Jersey Girl – June 1, 2002

Went to a big birthday party at a bar last night, and no less than three people saw fit to ask me if I was okay or tell me I looked exhausted. Of course I did; I had gotten up at 5:30 every day of the week, and it was 11 p.m. But I’m sick of having “tired” define who I am when I’m around my friends; they don’t usually see me for the first 15 hours of my day, when I’m excitable and inspired.

I’m disturbed that Mt. Dew no longer seems to work.

So, I was at the bar. It was packed with bodies, friendly faces and polite strangers all squeezing past each other along a far-too-narrow passage between the counter and a group of sofas. At the pool table in the corner, cool kids lounged along the walls, taking turns with the cue and sipping liquor. One of them was gorgeous, in a white button-down shirt and a relaxed attitude.

We tried to have conversations, punctuated by a lot of “What?”s. I finally gave up and stared at the back wall as people passed by. It was silvery, made of some metal that was not silver, with decorative cross-hatching. Music pounded, people yelled, other people smiled and made sassy comments as they pushed past. It was way too crowded.

I thought about people who do this every week. I wondered what kind of fulfillment one can find in music that drowns out conversation, and expensive drinks, and a bunch of too-hip strangers huddled around a pool table. Maybe most people are into this kind of thing.

One last note. Here’s how not to impress a woman:

Him: You don’t look like you’re from California.
Me: I’ve been here for a while, but not originally.
Him: Where are you from?
Me: New Jersey.
Him: You’re a Jersey girl?
(here it comes)
Him: You don’t have an accent.
Me: Yeah, I don’t. (looks away toward fascinating wall)
Him: And where’s your hair?
Me: Excuse me?
Him: Your hair — where is it?
Me: (pats own head) It’s right here. (looks at intriguing ice cube melting on counter)
Him: You know, the big hair. (he holds his hands above his head, illustrating his brilliant point.) “You’ve gotta have some pride in where you’re from.”
Me: (silence)
Him: My last girlfriend was from Jersey.”
Me: “That’s great for you. Wonderful.” (gets up and walks away)

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