Earlier in the week, when I was discussing locations and meeting times for Bingo Night with New York-based fashion publicist Jen Goldszer via text message, I promised her we’d “get cray.” Jen responded, “Cray to the max.” You can call it a foregone conclusion, or call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. But either way, know this: this was not your Bubbe’s Bingo Night.
Jen and I met after work at Tortilla Flats, the West Village acid trip of a dive bar, and decided to start the night breaking bread at one of the outdoor tables. By “bread,” I of course mean “pitchers of margaritas.” Immediately, Jen became my favorite Night Out with Mr. Dool companion thus far, as she came bearing gifts and presented me with a hand-made neon friendship bracelet. Your move, Pleet! I was only slightly dismayed to learn that Jen knits gifts for all of her friends, including some cashmere booties she recently made for a Russian lady’s baby.
“Russians need cashmere for their vodka drinking and feats of strength,” she explained.
Once we had wined and dined ourselves to satisfaction, we ventured inside, but not before Jen positively ID’d a neighborhood dog she’d met before.
“That’s Judah,” Jen explained to me. Judah definitely knew Jen, too. Little did we know, there would soon be another Judah in our lives soon.
After a meet and greet with Judah #1, we headed inside the bar for the main event. Tortilla Flats is the type of bar that encourages binge drinking, dancing and generally insane behavior. It’s decorated all year round like a party for El dia de los muertos hosted by a particularly crazy cat lady.
“I feel like I’m inside a pinata!” Jen remarked. Later, I would reflect upon this assessment while trying not to vomit up my tequila shot.
We came into a round of bingo already in progress and quickly found ourselves boards to play with. Jen’s had several phone numbers written on the back, with arrows pointing to what I’m sure are empty promises of lewd acts one could receive should one dial said number. My board was soggy, presumably with the tears of previous contestants, and also cerveza.
The first number called was B12, but the emcee, a heavy man with undoubtedly heavy problems, didn’t just say, “B12.” Instead he said, “B, the number of jurors it took to convict Casey Anthony!” And then everyone yelled “12!!!” and high-fived. And so it went for the first round. Neither Jen nor I won, although that may have been a blessing in disguise, as the winners tied and had to compete for the title by chugging tall boys of PBR.
While we waited for the next round to start, we turned our attention to the World Series of Poker playing on the TV by the bar. I arbitrarily decided to root for Lars Bonding, because I thought his name was not unlike what we were doing at the time: (lars) bonding with each other!
Jen chose her contestant based on what they were wearing. “That guy’s wearing a cable knit sweater! Who wears a cable knit sweater to the World Series of Poker? I might be rooting for Cable Knit Sweater. Certainly not the purple bucket hat. Cable Knit Sweater, who are you?”
We never found out, because the next round of bingo started and held our rapt attention. Despite our enthusiasm this time around, we lost again and there is no Miss Congeniality award at Bingo Night. However, luck was a (drunk, barely legal) lady that night, because a girl sitting a few seats down won. And as a prize, everyone seated at the bar got a free tequila shot!
I cannot speak for Jen, who seemed remarkably composed for the entirety of the evening. But for me, this is when the night took a turn for the crazy. Perhaps the unbridled good cheer in Tortilla Flats was as infectious as the communicable diseases of some of the patrons, or perhaps the combination of pitchers of margaritas and multiple Coronas just needed a little extra urging from Jose Cuervo to show their true colors. But whatever it was, my inhibitions made a quick exit at that point, and took my memory and probably my ability to see clearly along for the ride.
Therefore, to report on the events of the rest of the night, I will resort to quoting directly from notes I made in the Memo Pad on my Blackberry. Your guess is as good as mine:
- “I prefer the red kind. It’s sweeter. It’s like an old Jewish condiment. It’s like..really spicy, but not in a jalapeno way. I just like the taste of horse radish. It’s spicy in a nasal-clearing way. It’s the Jewish wasabe.” -Jen, on Gold’s Horse Radish
- The bartender looks like the poor man’s Judah Friedlander.
- Mambo No. 5 is on, so happy.
- I hate the girl who just won bingo.
- FALSE BINGO FROM THE TABLE SECTION!!! OMG! Horror and emabrassment (sic). Thank God we’re at the bar.
- I hate the girl who just won bingo a lot!
- PRetending to be British to girl next to me who said she came to take a shot with her friend before going back to photoshoot. Took picture with them and Jen. From Montreal, they believed me.
- Tequila shots with Canadian friends!!! They came from a photoshoot. I came from fake London. And I almost puked.
- “Gold’s Horse Radish is made in BK. I’m such a heritage nerd.” -Jen
- What is that NOISE!?
- Jen tried to actually kill a girl who called bingo first.
- I thought horse radish was one word.
- We wnet outside and met rookie.
- Making bartender/Judah F. take our photo.
- “You hit my tooth with that camera!” -Bartender
- “You don’t have any teeth!” -Me
Lastly, a doozy (one giant sic for everything that follows):
- “Legal % of wolf/dog is 20 percent wolf and 80 percent dog. I’ve seen it a few times and it looks nothing like a dog. It looks like a wolf. Scariest thing I’ve ever sEen. It looks lijke a wolf that can jump oiut at you and eat you.” -cautionary tale from Jennifer Goldzser
So there you have it: from the outside, a raucous night of bingo fueled by alcohol and a burning, competitive spirit. From the inside, a salon on condiments, knitwear and the ethics of cross-breeding mammals for domestication. And please let the record show that based on (semi-coherent) text messages in my sent folder, I was home in bed by 11:45pm.
Until next time!