Mason M - 9:15 a.m. May 4th, 2012
Cal Fourd: Dude, it smelled like a bar toilet when you walked past my desk.
Me: I walked past your desk?
Calling Mason a mess would be an insult to messes.
The normally upbeat creative director – once described as “a seemingly sincere hipster” in a Village Voice article about marketing to the iGeneration – looked like he’d gone ten rounds with a MMA fighter, and then hit an afterparty hosted by the fighter’s moonshine-making brother.
Tequila fumes radiated from his pores through skinny cords and a hoodie screen-printed with fuzzy orange dice mid-roll. He briefly considered dipping his finger into his Anthora cup and using the weak Greek coffee as cologne; considered vomiting a wire trash can filled with the remnants of a Post-It flip-book; considered the previous night’s date… or whatever it was.
Crazy &^%$ing rich-ass, beautiful, funny, smart Emma.
The memories/questions/false synapse fires ran a stream-of-consciousness parade through his throbbing head: How did that happen? When did she leave? Why do I have a half-eaten knish in my bag? Should I call her? Did we ever watch “Fraggle Rock?” What time is it? Should I send her flowers? Why do I have a bump on my head? What was the name of that flower site Sully told me about at EDC?
After landing on separate Web pages devoted to Debussy, Pete Rose and “The Golden Girls,” Mason found the Ode a la Rose site with the aid of a Google “Did you mean…” He scanned through the colors to find one with the right meaning.
But what was the right meaning?
Red: Love… “Let’s not go overboard”
Pink: Admiration and Respect… “Nope”
Mixed: A mixed Message… “Bingo.”
Mixed it was.
He filled out the note (“"From your best friend?") and was finalizing his order for a bundle of multi-hued Gerbera daisies when Cal walked over with ketchup on his Jets tie and sat on Mason’s desk.
“What the hell did you do last night, Ma$e? You look like a fat bag of farts.”
Mason dipped low in the oversized chair he’d stolen from the HR lady’s desk and closed his eyes.
“You remember Emma?”
“Yeah, indie-finance chick who bangs ninjas…”
“Um, sure… So, we were supposed to me for drinks at Le Baron last night…”
MA$ON1980…. 7:15 p.m. May 3rd, 2012
Emma was already 45 minutes when she called to tell Mason she’d “definitely be there in 45 minutes.” He leaned against the doorway of one of the block’s five Chinese funeral homes (“why so many?”) and cursed himself for not expecting her tardiness, for expecting her to change. In the five years the pair shared an Alphabet City walk-up, she was late to pretty much everything (with the exception of the bi-weekly Taiko drumming classes she called, “her soul’s Japanese savior” for reasons Mason didn’t get until he saw a ripped Japanese dude in a sash leave Emma’s room with a boner.)
Why should this be any different, Mason thought.
But he knew the answer: It should be different because he foolishly convinced himself it should be, would be. The same way he’d convinced himself it would be a good idea to a) move in with a friend’s ex, b) fall head over heals for a girl who called him her “best friend with a dick,” and c) invite her to a time-sensitive event at the most popular new nightspot in NY…
For all his charm and talents, Mason was an idiot when it came to separating reality from what he wanted reality to be.
He checked his watch. Little Dragons weren’t going on for a few hours, but the place would be near capacity judging from the line of increasingly-absurd-looking twenty-somethings that stretched far down Mulberry. He waited momentarily in the sea of tight denim, black-rimmed glasses, tattered T’s, and sheer fashion scarves before getting annoyed at the brood the Village Voice had differentiated him from, and stormed off to Joe’s Shanghai for soup dumplings (which he spilled on his cords) and several Tsiangtao (which he drank too fast).
That’s where Emma finally found him… an hour later. Buzzed/miffed/rumpled and, as he saw her walk through the double doors – cured.
The hug lasted longer than hugs in crowded Chinese restaurants should, and Mason finally pulled away after 30 seconds, when he realized that his ass was in the face of an elderly woman trying to feed her granddaughter a pork bun.
“What’s this?” he asked, pointing at the SLR hanging from Emma’s neck.
“I started learning some photography.”
“Of course you did.” He laughed.
“I was gonna shoot Little Dragon, but Baron looks like a shitshow.”
Mason laughed. It didn’t an hour ago, he thought.
“Yeah, F that place,” he said instead, “let’s go somewhere else,” and walked into the gold dusk with his arm around Emma’s waist, a finger locked in her belt loop.
Best views from any Urinal in NY… Hands down #The Bain.
11:56 p.m. May 3rd, 2012
Mason’s mood loosened as he and Emma drank their way from Chinatown to Soho with the help of Deal Closers at Apothéke and a drink that the Baby Grand bartender called “the ripe colostomy bag,” which tasted like rainwater, but did help Mason through the karaoke rendition of “Rich Girl” he dedicated to his former roommate.
Later, Emma nustled below Mason’s arm on the cab ride to the Standard and talked work (Emma had just been promoted to private equity manager for Deutsche), travel (Emma had just gotten back from a hiking excursion in Iceland) and kitchen appliances (Mason had just purchased a juicer). As traffic finally broke away from an accident on Canal, the topic turned to Mason’s love life, something Emma asked about weekly since she’d got her own place a few months earlier.
“You know I don’t have a ‘love life,’ asshole” he said playfully.
“I don’t know that. Maybe you met someone… And someone can’t be an asshole. It’s just negative space. They can be a rectum –”
Harvard girls, Mason thought after a scat of laughter… You can’t even insult them without getting asshole facts thrown back in your face.
Mason slurred “something with gin, pleaaase,” at the bartender at Le Bain and, with her still in earshot, asked Emma if she thought the woman looked like one of the “androgynous guitar-playing chicks from the “Addicted to Love” video. When the two neat glasses of Leopold’s arrived (along with a scowl and $44 bill), the pair slinked off toward the opposite sides of a U-shaped corner booth.
“So, got any Japanese drum gods passing by your new bedroom?”
“You date one Japanese drummer and you get a reputation.”
“Come on – dude wore a sash.”
“It called a haramiki, and it’s part of the traditional outfit.”
“Yeah, when you’re drumming… not when you’re banging an heiresses.”
Emma rolled her eyes and took a big pull from the glass of gin.
“I’m not a fucking heiress, Mason!”
“Technically, you are, babe.”
“Well, you’re technically a rectum!”
Mason laughed, turned to watch a heavy-set man who kinda looked like Michael Kors struggle out of the large hot tub that centered the room. When he looked back at Emma, she had scootched nearer to him and was mouthing at the lemon twist on the side of her glass.
He leaned forward and looked out the window. Midtown moved past his eyes in a fuzzy blur.
“I hate that guy.”
“That fat guy who looks like Michael Kors?”
“No, drum-guy… Jason.”
“Janson! And, yeah, you made that pretty obvious…”
“By calling him “Jason…” By making fun of his ‘sash,’ to his face… by parodying him in your novel.”
Mason slammed his hand down on the glass table, yelped “Artistic License!” and repeated it louder every time Emma tried to talk.
“No, I mean – that’s just what that damn thing is…,” he slurred. “But is that what you have to be in this stupid city to get a decent girl? You have to be some pseudo-spiritual asshat?”
Emma knew his tone well, knew she was in for a rant, and held up a finger that communicated “we’re gonna need more drinks for this.”
He was mid-sentence and rambling at the skyline when she came back with more gin.
“… it doesn’t matter if you’re creative unless you can sell that down someone’s lumpy throat. So, yeah – fake it. Put on your sash and write your damn YA werewolf novel and then maybe you get the agent, the publisher, the girl, the cannolis”
“Mason.” She was right beside him now, her small hand on his shoulder. “I love you. You’re my best friend.” She paused and stared up into his eyes. “You seriously one of my favorite writers, one of my favorite people in the world.” Another pause. She clenched the hair on the back of his head in her hands and leaned in. “But seriously, Mase… What the fuck are you talking about?”
He laughed and slapped himself playfully in the face…
“Sorry, Em… I just really want–” his iPhone jangled to life. He answered it with a quick, spitty apology.
“Hey… Um, no, I canceled that, but I still use my sister’s log-in to watch “Workaholics,” why?... Oh shit… You’re kidding… That’s fucking awesome… For sure. I’m gonna do that right now.”
“What was that about?” Emma asked when he hung up.
“Close out your card. We’re getting beer and going back to my place.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“Fucking ‘Fraggle Rock’ is streaming on NetFlix!”
They were in the street trying to hail a cab back East when the bus pulled to a stop.
EMMALATER: On a Mexican Party bus w/ a load of EuroTrash #DudeStoked
3:15 a.m. May 4th, 2012
“I’d like to make an appeal to all of you tall and fancy people, especially you,” Mason drunkenly flicked a big shirtless Slavic-looking guy in the left nipple, “that you don’t give me and this lovely lady here,” he flicked Emma in the right ear, “any more sippy-sips of your tequila drinks, because we are drunk people and we have to watch work now and go to Fraggle Rock tomorrow.”
He fell into his seat as a raging cheer of “Fraggle Rock, Fraggle Rock,” erupted from the bus.
“You’re a ridiculous person, Mason Midler.”
“You’re an amazing person too, Emma Wallyworld, heiress to the Comstock load!!”
She opened her mouth to say, “that’s not my… I’m not the...”
He leaned in to kiss her open mouth.
The bus driver swerved to avoid an NYU student who appeared to be pooping in the middle of 14th
street, and sent Mason’s head slamming against the emergency window at the exact moment his lips met Emma’s.
When he opened his eyes, he was on the sidewalk in front of Emma’s apartment building and the bus was pulling away with diesel chugs and loud howls of “Fraggle Rock.”
“Gentlefriends!” he yelled back at the back of the colorful bus. “Never forget – we’re all going to Vegas for Plav’s birthaversary!”
Emma’s locked her hand tightly in his and urged him toward the building’s front door. Mason’s lips we on hers as soon as she opened it. His shirt was unbuttoned before the elevator doors closed. Her bra was unhooked and hanging loosely from her arms by the time they opened again.
She rummaged for something in her closet as Mason fell onto her giant white sleigh bed.
“Where is it?”
“Condoms?” he asked.
“No, this.” Emma jumped on Mason and wrapped a haramaki around his waist. “Perfect,” she said pulling back the duvet and sliding next to him.
“You’re a rectum.”
“You too, best friend.”
They made love at last, short and sloppy but sweet, and spooned lightly, oblivious to the sirens in the predawn streets below, the gravely shouts of an NYPD officer and the explanations of a pre-law student who swore he was only scratching his ass on the pavement, not pooping.
“I swear, not pooping!”