Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New York Pt 3 - Memo

There are times when even I know when to draw the line between moderation and an open bar. It’s one thing where you can make fun of people and you know you’re breeching on a slap, but when you are in a city where someone can pull a gun on you, you learn to behave.

The weather in New York has been accommodating to say the least. It’s been raining, I’ve been drenched because carrying an umbrella just isn’t glamourous and my shirts still smell of a cosmopolitan mix of rain and exhaust fumes. Yet beyond it all, it’s never rained when I’m out clubbing.

It’s been rather tamed and uneventful over the last week, unless you count my touristy demeanour and insatiable appetite to soak up Manhattan’s finest offer of gourmet and movie sites and I have pictures of the apartment block they use in Friends to prove. My life is sad.

On Friday, to pop the champagne for a pre-mature celebration of our hard work in the Big Apple, we headed out to one of the top bars in New York. It was a roof top party against the setting sun and made ever more enjoyable with a cornucopian feast of vodka, champagne and Red Bull. And maybe a couple of blondes if it rocks your boat.

This was at 7pm and we conveniently skipped dinner because all great men in society do not need food to supplement their greatness as long as there is enough alcohol to last the night. We make unsound decisions in life, so instead of wading in regret, we overcome it with more drinking. Apparently, alcohol does lower our ability to think.

By the time we made the decision to leave for another event down on 3rd Avenue, we had cleared 4 bottles between 16 of us and I somehow felt that the night was going to be different, after all, I was partying with Mexicans, just minus the cocaine and their families.

The second place was packed with the familiar crowd that I’ve grown accustomed to see in bars littered across the island. There was the air of corporate slaves still tucked behind their suits, there were the odd group of women who look like their last martini was when Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and there were girls who looked like they would jump into a wet T-shirt contest.

So there was the ample parade of cleavage that is as staple a backdrop in any bar as the Empire State building is to New York. It is New York and the last I heard, not only did they invent the iPad, but they also did decadence and bar fights

The thing about being the only Asian in the group is that you inevitably garner more interest than you’d like because everything centers around how geographically ignorant some of them can be.

Girl: “You know, I just had my first joint last night, but I bet you guys do it all the time in China.
Me: “No, we smoke opium where we are.”
Girl: “Opium? What’s that?”
Me: “It’s what we grow in our backyard, which is Thailand.”

After awhile, I just ran out of things to lie about where Singapore was or explain in detail why I’m able to converse in English. I could have said Singapore was in Africa and I might have gotten away with it or just confess to that Singapore is actually the illegitimate capital of China.

Alex: “Guys, we are going to bail here and head to a real club.”

I glanced around at the place. I have the same interest in the music and crowd as I would at a Bingo draw with midgets. I was up for anything that was offering more drinks and music that didn’t include people rapping in it, even if it meant having to travel to Queens without my bulletproof vest.

When we got there, it was audibly obvious that this was the best club I’ve been to in New York and deaf people would have been rejoicing if they came. There was finally some decent Trance and enough space to appreciate it. The crowd profile was a surprising mosaic of sluts, douche bags, sleek professionals and suspected Italian Godfathers.

I don’t know what was worse, jumping off the roof top, or trying to squeeze through ripping biceps to get to the toilet. My liver was done for the night and there was no way my stomach was willing to accommodate another sip of vodka, but I was no where in the region of being potentially suicidal from inebriated mischief.

That role, was going to assumed by Memo, an individual that had as much self destructive propensity as Attila would have on his best.

He had by our decision to leave the club, smashed two glasses by accident and was just simply testing his limits. And if I thought that was bad, he took what felt like a lifetime to sign his credit card because he was staring so intently at it, I thought they had printed the latest Harry Potter book on the receipt.

Joey: “Memo! Sign the fuckin’ card already fer cryin’ out loud!”

We got so tired of waiting, we went out to the road side to try to hail a cab, and this proved to be the best decision ever because a fight broke out and I found myself being Singaporean again for gravitating to find the best spot to watch like, just stopping short of applauding and too slow to have it posted on YouTube.

It was brutal watching two men beat the crap out of a skinny Latin American, but the gravity of the matter soon became clear. This was going to exacerbate from a street fight to an all out gang war. Where is my bulletproof vest when I need one?

Alex quickly dragged us off because his spider senses was ringing off the hook.

Alex: “Let’s go. It’s not safe to stay here.”

Apparently, most drive by shooting starts with a collision of two – or more – voracious egos and ends with someone in hospital and another getting sodomized in prison for the next 20 years. It’s such an incentive I wonder why people are not doing it in Singapore.

When we finally managed to get a cab, he refused to take us back to Manhattan and since we didn’t have a gun to put to his head, we took out a dollar bill instead and it did so much wonders, magicians should no longer need to use wands, ever.

When we got back to the hotel, Memo started trash talking with random people on the street and it’s one thing to be able to piss off bartenders, but to be able to piss off drug dealers, it takes a whole lot of balls that not even Hitler had.

Guy: “You better get the fuck out of my face muthafucker!”

It was going down faster than porn starlet. One of the guys hurried over to break up the shoving, but I was half on my cigarette and it was the last stick I had in my pack, so between finishing up my cigarette and getting beat down by a group of drug peddlers, I think I made a pretty sound decision to stand rooted and pretend I was just another tourist.

Today is not a good day to die.”

That was my sober conscience calling out to me. Not that I needed it to, because as much as I am a hazard drunk, a revolver still scares the shit out of my inebriated consciousness. I was determined not to leave New York with a bullet hole.

Me: “I don’t want to be racist but it’s nearly 4 in the morning, we should not be messing with those guys. Midgets are fine, but not them.”

Joey: “I ain’t even headin’ o’wer.”

David: “What’s going on?”

Me: “Memo is trying to get himself killed.”

At that moment, a police patrol drove by, and it instantaneously dissolved any possible conflict that was going to explode 6 feet from where I was. This was the most calming sight I had all night excluding the first bottle of vodka I saw at our table in the evening.

Me: “Memo, you need to go sleep and calm your shit down.”

5 minutes later, we realized that Memo had disappeared. This was 4am in the morning, with the only possible places still open being the strip club round the corner and McDonald’s. And at both places, we couldn’t find him.

His phone was off and from the probable altercation that almost went down just earlier, I guess it was almost a safe bet to assume that he was now bound to his feet and in a car headed for the Bronx, Mexico or if he managed to get his last prayer in, Heaven.

You have to realize that at that point in time, I had enough alcohol in me to have my pee qualify as vodka. Naturally, the well being of Memo – dire, no doubt – had as much gravity as peeing on toilet seats or filing for taxes. I am not in a condition to give a shit.

An hour later, we found him back near the hotel chatting up with another group of drug peddlers trying to buy weed for $2. He was so wasted that he could not even sign for his card, but he still had a urge to smoke a joint or five. And I thought,

This guy has priorities. Everyone needs a friend like him.”

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