Becoming a New Yorker
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and the biggest city I had even been to was Chicago, for an audition to Juilliard and only lasted four hours. I always knew I was destined for greater things, bigger things than Sauk Rapids, MN, which is why I wasn't surprised to be going to New York City for school. I was a good kid, I always did my chores, when I was asked for the millionth time. I always did my homework, two days before the end of the semester. I was always consistent at school, holding the record for the most amount of days missed and yet still graduated on time. And I was always in by curfew because I didn't have one, a cruel joke my mother played on me knowing that all of my friends had to be home by 11 p.m. My parent's didn't worry too much about me because I wasn't my brother, Morgan. Morgan was a consummate trouble maker disguised as an accomplished athlete and fairly decent student. Drugs, alcohol and judging by the used condoms my mother found in the glove compartment on the way to his hockey game, a sexually active young man. The arguments alone between my mother, a Minnesotan Catholic woman and my brother were enough to drive me away from the life that Morgan lead, plus I was heinously harassed in school leaving the drunken stoopers and drug orgies held out by an abondoned water tower in a small nearby farming community to be less desired.
New York City was a gateway towards sexual and narcotic exploration. A devious place where an underage gay boy could get into any bar for a mere passing grope by the door person. My first night out to a bar with my fellow thespian classmates who all seemed so more verse in the language of booze, drugs and fertility was one I could never forget even though I don't remember half the night. The Thirsty Scholar, a bar by New York University was one that didn't have a bouncer before 11 p.m. and the bartenders never checked I.D.'s. My first time being asked what I wanted to drink by a bartender, I paniced with a flurry of choices. I had only ever had the occasional wine cooler at a family gathering, something my parents believed we should partake in after the age of 16 to learn how to drink socially and responsibly. Realizing I'm lost within my own thoughts and the bartender asking me again what I wanted, I blurt out, "Fuzzy Navel!" To which he looks at me and says, "I don't know how to make that but how about a slippery nipple?" "Come again?" I say with confusion. I mean a pick up line in Sauk Rapids is something along the lines of corn on the cob, New Yorkers sure are aggressive. "It's a drink, I'm bartending, not hooking up, that's not until after my shift." he says with the amount of charisma one could expect from Tom Cruise before the crazy Oprah couch jumping or John Travolta before the sex change. He flips a bottle up and then another into a shaker, flexes his muscles with a smile while shaking the shaker, resembling the commercial of the shakeweight. I can't tell at this point if he's making a drink or doing something entirely innapropriate. He turns the shaker to it's side and out comes the mixture into a tiny, itsy, teeny weeny glass. I realize I'm taking a shot. "OH LOOK, Ben's getting a shot!" Fran, a 5 foot asain girl from california who sounds like a 6 foot caucasion surfer shouts out to the bar. Everyone cheers in jest and I take the slippery nipple and slam it. I only know to do this because of the conversations my brother would have about his fraternity life. A sour face instantly washes over me, my eyes squint, the corners of my mouth pull back tight and my chin turns into four. Resembling a catfish, Fran soon realizes that I've never drank before. "A round of lemon drops please." says Fran as if she has been drinking for 30 years. "Here you're going to like this, lick the rim, take the drink in one swallow and immediately suck on this lemon." Not wanting to be the uncool kid who says no, I agree and follow her instructions. Taking a lemon shot is like putting your mouth through three levels of trauma. The first level is the unnerving sweetness of the sugar rim glass. Your mouth salivates as your tastebuds are bombarded with sugaryness you haven't experienced since that time you sucked on three giant pixie sticks and went into a sugar coma. Don't worry though because the Vodka you're about to drink (and cheap Vodka that most likely isn't vodka at all) is about to slap your taste buds silly. Part of you wants to cough, the other part vomit. This is the part of the shot you have to convince yourself that the Vodka is just water and you should swallow it, even though you really don't want too. Once you've managed to take back the dirty and most likely not Vodka, Vodka, your mind tells you that the lemon will make it better. The lemon doesn't make it better, so as your face starts to pucker from the tart of the lemon, you think to grab another wedge, and then another, and then another, until your hand is the garnishes grabbing anything it can to remedy the situation. "That was fun." Fran says as she laughs at my novice approach to fixing the unnerving taste in my mouth. Her laughter triggers everyone else to realize, that something isn't as it appears with me and the way I'm reacting to a simple lemon drop (simple now that I'm older and wiser) can only be the result of my lack of experience in drinking. This promps everyone to buy me their favorite drink or shot. So two Sex on The Beaches, A Midori Sour, A Cherry Bomb, Three Red headed sluts and A Cosmipolitan later, I find myself at the bar taking to a straight boy who has proclaimed that I'm his first gay friend. Upon this proclimation, he offers me a Long Island Iced Tea. I'm not one for Iced Teas but anything other than alochol would be fantastic at this point. I start to drink the Iced Tea from Long Island and it doesn't taste like any Iced Tea I've ever had before but from the little time I have been in NYC I know that people from Long Island are a bit peculiar so I just drink the drink as fast I can. I start to feel uneasy and Fran takes me outside to get some fresh air, which feels fantastic. I tell her I want to sit down, for whatever reason I find myself kneeling and not sitting, never the less I feel instantly at ease. The cool crisp air is refreshing on my lungs and I take in a deep breath, I look down one way of the street then the other. I look at Fran, "Hey, I think this is the position people get in when they need..." and I puke ALL over the sidewalk and into the grate above the subway. An older woman walks by and hands me a dollar, I proclaim with a drunken slur, "I'm not home...less...I'm just...drink!" The woman turns around and quickly hollars, "You're drunk!" I quickly respond, "I'm Minnes...Minne...Minnesnowtan!" Fran laughs and the bouncer who is less than thrilled by the decoration I made from stomach infront of his bar says, "No man, now you're a New Yorker!"