The Upper East Side is in total darkness. The subways are not running and the lights are out in my favorite bakery, Mr. Fresh Bread, my home away from home. I am sitting in my apartment, dripping with sweat and eating a slice of pizza that does not taste worth the twenty-five minute wait. In addition to waiting for my dinner, I also waited outside the Rite-Aid for forty-five minutes. Each customer is let in one at a time and escorted by a Rite-Aid employee, who is armed with a flashlight. You pick out your items, you purchase them, and then you are forced to show them to the manager (and the rest of Second Avenue) upon leaving the store. The only thing more embarrassing than searching for super absorbency tampons one-on-one, in the dark, with a Rite-Aid employee, is showing your purchase to the fifty strangers waiting outside the store. Yes, while the rest of New York was stocking up on bottled water, batteries, and flashlights, I was purchasing super absorbency tampons and a king size Kit-Kat bar.
I digress. It is Thursday night and I am bored out of my mind. I will use this time effectively. I will sit on my couch and I will think. I will think a lot. I will do the kind of thinking that one can only do without the distractions of the television, the cell phone, and the Internet. I am thinking. I am really thinking. I am thinking that I need a beer.
I am at a small Irish pub called Fitzpatrick's. Actually, I am outside a small Irish pub called Fitzpatrick's, since the inside of the bar is dark and 100 degrees. People are milling around outside, drinking beer, and telling their power-out stories. The street is pitch black save for random bursts of light from flashlights and candles. There is a dude playing guitar and conducting a sing-a-long, and the beer is free because the ice that is keeping it cold is melting. I feel like I am at a college block party. I suddenly have the urge to make-out with a total stranger on a futon. I am with two friends and we are sitting on an indescribable, but sturdy, metal object playing the game, "If I could take home one man in the crowd I would choose . . ." I pick a nice, blue-eyed, dark-haired lad. My pick picks a waif-like, mousy-haired brunette with a gold band on her finger. They walk off hand-in-hand. I am attracted to men that are married, gay, or both married and gay. Just as the game is getting old, two guys come over to where we are sitting. For me, this becomes the dimmest part of the entire blackout.
Two guys approach three girls and introduce themselves- to two girls. They then start conversations on either side of the third, non-existent girl. I AM THE GIRL IN THE MIDDLE! My dismissal is not foreshadowed in any way. There is no group conversation that suddenly breaks off into semi-private exchanges. I am ousted from the onset. Maybe it was too dark out and they could not see my perfect breasts and flirty eyes. Maybe they only wanted to talk to tall blondes. No, there are no excuses for disrupting a social circle and not extending your welcome to all its members. I am feeling angry and embarrassed. Why? From what I observe, these guys are just drunken tools trying to get laid. Yet I feel very rejected standing here with no partner for intimate conversation. I scan the street and observe that everyone is either making-out or engaged in private conversations. I ping-pong my head back and forth trying to make it seem like I belong. I cannot hear a word that is spoken, but I laugh out loud when they laugh out loud, and sporadically nod my head. How much longer can I keep this up? Should I pretend to be on my cell phone? Should I start talking to random parts of my body . . . my hand, my breasts? Should I sing a duet quietly to myself, acting out both parts? Why am I the only one who is on my own? Usually I look around a bar and there are a slew of people standing around in my exact situation. I take a moment to pity them and then I go back to flipping my hair and asking the man I am chatting with which piercing is his favorite. Now, I am the one to be pitied. This blackout has created a parallel universe. For the unfortunate looking people in Manhattan, it is a blessing. Now they can woo successfully due to darkness. For me, it is a curse.
Two beers later I begin to re-evaluate my situation. It is wrong to blame my misfortune on the blackout. If these men do not want to talk to me I will find other men that do. I will be aggressive. I remember the advice my mother gave me on my eighth birthday. "Mindy, you must be aggressive. Risks must be taken and clothes must be taken off." I also remember the advice she gave me two years prior. "Always use protection. If the sperm does not go in, then you know it's not a sin!" Suddenly my high standards fly out the car window like an ugly, loosely tied, silk scarf on a windy day. Anyone and everyone is fair game. I whip out my flashlight and spot my first contender. He is bald and he is forty, but he has a great complexion. I spot another. His eyes are close together, very close together, but he has a nice set of teeth. And another. He is picking his nose, but at least he does not feel he has to hide his true self. Who am I kidding? This is hopeless. I decide that anything is better than making out in the dark with one of these guys, even being stuck in the middle of endless, banal, small talk.
Two more beers later I find myself engaged in a political debate with the voices in my head. Just as I am about to take off my shirt for attention, I have an epiphany. (I know what you're thinking. "Mindy, you have epiphanies every week." I can only reply by saying that I am a very profound person who is constantly having epiphanies). I realize that I am putting way too much pressure on myself to have this amazing night. I realize that this is just another night. Yes, circumstances are unusual, but it is a blackout, not Valentine's Day. Why am I standing around waiting to meet someone remarkable? It will happen, but clearly not tonight. Suddenly the voices in my head all cry out in unison, "Mindy, go home! Eat your king size Kit-Kat bar! Pleasure yourself!"
So, you are probably wondering:
Did I go home that night? Did I eat the melted Kit-Kat bar? Did I pleasure myself in the sweltering heat of my apartment, under the light fixture in my room that hung above me like a sad, lightless star? Yes. Yes. And that is really none of your business.