The plane lands at Laguardia. Cousin Greg picks me up at the airport.
“Get the fuck in the car already,” he yells. “I’m in the driving lane. You can’t just stand in the driving lane talking to me through the window.”
I oblige, and then it’s onwards to the Palisades Mall in Rockland County for a not-so-cheap meal at Chilis. It goes on my tab so when the gossip filters back to his mother she can’t claim I used her son for a ride from the airport.
Greg lives in Yonkers where I crash for two days: two days of incessant video game playing, NCAA Football 2009 and NHL 2009. NCAA 2009 is much different and in my opinion substantially less fun (aka not so easy to run up the score) than 2006 – the last version I played obsessively during senior year of college. NHL 2009 – well, hockey sucks, but Greg likes it.
When not playing video games, Greg and I perform copious amounts of email checking and applying for jobs we will not get (at least none that I will get: one being an indie producer’s assistant out in LA; the other at some public broadcasting TV station in NYC). Over these two days we do our best impersonation of agoraphobic recluses.
I abscond from Yonkers for a U-M alumni function in the city on Thursday. On the train I run into character actor Adam Lefevre. Not exactly Tom Cruise but I’ll take it.
The U-M alumni function is supposed to be a career mixer, but with the economy in its current dismal state, all the employers have themselves turned into job seekers. The event is held at some swanky bar in Midtown, which I enter with a degree of apprehension since Justin, my intended date for the evening, was laid up with a case of sickness and now I’m awkwardly stag. I coat-check my entire life belongings that I’ve been carting around all day, then proceed downstairs to a dark room where I’m just supposed to approach random strangers grouped together in the dark, hold out my hand and say, “Hi. My name’s Jared. I’m unemployed. What do you do?”
I suddenly don’t feel good and it’s all I can do to fight the urge to bolt. I am not alone in my social discomfort as I notice a few desperately-seeking-success rejects milling about aimlessly when they aren’t nervously sipping their waters with backs pressed up against the far wall. For the most part, my back is pressed up to the same wall. I am sucking down water like a marathon runner – one, because I’m thirsty; two, because alcohol is too expensive. These losers keep eyeing me as though we are kindred spirits (Ha, we can’t be, though, right?).
I try and make inane small talk with the greeters. That lasts about 45 seconds. It’s me and the wall again, until I work up the courage and approach a vaguely familiar looking Indian girl. She’s cute.
“You look familiar,” I say.
“Really? I don’t think I recognize you,” she responds.
We chat for a bit. I get her number. We will never hang out.
Once outside in the moist but consoling evening air, my sanity is restored. I remember Randy lives in the city and we grab a drink together in the village not far from his $1000 porta-potty-sized apartment he shares with three other people. One drink at a bar – whose name I can only remember rhymes with “Vas Deferens” – buzzes me; or maybe I’m just compensating because beers are so goddamn expensive in this city and I can’t afford many more. Gregarious Horowitz joins us for a short while before it’s off to his place in Long Island City where I finally lay my head down for the night.