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I met Celest at Think, one of our favorite casual meet-up spots, for coffee on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to finally see her photos and get the details on her Parisian adventure; she needed to hear the latest on the Italiano (good: he helped me through a recent mouse-spotting crisis at my house/ bad: I’m not wild about his new tattoo…how much of a future do I have with a shoulder blade display of “moon and stars?”) Not surprisingly for us, a 4pm coffee date lasted for 14 hours and took us from coffee to cocktails, and beyond…
Think, on Mercer, is a great spot for several reasons:
1. Free wireless!! I can’t believe how few places in Manhattanoffer this service. It really is a pain to find somewhere to park with a computer, get online and get on your caffeine buzz. And SHAME on ‘Snice for recently discontinuing their wireless! They’ll find out soon enough that the masses weren’t showing up there because their vegan, tempeh Rueben or tofurky sandwiches are all that.
2. If you put $20 on a gift card, you get a free coffee—hot or iced. Cool.
3. They serve wine. And the food is pretty good (not that cheap, however). But it doesn’t really matter because I always go next door to Dojo and smuggle back a soy burger on pita with carrot ginger dressing. Think is a big enough place not to get caught at this scheme.
4. They give to charity. They claim to donate 10% of their after-tax profits to local charities like the Grand Street Settlement.
5. The coffee is fair trade, shade grown, and organic. And the milk is sourced from local, HudsonValley farmers.
6. Sara Barron has performed there! Back in ‘07 Sara read an excerpt from People are Unappealingfor a Small Literary Press/ Heeb Magazine fair in the space at the back that Think uses to host musicians, poets, etc.
After tons of coffee, conversation, and my yummy, smuggled, soy burger, we noticed the place had really cleared out and decided we should join the cool kids out being debaucherous on a springtime Saturday night. We were ready for some alcohol; specifically, I wanted whiskey.
Celest suggested Pegu Club, just a few blocks away.
I changed from cowboy boots to leather pumps under the table (I’d brought the extra pair, in case we decided to head somewhere with a bouncer who’d be more impressed with my “look,” if it included a sexyshoe). Of course, we looked like dorks anyway, since we were both carrying our laptops under our arms. How fortunate, we discovered, that Pegu Club has become so un-happening that you couldn’t really upset the ambiance if you were wearing a tracksuit and Birkenstocks. The place is NOT a hotspot any longer.
I was never in love with Pegu (too corporate hotel lobby looking; drink list too abbreviated); though I love the name and the website. But I’ve enjoyed a couple of evenings there, including one where Celest got wasted because she had to suffer through meeting an ex-love’s dull, new bride. My raven-haired feminist gagged and winced and downed those lavender-infused gin gimlets faster and faster as the girl explained her devotion to the life and love principals espoused in The Rules.
Saturday, the place wasn’t difficult to get into, much less get seated immediately, or spot the bridge and tunnelers at every turn (guys with outdated goatees and one too few shirt buttons being utilized/ girls with sticky lips the color of tangerines and self-tanned skin a variation on the same shade). Really, it was an unappealing crowd; my cowboy boots would’ve been better than fine. To be fair, the drinks were still fantastic. Celest started with a Pegu Club cocktail, and I went for a Whiskey Smash, both delicious and beautiful. The problem is that cocktails of that caliber can be enjoyed in much better atmosphere (see: Death & Co., Employees Only). But, we had a table and were cozily settled in for a few more hours of talking and drinking—Miller’s (my new fave!) gin martinis and French 75s, Gin and Ginger concoctions…we got a little tipsy and the conversation got sappier and sappier.
I think I was bemoaning my inability to love as freely as Erin, or something like that, and Celest was talking about the probability of the existence of a Hollywood-esque, “one great love.” To be honest, I have a hard time remembering. But what I do remember, was that she said something like,
“Well, the answer to your questions about love really boil down to this—“
And right then, she was interrupted by a tall, lanky guy with a drawn face and a mop of curly hair. Craig introduced himself by saying,
“You beautiful girls have to keep me company because all my friends are gone.”
Creepy, solicitous face.
We tried to tell him we were really just enjoying each other’s company to get him to leave us alone. He countered by enthusiastically gesturing and typing into his BlackBerry while loudly insisting that we go with him to The Hustler Club. He knew of a bachelor party going on there, would pay for the cab, buy drinks, a couple of lap dances…
I wondered where we would store our laptops and my cowboy boots at Hustler.
“We’re not really strip club-going girls,” said Celest.
“Yeah, well, you’ll have a great time. Tons of girls go there!”
“I find it degrading.”
“Oh come on, I said I’ll buy the lap dances!”
This exchange went on for a bit as we finished our last cocktails and succumbed to the glare of the bouncer that let us know we were, in fact, the last folks in the bar at 4:15am. Out on the street, we were bemoaning the lack of an after-hours spot. All that caffeine from earlier was still coursing. We were wide-awake, in the middle of a compelling conversation and had an abundance of courage from the cocktails; we didn’t want to go home before the sun came up. Craig, still skulking around, jumped to attention:
“I live right across Houston! Literally, you can see my place right there! Come on over…”
Now, as I mentioned, this guy was not attractive or alluring and had, in fact, upset me by ruining the last twenty minutes we’d had at Pegu. It may sound strange, but I figured he owed Celest and me a better end to the evening than separate cabs East and West, with the last of our conversation left dangling, and an insufficient alcohol buzz. I decided to take him up on the offer. I knew Celest would be game for the adventure. I paused, then said very slowly, “I am going to be really honest with you, Craig. We do want another drink, and right now you’re the only option for that. But, we’re only staying a half hour. We might ignore you a lot since we still have stuff to talk about. Privately. We’re not sleeping with you—together or separate. And when we leave, you’re not whining. Cool?”
“Sure!” I knew he didn’t really believe I’d enforce these rules, but I did.
The apartment was in an enviable location—directly above Lupa, but our host had only bad wine to offer when we got there, so we sipped slowly and did, in fact, ignore him when he tried to tell us about a book on economics that was sitting on his messy coffee table. Then, he tried to impress us by putting on the seminal album of 1991, the Chili Peppers’ “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik, ” and giving us a self-impressed explication of his job. (When will these men realize that the words, “I’m a trader for Citigroup” are an absolute death knell for my libido? Really. Please be anything but a “trader” if you want to get me naked). Since we remained engrossed in our own conversation, I didn’t really notice when he flipped the book over, plopped another CD on top of it (no doubt it was No Doubt), and started to arrange lines of powder across it. We did notice when he gestured a welcome to it. We both demurred and looked at one another with genuine surprise at the scene before us. He proceeded to bow his mop-topped head to the table and suck blow off the back of Freakonomics.
We knew it was time to exit, and though he made a few more pitches to show us his bedroom, we collected our things and got the hell out of Dodge.
Through my hangover headache the next day, I softened a little to the misogynist financier. I guess he was generous in his own apocalypse-on-the-horizon, downtown Manhattan kinda way—offering shelter, libations, sexual groping by him or a professional at the Hustler club, and speed, all in one evening.