A DISTANCE FELT
I have a friend who I like spending time with but rarely end up seeing. The friend is a good person whose time means a lot, especially when it is shared with me. We call each other difficult, but what that means is that we like to hang out when we really want to, and refuse to negotiate our visceral wants for the other. It is a circumstantial friendship, despite its organicness. A major issue that arises frequently and poses Herculean efforts on both of our ends is that the friend lives in Brooklyn.  Despite the physical distance, it was the friend’s turn to come to me, because last time I went to Brooklyn, and I walked the Williamsburg bridge back and forth without ever seeing the friend, because the friend was asleep and never woke up and stood me up, and for that reason the friend would have to come to me this time and this was a non-negotiable term in an unwritten legal contract.
We decided to go to an East Village staple called “Sidewalk,” which is on Avenue A, and my friend grimaced a lot with my decision, because “how 90s grunge.” What the friend was going to witness would be a surprise, because this space was renovated ala gentrification in 2011 and there were no grimey aspects of my tall burger the very attractive (in a 90s way) waitress served me as she spoke in the familiar raspy voice that exuded bits of smoke here and there. 
What is interesting about where we chose to sit–which of course was the eastern side that functions as the smoking section of the outdoor seating area–is that it is located exactly near a gay bar called “Eastern Bloc,” which some people say belongs to Anderson Cooper’s boyfriend.  It was during our meal, or actually my meal since the friend was only drinking, on the smoking sidewalk that we witnessed a peculiar verbal fight in the street, the kind of fight that is violent only because of the words involved and how they were spat by people: aggressively and malevolently. It ended with someone calling a gay person a faggot, but the shock value was only increased when the assaulter and the gay person who stepped on his sneakers because he was too distracted by his phone were separated by a larger distance. It was then that the assaulter widened his eyes and tried to cajole his audience–us–with his empowering statement as he turned around and declared to bystanders of this incident: “It’s okay. I am gay, too.” READ MORE >