New York, The Cure

T and D and I recently went to New York, to witness The Cure in concert at Madison Square Garden. D should really be writing this story, as he’s the professional storyteller, who often tells stories so well that you can hardly believe them to be true.

Perhaps I’m the right second-choice, though, as while T could derive the quotient of any two numbers you give him to 5 decimal places (maybe more – no insult intended!), and then tell you something about the importance of that number to some vital – but really obscure – detail regarding human history, he doesn’t style himself as a writer.

I think I took too few photographs, but photographs wouldn’t tell the full story in any case. Neither will I, but here are a few pieces of the story, starting with a subway ride to Coney Island. It was lunchtime, and I had impressed upon T and D the importance of visiting Totonno for pizza.

Two years previously, I had tried to take B, K, and S to the same establishment, walking the 700 meters or so from the subway stop to the pizzeria (that’s far, at midday in July), only to find that they were closed. Today, I had made sure they were open, and the pizza was as good as I remembered.

Walking out, T and I wondered whether D was a Cure fan of sufficient intensity to really think this pilgrimage worthwhile. So we set him the standard test in these situations, namely asking what his favourite album was. He answered correctly, and T and I knew we were all of like mind.

After pizza, we expended (too few of our) carbohydrates on a boardwalk-walk, ending up at a cocktail bar, where we scored an extra frozen margarita, after the charming and generous barkeep caused a little spillage in handing it to D – or when D grasped it too eagerly. In any event, 3 guys, 4 cups. 4 strong cups, drunk alongside a bare-torso’d and buff man, sporting a tattoo of a Saint, and far too many muscles.

We got back to Manhattan late afternoon, and decided to have drinks at the rooftop bar of my hotel. There was a woman collecting money at the entrance to the elevator – a “couvert charge”, as so many signs at the entrance to clubs in the 80’s and 90’s read. But my room was on the 10th floor, and these folks were ‘my guests’, so we headed towards my floor, and simply passed it by, arriving at the rooftop shortly thereafter.

D went outside, and T and I went to the bar. Cosmopolitans sounded like a good idea to us, and so it was that we emerged into the New York skyline with three glowingly-pink drinks. Onto a rooftop patio populated entirely by muscular black men taking selfies, and who were quite clearly gay.

One of them asked us what we were drinking. D told him it was a Cosmopolitan. He turned his string vest away from us, and D took a photo of our three pink drinks, with that man in the background, taking a selfie.

Later, we walked to Madison Square Garden, where the efficiency was impressive. As was D’s – while T and I stood in the queue to buy T-shirts, he struck up a conversation with a random stranger, which ended up resulting in

  • a seat 10 rows from the front, where D calculated that he would (if he wanted to) be able to run onstage and seize one of Robert Smith’s guitars before security got to him, and
  • advice from one of the security guards that he could use whatever bathroom he liked, depending on which queue was shorter, because by law, they were not allowed to ask whether you identified as male, or female, or whether you reject the choice entirely.

T and I were between D and the nosebleed seats, and alongside two very enthusiastic women, one of whom was quite bonkersly happy, all googley-eyed and yelling things I couldn’t hear or chose to ignore. For some reason, T bought them a few drinks, and they spilled vodka on my Cure T-shirt as it lay on the ground in a bag next to T.

The concert was easily the best one I’ve ever been to. The sound was perfect, the songs were old, and the Garden was full of people as excited to be there as I was. We drank many vodkas, and many bourbons after those. We smiled, from the first note to the last note of the (4th!) encore.

Waking up the next morning, I thought to myself: Suggesting that D walk me home (we were heading in the same direction) is the sort of thing I can imagine a friend like T thinking of. Happily following the suggestion is likewise the sort of thing a friend like D wouldn’t hesitate to do.

And when I saw them both the next morning, it turned out that this is exactly what happened.

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.