Upon moving to New York, I was recently heartbroken, not looking to date or meet anyone new. My idea of going out was more to see city life and enjoy my friend’s company than to end up inside some stranger’s apartment. My friends, on the other hand, had a different perspective. They wanted one night where they both had to be so drunk they were dancing on top of tables or a bar while simultaneously making out with a complete stranger. If none of this happened on a night out, then it was time wasted.
To accomplish this goal, there was only one place to go: Union Pool. At the time, I had no idea what Union Pool was and why they got so excited to go to this bar, but I assumed there’d be pool tables there. Many New Yorkers and Brooklynites know of the infamous Union Pool because it is dubbed hook up central. Having already traveled an hour on subway to Brooklyn and have gotten lost about 5 times, I begrudgingly followed, half hoping there’d be food there and the other half hoping they did accomplish their fantasy so we didn’t have to go man hunting next weekend.
Entering Union Pool was like stepping into a Millennial’s dream land: multi-room bar filled wall to wall with hipsters and trust fund babies alike, no one over the age of 35. A swarm of girls in crop tops and high-waisted thrift store jeans intermixed with men bearing buns atop of their heads of every knot and color. A rainbow of denim, flannel, overalls and chokers swirled around us. An occasional Hawaiian shirt popped out. There was the indoor dance room with a projection screen showing an old black and white film, and an outdoor patio with a taco truck. The vibe of the place was different than any place I’d ever been before. I found myself actually getting a little excited to be someplace new. My friends and I elbowed our way to the bar, finally getting our drinks after losing a few vocal chords shouting, “Whiskey Ginger” multiple times to the poor bartender who only kept mouthing for us to speak louder over the blaring live band playing that night. We found a spot to sit on a concrete fountain that was shut off for the night in the outdoor patio. My friends began scanning for their hook-up prey. I only had eyes for the taco truck.
“Did you see him? He’s gorgeous!”
“Where? That one?”
“No, guy next to him with the beard.”
“They all have beards.”
“The one in red.”
“Ooooh! Yeah, he’s cute! Go after him!”
“Abort! Abort mission! A group of girls just came over. He’s taken.”
The hunting continued. One of us would point out someone, analyze their level of attractiveness, then encourage that friend to go talk to them, to only find an excuse why to not confront them. This continued for a good portion of the night until we became silent and were texting on our phones. One of my friends even downloaded a dating app.
“So, uh, how’s that dancing on tables going?”
Once a second round of drinks were considered, one of my friends finally followed one of their newest quarry to only come back with our new drinks and no boy.
I noticed the line for the taco truck died, so now was my chance to grab my target of the night. Getting up quickly with a little too much pep in my step, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning, I find the source of the tap is a relatively good looking guy, a little taller than me, light brown curly hair and matching scruff, wearing matching denim jacket and pants with a purple t-shirt that had both Shaq and Air Bud doing slam dunks into the same basket.
“Please don’t tell me you are leaving”, he pleaded. “I’ve been watching you from across the room all night and been trying to find a way to talk to you.”
The jaws on my friend’s faces fell below the concrete floor we were all standing on. Of all 3 of us, I was the one who reeled one in and I did absolutely nothing to make it happen. Personally, I was shocked, but also a bit annoyed – he was delaying my taco time.
“I wasn’t leaving, I was going to get a taco… do you want to join?”
Shoving our way to the taco truck, I thought, Hey, maybe he’ll pay for my tacos. $9 short later for only 2 tacos, our conversation began. Found out, he was born and raised in Brooklyn, an accountant not too far from where we were now, but really he was a comedy writer.
“Yeah, I’m working on a piece now about superheroes on psychedelic drugs because there really isn’t a lot on that topic.”
The discussion of theatre and the fact I’m an actor came up, we both found we attended Waiting for Godot starring Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Patrick Stewart when it was on Broadway a few years ago. He told me how there should be a modern version of Godot where two guys are waiting for the G train. We continued talking about the play and other plays, conversation flowing when he interjected, “I have to show you this one interview on YouTube. We can watch it tomorrow morning.”
“Oh, I meant I’ll send you the link to watch tomorrow.”
At this point I was trying to find ways to end the conversation, but he kept going. He just had to ask about where I lived. I replied that I originally lived in Harlem but recently moved to the Bronx. His eyebrows jumped up, asking if I felt safe. I brought up that I feel safer in the Bronx than I ever did in Houston.
“And, I mean”, I added, “living in both of those places kinda puts hair on your chest.”
His look changed. “Well, I hope you don’t have hair on your chest…and by chest I mean your boobs.”
To which his eyes moved immediately down to the V in my V neck shirt.
That’s it. I was done.
He tried to get my number right after that move, to which I explained I wasn’t wanting anything at the moment, I’d just gone through a rough break-up, but thanks for the conversation. With a shrug, he led me back to my friends and I never saw him again.
What my friends saw behind me as he walked away, was him rolling his eyes towards his friends, looking annoyed and pissed off. We left Union Pool right after and haven’t returned.