job in Tennessee. British Phil came in to replace him. By January, Tim had to move out as well, and Lynn’s current neighbor, Seth, took his spot. When I moved out, Lynn moved in, and she knew it from there. It was bizarre to think that she’d never met Tim, yet they were so closely linked.
Lynn and I talked about improv and even though she was very funny, she didn’t think she could do it. She said she got too nervous just watching it and any kind of live comedy made her feel stressed for the people on stage. I bet she would have been good at it, but she certainly seemed a bit dismayed by the whole idea.
Being that the city’s improv theaters were in Chelsea, Lynn asks if I ever went out in that area of town. She loved going out there with her gay boyfriend and although I would have loved to do the same, I didn’t have a ton of gay friends that I saw on a regular basis. Come to think of it, if my friends weren’t in or around the improv scene, it was rare that I saw them on a regular basis, gay or not. We then both agreed that a gay man’s approval of your wardrobe or overall look was the gold standard for fashion validation.
The bar was pretty hopping for a Sunday night. Someone a few tables over made a weird yelling sound. Most of the table in question wore gothic looking black leather. Lynn wondered what such a crowd was up to on a night like such as this. Who knew? Maybe they were just going to get weird and play Magic: The Gathering. No harm in that.
It was only just 8 p.m. when we arrived to Terminal 5, so the crowd wasn’t too large yet. As soon as we got in line, I saw my improv classmate Sylvie. She said hi and then waved me towards her. I hadn’t had any idea, but apparently she worked security there. What a pleasant surprise!
A couple beers from the venue’s bar and we were in search of a good spot to watch the show. We landed roughly in the middle of the floor, which was a pretty solid location. The opening act was Glasser, who I’m not sure I’d ever heard of before, but I liked her. She had that whole electronic yet ethereal sound down pat a la Fever Ray or Bat For Lashes. I was really glad we were there for her performance because I really liked that kind of music. Reminder: I am a champion of women.
As we waited for Elbow to emerge, Lynn got some squats going to combat the low crotch situation she was experiencing with her pants at the moment. I’m pretty sure that she meant “low crotch situation” to be a scenario in which the crotch of her jeans was too far away from her actual crotch because her pants were slightly too large. I picked up quickly that this was a distinctly female concern and that having “low crotch” probably meant nothing to me. Either way, I joined in right away with the squats.
We were squatting up a storm in there. I mean, hey, I was just trying to be a supportive date. A champion, if you will. Of women. Who cared if people were looking at us? It was making the people behind us laugh, which only added fuel to the fire for me.
After a few minutes, one the kids behind us walked up a few paces like he was looking for something but instead just got a nice low squat in. I cracked up. Bravo, sir. Thumbs up all around. Mutual squat appreciation. Lynn told the group behind us of her low crotch situation and the girls all nodded in understanding.
Though I may be a champion of women, I will never truly understand what it is to be one.
Soon enough, British darlings Elbow tookd the stage and the true show began.
It was a great show and I really enjoyed the tunes. They were epic and theatrical, which I tend to love. The audience was very polite and the banter in between songs was markedly funnier than most bands I’d seen — both of those attributes were likely due to the fact that they were an English band.
I used the bathroom on the way out and met Lynn at the corner, on 11th Avenue. We passed by the leather-clad bar patrons from earlier. I guess the concert was what they were doing that night. So much for my prior judgements.
We walked all the way back to Herald Square to catch the PATH and the N/Q. It was a good long walk. On the way, we passed by the apartment Lynn had lived in right after when she was born and so I heard a good deal about her family and all the places they had lived.
The crowning moment of the walk though, was when we stopped at a candy/t-shirt/ice cream/video rental store which may have qualified as the most random business venture in Hell’s Kitchen. Lynn went in because she saw the candy dispensers and she found what she was looking for: Runts. I did not know this, but apparently we lived in a time where Runts were hard to come by. I had never really liked them (mainly because of the banana ones) so I guess I just hadn’t noticed. Lynn loved them though, so she was always trying to stock up when possible.
She filled a bag to the very top and walked away with over $22 worth of Runts. It was some serious candy purchasing.
Lynn informed me that roommate Seth had warned her that I was a bit of a rogue. In other words, she had to watch out because I might try to kiss her. It made me laugh, not only because I’d never been called a rogue, but also, I doubted anyone had ever been warned about me before. I mean, I don’t think I’d ever been a threat previously.
A rogue would be…the opposite of a champion? Not possible.
Either way, I was not offended. It wasn’t like he had revealed some insider information or anything — kisses were abound in my OHD posts at the time.
For those wondering, I hadn’t planned on making any moves on Lynn anyhow. So there, Seth.
We made it to Herald Square and I thanked Lynn for bringing me to a great concert and for being such a wonderful date. We hugged each other and parted ways towards our opposing sides of Manhattan.