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rosie-schaap-c-m.-sharkey_custom-d4661b63d7defda5edd6e3b8ee07d9a103e58137-s6-c10How are you feeling, Rosie? You don’t have to say “fine, thanks.” You can be honest with you.

Thanks for asking. I appreciate that, because, you know, I don’t like any of that old “fine, thanks,” b.s.  In truth, I’m feeling…many feelings. I’m a bit of a worrier by nature, so anxiety tends to follow me around most of the time. But it’s pretty manageable these days. I’m pretty excited that my memoir, Drinking With Men, is finally out there in the world, and that people are reading it. I’m feeling a little run down, what with all the excitement. I’m napping more than usual. I should probably eat more vegetables. But I have little to kvetch about. I’m happy-ish. Full-on happy is mysterious to me, and it’s not necessarily something to which I aspire. I’m too superstitious to be totally happy; it could attract the evil eye, as my grandma could have told you.

 

drinking-with-men-mdIn 1986, when I was fifteen, I discovered the bar car on the Metro-North New Haven Line—a dingy, crowded, badly ventilated chamber where commuters drank enough to get a decent buzz going, told dirty jokes, and chain-smoked. These were my kind of people. I liked my friends at school— mostly pothead misfits like me— but these were adults, and, right or wrong, I liked to think of myself as one of them. And even though in my memory the whole place is clouded by a sort of grimy yellow film, it was my kind of joint.

My mother had moved us— herself, my brother, me, a shih tzu, a Lhasa apso, a cat, and a parrot— from Greenwich Village to the suburbs a couple of years earlier for many rea­sons, but partly, I think, in a desperate bid to make a normal kid of me. It didn’t work. I became a druggie, a Deadhead, a reasonably resourceful truant, a small- time delinquent. But I was not without ambition. I wanted to be a mystic.

Hi, self, let’s agree to pretend that there’s an actual interviewer, shall we? Otherwise, we, you and I, are going to choke on the preciousness of it all.

Yeah, let’s do that. The whole notion of a self interview is endlessly cute and irritating. It’s like club promoters who “let” the band set up their own bill. Nobody wants to work anymore.

 

Well, your work ethic is terrible too.

Yeah, but I NEVER wanted to work. I think it’s a new thing for everyone else.

 

Fine. Did you read that book that n+1 put out on “the hipster”?

No, I read the shorter New York Magazine piece. It was fine. Life’s a bit too short to read a book length treatment on the subject. When I worked at The Strand, my boss gave me advice that has served me well up to this day. He said “Zack, life is too short to read Tom Wolf.” I use it often and I think it’s given me an extra lifetime of spare time. Spare time I use to download Crust demos and think of snide things to say about Let The Great World Spin.

 

What are you talking about, you loved that book. You were, like, crying through the whole thing.

Sure, at the time, but now all I remember is the part where the Irish dude talks about playing Tom Waits in a bar. Nobody plays Tom Waits in a bar. It’s like wearing a sign that says, “I’m in a bar! Ask me about it! Bar bar bar bar bar . . .” The only people who play Tom Waits in bars are college kids and people who write “Great American Novels.” Nobody should have to drink with either of those types.

 

Do you mean what you say, or are you just trying to be interesting?

Chuck Eddy’s Stairway to Hell was a huge influence on me. People thought he was just being contrary because he put Teena Marie and the Adverts in his top ten Heavy Metal albums of all time, but he was being sincere while never losing sight of the fact that shit should actually be interesting to read. I’m interested in the truth, but I don’t make a fetish of it.

 

Let’s get back to the hipster thing.

Why?

 

Because people like to talk about it. It elicits strong feelings. And your writing has been criticized in the context of you being a hipster asshole.

Yeah, fair enough and, by current loose standards, I am. I guess I’ve been hearing people I’ve been serving drinks to calling other people hipsters for as long as I can remember but, to me, it’s not a terribly interesting subject. I mean, I work, pay my rent, plan on eventually paying taxes, I figure the obscurity of the band t-shirt I’m wearing is my business. If it makes you feel bad, on whatever level, don’t tip me. I’m a grown-ass man, I’m too busy fearing death to flip the fuck out over a blogger’s disdain for my life.

 

But you live in Williamsburg, play in a band, and have black rim glasses. You’re a goddamned cartoon.

Luckily Williamsburg is no longer hip. It’s now just a rich shitty college town. A guy like me can now, walking down Bedford Ave., safely get called a faggot by a white person. So I would hope everyone would update their cultural references accordingly. Anyway, there seems to be a real element of “disco sucks” to the hatred of all things hipster. Know what I’m saying? People can’t say what they mean. Hardly ever.

 

OK. We already knew that. So, what’s next for you and Stacy and Nick?

We’re doing a reading/performance in SF for the Noise Pop Fest, at the end of February. I’m not allowed to talk about all the neat stuff Nick is working on musically, but it’s real neat. Stacy has a cool book of show dog photos out on her and her sister’s publishing house, Evil Twin. I’m working on a novel (like everyone reading this I imagine), a piece on my love of Cop Shoot Cop, and an essay for a Jane Eyre zine.

 

A Jane Eyre zine?

Yeah. I think I’m going to defend Rochester. I don’t see the problem. He seems fine to me.

 

 

There was semi-recently an internet kerfuffle on the topic of babies in bars in Brooklyn, which I have been thinking about a lot but, because I have one of these babies, have not had time to properly respond to until now.  Yes, I realize that the world has been clamoring for the response of me, an eminent Park Slope literary mama (by which I mean, of course, the author of an under-read novel, the mother of a one-year-old and yet NOT a member of the Park Slope Parents website and thus obviously not much of a mother at all, and a lowly renter rubbing elbows with the owners of million-dollar brownstones).  
 
And so I will tell you, dear readers, that there was something about the story and ongoing response to it that really got me.  What on earth is wrong with people? I thought every time I read some vitriolic comment from a non-breeder who no doubt had time to compose the perfect snarky retort after sleeping until noon and then reading the entire newspaper.  Babies are wonderful. Babies are the best things on Earth.  I take my baby everywhere, because what, am I meant to hole up in my apartment all day, everyday?  Thus is the joy of having a baby in Brooklyn, after all -– there are tons of entertaining places to go.  We can walk to any number of growing-brain-stimulating places, the baby and me.  I can plop her in the carrier or stroller and take her to a coffee shop, or an art museum, or even, yes, a bar.  And I have, a very few times – always in the middle of day, mind you – taken her to bars, the kind of bars that serve food and, you know, have high chairs.  (Holla, Bar Toto!)

After all, we were all babies once!  And babies are people too!  Adorable, lovey, magical, sweet-smelling tiny people!  What’s more, I maintain that adults who hate babies have something seriously, sociopathically wrong with them.  I mean, sure, it’s true, sometimes babies cry.  But the sound of a baby’s cry is about a tenth as annoying as most of the conversations you overhear in places like bars.  I mean!  What is wrong with people?
 
Anyway.  As awesome as my baby is, I admit that sometimes I need a break.  After all, I am with her all day every day without any childcare, and my husband often works late nights and weekends, which means, you know, A LOT of uninterrupted time, just babe and me.  So the other night after a particularly grueling bedtime, I excused myself for some mommy-me-time.  I strolled down the block, and threw some baby clothes in a machine over the laundromat (I’m not that self-indulgent after all!) and then wandered into my quiet neighborhood bar.  There was candlelight.  There was inoffensive indie rock.  I ordered a beer – a beer! – and settled in with a novel – a novel!  For a few amazing moments, it was just me and my pals Stella and Mary.  I could feel my shoulders untensing.  I hadn’t had a moment like this in months, and this moment would only last about thirty minutes before I had to retrieve my laundry and go back home.
 
And then I heard it. 

A giggly coo. 

A baby, I thought.  In the bar.  You have  got to be fucking kidding me
 
This baby was mega cute, and having just learned to walk was toddling around on her chubby legs with the drunken strut of a 13-month-old with places to go.  She sidled up to me and commenced to play peekaboo behind my table. 

The problem is, I love babies, always have, and have always been the one to, yes, entertain someone’s baby in a random public setting.  I wanted to indulge the little girl.  And I wanted to provide her parents a moment of peace as they ate their fancy meals.  But also, I really, really didn’t.
 
I was tempted to explain myself to her father who came to retrieve her once it became clear I wasn’t going to play.  It’s just that this is the one half-hour in like a year that I don’t have to entertain a baby, I wanted to say.  And anyway, also, what the CRAP man, it is 9pm! Why is your baby even up and out and nowhere near going to bed? A side note: I hate when people judge each other’s parenting.  I judge people who judge other people’s parenting.  But also, I was feeling very, very judgmental. “She’s so cute,” I managed, weakly.  I offered a very small smile.   She grabbed at my book.  “Oh, ha ha.  She likes Nabokov?”  NabAHkov, I said it.
 
The hipstery-facial-haired be-courderoyed father had a smile that resembled a wince.  “Oh, yes, she just loves her NaBOOkov,” he said, inflecting my beloved author’s name with an exaggerated Russiany pronunciation.
 
And then you better believe it was on.  No help for you, buddy!  I tugged my book away from the pretentio-tot and willed my smile to vanish.  I pulled out the big guns.  “Okay, bye-bye!” I said.  I covered my face with the book, like a bad spy in a movie.  “Bye-bye,” said bar-baby. 
 
She toddled back a few more times and I worked hard to ignore her every time.  I even tried not to notice her loitering near the bathroom door and almost getting knocked out every time someone came out, though the mother in me was dying to hop up and usher her away, or at least warn her parents, who were busy ordering dessert.  But the heartless bar-fly in me (she’s small, but she’s in there) enjoyed ignoring the baby in peril.  Even when she finally bit it and began to howl.  I didn’t even offer a sympathetic look!  In fact, I GLARED!  I can sort of hear that baby’s crying above the jukebox and chatter, I meant my mean look to say.  And I am not pleased!  The now-harried-looking parents scooped up their little drunken sailor and scooted.  I looked around for someone to toast, but no one else seemed to have noticed the whole drama at all.

In conclusion: babies in bars are totally fine and obviously everyone should be nice to them and their parents.  But only if they happen to be my baby.  All other babies should be tucked in bed and kept out of my goddamned sight.

One night, Tony went to a bar to have a drink.

That drink lead to another drink. Then to another bar. Then people bought Tony drinks and Tony can never say no to drinks. One bartender refilled his beer without even asking, and Tony, one never a fan of wastefulness, made sure to keep drinking.

Tony decided to go to another bar and another bar, then Tony took a cab home. On the way he realized that he didn’t want to pay more than $5 for a cab ride, so he stopped the driver at $4.40. It happened to be at an intersection of a bar where Tony knew friends and he drank more.

The next thing Tony knew it was noon the next morning and he was in bed, sleeping next to The Herring Fairy. The Herring Fairy surprised Tony with a tale more embarrassing than David Hasselhoff trying to eat a hamburger on the floor.

The Herring Fairy woke up hours earlier at 2:30am to witness a stumbling Tony. She filled in the gaps from his alcohol soaked memories. She saw Tony taking off his rings. He was bent over the table, with his face two inches from his hands as he negotiated the intricacies of removing his four rings. The rings fought with him and dared to stay on until The Herring Fairy lifted Tony’s head to help him. A string of drool finally broke from the table to Tony’s open mouth.

They gave me free drinks, Tony said.

You need to learn how to say no, The Herring Fairy said.

Tony paused and stared at The Herring Fairy and said, I don’t know how.

There was sadness and desperation in Tony’s reply.

I’m hungry, Tony said. I haven’t eaten all day, Tony said. And said. And said. And said.

After The Herring Fairy listed the meager food inventory in the cabinets, Tony chose Herring and crackers.

The Herring Fairy fed Tony a full cracker with herring. Tony was too drunk to chew. The Herring Fairy pushed Tony’s chin up and down to help him eat.

You need to chew, you’re going to choke, The Herring Fairy said.

After repeated use of those pesky, alcohol saturated jaw muscles, the cracker and herring finally went down.

Whatever happened to that writer who died? Tony said.

What writer? The Herring Fairy said.

The one who choked on a cracker, Tony said and laughed as The Herring Fairy decided to bypass the crackers and just get herring into Tony’s stomach.

Down the long hallway Tony walked, gripping onto the walls, like he was Samson between the pillars. Then he did a face plant onto the bed, giving The Herring Fairy enough space to work at taking off Tony’s shoes and pants.

She finally rolled him over and he fell asleep.

At 5am, The Herring Fairy heard a huge thump. Tony sat on the floor next to the bed.

Did you fall? The Herring Fairy asked.

I have to go to the bathroom, Tony replied.

Hoping Tony meant to use the actual facilities and not go on the floor, The Herring Fairy was relieved to see Tony hold onto the walls and chairs as he stumbled to the bathroom.

Tony learned a valuable lesson that night. A lesson that may help others if they chose to accept help. A lesson that he’ll forever be thankful for.

Tony learned that everyone should have a Herring Fairy.

The End.


Starring

Lia Garcia as The Herring Fairy
Tony DuShane as himself