The Drunken Mouse and I enjoy several bars in my neighborhood, but our favorite is Botanica. It’s got all the stuff a good bar needs: lots of places to sit, cheap beer on tap, surly but charmable waitstaff and a decor that could have been lifted from my Gramma’s rec room, circa 1983. (Think paneling.)
But the best thing about Botanica? The freaks.
Since I’ve adopted it as my home away from work, Botanica has thrown me into the path of many a weirdo. I’ve met a girl who looked so much like a boy that I talked to her for half an hour before I realized that she wasn’t a he. (Good thing she wasn’t my type.) I’ve met a homeless dude who claimed to have just spent two days in Rikers for picking up bent Metro cards on the platform of the F-train. (A lie, as it turns out, since people don’t go to Rikers until after they’re arraigned.)
But my favorite weirdo of all time is Roland.
The Mouse and I were sitting in the back room, where the couches are, when this dude came over to us and asked if he could sit down. He was about 40 years old, black, plainly dressed, and a little freaked out looking. Why soon became apparent, when he plopped down next to me and promptly poured a neat little pile of powder on my knuckle.
“Go ahead!” he said, gesturing in a friendly fashion. “I have plenty!” And proceeded to pull bag after bag of cocaine out of his pocket.
“Oh, my goodness!” I said. “I couldn’t!” I swear to God: Just as if he’d offered me cake after the church cookout. I am so, so hip.
“OK, then,” he said, and proceeded to snort the powder off my knuckle.
In the next hour — during which the Mouse and I were too mesmerized by his lunacy to ask him to leave or get up and move, ourselves — he told us that he was an actor, that his birthday was coming up, that he thought I was really cute, that he didn’t think he looked 40, that he’d like to sit closer to me, that he thought we were really nice people, that, no seriously, I was really cute, that he liked the Mouse’s hat, that he didn’t use that much cocaine, that he’d be happy to give us some if we’d like some, that he wasn’t certain if we were sure we didn’t want any, that I was really cute, that the Mouse was a cool guy, that he’d like to give us some cocaine, and so on.
It was seriously like watching someone live about 25 years of life in time lapse photography. I kept waiting for his hair to recede into wisps and his cheeks to shrink up. Soon, we would be sitting next to a mummified corpse and he’d still be offering us drugs.
After while, he changed tacks: He was sure that we didn’t like him. We didn’t like him right? We could just tell him. Should he leave? He was leaving. He was leaving because we didn’t like him. (He got up. Sat down again.) He was staying. He was going to stay. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Finally, the Mouse looked at his watch, saw that it was about 3 a.m. and recommended that we give a move on. Roland bid us adieu sadly, and we parted company. I’m sure he moved to the next couch and started all over again.