Let’s hear it for the boy

It’s 4:38. I’ve just gotten home and taken my sleeping pill. Let’s see what I bang out before sleepy time. I have a beach date tomorrow and I’ve gotta be bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I was *supposed* to go dancing tonight. I cut my hair. Got dolled up. Put on a face. But I chickened out. Why? Because the only reason to go was to hang out with the DJ who will flirt and who follows me religiously on Instagram like I’m some cool girl. PURE EGO. So yeah, I chickened out.

But not all at once. As soon as Asani told me that Nikola was bartending, I knew that I should stop at Barb’s just to see if I could get him to come along. The answer was a resolute ‘No.’ Which is exactly what I would expect of him.

Nikola. How do I describe him? He’s got the mind of a Jeopardy contestant in the body of a Balkan Keanu Reeves. Lazy reference. Everyone thinks he looks like Keanu. I love him. I’m in love with him. Not him now. Him at the age of 10. Nikola enraptures me with his uncanny ability to remember events to the day and any related association. It’s like watching a game of Plinko. You see the gears turning and you don’t want to interrupt. He will get to his point. Like the other night when he reasoned out the day Eddie Van Halen died based on his personal recollections of what was going on in his own life. October 6, 2020.

When I met Nikola, I dismissed him as some pretty boy. He reminded me of long-haired musicians I dated in Tucson before I gained self-respect. Coked out whisky heads who tried to educate me about all things music. But that’s not who he is. It was a confusion between the duck and the platypus. It would take a while to figure out my mistake and self-correct. But when I did, the whole thing was rewarding. We have the same love languages of SNL sketches and concert information. Nikola held me throughout the Paul McCartney concert as I cried. THREE SEPARATE TIMES.

But I learn who he is in layers. There was a night, months ago, when we sat at King Tai and I realized…this is the kid of communist immigrants. I already knew. Sort of. There was a night before when I asked him if his mom shopped at Macy’s. Immigrants LOVE Macy’s. And he went into a story about him buying this great shirt that he wore until it got pit stains and his mother permanently retired it. I said, “Yeah, immigrants don’t like dirty clothes.” And he shrugged his shoulders in agreement.

The night at King Tai he described the house his dad built upstate with his own hands. With pride. This isn’t rich American kid shit. This is stuff I understand in my soul because my dad’s side of the family is very much the same. I told him about rebar and how Anthony Bourdain had seen it all around the world on his travels. And to him it meant a sign of hope. As long as it sticks out of the top of some unfinished edifice, you know there’s hope in the minds of the people who set it in concrete. Nikola so understood that metaphor that whenever he sees rebar, he captures it in photo or video and sends it to me.

Nikola and I returned to King Tai tonight to herald the bartender David back from his stint on an independent film. David is an actor. I first became aware of him because he’s on the series version of High Fidelity. He plays the best friend. The show takes place in Crown Heights and is very, very realistic in its depiction of how Crown Heights operates. Nikola takes David a pie. David, a total sweetheart, always treats us well. Because that’s the ecosystem Mikey and David helped cultivate in their many years in the neighborhood.

Nikola and I *have* been talking. About Weezer’s cancelation on Broadway. And Nikola’s tickets to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers next week. And how Nikola’s older brother Milos and I get along so well. The other night, Milos was at Barbs and we talked. We both had this very peculiar, very specific proclivity. We both have visited Roche Bobois to price out couches we never intended to buy. Milos is five years older than Nikola. He got him into music. Took him to his first concert (Garbage/No Doubt). Milos is a documentary filmmmaker. When we talked the other night, I was stuck in uncanny valley watching this stranger use all of Nikola’s mannerisms and facial movements. Nikola is beautiful. Women are stunned by his beauty. I just find him jolly. But Milos…talking to him was like talking to someone I was completely familiar with…but also…kinda hot in this weird familiar way.

Everything I loved about my interaction with Milos, he clocked about me and told Nikola. Nikola tells me and I say…look…I’m not into your brother but…it was kinda groovy. Milos and I talked about many things, one of them was dating apps. He’s on them. Probably all of them. But definitely Raya. Neither of us are fans of them. I’m done with the reductivist bullshit and so are Nikola and Milos. Good luck trying to find anyone who isn’t sinking into mediocrity in the hope of fulfillment. Nikola just keeps saying how Milos and I have so much in common and how so many things make sense.

But then he wants me to like Marko. The eldest brother. Whom he knows I clocked as an asshole the first time I met him on NYE. Marko came into Nostrand coked out and complaining about the party at DUMBO House. Marko lives in Dubai. He looked right through me. Nikola respected me more for thinking this eurotrashy jet setting playboy was full of shit off the bat. What I lack in bank account balance I luxuriate in an awareness of these worldly rich kid types. While I find them fascinating, I rarely give them an ounce.

The other night I described my perfect romantic fit to Milos. A little Eurotrashy. A little flashy. Maybe races cars or motorbikes. Encyclopedic artsy knowledge. Mature. Surprising. When I relayed this list to Andrea later, she said, “Milos is going to think you’re describing Marko.”

I guess I sort of was. Unintentionally. Because Nikola tonight said as much. He said he hoped I could see Marko for all the good that he is. I said, “He’s your brother, I already love him.”

Nikola and I got deep tonight. About our love of living in NYC. About all the weirdness that brought us here. About our love for each other. Nikola confessed tonight that when he invited me to Paul McCartney that he didn’t even know I was a Beatles fan. He just wanted to ask me to come along because I filled out the group perfectly…Tyler, Travis, Nikola me.

You find your forever people. Nikola is one of them. He’s coming with me to see The 1975 in November. I could eat him with a spoon. Night.

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