In the morning I walked down to the foot of the Ace Hotel to Stumptown for coffee and brioche. It was a fine morning. The barista behind the counter wore a purple wool vest and a newsboy cap. He pulled me a deep, thick espresso and I took it and the papers and sat in front of the window looking out. The fashionistas were rolling their wares to the garment district. Students went by going up to the law school, or down to NYU. Broadway was busy with taxis and people going to work. From the café I walked up 5th Avenue. I passed the man with the jumping frogs and the man with the boxer toys. I stepped aside to avoid walking into the thread with which his girl assistant manipulated the boxers. She was standing looking away, the thread in her folded hands. The man was urging tourists to buy. Three more tourists had stopped and were watching. I walked on behind a man who was pushing a luggage cart with knock-off designer purses on it. All along people were going to work. It felt pleasant to be going to work.
Upstairs in my room I read the morning papers and then sat on the couch tweeting. I knocked off about 11 and decided to go to lunch. When I got off the elevator in my lobby, Bobby Gold was standing there. “Well, hello, Dave,” he said. “I was just coming up to see you.”
“I’m just on my way to lunch.”
“Fine. I’ll join you. Where shall we go?”
“How about The Ginger Man? They’ve got good beer there.”
In the restaurant we ordered a plate of German sausages and beer. A thin, good-looking woman wearing a white apron brought the beer, tall, beaded on the outside of the steins, and cold. There were three or four large sausages on the plate as well as sauerkraut, potato salad, and black bread.
“How’s the songwriting going?” I asked.
“Rotten. I can’t get this album going.”
“That happens to everybody.”
“Oh, I’m sure of that. It gets me worried, though.”
“Thought any more about Leonard Cohen?”
“I’m serious about that.”
“Well, why don’t you just start off that way then?”
“Francis. It isn’t the sort of thing she likes. She likes Lady Gaga.”
“Tell her to go to hell.”
“I can’t. I’ve got certain obligations to her.”
He spooned up some grainy mustard and spread it on the black bread and took a knockwurst.
“Say, what about this Cuba idea?”
“What about it?”
“I’ve been thinking I might go.”
“You’re not invited.”
“Too late. We’ve already made all the arrangements. You missed the boat.”
“Why don’t you just tell someone else you made a mistake and forgot I had agreed to go on the trip?”
“Why don’t you just go to hell.”
Bobby stood up from the table his face white, and stood there white and angry behind the big plate of German sausages.
“Sit down,” I said. “Don’t be a fool.”
“You’ve got to take that back.”
“Oh, cut out the British prep-school stuff.”
“Take it back.”
“Sure. Anything. I’ve never heard of Cuba. How’s that?”
“No. Not that. About me going to hell.”
“Oh, don’t go to hell,” I said. “Stick around. We’re just starting lunch.”
Bobby smiled again and sat down. He seemed glad to sit down. What the hell would he have done if he hadn’t sat down? “You say such damned insulting things, Dave.”
“I’m sorry. I’ve got a nasty tongue. I never mean it when I say nasty things.”
“I know it,” Bobby said. “You’re really one of the best friends I have, Dave.”
God help you, I thought. “Forget what I said,” I said out loud. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right. It’s fine. I was just sore for a minute.”
“Good. Let’s get something else to eat. Maybe the cheese plate.”
“Fine. And two more beers.”
After we finished the lunch we walked down to Franchia and had coffee. I could feel Bobby wanted to bring up Cuba again, but I held him off. We talked about one thing and another, and I left him to go back to my apartment and tweet about the afternoon.