“The drinks are four dollars now,” said the bartender in the parking lot of the Boatel, a man with a long grey beard and a lazy voice. The girl standing next to me handed over a twenty. This was a problem. There was no change.
He flailed around, hand caught in the tip jar like the raccoon in Where The Red Fern Grows, unwilling to unfist the crumpled, sweaty ones. He squatted for a while behind the bar, popped up with a few dollars – not enough – delved into the jar again. I kept looking over at the girl who’d started all of this with her twenty dollar bill, smiling awkwardly with an unspoken mix of can you believe this guy? and didn’t you have anything smaller, this is ridiculous! and I, too, would just really like a drink, right now.
She looked familiar, cat-eye sunglasses and red lipstick not entirely within the lines, lipstick that I was sure my mouth mimicked, having hastily applied it on a subway platform using my phone camera as a mirror. She looked familiar, but only in that Brooklyn-y way, the way where you might have seen her at one brunch of a thousand brunches, or simply seen one girl of those thousand girls who, when viewed from a short distance, could effortlessly stand in for each other, slipping easily in and out of each other’s apartments, or lives. I looked again, a bit more quizzical this time, a do I know you? sort of look.
The bartender straightened from his crouch, finally having harvested a thick kelpy tangle of bills that looked too substantial to only amount to sixteen dollars.
“Thanks,” she said. “Thank you, really.” The voice sounded familiar. I turned away and ordered, virtuously clutching a five dollar bill, when it hit me: I’d been standing next to Lena Dunham.
I took a sip of my drink, bourbon and Country Time lemonade and mint, probably smearing my red lipstick around my face even more. I was such a loser, I thought. I’m wearing pants that I think might accidentally be harem pants. I thought, Maybe I should’ve said something. What? I like your sunglasses? How does one reconcile the polarizing auteur with this girl, a girl with inexpertly applied lipstick who just wanted a fucking drink and only had a twenty, probably recently egested from a bodega ATM? I looked around, but she was gone. Was it even her? I ran a finger under my bottom lip. Maybe. Or maybe it was just one of those girls.