I’m on the train headed back to Brooklyn after work when I get a call. It’s my co-worker Josh, asking me where I’m at. Crossing the bridge, I inform him. Well I should come back, he says. They’re having send-off drinks for Kat, who’s travelling to Vietnam tomorrow. I accept the invite, because:
- Going back into Manhattan will take relatively little effort on my part
- Kat’s good people
- I don’t really need much persuasion to drink
By the time I get to Five Points, everyone’s a couple of drinks in. One of the people there is Dean. Dean is in his late thirties, and is what people generally call a wild card. He’s one of those dudes who’s fun to be around, but will lead you to doing a shot of salt thinking it’s your [INSERT UNGODLY AMOUNT]’th shot of Mexican whiskey (i.e. tequila, this happened to my friend and not me, Scout’s honor). He’s basically Bluto.
I order a Maker’s neat (‘cause I am a MAN), and Dean, being the gentleman that he is, wants me to catch up to the rest of them and immediately orders me a second one. This being a classy place, the bartender informs Dean that he cannot serve me two drinks at once. Regrettably, bar policy doesn’t allow double fisting (1. WordPress does not think fisting is a word–so much to learn, and 2.You’re not alone Utah!)
This absolutely will not fly for Dean. This man and his silly rules about drinking are insulting. How dare he dictate the rate at which alcohol is consumed! Dean promptly announces that he’s done with this place, time to move on. Kat takes her leave (she’s flying tomorrow), and Josh’s wife put the kibosh on him staying out. I, however, suppose I could go to one more bar.
Dean and I commence bar hopping. We continue to the next spot where Dean also announces, “I’m done with this place.” So we’re in flux, running around to different bars in the East Village. And Dean’s doing things like:
- Interrupting people in the middle of a conversation with non sequiturs
- Walking up to people playing pool and offering up unwarranted advice (e.g. “You should pocket the 3 next. If you can pocket the 3 next I’ll buy you a shot of Mexican whiskey.”)
- Initiating an impromptu dance party in a crowded bar when he hears a song he likes come on. Everyone, obviously, joins in. He’s like a one-man flash mob
- Somehow Dean makes friends this way. I have no idea how it works, but I assure you it does.
We’ve now been at it for a while, so I suggest a taco stop. Taco stops are crucial. They’re different from cart food stops in that the former is a sort of pit stop to replenish energy and forge ahead, while the latter is a stop to close the night and create a buffer of greasy food to aid in the fight against hangovers. If you don’t know what cart food is, the next time you’re in NYC go to Rafiqi’s and get chicken and rice with white sauce AND hot sauce (Order it thusly. You’re welcome). Our taco stop is at Snack Dragon, which ups the taco game with blue corn tacos. They have a walk-up window so can get your tacos, stuff your face, and continue to dominate the night.
It’s at this point that Dean begins time-traveling. This is an amazing occurrence where a person jumps through space-time into the future. The time traveler doesn’t generally remember the passage of time (because they’re jumping). Unenlightened people refer to it as “browning” or even “blacking” out, but it is an existential occurrence (I’m told).
As Dean time travels, he shouts obscenities at the top of his lungs. But he’s creative with it, I give him that. His favorite thing to yell is “Buckerfalls,” but switch some letters (yeah, you got it). Having lived in the East Village for over a decade, he also likes to really stick it to these young upstarts invading his neighborhood, and proceeds to inform me that we’re going to fight those Buckerfalls over there.
“No Dean, we’re not gonna fight them” I respond, and then he laughs and pushes me nearly into the street. Dean’s a charm when he time travels.
I know it’s time to get Dean home. The thing is, you can’t tell Dean “Dude, go home.” You have to coax him home. You have to lay a trail of breadcrumbs that he can follow to lead him home. Except that the breadcrumbs are beer.
That’s how we find ourselves at Sing Sing Karaoke, a staple when you’re dominating in the East Village. It’s cheap, they have tall boys of Sapporo, and the other people at the bar are in the same, well, state you’re in– so if you don’t hit the key change just right Livin’ On A Prayer they’re generally forgiving.
We order said tall boys, and grab a seat. Dean decides the comfortable thing to do is to prop his feet up on the edge of the bar, with the bar stool perilously balanced on two legs. To this moment I have no idea how he didn’t fall, but I suspect it has to do with him being in between universes while time traveling. The person next to me has the mic as Flagpole Sitta kicks in (GREAT karaoke choice, FYI). Dean is ecstatic. In fact, he’d like to join in with the “Baaaaaaaaaah’s”. To do so he literally leans over me so that he can be two inches away from this poor soul’s face (apparently the appropriate distance for duets). Poor Soul thinks it’s hilarious.
We’re now close to Dean’s place. “Dean,” I say, “isn’t your place right by here? Let’s go there and have some beers.” “What? Yeah yeah, that’s cool,” he says. “No wait, I wanna go to 7B.” 7B is right by his apartment, and is often his nightcap spot. This is a good thing. He realizes the night is wrapping up. I try to persuade him some more.
“Yeah, but I’m running low on cash, so let’s just go to your place. We can get a pizza or something.”
“But there’s girls at 7B.”
“Dude, not really. You know the clientele at 7B, and at this time of the night there are no girls there.”
“Yeah yeah, that works.”
That doesn’t make sense but he’s still walking so I go with it. We pass the bar, and are half a block away from his apartment when Dean pulls an NBA-caliber spin move and says “Nahh I wanna go to 7B and talk to girls.” We close out the night drinking a beer in a booth by ourselves. I don’t leave until I see him close the door and hear him turn the deadbolt. I hail a cab home, and am forever branded The Shepherd. So if you ever see a shepherd’s crook sticking out in a crowd at a bar, chances are you’ll see me. And Dean.
Wanna do a shot of Mexican whiskey?