Table for One: Epiphany in a Pickup Truck
Before moving to the city, I spent one miserable year going to school on Long Island, where the nightlife consisted of three exhaustible local bars, all 18+: Dizzy’s, Dublin’s and Nacho Mama’s. Staving off the onset of boredom wasn’t easy, so I turned to my more resourceful roommate: a local girl who introduced me to a truly brilliant recreation. Some call it thievery; we called it Gnome Hunting. The way I see it, Gnome Hunters perform a much-needed community service, ridding neighborhoods of those ugly little lawn ornaments under the cover of night. And while few things are more satisfying than adding another gnome to our collection, the real reward lay in the sense of self-assurance that comes with being able to make your own fun.
In fact, looking back on it, I realize how lazy I’ve become since moving to the city. Here, exciting things are happening everywhere, whether you’re looking for them or not. A Captain America impersonator is losing at pool in your local bar, Tyra Banks is threatening the cashier at Whole Foods. You don’t need to seek out adventure the way you do in a small town and, as a result, I’ve fallen into a slump.
Just the other night, my friend and I wasted an entire evening at a bar waiting for something to happen. The next thing we know, the bartender’s yelling “last call,” and we realize we’ve got 15 minutes to make a move or the night will go down as a bust— but it’s too late. They turn on the lights and everyone starts filing out.
We join the crowd of stragglers outside the bar where a guy in a paisley shirt starts talking to us. He says he’s driving home, that he’s got a truck parked just over there. “Want a ride back to Manhattan?” he asks.
And that’s how I found myself a stowaway in the bed of a stranger’s pickup truck as it pulled away from Union Pool in Brooklyn. I was alone back there, lying down, face up, my back against the ribbed metal; my roommate was riding shotgun.
Was that a red light we just sped through?
Rowdy laughter erupted from the front. I imagined us careening off the side of the Williamsburg Bridge, plummeting into the East River below.
Time of Death: 4:30 A.M.
Report: Victim found in East River with friend and man in paisley shirt.
Cause of Death: Lack of foresight, general stupidity, minor recklessness.
Mom would not approve.
Still, it felt good. Good to be doing something, to be making a decision, even if it was foolish. The crisscross of suspension wires flew by overhead as we crossed the bridge.
He parked the truck right outside my doorstep.
“Still alive back there?” shouted my friend.
“Yep!” I called back.
I’d forgotten how nice it is to be driven home, I thought.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of wholesome activities that can lend themselves brilliantly to the pursuit of fun-making— they don’t all have to be of the stoner comedy variety, and they certainly don’t have to put your safety or the aesthetics of your neighbor’s lawn at risk. I guess what I’m trying to say here is don’t be an idiot, or do, but live actively.
And please don’t tell my mom that I got into a truck with a stranger I met at a bar. Seriously. Don’t.