TANDY VERSYP Staff Writer
Every Thursday night I tell my friends I am not going out, but eventually, I put on my pink Chucks and two-step down to the local watering hole for a can of PBR—not because it’s ironic, but because I’m poor. Why do I go out? Because it offers the possibility of making a connection, something that gets lost in our culture of superficial friend requests and status updates.
My roommate made us get to the Jinx early, so we could get the booth with the Pac-Man arcade game as table—a good conversation starter with new faces. One particular face, Martini, an appropriately named tall drink of Italian vermouth, was a pre-med student with a thick Georgian accent and infectiously ambitious eyes. We chatted about the usual things: Majors. Minors. Basic components of carbohydrates.
After watching two games of Mr. Pac-Man battle it out with Mrs. Pac-Man, I had to dance when the DJ spun Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” And my roommate had to take her shirt off.
“My new bra is just like a shirt!” she exclaimed.
“No, it’s like a bra. In public,” I answered, and let it go, because the Dionysian glow of sweaty, glistening bodies and anime-like, seizure-inducing lights suspended my social etiquette and inhibitions.
I jumped upon the stage and found myself next to one of my current floundering connections, a Brooklyn-bound hipster.
Brooklyn has been the object of my smoldering haunches for months. We met at Hangfire after I spilled a glass of water in my lap and crouched behind the bar to hide my soaked jeans. Brooklyn was serendipitously standing on the other side and we chatted, leaning in close to hear over DJ KZL’s beats. Brooklyn was unassumingly attractive, intelligent with a splash of nerdy, and forgiving—i.e. the water down my pants. So I gave out my digits, and soon we were friends on Facebook.
I have no diatribe for Facebook, the biggest advertising outlet in the world. In fact, I laugh when people over the age of 30 rant about the evils of social networking sites.
Facebook lets me keep in touch with my friends who are too busy to answer their phones, but in a more important nature, allows me to know that my connections still exist. I don’t friend—yeah, it’s a verb now—as many people as possible. I’m not someone who writes notes religiously. However, I use it to keep my metaphysical can of worms in check.
Going about my day, I meet a lot of people, and sometimes if I don’t see someone on a regular basis, I wonder, do they really exist? Or am I pulling a John Nash, creating people, places and things to cope with life’s never-ending attack of the psyche? If I never told my friends about specific persons, would they be real?
Facebook is nice to have because it lets me know that people with whom I shared intimate, awkwardly funny, brutal moments are still out there somewhere, even if it is in a world of hypertext markup language.
As for being Facebook friends with Brooklyn, it did that at first—kept the connection intact. But then nothing happened. No calls. Very little Facebook chatting, and I wasn’t sure why.
In my usual point blank questioning, I found out.
“Are you attracted to me or should I just stop trying?” I whisper-yelled to the Brooklyn-bound dancer next to me.
“Have you really been trying that hard?” Brooklyn said mid-frenetically-arabesque pose. And I had to admit I hadn’t. I really hadn’t.
As I danced away, Lady Gaga sang, “I won’t tell you that I love you/Kiss or hug you/‘Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin/I’m not lyin’/I’m just stunnin’ with my love glue-gunnin’,” and I hated her for being completely on point with what she calls “great art.”
When she first came out with her album of cavity-causing pop ditties, I laughed and bought the album. It was a funny joke about pop culture that you could dance to (like my initial lighthearted take on Facebook).
After reading an article in Rolling Stone on her obsession with killer choruses and unfeeling lyrics, I realized she was serious with her Grace Jones shoulder pads and her inability to wear pants.
Pushing through the underdressed, over-sexed, exponentially inebriated rabble, I had to hand it to Lady Gaga. She saw something I didn’t.
Her observation on the superficiality of life, love and the pursuit of sexiness was more revealing than I once thought. Even though I understood the ridiculous evils of Facebook and personal internet connections, I unknowingly kept the connection with Brooklyn immortalized in the world of cyberspace, making it hyperreal, a fantasy that could never be touched, a simulation of what reality would be like, minus the pesky authentic part. I hadn’t tried, not wanting to risk screwing up the mock-up version of our rapport: short Twitter message conversations that took hours to put into witty banter.
I’d been bluffin’ with my muffin and love glue-gunnin’, and it was time to stop.
Back at the Pac-Man table, Martini sat on the edge of the booth watching the crowd, probably perusing for past failed-connections, a normal occurrence for those in their early 20s, but as I got closer, Martini’s eyes were on me.
“Let’s go dance.”
“Um, OK.” I answered. So we danced. And it was awkward, but adorably awkward. My thighs burned. My face got pushed into a woman’s drink. My dance moves learned from Liz Lemon proved inadequate. But it was fun.
However, I needed to reassess my outlook on interpersonal connections, and delete my Facebook account.
“I need a break,” I told Martini.
I stepped off the stage, intent on leaving, but turning around, I saw Martini following me, fully smiling with a look of beguiled charisma. I took Martini’s hand, and held on until the song ended.
Back at my apartment the following day, I stared at my phone. The possibility of making a connection had become a reality, and now all I had to do was try. No more po-mo quandaries. No more Lady Gaga mantras. Just trying.
I dialed Martini’s number.
“What took you so long?” Martini answered.
“I don’t know,” I smiled.