It is a pit-stop on the way home, the night-cap neither of us really need.
“Here,” Lizzie texts. “Diego is really excited.” Sel Rrose has become a staple with a dear friend tending it.
“I’m at 23rd,” I text back. The ride from uptown is long but pleasant and soon enough I saddle up to the bar next to Lizzie and peel off my jacket, hat, gloves. Lizzie already has a cocktail on crushed ice with pink peppercorns floating atop it – the Fountain (gin, lemon, grapefruit, pink peppercorn syrup, hopped grapefruit bitters). The bar is quiet, a Sunday night dragging on. Everyone is spread out, requiring Diego to move lap the long bar and visit each group. His attention is demanded in many places.
He makes his way back to our end. I order the Hunter (mezcal, ginger, honey, lime, grapefruit). Knowing it will be sweeter than I normally prefer, it will be like a spoonful of honey before bed.
While everyone has at least a few barstools between them, two men sit only only away from us. They chatter to each other, salted margaritas in front of them. One of the men inquires about our drinks with a curious enthusiasm, almost a puppy-like energy. Lizzie erroneously assumes both are Australian from their accents; the New Zealander is animatedly taken aback. We quickly realize both men are very excitable, almost jumpy.
“Are you just visiting?”
“Yes. I am here until tomorrow and he is here two days,” the Aussie answers.
“What are you doing with your short visit? Are you staying nearby?”
Lizzie moves next to the Kiwi and leaves me to converse with the Aussie, certainly the more erratic of the pair, making the conversation part-babysitting. He details their Monday plans: the Empire State Building, Momofuko, Central Park. I pick at their choices a little, “Why those things?”
“It’s a quick trip,” the reply is more of an excuse than an explanation.
The two work on yachts, the Aussie as a chef and the Kiwi as a deck hand. A break in schedules brought the two to travel together, plopping them in New York by way of Chicago. Soon the Aussie heads to the restroom and I join in the conversation with the Kiwi who seems much more pleasant of a youthful energy than his travel companion, wide-eyed rather than jittery.
Upon the Aussie’s return he bids goodbye, leaving the Kiwi at the bar.
“He is mad because I am talking to you two,” the Kiwi explains, showing Lizzie some seemingly out-of-nowhere text messages of hostility the Aussie sends post-departure.
We shrug, as the Aussie, too, was conversing with us, making his actions hypocritical. The air is eased before we all part ways, the subtext returns to a friendly encounter.
The wise Dr. Sues sums this experience up best, “Oh, the people you’ll meet!”