Weird and Wonderful: The Pick Up Joint

I’ve been monogamous for over fifteen years. It’s been fun, calm, and artistically profitable. When I look back on the pre-monogamy days it’s never wistfully. I’m not the social type so I can take or leave a good bar trawl. Not that I didn’t enjoy those times, just never was that devoted.

My hang out in Manhattan was Puffy’s. It was, and is, located on Hudson, just down the street from the White Horse where Dylan Thomas drank his last. Puffy’s was a great place that, unlike The White Horse, the tourists never discovered. Sure the Bridge & Tunnel (like me) frequented the place, but only the ones that stayed beyond the New York Minute, i.e. the cool ones. Most Manhattan It places, like Puffy’s, take a dive, get sold, and then reopen as a Korean Deli after a short year of infamy. That never happened to Puffy’s. I think that’s because the tourists never discovered it. It endured because it really is a place just for locals. Like the Ear Inn or McGoverns (I think that one’s gone now, though). Some people say Puffy’s owes its endurance to its only distinguishing feature: its fabulous jukebox whose selections went well beyond the best of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The Puffy’s patron was well versed in Americana and swung successfully to the sounds of the B-sides back when music had a B-side.

I met a number of future dates in Puffy’s. And often went there for the after date. The after date is where you go when things are winding down—dinner was a success, the show is over, the coffee’s getting cold–but the participants are too nervous to make a play. Puffy’s was a great after date hang out. It took the edge off. And if the date didn’t work out you could always end it right there and go home with somebody else. There’s a lot of fish in the sea and they all hang out at Puffy’s.

I hardly remember anybody I met there, but one in particular stands out. He was a drifter from Wales or Ireland or Australia. Had the reddish-blonde-brown hair color particular to those from the UK mainland, so I suspect it was Wales. I forget his name.

Apparently this person was independently wealthy or maybe he just didn’t care. Young and fairly good-looking, he got by however he did and what he did was travel all over the world. Six weeks here, a semester there, he’d been to all kinds of places and met all kinds of people. Partied with the best he said. Had a great story about Bono and U2. He said that out of all the thousands of people he’d met in his life, the members of U2 were the most boring. “All they do is talk about themselves,” he said.

That made sense to me at the time. Still does, actually. I mean, if you’re Bono or one of the U2 kids, what else would there be to talk about?

It gets me thinking now, though. People on the level of Bono are probably always the most boring you’ll ever meet. In order to make it to that level, they’d have to be so singular-minded, self-centered, driven, they couldn’t possibly have a thought for anyone or anything else. What terrible conversationalists they’d be. They’d never spend time studying local culture or cuisine. Would know nothing about it or anything else that really mattered. And I’ll just bet they wouldn’t be caught dead in a sleazy pick up bar for yuppies.

Give me Puffy’s over Bono any day.

Sue Lange

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Weird and Wonderful: The Pick Up Joint — 3 Comments

  1. Years ago, a friend who stayed with me awhile on Crete continued her trip by going to Nepal via India. Somehow, she was that kind of a person, she got invited to tea with a maharajah. One of the other guests was Mick Jagger whom she also described as insufferably boring.

    I’ve heard similar things said of many famous people. I wonder if the energy and over-riding drive required to reach such pinnacles doesn’t along the way drive out all the other quirks and foibles, not to say humanity that make ‘ordinary’ people interesting.

  2. Oh my! Tea with a maharajah. These are the people that inspire stories. To be honest, I’d rather be one of these people than writing about them, but because I’m not, that’s all I’m left with.