Lions and Tigers and Gummy Bears

I met Ra (not to be confused with the Egyptian God, though they were both really tan) my first summer in New York.

I was dancing the night away at Ritz when Ra came up and started dancing with me—real dancing, not grinding, which I appreciated. (Nobody has boundaries after 2 a.m.)

“You’re a good dancer,” he shouted over an Ellie Goulding “Lights” remix.

“No, you’re just really drunk,” I said—and not because I was also drunk, I’m just a REALLY bad dancer.

“I throw a party Thursday nights. You should come!” We exchanged numbers, and I promised to be there.

I got to a dingy LES bar with $20 cover, but Ra got me right in. He met me at the front, a vodka drink in hand. It was sweet and had a ton of gummy bears at the bottom. I drank it happily while he led me to an upstairs “VIP” section.

The crowd was not what I expected. The male bartenders looked like they hadn’t washed their shoulder-length hair in a month, and the clientele was mostly club kids circa late ‘80s (aka, lots of neon hair, Hello Kitty attire and faces painted like lions). I felt out of place in my blue pinstripe short-shorts and Ralph Lauren polo. I sat alone most of the night while Ra bopped around, running the party. He kept showing up every 20-30 minutes, making sure my drink was refilled. At one point, I asked him to bring me just the vodka-soaked gummy bears, and a plate appeared within minutes.

Later in the night, a fire-eater and fire-hula hooper performed. I could see them perfectly from my balcony, and drunk Ian-Michael was immensely entertained.

Around 4 a.m., Ra asked if I wanted to go back to his place. “Don’t worry, I have a car,” he told me.

“Sure,” I said, stuffing the last of the gummy bears into my mouth. “Let’s go.” So he drove us to his place, where I fell asleep on the bed with all of my clothes on.

I woke up late the next morning, mouth stale and…gummy. “Hey,” Ra said, already up. “Want me to make you some breakfast?”

I looked at his clock. “No, I really need to go home and get ready for work tonight.”

“OK. The PATH is just down the street.”

I sat up. “The what?”

“The PATH train.”

“What’s that?”

“Uhm…the train into the city?”

“Into the city?!” I jumped up. “Where are we?!”

“New Jersey, silly.”

I shut my eyes tight, trying to remember the night. Vodka. Gummy bears. Car. Bridge. We went over a bridge in his car. I assumed we were in Brooklyn.

I got up, bought a one-way pass, and took the PATH train for the first time.

Maybe it was the hangover, maybe it was the outdated club kids or maybe it was New Jersey—whatever the reason, I didn’t see Ra again. But I still eat vodka gummy bears.

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