The truth was, he didn’t deserve to experience the metaphysical sapidity of Di Fara. Wouldn’t have even known of Di Fara had it not been for her. He was one of those Long Island types who could rarely be cajoled further than North Brooklyn. That’s where she had met him, dug up from the end of the bar at some expectedly shitty music venue where anyone with a bass guitar could book a gig. She wasn’t looking to take anyone home that night, but then, she supposed she never really was. It just sort of…occurred. Like natural selection.
In his teenage-looking bedroom (adorned with band posters and a bed outfitted with sheets that may or may not have been changed in the past month), Alaina ignored the obvious: that he wasn’t a man of taste. That was often the trouble with those suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome, a condition evermore common in those she encountered. Because he had been drinking (allegedly), he could not immediately become erect, or at least, that’s the excuse he gave Alaina, followed by the placating act of head-giving. She wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth though.
When the morning came, she finally learned his name was Andy upon stumbling to the bathroom and catching a glimpse of a piece of his mail on the kitchen table. She rolled her eyes and thought to herself, “Figures. Andy’s a plebeian name.” That much was apparent in the presence of several people sleeping on the couch and floor, presumably friends of whoever one of Andy’s approximately five roommates were. She knew she had to get out. And quickly.
But in that moment, Andy emerged from his bedroom, smiled and asked, “You want some coffee?”
Some one-night stand this was turning out to be. Now she had to have coffee with the boudoir tenderfoot. Then again, functioning in the harsh morning light on the way to the train back to the place from whence she came might be behooved by a cup of coffee.
As she sat there trying to think of how to act, what to say–all the things you don’t have to think about when you’re drunk–she could see in his eyes a glimmer of earnestness, like maybe this whole charade wasn’t a charade, that he was actually interested in truly getting to know her.
This is why she agreed to meet him one week later at the coffee shop near his house, Trans Am. She arrived before him and sat at a table facing the door so that he would see her right away and, hopefully, still recognize her. Which he did upon cautiously opening the door, smiling at her in acknowledgement and pausing at the corner to order a latte.
He then approached her table and set his bag down. A bag she commented on in a demeaning way. After all, what do men really need bags for unless they’re carting around drugs for delivery?
But he clearly couldn’t take her remark in stride–chalk it up to her naturally sadistic sense of humor–as she watched him shove the bag under his chair as though in shame and rise to go get his latte from the counter.
Walking back toward her, he tripped on himself and spilled the drink everywhere, and, in the process turned a faint shade of crimson. Instead of reacting instantly, he froze, as though standing completely still might make him invisible. Feeling sorry for his embarrassment, Alaina got up from her perch and ran to the bar area to ask for some paper towels, taking the responsibility of the spillage for herself. Women so often have to take the responsibility when men cannot. Will not.
Once the river of milky caffeine had been sopped up, Alaina and Andy sat back down again, the latter unable to cease indulging in his aura of awkwardness as a result of the humiliation he felt. Alaina should have known then that his weak nature would be a liability. That she would have to carry him in every situation.
Carry him she did over the next few months, in large part thanks to the ratio of viable unattached straight men orbiting her path at the moment. That was the real trouble with romance in New York: it wasn’t about actual interest so much as who was shaking their proverbial stick at you. And oh how Andy shook his stick in whole-heartedness there for a while.
Particularly on that day in late May when he had a weekday–a Friday–off from his job as cater waiter. He hated it, of course, and yet it was all he talked about. Don’t we always talk about the things we despise as opposed to that which actually pleases us? There’s something more passionately satisfying about it, one supposes. And it was with said passion that Andy was prattling on about a woman he had served who kept grabbing his backside as he walked away with the champagne tray.
“Listen, I’m all for feminism, but that was pure objectification,” he declared as Alaina finished ordering them a regular pie with pepperoni, mushrooms, broccoli rabe and baby eggplant–just the right balance of health and unhealth, she assured him. Which it certainly better be if they were to endure the hour wait at Di Fara Dolce FATTS (since closed, perhaps symbolism or something). And endure it they did, the only two people in the cafe at that hour for some reason. Everyone else had seemingly chosen to wait for their pizza elsewhere, possibly at the Walgreens–the only non-Jewish establishment for miles. And you know how gentiles can be scandalized by the Semitic lifestyle.
During their wait, Alaina found it within herself to admit a wrongdoing she had committed against Andy. It was one from a few weeks ago, when she had let the drink get the better of her emotions and repeated to him over and over again, “Don’t hurt me,” as she undressed to receive her sex.
But he did. You know, they all do. They can’t fucking help it. And after he had disappeared from her life, she got a reminder of just how much she had done for him in introducing him to Di Fara when she made the mistake of trolling his Instagram roughly a year (almost exactly to the day of their Midwood excursion) after losing him to the abyss of spectral behavior. The most recent image was of him and a bulimic sharing in the majestic taste of Di Fara together. That bulimic owed Alaina everything. Without Alaina, Andy would know nothing of the sweet taste. And yet, without Andy, Alaina would know nothing of the bitter taste.