The year was 1987 and I was fairly new at being a twenty year old. The drinking age in New York had changed from nineteen to twenty-one in 1985, missing my ability to go into a bar or club with proper and legal identification by a mere two years.
As an adult, I know this was a good thing. Nineteen year olds do not always have the mental capacity to make good decisions. I mean, giving them a legal drink is pretty much like giving a pack of bubble gum to a toddler. Not smart.
As a nineteen year old, it all but ruined my life.
I can’t pinpoint the exact date, but I do know it was warm as I do not recall wearing a coat. Early fall perhaps.
What I do recall is the long, stretch denim pencil skirt that just skimmed my ankles, and the high heeled, pointy-toed red pumps that I wore that evening.
A group of three of us took a train into New York City to meet a friend who lived in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn chick was twenty-one. The rest of us were not. Yet, we were under some presumption that we could get into a hot dance club based just on our teased up Aqua Net hair and poodle socks alone.
I had no fake ID. Although, I did have that little identification card that accompanies a newly purchased wallet.
Yes, it’s true that little card once got my friends and me a Flaming Hurricane at the local Chinese restaurant.
But we weren’t in a little Chinese restaurant in farm country. That little card would be of no use to us on this specific evening.
Why didn’t I have a fake ID? I mean, everyone had one.
Because although I thought I was cool on that fall Saturday evening in Manhattan of 1987, I was terrified of getting into trouble. Which, if you knew me between the years of 1983-1986, sounds like a contradiction of epic sorts.
Also, I didn’t have an older sister to borrow one from.
We stood in every line of every joint, and slum-house (we did not discriminate) from mid- to up-town New York. Inevitably, when it was our turn to have our ID checked, I used the same original excuse, “I left it at home.” But to no avail. Our inability to gain access into Anyplace was my fault.
After hitting the literal pavement for a couple hours, we finally hit pay dirt. The place was called “The China Club” and was the pinnacle of my youth. They didn’t seem to care that we weren’t of legal drinking age, to which we were eternally grateful.
If you look up The China Club, it was THE place to be. Apparently, it was the watering and partying hole for celebrities and professional sports players alike. In all our glorious innocence, we had no idea. We didn’t have the internet back then and we were from a little podunk town ninety miles due north of “The City That Never Sleeps.”
I was lucky I knew how to find my way out of a paper bag, let alone know where David Bowie hung out on a Thursday night.
What we were aware of was that this place had the two things we were after; alcohol and music. Not necessarily in that order.
Some things stick out in my mind about that evening…
a couple cocktails (surprisingly not many at all — I believe because I had not yet discovered wine and the only drink I even knew about, aside from the Flaming Hurricane, was a Screw Driver, which gave me heartburn),
all of us being entertained by a “magician” who could magically pull quarters out of our ears,
…and something else.
I’m pretty sure we closed the place down. It had to have been close to four in the morning. We were tired and hungry, and made our way to the sidewalk, where we waited while Brooklyn Girl hailed us a cab.
Let me start by saying that one of my girlfriends — a friend who is my bestie to this day — is very attractive. She has never had her lack of being hit on. In fact, I’m sure she still gets hit on on more occasions than I care to discuss.
The only thing that hits on me these days is the wind.
We stood there on the sidewalk in a circle, reminiscing about our evening, when my attractive friend’s left shoulder received a swift poke with a finger.
“Hey, wanna come to a party with me?” Came a deep, albeit slightly anhebriated, masculine voice.
Crickets. Radio silence. I mean, she didn’t even turn her head.
He tried again. “Excuse me, would you like to come to a party with me? Your friends can come, too.” More crickets. This time I think I even heard bullfrogs. I mean, we were in the Concrete Jungle after all, right?
At this point recognition lit up my face like the LAX runway at midnight, and I started to perk up. The excitement I felt was overwhelming. I picked my jaw up off the sidewalk with the roller end of my Bonne Bell lip gloss and screamed at my friend, “OH MY GOD! DO YOU KNOW WHO IS TALKING TO YOU RIGHT NOW???!!!”
She continued to ignore me.
I grabbed her face with both my hands and whipped her head in my direction, forcing her to make eye contact with me. “DID YOU HEAR ME? DON’T.YOU.KNOW.WHO.THAT.ISSSSSSSSSS???” I repeated, sounding a bit like Regan from The Exorcist. I’m almost certain my head spun around on my shoulders.
I was concerned she suddenly lost her hearing. Or her sanity. At that moment, I was pretty sure it was the latter.
Her eyes slowly rolled up in my direction (she is a bit shorter than me) with a look that all but told me I was an idiot and needed to shut my mouth. In a very annoyed voice, through gritted teeth she uttered, “I don’t really care who it is.”
At that, he started to walk away.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week…