The Kiwi invited me to celebrate his last night in New York by seeing Bright Eyes at Radio City Music Hall. While I am not a huge fan, I thought it would be interesting to watch an Indie rock band try to negotiate its way around the home of the Rockettes – snowflakes, disco balls, crappy Christmas decorations and all.
As soon as we arrived at the Hall of Cheese, I remembered why I don’t go to shows so much anymore. It's because these affairs are skinny jean, dirty hair manplosions – a sea of unwashed hipster boys and the occasional patchouli-doused girlfriend. Sitting next to us was Exhibit A, who had obviously just left his room for the first time in five years without showering. Despite what appeared to be an unhealthy relationship with food, Exhibit A was rocking some denim originally designed for Joey Ramone and 95 pound girls, creating an effect akin to sausage casing. Kiwi and I speculated that the jeans were impossible to remove and had become one with his flesh, rendering bathing and unrestricted lower body movement impossible.
Exhibit A was a fan of Bright Eyes – perhaps their biggest fan. Every so often, he’d stand up, wave his arms frantically and scream:
“YOU ARE SO AWESOME! YOU ARE SO AWESOME! WOOOOOOOOO!”
I am not one to frown on unbridled enthusiasm. I like to get down, get funky just as much as the next person. But I do have problem when that enthusiasm unleashes an intense manpourri – an unusual mélange of greasy hair, BO, wank and unwashed jeans.
In his usual courtly way, Kiwi offered to provide a human barrier to Exhibit A. Nevertheless, the fumes were getting to us – Kiwi struggled to remain conscious while my eyes watered profusely. Holding Kiwi’s wool scarf to our faces, breathing in several sprays of my perfume, we were powerless to the manpourri that stewed beside us.
Finally, during a particularly bad Tom Petty cover, Kiwi turned to me and said, “Let’s get out of here.” We stumbled through a cloud of post-pubescent funk and emerged, mostly unscathed, onto the street.
It was a fitting end to Kiwi’s New York experience. We hugged each other and I flagged a cab.
“Don’t go away and never come back,” I said. “We’ll see.” “Just watch – you’ll be back. You’ll miss the funk too much.” “Yes. And so much more, P."
My springtime pseudo-boyfriend, the lovely and kind-hearted Kiwi, resurfaced this weekend.
Several months ago, Kiwi and I had a little two-month pseudo-relationship just after Fauxhawk smashed up my heart, and smashed it up good. Since I was an emotional zombie and Kiwi was an itinerant wino, we made an unspoken pact that involved drinking our body weight in Sauvignon Blanc, eating at good restaurants, and distracting each other from longing (me) and loneliness (Kiwi). Then Kiwi ended our little pseudo relationship with admirable grace and returned to New Zealand for work.
Then something strange happened. I received an email from Kiwi assessing my potential as a mother, followed by a passive-aggressive drunk-dial from a bar somewhere in New Zealand. I began to suspect Kiwi had broken his own vow to keep our brief relationship light, breezy, and temporary. I had a suspicion that he wanted to rekindle the relationship and start again, but this time with no rules.
But when Kiwi returned to New York two months ago, he divined that Fauxhawk and I had gotten back together. After sending me a forlorn and drunken text from a bar in Midtown Manhattan, he went radio silent, swearing off all contact. I wallowed in misplaced guilt, feeling sorry that I never had a chance to explain and smooth things over.
Finally, Kiwi texted me out of the blue to see if I wanted to have brunch this weekend. I was simultaneously relieved and full of dread. Having heard several reports that Kiwi was spotted on the street looking a) drunk, b) depressed and c) lonely, I was a bit worried about what I might find. But there he was, jaunty and boyish as ever, looking like a ruddy, fresh-faced prep school kid just off the rugby field.
“Kiwi! How are you? I’m so happy to see you.” “I’m fat.” “Me too!” “Excellent. Let’s eat.”
After ribbing me about the disreputable state of my shoes and handbag, Kiwi’s face suddenly darkened.
“What the matter?” I asked. “I’m lonely. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I think I’m going to go back to New Zealand early.” “But you have so many friends here…everyone adores you.” “I’ve been drinking too much.” “How much is too much?” “I keep falling asleep on the train and ending up in the bowels of Brooklyn.” “Oh...” “And last week I woke up in a recycling bin.” “Oh Jesus.” “I know.”
I imagined poor sweet Kiwi drunk, alone and disoriented in a dumpster, and it plunged me into a state of panic. All I could think was, I’ll create a diversion, the way they do in Scooby Doo. I’ll do the Haka. I’ll beatbox. I’ll start the electric slide. And then everything will go back to normal, and Kiwi will be Kiwi, but without the pain and loneliness. I will act like an ass, and Kiwi will smile indulgently, just like he used to, and then all will be well.
But I didn’t, and it wasn’t.
Finally, after what seemed like a decade, I asked:
“Paper or plastic?”
It was all I could think of to say.
He thought for a moment. “Paper,” he said.
After all, if one is going to be chewed up and spit out by this big bad city, one might as well be recycled. At least there is something noble in it.