Thursday, September 27, 2007

Best Dive Bar in Manhattan

I think it's funny what constitutes a "dive bar" in Manhattan. For me a dive has to be small and "cozy" to the point that it's impossible to negotiate without touching someone else if there are more than 10 people in the bar. It also has to be dark and kept up like to about 80 percent of its operating standards. I like to see duct tape on the seat, sneeze spray on the jukebox, etc. The bathroom either has to be way too bright, and slightly rank, or even darker than the bar, not in an attempt to hide its griminess, because dive bars don't make a concerted effort to do anything to maintain their appearances. If they do, they are a faux-dive hipster hangout, and although this is a valid class of bar as well, it's not dive city.

Billymark's West in Chelsea has all sorts of proclamations of being the "best dive bar in Manhattan." It is not a dive, though, according to my standards. It is way too large; the service (brother Mark of Billy and Mark was behind the bar last night) was way too friendly; the bathrooms smelled strongly of bleach, and it was very clean. While it's true that a crackhead tried to hassle Boy for a minute and ended up swiping some tips off the bar before Mark asked her to leave, the bar scene was jovial and well kept, and the jukebox made me happy by playing Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, and some late-era Beatles.

Boy and I sat at the bar for four hours and ran up a $65 bar tab. I still can't get over how expensive it is to drink in this city. I am used to getting smashed with $20 off well tequila at Amber in San Francisco. Of course, that is not counting the drinks the bartenders and my friends would bring to me. I probably didn't get trashy off $20 as easily as I'm remembering.

I wanted something sweet but my only girly drink is a sidecar, which I shamelessly ordered and couldn't back up. So I drank Wild Turkey instead. Mark told me about the time growing up he stole a fifth of Wild Turkey from his father's liquor cabinet, and when his father noticed it missing, he showed up in his room with two glasses and a bottle of Wild Turkey and said, "So you like Wild Turkey so much?" And proceeded to make him drink the whole bottle with him. I've also heard this parenting technique when it comes to stolen cigarettes. Apparently it's quite effective.

I felt compelled to tell my own wild turkey story, which brings me and my ex-boyfriend to a field in Napa Valley, where we were walking around taking photos in the beautiful light. Wes was impressing me with his wilderness knowledge and pointing out the various rabbit and deer tracks visible in the mud when we came across some really large, deep, three-pronged tracks. He half squatted down to take a closer look at them, and was wondering aloud, "What the hell kind of...giant...bird?...could have made these?" And suddenly a loud, gobbling, herd of wild turkeys swarmed past us. Yes, a herd. If birds are running on the ground, they lose their flocking rights.

We then went to the Cheyenne Diner on 9th and 33rd and had huge goblets of red wine ($4.50) and pretty decent (but not at all spicy) buffalo wings. Poor Boy must have been trashed by this point. He'd already stopped trying to keep pace with me at the bar, but decided to get in on the cheap diner wine. As if we weren't being honest enough (we'd spent a cliched hour talking about anxiety, depression, and the pharmacists...I mean psychiatrists who love them), we decided to start talk about our first impressions of each other and how he thought I was crazy/intimidating and I thought he was uncomfortable.

I even told him that I was not planning on keeping up with my CL dating binge while seeing him, because although it was my right, I didn't think he would be comfortable with it, and I didn't want to make him uncomfortable or have to lie about it. It felt a little strange to say this, because it's my prerogative to date whomever I want, and I certainly don't owe anything to Boy. I guess it was my drunk-yet-careful way of telling him, "Look, I like you."

1 comment:

keetens said...

OMG you are so cute! I totally know what you mean about toning down the CL dating when you find someone you really like. I just went to Billymark's West for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It is pretty friendly...all in all.