How Not to Ride the Jitney

‘Something’s up with these lights,” I say out loud to myself

inside the Hampton Jitney, idling on 40th Street and Third Avenue at 9 p.m. on

a recent Friday. I’m reading and the type is fuzzy. What is it? Am I on drugs?

I am. My wallet’s bulging with a new bag of Thai stick, which I’ve just

sampled. Now I’m having an attack of paranoia. I got the fear, man. Raining

outside. The last time I traveled with the green stuff I ended up spending the

night in jail. In Chicago. I don’t want to think about that except to note,

always keep it on your person. Aaron Sorkin from The West Wing deserves ridicule for stashing it all in his carry-on

bag. Anyway, pot and mushrooms, what’s the big deal? The Jitney starts moving.

I haven’t been out of Manhattan in five months. I am on my

way to East Hampton, where I will stay by myself in a house, barricaded in my

room. Even with a dresser against the door, I know I won’t be able to sleep

facing away from it. To feel safe, I will need a golf club in my bed.

The iced coffee from this afternoon hasn’t worn off. Mind

slushy, heart racing. Gobbling corn chips. In panic mode. This is no way to

live. Or die, all alone in a big house. The guy in front of me is eating

pretzels. Reading a Times editorial

on George W. Can’t be good news. I must see my doctor for Xanax or Soma.

We pass a billboard that reads, Watch Dragons Flying at Nassau Coliseum. Nervousness increases. I

do not want to watch dragons. Forces conspiring. Let us think about M—, 25.

I’d left her a pleading message about how scared I was sleeping in that house.

Are chicks into that? Maybe 25-year-old chicks are. She’s staying in a share in

Bridgehampton. I just want to make it through the weekend. She probably thinks

I’m joking, that I’m using a line to pick her up. I wish it were that simple, I

really do.

The Jitney smells like a sewer. Why did I sit in the back?

New wave of fear. My building is trying to evict me, and my evil thug of a

super has refused for three months to fix my dishwasher despite generous

bribes. I’m convinced he will enter my apartment and kill my cat this weekend.

I will return Sunday night to find her hanged. It makes perfect, horrible

sense. Why did I leave the city?

Cell phone. A message from M—. Her friend J— doesn’t

want to come to East Hampton to help comfort me. I have to come to their share.

Worth it? It’s dawning on me I’ll be spending the night alone.

Let’s read more of the Mafia book. If I had my own personal

thug, I could just have him whack the super on the head with a baseball bat.

But I’m powerless. Surely this is the main reason for The Sopranos ‘ success. 

Pot, I remember, can make a bad situation much worse. I’m

being hurtled to the end of the earth, the abyss-not the metaphorical but the

real one, capital A, Abyss. Maybe I should stay at Martha Stewart’s daughter’s

motel. Right now my super is probably chasing my cat around, flushing her out

from under the bed. Run, Baba, run! Head for the elevator! The stairs!

I will make it. Let’s calm down, read National Review. There. Listen to some Black Flag on my Walkman.

Rise above, we’re gonna rise above. Feeling better. Look at the cool headlights

racing by to the left. Blackness out my window. In eight hours it will be light

again, I will have made it. Tomorrow night I’ll be at Shoshanna Lonstein’s

birthday party at Conscience Point. My friends, my dudes, will be with me, a

steadying force. There will be free booze.

Maybe Paris and Nicky will be there. This is how I think

these days. How wonderful is it that these two girls have done nothing,

absolutely nothing, unlike someone

like Madonna or J. Lo, who have worked and tried hard for many years. The

Hilton sisters just appeared . I hope

they don’t go overboard. This new fragrance is a bad sign, as are these movies

Paris is appearing in. Girls, just be. Do nothing but party, drink champagne,

have more fun than anyone, and you will be loved. I wish I was up in the Hilton

family pad at the Waldorf right now, ordering up some serious room service.

Getting a massage maybe.

In my work as a

journalist, I have spent a week sleeping on the streets in Aspen. I have

interviewed very sketchy people and been yelled at in Central Park at 4 a.m. I

have shown grace under pressure, like when I kicked that rabid dog and it ran

away. I have written about mobster-wannabe types. I have survived scary plane

flights, with the help of whisky and tranquilizers. I have spent the night

alone in this same house before, with a 7-iron in my bed.

I am terrified.

Maybe I will program the police into my cell phone. Must

hide all those knives in the kitchen. I will place a ladder right under my

window. That way, I can climb down if any intruders break in. If they try to

climb up, I can tip it over and scream for the neighbors. But will the

neighbors hear me? Will there even be any neighbors out here this weekend? The

forecast is more rain. Not a good sign.

We’re almost there; the Jitney is leaving Bridgehampton. A

message from M—: “Georgie, I miss you so much. My friend is being so bitchy.

If you come pick me up I’ll go home with you. Bye, baby.”

Mood way up. Later, I pick her up in Bridgehampton in a cab.

She’s drunk, horny, squirming in the back of the cab, bare feet up in the air,

dangerously close to the driver’s head. Then she’s on my lap, facing me.

“So what do you really

want to do tonight?” she asks. “Do you have any toys for me?”

I start to worry that the cab driver is going to get jealous

and angry, that he will come back to the house later to kill us. So I pretend

to call a friend on my cell phone and say, “We’re almost there. We’ll leave the

back door open; see you in a little bit.”

Inside the house in East Hampton, M— on the couch, naked

under a blanket, drunk, still kicking, TV on. Must calm her down. I give her

some pot, and then I go to make bacon and hard-boiled eggs.

She walks into the kitchen, blanket wrapped around her. “I

need food,” she says. “And I need something else, Georgie.”

“Look around. We need

some food!”

“I need something else.”

“Have some of that Indonesian hot sauce.”

“I want something else!”

“What about some mustard?”

“No!”

“How about some parsley? What’s this, soup?”

“You know what I want.” She grabs me down below. I yelp in

pain.

“Butter, we got all kinds of frozen butter. We got chips …

let’s see what we got in the pantry here.”

“No, you know what I want.”

All my fears come to nothing. As it turns out, after I slip

the super another $100, I get a brand-new dishwasher.