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2004-07-06 - 3:56 p.m.

I grew up in the shadow of New York City. My parents would drag me once a year down to see a Broadway show, or possibly a straight play that had caught my father’s eye. (I can’t tell you how beneficial a firm grasp of show tunes can be for a young man on the singles scene.) A city like New York is impressive enough for a grown man, but for a kid of rather stunted growth, it was enormous. I stood in awe, as I was led by the hand down through Times Square, and, at my mother’s behest, the diamond district. My eyes often trained from the tops of skyscrapers to the teens wandering the streets, absolutely giddy over the buffet before them. I waited patiently for my turn.

“You have the entirety of the biggest city on the planet at your disposal, and you’re big plans for my only weekend in New York are Office Space and some weed?”

“Hey, I made full use of the city’s resources. Had to walk all the way to eighth to get his bud. This is kind bud, man. Kind bud.”

All my resources were required to hold back from slapping the sense into my friend, a freshman at NYU, who apparently had spent his first year living in New York trying to time Dark Side of the Moon to the Wizard of Oz.

While online, ordering pizza, I wandered a few web sites, and found a club in Chelsea that allowed under 21’s so long as they jumped on the guest list before hand. Amidst cries of “Half pepperoni! Just half! I’m not picking it off mine this time around.” I threw my friend and me onto the list, readying myself for the argument ahead.

The sober man before me put his hands up in defiance, cementing himself into his chair, but with a little narcotic encouragement, a hyper and horny bug had wheedled its way up his butt, and suddenly the idea of bumping and grinding with the club kids began to take on a certain appeal. Of course it was this same influence that sent him into waves of paranoia when we were patted down rather thoroughly at the front door. His Altoid case was emptied and searched with such intensity, be began to wonder if he’d left an E in there, even though he had never bought a single dose on any of his trips to eighth ave.

Inside, I sat beside the dance floor, watching people in varying degrees of dis-dress fight over spots inside the raised cages that littered the landscape. With the music pumping so loudly that my shirt was shivered with each slam of the bass line, all communication between my friend and I was limited to mock dancing; usually the tango.

As I stood there, smoking, (New to the whole smoking thing, I was in my “Look-at-me-I-can-now-inhale-poisionous-fumes-into-my-body-ain’t-it-cool? phase.) a girl approached me. She was a good foot shorter than me, and adorable. She had to scream in my ear to be heard.

“Do you dance?”

“Dance? Occasionally.”

“Is this such an occasion?”

Anyone who would land me with the descriptive of witty should make note of my following response:

“Dur, um…okay.”

My eloquence continued in my response to:

“This may seem forward, but can I kiss you?”

“I..um..sure…”

Ladies take note; men are deer in headlights when it comes to forward but gentle requests. Then again, we tend to do the headlight thing in most of our interactions with you anyway. Maybe the word ‘more-so’ should have gone in there somewhere.

I spent the next five hours, intermittently watching the floorshow, and making out with mystery woman. I did insist on a time out, during which I ran through her particulars: She went to a college in Boston I’d considered going to, majored in film, and was in town to see some photography exhibit. I took in this information, processed it, and continued to make out with her.

Unfortunately, by the time I came up for air, my friend had crashed, and then landed back at his apartment, leaving me to make my first solo journey on the subway at six thirty in the morning, alone in the station save a strange elderly man who sang gospel music while pacing up and down the ledge of the platform. He didn’t get on the train when it rolled in, just tipped his hat at me.

I finished my New York adventure by exacting revenge on my derelict friend; hiding his kind bud under an ice cube tray in his freezer.

Still I had managed an adventure down in the city and I was proud to have pulled it off, even if my host had done everything in his power to derail that.

Now that I am the lone Metropolitan out of my family and friends, my apartment can be referred to as a “fine alternative to a youth hostel.” I think priceline.com now lists my little dwelling as a cost-effective bargain. “Do his dishes, and he’ll basically let you have run of the place for the weekend.”

Once every other month, the responsibility so easily shirked by my friend back in the day falls onto my shoulders. I become the de facto tour guide and city pimp and I can’t think of a worse person for the job.

In my two years here, I’ve never gone back to a dance club, never climbed the Empire State building, and only seen one Broadway Show. I’ve been to the Met only twice, both times to re-enact scenes from When Harry met Sally. (Peacaaaan Pie.) I haven’t paid to go to any concerts. I’ve only watched the Yankees from a barstool. And I’ve never, never been on a tour bus. Most of these things just aren't what an actual occupant of the city would usually end up doing.

You need a place to find liquor cheap, or a smoking garden, I am your man. If it’s a night of debauchery and insanity you’re after, you’re best served finding out if Ron Jeremy is in town for a DVD signing and asking his advice.

With friends who simply hopped a train to wander up for the weekend, I bear little guilt, after all I’m incubating them in my little loft, isn’t that enough? If, by chance, they’ve actually booked a flight a few months previous, and have never made the pilgrimage before, I suddenly feel like pud. I know a few good restaurants, and have been able to weasel passes to Scores and Stand-Up New York, but after a day or two my suggestions wear thin, as I end up recommending a squat down in a dive for some three-dollar tequila shots. This is especially ineffective on those whose liquor is only two bucks in their local watering hole.

There I sit, my friends staring me down.

“We could get drunk back at home man.”

“But guys, 100 Mexicanos Dijeron is on. ‘We asked a hundred Mexicans!’ The Telemundo version of Family Feud. It’s beautiful!”

“That’s it. Next time we’re going to New Orleans.”

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