Friday, June 8, 2012

Carpetbaggers(ish): Reflections on Fleet Week

They come to town when the war is over
Dirty boots in the middle of the night
Trolling the bars, hitting on the soldiers
Boys give it up without a fight

*note: I realize at this point we are a few weeks outside of Fleet Week, but the thoughts and statements below hold true.

During Fleet Week, for just seven days the city is flooded with men in crisp military uniforms as massive ships dock in harbors around the city. The week is raised to mythic proportions—go out and find yourself a sailor (or Marine, or Coast Guard), love him, and then release him back into the water, as if capturing a goldfish for a short time purely for the shimmer of its gills. Rest assured that you have completed your duty and showed your appreciation for our troops. Aspire to that scene in An Officer and a Gentleman. Or just bang a sailor and have bragging rights.

I went out with AD last year, much to her success: “I have hooked up with a sailor every Fleet Week since I’ve been able to go to bars!” she said with a smile. While my goal is usually more to get one of those sailor hats on my head and take kissy-face pictures with the men in uniform, I respect a single lady’s right to get her some!

That being said, I was after a similar Fleet Week experience this year.

“Are you going to Brooklyn Navy Yard to take pictures of the men?” my mother asks, excited, no doubt recalling her days as a young single lass in the city. Well, no. But if all went as planned there would be pictures of a different kind.

AS, MD, and I plotted our plan of attack, down to finding a list of the best bars to pick up sailors (the West Village is quite good, especially on Macdougal Street). We gave ourselves a point system of buoys, seamen (ha-- mostly because we didn’t know enough nautical terms), lieutenants, admirals, etc.—three buoys for taking pictures with a sailor, five for kissing, and so on. Five buoys equal one seaman. Five seamen equal one lieutenant. The winner would be declared Queen of Fleet Week. This year, like last year, I hoped to rack up buoys photographically rather than…any other way. Who doesn’t love taking pictures wearing military garb that’s not actually yours?

So we met up first at a lovely, tiny little bar called The Otheroom on Perry and Hudson, and sipped wine and sparkling water. The evening was already going in a different direction than intended, but I didn’t realize it yet. Pinpointing our next destination (I had seen herds of sailors walking toward Macdougal, as anticipated), we made our way there.

But I had forgotten that the bars the sailors prefer are, shall we say, not my taste. They stink of aging frat boy, beer pong, and girls with bad dye jobs (on our scale, two anchors (negative points) for her.)) In we went anyway, thinking it wouldn’t be that bad. It was, though.

All of the sailors were drunk—and really, who can blame them, it’s their week off—and chatting up some not-so-nice-looking girls. We realized we had no interest in being one of these girls and found ourselves aching for drinks that didn’t have “-bomb” at the end of them. So we left.

To be fair, it would have been fun in theory. But I have never played beer pong, and I decided I would like to keep it that way. Stepping into that bar, I felt myself regress five years, actively surrounded by people I don't really enjoy and having beer all over my shoes. I had experienced great personal growth in the past year. Is this really what I wanted? The answer was unequivocally no. I have had several epiphany-style “I’m getting older!” moments since moving to New York, but this was one of the bigger ones I can remember. I just wanted to get out of there and have a martini. And I prefer men who don’t play beer pong as post-grads.

Incidentally, we found ourselves in a lovely bar just down the street after that, called Shade (241 Sullivan Street). I had a vodka martini made with pickle juice and garnished with a cornichon. We ate crepes. Ah, the taste of personal growth.