When one of my best friends, C, invited me to an office-themed art exhibit to meet a boy he’d been seeing, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Friday evening.
I met him in front of an old apartment complex in Chinatown. “He said it’s kind of complicated to get there,” C explained.
We went into one apartment building, unlocked, and up six flights to the rooftop. “It’s on the roof?” I asked.
“Not exactly.” The roof was attached to the roof of the building next to it, so we walked over and down one flight of stairs, directly into the apartment on the top floor.
It was big and empty, a single room, with a handful of installations. We passed several white boxes piled on one another; a welcome mat made from salt; a tv that showed a livestream from a camera aimed at you. It all seemed very New York to me, even if I didn’t get any of it. Near the back was a piece I particularly liked, which looked like cherries inserted into a watermelon. I was embarrassed when I saw someone pluck a cherry and eat it: It was a refreshment, not an installation.
C brought over a boy. He was adorable, he was stylishly dressed and he was an artist. “Which is yours?” I asked.
He directed me to a larger piece in the center of the room. A tall plastic plant sat on a swivel-chair in front of a karaoke machine playing Abba. It shook slightly, and I couldn’t tell if it was purposeful or just vibrations. My third glass of complimentary wine in hand, I said, “I’m not really sure I get it.”
The boy wasn’t affected, and continued to talk to other people. C grabbed my arm and pulled me onto the roof, where other attendees gathered to smoke and discuss art.
“Why would you say that?” he asked, furious with me.
“Because I didn’t get it, I guess.”
“You don’t have to be such an asshole about everything.” I was confused; C and I are always making fun of everything together.
“Uhm, excuse me?” I shot back, but then it clicked. This boy was off limits. C had fallen in love.
“I’m not going to take you to these things if you’re going to be like this,” he continued, and went back into the showroom.
I sat near the edge of the rooftop, sipping the last of my wine. Maybe I did get the piece: The plant is fine hanging out in the corner, where it’s comfortable, but put in the spotlight, given a chance, he’s scared.
How many men have I turned down that said they wanted the same things I do? How often had I returned to The Ex Fiance, where it’s comfortable? I walked home while the sun set, Abba stuck in my head. “But how could I ever refuse? I feel like I win when I lose.”