Essays from 116th Street

Self-therapy, since 2004...

Location: New York, New York

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I was at Nevada Smith's last night, watching the replay of yesterday's Arsenal vs. Juventus Champions League match, when I met another of those most interesting people that New York City has to offer. It had been a relatively quiet night, as most of the New York Gooners had already watched the match live, and as I was watching the atrocious 0-0 draw unfold, I looked to the right of me and saw a benevolent-looking older man, enjoying a pint while wearing a George Best Ireland shirt.
We struck up a conversation, with him telling me his name is Ted, and that even though he's a Manchester United fan, he makes it a point to root for any English team whenever they encounter foreign opposition. We started talking about the skill and class of Thierry Henry, how he wished that Arsene Wenger would manage United instead of Sir Alex Ferguson (Fergie is too abrasive in his view) and the anticipation heading into Sunday's clash between the two English giants.
After a while, our conversation turned to more cosmopolitan subjects, such as which dirty words could be used to the highest effect in Italy, and which obscene gestures the English use to piss of the French (as well as each other). While sharing laughs and beer with this old Irish guy, all I could think was, "this guy is definitely on some other $#!+!" He seemed to know everybody in the bar, and it was fairly easy to see why.
As we continued talking, he told me that he is a reggae fanatic, dating back to the 1960's. He explained to me (although I had heard it before) that the original skinheads were not white supremacists, but rather reggae and ska punks, whose style had become co-opted by extremist groups. He pulled out his iPod and showed me his extensive reggae MP3 collection, and told me of how he goes to the Knitting Factory to this day to check out acts. I recommended that he check out Black Star, so long as he could handle vulgarity. "Are you kidding?" he said. "I play my music in here, and I have to tell them which songs are safe, there are so many F-words in them!"
We started talking about movies; it turns out that he loves zombie movies. "I could watch 28 Days Later over and over again!" he said. His other favorites included Dawn of the Dead (not sure which version) and Shaun of the Dead, which he highly recommended to me. "This guy is definitely on some other $#!+," I thought to myself. I asked him where he was from. "Brooklyn," he said. "I had these people in here one time, we were sitting here, drinking a beer and telling jokes, and the one guy asks his brother, 'What do you think Ted here does for a living?' and the brother jokes, 'he must be a porn star.' Well, the guy says, 'Actually, no he's the total opposite.'" "Ted," I began to ask, "you're a priest?" "Father Ted," he replied. I started cracking up.
He told me this story about a guy at the bar who wanted to buy him a cell phone. "What am I going to do with this guy buying me a cell phone? Now I have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning because he wants to confess his sins to me?" This stuff was hilarious. I asked him if he was the black sheep of his parish. "Oh yes," he said. "We have one Nigerian priest who eats sushi, but that's about it." We finished off our pints (two is his limit, if you are wondering), shook hands and said our goodbyes.
Later that evening, I was talking to The Girl By 23rd Street, who said, "You know, I always meet interesting people at Nevada's; I even met you there. I meet more people at that bar than any other one that I go to. I don't know why." I think it's because so many different kinds of people follow soccer, and they all seem to end up watching it there. All I know is that I'm going to keep going there, because I can't think of one time I went in which I didn't have fun or meet someone interesting, pretty or both.


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