Saturday, January 22, 2011
Tales of the road, Part 1
New York: January 21, 2011
He sat down beside me at the oval bar on the balcony at Grand Central. He was a young, handsome Latino in a skin-tight T-shirt. His Manhattan arrived and he turned to me and told me his name was Manolo and I settled in to wait for him to put the moves on me.
His accent was thick and I picked up every third word as Manolo emptied his mind of every current thought, in the unrestrained way of someone who is drunk. His family owns three restaurants in New York, he says. They make the best margarita in the city. I should come there to 59th and 9th and he will give me a free one. He lived in Miami but he hated it. Too much non-stop partying. He likes to box, He is 30 and he is in love and his lady is only 20 and she is over there on the other side of the bar with another man.
He stood on the rail and propped his elbows on the bar and learned around the bartender and said Yes, she still there. His lady is beautiful, he says, and she is bi-polar. She ran off to the middle east and fucked six guys but he still loves her. She can't help herself. She is bi-polar. I don't know why she do it, he says. I love her and I keep myself looking good, you know? I like to box, he says.
His face flashes from pending whisky stupor to the look of a tormented man in love. His story pours out and repeats and he periodically lunges sideways to peek around and say Yes, she still there. She loves me, he says, she just don't know it always. I treat her right. Sometimes I get mad but only because I love her so much. She is talking to that other guy over there but Manolo says it's alright, it don't matter, and he peeks again and says Yes, she still there.
You live here in New York? he asks and I say no, just traveling, waiting for a train. How long you here? he asks and I say just a few days and he tells me again I should come to his restaurant for the best margarita and he asks for my phone number and then he jerks back to to look again and see if she still there, and this time she is not there, and he stands on the bar rail and scans the room and looking past me says Here she is.
I hear her say What's going on here? and I see a pleading look in Manolo's eyes as he faces her and says Nothing's going on, this is my new friend. I turn to her and her eyes are wide and wild, and she is obese and doughey-faced and her hair is a thick brown shapeless mass. She looks at me and then at Manolo and says I do not understand what is happening right now.
Manolo fumbles with his phone and says Nothing, baby, we just having a drink right here while you were over there. The time seems right for me to say I've got a train to catch and, nice to meet you and, 59th and 9th, right? He says That's right and I know if I walked in for my free best margarita in New York he would not remember that night at the Grand Central bar, that night he told a stranger the intimacies of his life story in five minutes. And I know Manolo and his lady have a lot of the night left for pledges of love and pleas and accusations and lies and apologies and threats and the pulling of hair and slaps to the face, and I know there will be many nights like this for Manolo and his lady.