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Hot Literati @ White Horse Tavern

I, Hailo, went to White Horse Tavern a couple of weeks ago after work.

I didn't know that it was the place where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death until another writer told me. I like to know the biographical stuff at the end of someone's fiction. That way, I feel like I take their work more for what it is and what I think and less for the lore or celebrity surrounding it.

I go straight to the West Village from work. Have to fish through my giant work bag to find my ID, and as I look down to find it, I am struck by the black and white checkered tile. An attempt at whimsy, and not a bad one.

The host leads me through buzzed bodies, moving already with softened spatial awareness. I am seated in the outside section, right on top of the doors that lead to the storage under the building. I imagine myself falling through, into another sky.

Leading up to any date, I hit a moment where I just don't want to be there. I imagine all of the wonderful things I could be doing if I was alone. Like reading the book in my giant bag. A 60s paperback. Or just watching everyone.

And then, he arrives. Whenever we go somewhere in public, I'm awash for a moment with self-consciousness. No one looks. But I hear something. My mother's voice? That's not it, my father is six years her elder. Maybe I hear every time I was called precocious or wise growing up. Or the guy who tried to groom me when I was 16 (and somehow, I was left feeling guilty).

I settle on the idea that we look chic, like Cassel and Baptista. And then I remember that no one is looking anyways. It's New York.

Immediately, I remember why I like being around him as I say something about the awkward placement of the table and he, without hesitation, moves the entire thing a couple of inches over. (That and he once called me the Platonic ideal of woman, with a little click of his teeth after)

I get soup.

"You need bread!" he says, when my soup arrives.

There is no bread on the menu, but soon enough, there is bread in front of me and we are talking about art and philosophy and then I am full.

He walks me to the train because I need to be way way uptown for practice. He reminds me that I never told him I had a hard stop. I apologize. But I'm excited. To be alone to think and read, and I'm all jittery off of a cup of coffee. I didn't drink myself sick, but I wanted to be extra alive off of something.

I finished the Dylan Thomas novel in my bag this past weekend. It was okay. Just okay. I don't think I'll remember White Horse Tavern as the place where he drank himself to death. I think I'll remember it as the place where I had french onion soup and a cup of coffee and didn't fall through the trap door.


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