The party at the bar was for an Internet literary journal that prints a hard copy version that was famous in the world of Internet literary journals that prints hard copy versions. What that means, I do not know. I had never been published at the site. I was rejected once and the editor said my grammar was fucked up. The editor was supposed to be there. His name was Randal Simms. Randal Simms was famous for hosting readings with semi-famous writers and having people like Moby show up. The writers at his readings were all well-trained at MFA schools and had sensibilities. They were the kind of writers that appeared in McSweeney's and collections edited by Dave Eggers. They weren't my kind of writers. They were sitting in their nice apartments or dorm rooms reading the latest Haruki Murakami story while I was sitting in a shitty little ramshackle house reading a used copy of Erskine Caldwell's God's Little Acre. They weren't bad people. They all did volunteer work, voted Democrat and believed in the goodness of humanity. I voted Democrat, needed Habitat for Humanity to come to my house and knew from personal experience the shittiness of humanity because I was shitty myself.
We entered the bar. It was full of people wearing nice clothes and drinking peacefully. It was the kind of bar where no one ever got into a fight. I walked through the bar looking for Desmond but he wasn't there. Petra came over with a Captain and Coke and handed it to me. I gulped and felt a little better.
We all sat in the back. There were people everywhere. Horrible techno music was playing. It was awful. Jason sat next to me. Petra walked around talking to everyone, being friendly. She was a good woman. She didn't bother her man or nag or bitch at him to pay attention to her. I could walk around freely and talk to people. And she could walk around freely and talk to people. I didn't care if she flirted with men and she didn't care if I flirted with women. I was happy about that. I once had a girlfriend who got mad and thought I was cheating on her if I went to a diner, read a little and ate some eggs without her. I would come home and she would bitch for hours that I was fucking all the servers and customers at the diner. Petra was nice though: she respected that I was there to network and have fun. I respected she liked to have fun.
Randal Simms was wearing a white suit and had long emo hair. He looked like a 13 year old boy. He was a very pretty man. In a dress and wig and some estrogen pills he could have pulled off being female. He was very excited to be the host of the party. He ran around talking to everyone making sure everyone knew who he was and that he was the host. Everyone was very impressed. Randal Simms seemed really happy that everyone was impressed. While sitting there a cute woman in her late 20s told me she worked for a magazine. I told her I had several books published. She was impressed. I was impressed with her working for a magazine. Everyone was happy to be impressed.
Jason Bassini was sitting next to me, we spoke to each other yelling because the music was so fucking loud. Jason said, “Everything is hierarchy here. Everyone instantly announces their job, which implies their status and how much money they make. No one does that in Seattle. Everyone just sits around and asks if you want to get stoned.”
“This is New York City, this is where you come if you want to achieve status. People go to Seattle to become like musicians or something.”
“I don't know why people live in Seattle.”
“People in Youngstown sit around all day bitching about their problems.”
“People don't do that in Seattle. People are always like, 'Life is awesome, lets go do something. Lets get a haircut.'”
“People are very concerned with their hair in Seattle?”
Jason said, “Yeah, people love their hair. Everyone is very concerned with how their hair looks. Everyone spends hours deliberating with their friends about what style of haircut and hair color they should have. It is like a command room in a World War 2 movie. Everyone is sitting around staring at maps, discussing strategy, what the enemy is doing and then after long conference with friends they decide on a haircut.”
“In Youngstown nobody cares about their hair except for black women. Black women enjoy wearing a variety of strange weaves. Men still spike their hair and get it tinted with blond highlights.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, very serious.”
While I was sitting there a giant Scottish man sat next to me. He tapped me on my shoulder and said, “I'm Liam.”
I looked at him confused and said, “I'm Benny Baradat.”
Liam was a large Scottish man about 6-5 and 220 pounds. His skin was pale and reddish. His hair was short and combed with precision. He had grown up in Scotland and gone to college there. His parents sent him to America for his masters degree in computer science.
Liam said, “I'm Lyndy and Petra's friend.”
“Oh, they told me about you.”
“Oh, what did they say?”
Lyndy talked about how awesome he was and Petra said he was dumb, so I said, “Oh, they said there was a Scottish guy they hung out with.”
“Yeah, that's me. Are you fucking Petra?”
“Am I what?”
I did not want to talk to the giant Scottish man. I went to New York City to get my picture taken and be interviewed, not to talk to giant red blotchy Scottish men, I said, “What do you do?”
“I work for Citibank. I'm the president of their IT department.” He said it with an extreme sense of pride. Like he had done the right thing in life. He had made the right choices and lived up to his obligations. He said it not knowing that middle-America had lost total respect for anything or anyone involved in the banking industry. The only people who still had respect for such people were silly girls with lawyer dads who got turned on by foreign accents like Lyndy Wood.
“I work at a steak house.”
The Scottish man looked at me like I was a fucking dumbass and said, “Lyndy said you got your picture taken for a pretty big magazine.”
“Yes, they took my picture.”
He moved in close and smiled like we were buddies, like two guys hanging out watching soccer and said, “So tell me the truth, did you fuck Petra?”
“I slept next to her in bed and she held me while I cried and talked about my mother.”
The Scottish man said, “Oh, that's strange.”
“That's how I roll,” I said.
The Scottish man got up and went somewhere else that was not near me.
I looked at Jason and said, “Why the fuck would a European come here? They have national health care and free college and all kinds of good shit.”
“I think they come here for our money.”
“Our money was loaned, it's leveraged. It isn't real money.”
“Nobody cares if the money is real or not. I don't care.”
“Neither do I, as long as I'm holding a bunch of twenties and a couple of fifties. I don't care if there is any truth to it. I just wanna spend it.”
I said, “I had a credit card when I was 20, it was for 7,000 dollars. I don't know why they gave it to me. I think because my parents made a good amount. I spent 5,000 of it in three months. I didn't care. It just felt so good to be buying things. It feels so good to just get things you want.”
“Hu is giving me 1,500 for my poetry book.”
“That sounds good, what you gonna buy?”
“A new snow board.”
“I've never snowboarded. There's nowhere to snowboard for several hundred miles of where I live.”
I got up and looked for Desmond again. Still there was no Desmond. Petra walked up to me and said, “Are you having a good time?” I looked at her and thought she was pretty, after I was done thinking about how pretty she was standing there, I said, “The music is really loud and nothing is happening.”
She said, “Both of those statements are true.”
“There's some giant Scottish man here that keeps asking me if I've fucked you.”
“That Scottish bastard.”
“I told him we didn't.”
“It's none of his business. He's supposed to be fucking Lyndy Wood.”
“I don't know. We should go soon. Desmond isn't here. Hu and John and Jason aren't talking. They are all sitting there staring.”
“I'll finish my drink and we'll go.”
We came out of the club and Hu introduced me to someone he called Brad. He was a medium sized Asian man. He looked strong and jolly. I didn't understand the jolly. He wore glasses and looked like a good guy. I shook his hand and said, “Hello Brad.”
He said, “My name isn't Brad.”
“Hu says your name is Brad.”
“No, it's Andrew.”
“No, you're fucking with me. Your name is Brad.”
“No, seriously it's not. My name is Andrew.”
I looked at Hu and said, “You lied to me. His name is Andrew.”
Andrew or Brad said, “Yeah, that's my name.”
“I'm very sorry, can you ever forgive me,” I said laughing. I was drunk and not taking anything serious.
Andrew seemed really happy. I was stunned by his smiling. He seemed to be smiling and looked fresh-faced and American. I looked at Hu Chin and thought he looks Asian, all miserable sad and hard working. Andrew looked happy and hard working like a protestant. I wondered if Andrew was a protestant. So I said out loud because I was drunk and didn't care about anything, “Are you a protestant Andrew?”
Andrew looked at me like I was nuts. I assume he was contemplating how huge of a racist I was or something.
He said, “Yeah so. Asians can't be protestants?”
“I don't know. I guess so.”
“I don't go to church or anything, why would you ask that?”
“I don't know, I'm drunk.”
He looked at me like I was a huge asshole.
Andrew said to me, “Asians aren't supposed to smile?”
“Asians are usually miserable people, getting up everyday, sticking to their morals and the work.”
Hu Chin couldn't stop laughing. He sat on the stoop laughing hysterically.
Andrew told Hu about a restaurant we should go to. Andrew really liked restaurants and literature. Hu told me that one day Andrew would be the next James Wood. He was not the kind of man that sat around depressed or drinking himself into a stupor. He was the kind of person that while reading he would fill a notebook with notes on the text, research things he found in the text, read biographies and had a passion for finding out what the author meant. Andrew had a brain for literary criticism, he was a good dude, and we all had to find our place in the great republic of literature.
John, Jason, Petra and Lyndy Wood joined us outside. John Walters said he had to go. John said in a drunken tired voice, “My girlfriend wants to rub my balls. She likes my balls.”
I gave John a hug and he walked down the street in another direction.
Everyone was pretty drunk. We walked around with the snow falling and no one caring about anything. We were looking for an Asian restaurant to eat our final meal together, Jason was leaving on a plane and I was leaving on a bus the next day.
We found an Asian restaurant that was still open. We entered it. They looked pissed because they all wanted to leave and go somewhere else besides work. We fucked up their lives. They sat us down on the second floor. We were loud and acting drunk. I kept screaming at Lyndy Wood, “Look up irony on your phone?”
Lyndy Wood would yell back, “I just did.”
Jason would yell, “Do it again!”
I yelled at Petra, “I'm not eating any sea weed, you eat the sea weed.”
She yelled at Hu Chin, “Umami.”
“What the fuck is that?” Hu Chin said.
“It's a new taste,” Petra said.
Lyndy Wood yelled at me, “Irony is a discordance between what is said and what is meant.”
“What the fuck is a discordance, a discrepancy?”
“There's dramatic irony, which means that the characters don't get it, but the audience understands it.”
Jason yelled, “The audience understands nothing.”
Hu Chin yelled at Petra, “I don't believe there is any taste called umami, you're making shit up.”
“I'm not making up, I'm serious.”
“No, I don't believe you. There's no truth.”
Jason yelled, “Did you know in some countries if you let your dick hair grow it is considered ironic?”
Lyndy Wood replied, “That is so interesting.”
Hu Chin yelled, “There's bitter, sweet, salty and sour. That's it, that's the truth, those are the tastes.”
“No, there's umami. It's a fact. Look it up, Lyndy Wood.”
“A woman's pussy juice is salty I believe.”
Jason yelled, “Yes, very much, salty pussy.”
“Some pussies are bitter with irony,” I said.
“Oh yes, the ironic vagina,” Jason said.
“Umami is found in aged foods with glutamate or something. It says it is found a lot in Chinese and Japanese cuisine,” Lyndy Wood said.
“See, Hu. I was right.”
Jason said to me, “But what does a taint smell like?”
“Usually not very good. But I think that is why it is so hot to smell one.”
Lyndy Wood yelled, “What is a taint?”
Hu Chin said, “The space between the asshole and dick or vagina.”
I said, “Why does that space deserve a name?”
Jason said, “There's nothing there but space.”
Petra yelled, “No, that's not the taint.”
Hu, “Then what's the taint?”
I said to Jason, “Is there a 'the taint' or should we say 'a taint?'”
Jason said, “The taint. The taint is very important and we should never forget that all taints require a 'the.'”
“True,” I said.
Hu Chin yelled at Petra, “The taint is the space between the balls and asshole.”
“Do I have the taint?” Petra said.
“Yes, as long as you have a space between your vagina and asshole, you have the taint.”
Lyndy Wood while looking at her cell phone said, “Yes, Hu Chin is correct. We all have the taint.”
Jason, “Thank god Benny, we have the taint.”
“What if an army of the taints took over Seattle?”
“I would give up peacefully and believe in their God.”
Petra said, “I still don't understand what the taint is. It isn't anything but space. Why does it need a name?”
Lyndy Wood said, “The Scottish guy just sent me a text message saying he might want to fuck me later this week.”
Hu Chin said, “Umami is stupid.”
Jason said, “Is it Scots or Irish who wear kilts?”
I said, “It doesn't matter, seriously.”
Jason said, “You mean like the fact at all.”
“No, that fact doesn't matter.”
Petra yelled, “Hu, you don't know anything about taste.”
Hu replied, “Is that a question?”
“No, it's a declarative sentence.”
“I have two small dogs, one day I will order them to eat you, Petra,” Hu said.
“I bet you fucking will, Hu Chin,” said Petra
“No doubt, Petra,” Hu yelled.
“The Scottish wrote me another text message. It is really sweet,” Lyndy Wood said.
“Irony is when your ass tells your face that there is love in the universe,” I said.
Jason yelled at me, “What if my dick had discordance with my balls?”
“Is that a thought experiment?” I said.
“Yes, very deep and incomprehensible,” Jason said.
“Nothing matters except irony. I have trained myself in the mixed martial arts of irony. I am now I'm an irony sensei. I conquer towns and cities with irony,” Hu Chin said in an ancient voice.
“You're not Japanese, Hu,” said Petra.
“Someday my dogs will kill you, Petra.”
“I am stronger than your dogs.”
“My dogs are a mighty force,” Hu Chin said in a serious tone of voice.
“This is really interminable,” Jason said to me.
“No, this is the apex of human experience,” I said.
“I don't believe you,” said Jason.
“No, this is like the meaning of life. The meaning of all things, logos, the principle that guides the universe,” I said.
“This can't mean anything,” said Jason.
Lyndy Wood yelled, “The Scottish guy wants to see me tomorrow night for drinks.”
Petra said, “Didn't you already see each other for drinks tonight?”
“Everybody is getting drinks,” I said.
“If everybody is getting drinks, then nobody is getting drinks,” said Jason.
“Bean curd is fucking awesome,” said Hu Chin.
“Hmm, you're right. I might start eating this more often,” I said.
“I'm fucking Asian and I can't pick this tofu up with chopsticks,” said Petra.
“They should send you back to Tennessee for such dishonorable behavior,” I said.
“Why don't you go somewhere and feel guilty, you Christian bastard.”
“The Catholic God is the only God for me,” said Jason.
Hu Chin said in a serious tone of voice, “I don't understand, who is God, God or Jesus?”
Jason said, “They are both God.”
“In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” I said.
Petra said, “You know that doesn't help anything at all. That sounded like a lot of fucking gibberish.”
Jason said, “You're all going to hell.”
“The God of The Taint,” Hu Chin said.
“The Scottish guy text messaged me again,” Lyndy Wood said smiling.