I’m the first one to arrive in someone else’s party, or so I think. I later learn that A has been there for as long as I have, but we were both so engrossed in ourselves and our solipsistic activities that we don’t see each other until her boyfriend arrives–apparently it takes a dick to get noticed in this goddamn town. Still, not having to dive right into communication with another human being is helpful to the process of ingratiating oneself into a public space, and it gives me the chance to familiarize myself with Sinkane’s “Telephone” (fuck the Lady G title), the first song I notice as I order a pinot noir, which I guess is meant to suit the “traditional Mexican dishes,” which seem more neo-Spanish/California fusion than authentic, or well portioned. It’s Mexican food for the North Brooklyn set, which is to say it is petite and merely adequate. But Mesa Coyoacán isn’t first and foremost about food, so much as ambience–about imbuing its clientele with the distinct sense that it’s “scene.”
But what the restaurant really does to throw a curveball is play another song by Sinkane–DFA Records darling–right after called “Passenger.” It really is quite rare for a playlist to feature the same artist more than once, especially back to back, and I start to assume that maybe this is one of the many “no rules”/”we’re too hip to care about musical mores” aspects of Mesa Coyoacán. Or maybe one of the waiters is an intern at DFA Records and just wants to help promote the new album from Sinkane, Life and Livin’ It. Sinkane’s sound, evidently and according to the internet, is “krautrock, prog rock, electronica, free jazz and funk rock with Sudanese pop.” This is just the sort of “fusion” description that suits Mesa Coyoacán’s “vibe.” Not to mention the group of people that happens to be meeting here tonight in honor of N’s 24th birthday. Every year she ages, I expect her to be older, but she never is.
The bartender regards me as though I should have finished my wine by now, but I’ve deliberately been saving it due to high “by the glass” (not by the beach) price points. In fact, I’m already having anxiety over the thought of calculating a bill in a large group of people, as someone always gets fucked over, usually me. As the Life and Livin’ It album continues to play, the island-y vibes of “Theme From Life and Livin’ It” comes on. “Live this life the way you want to lead,” urges Sinkane, and yes, it feels like everyone in New York is doing just that in terms of selfishness. When A and I finally say hello, N and her own boyfriend arrive to the tune of “Won’t Follow,” making me quite visibly the fifth wheel until S–also sans fixed piece–arrives. I find that the older you get in New York, the harder it is to be single in public. Yeah, granted, it’s actually the only city one can be “alone” in and not feel lonely, but there’s still a stigma to not being attached that goes hand in hand with how people in New York gauge success, or rather, failure.
We all sit down at the communal table with barstools in spite of N’s fears that they would not give us the reservation without our entire party present. S, the sixth member of our sextet to partake of N’s birthday celebration, shows up mere minutes later, and I feel slightly less like Bridget Jones. By now, the concluding track to Life and Livin’ It, “The Way,” is playing and I’ve already expressed my fears about splitting the tab to N, who assures me it will be fine. With her comfort, I suddenly feel galvanized to order another pinot noir. Fuck it, maybe the division will all come out in the wash.
H, N’s boyfriend and the freshest meat in the group, seems to be holding his own in spite of the fact that everyone at the table is metaphorically cracked out and probably has been for decades. I order some designer tacos, now losing total focus on the playlist. Being hyper-aware is definitely one of those full-time, thankless, unpaid jobs.
After the third pinot noir and a sampling of H’s tequila flight, I’m on a new plane where being single doesn’t matter. I don’t even think about how, when my birthday rolls around two months from now, I will not have “that special someone” to celebrate it with. I even start to get into the spirit of being happy for N when her flan-like cake is presented to her and she thinks quite carefully about the wish she wants to make before blowing out the candle. I go to the bathroom to pee, but my real motivation is taking pictures of myself and avoiding being asked to do any math when the check comes.
When I return, N looks at me in a way that indicates I’ve been gone for rather a long time. S tells me I owe $45, not as bad as I thought really. Nothing’s as bad as I think after three pinot noirs. But, a few weeks from now, it might require four for me to feel that way.
Semi Complete Playlist
Sinkane-“Theme From Life and Livin’ It”