We were drinking someplace in Park Slope, and we were already pretty drunk. We’d just come from some girl’s party to which we’d brought a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black and left after we’d finished it ourselves. We didn’t like the girl, and we didn’t know why we were there, so we left and ended up at this bar around the corner that I can’t remember.
Mark came back from the bar, balancing three pint glasses between two hands, and informed us that the guy from I Love the 80s was at the bar.
“Which guy?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Mark said, placing the glasses on the table. “One of them.”
Jake picked up a glass and took a sip. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“Pretty sure,” Mark said, and sat down in the booth beside me.
“Well, get up,” I said, grabbing my beer. “We have to go talk to him.”
“I don’t know,” Mark said. “He looks like he’s hitting on some girl.”
“Fuck that,” Jake said. He was already up. I didn’t see him get up, but he was standing. “VH1 guys aren’t allowed to hit on girls in my bar.”
Mark told him to sit back down, but he was already on his way. I climbed over Mark and followed. Reluctantly, Mark did as well.
Jake moved fast. By the time Mark and I pushed our way through the hairsprayed foot traffic and had a wine cooler spilled down our shirts, Jake was tapping on this guy’s shoulder. “You’re thinking of somebody else,” I heard the guy say. But Mark was right. He was one of those guys. I think. I’m almost positive.
“Dude, I love the Eighties,” Jake said, even though the guy had turned back to the girl beside him. She was pretty attractive, with curly dark hair and a Frogger iron-on T-shirt, but she didn’t look famous. At least I don’t think she was. “Did you hear me? I love the Eighties.”
The guy turned to Jake with this real annoyed expression on his face. He might have been Brian Unger. Or Maybe Bill Burr. I can’t ever remember those guys’ names. It definitely wasn’t Mo Rocca. I would have recognized the glasses. “That’s nice to know,” he said and turned back away. And Jake turned to me and told me to tell Brian Unger or Bill Burr or whoever how much he loves the Eighties.
“Tell him, man. Tell him how much I loooove the Eighties.”
“C’mon, Jake. Let’s go back,” Mark said.
“No! I’m not going anywhere until this guy knows how much I love the Eighties.” Jake shoved me in the chest. “Tell him!”
This guy—now that I think of it, he might have been Michael Ian Black—turned to me, with some hint of sympathy in his eyes. “Dude, he loves the Eighties a lot,” I said.
“Let’s go,” Mark said. “He knows.”
Michael Ian Black, or possibly Bil Dwyer, nodded and said, “I know.”
“You hear that,” Jake said. “I fucking love the Eighties!”
By this time, a lot of the conversations around us had stopped the other patrons had turned to watch our conversation. The girl next to Bil Dwyer or Michael Ian Black was getting nervous. She was laughing uncomfortably and looking around the room for her friends.
Mark, standing behind me, leaned in to my ear. “He’s doing it again,” he said. “I can’t deal with this. We have to get him out of here.”
I was about to tell Mark to calm down, but the VH1 guy, maybe Donal Logue, turned to me and said, “Can you get your friend out of here? He’s making a scene.” Before I could do anything, before I could even talk, Jake got right in Donal Logue’s face and stated calmly and emphatically that he was not making a scene.
“You call this a scene? This is a conversation. I’m just trying to tell you that I love the Eighties, is all.”
So, then Donal Logue, or Hal Sparks maybe, pushed his face way up into Jake’s. Their noses were almost touching. “I heard you. I understand. Now go.”
Hal Sparks’s bravado might have freaked Jake out a little, because he took a step back. He sipped on his beer and said, “I’m not going anywhere. Do you know why?”
I could practically feel Mark vibrating with nervous tension behind me. “Jake! Come on!” Even I’d had enough by this point. This guy—who may very well have been Rich Eiger—was just trying to relax, and Jake was being an asshole.
I looked to Rich Eiger and said, “I’m sorry,” but he didn’t look back. His eyes were fixed on Jake’s.
“I’ll tell you why,” Mark said.
“Let me guess—” Brian Unger said.
“Because I love the Eighties!” This time, Jake shouted it at the top of his lungs. Anyone in the bar who had managed to ignore this scene couldn’t ignore it anymore. The place went deathly quiet, except for the jukebox, which was playing a Talking Heads song. Some guy, sitting on a couch in his Members Only jacket yelled, “Shut the fuck up!” Somebody else called him a faggot. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the bartender, who looked a little like Boner from Growing Pains, was on the telephone.
“Fuck you!” Jake yelled to the guy on the couch. “This isn’t your concern.” He turned his attention back to Mo Rocca. (Did I say before that it wasn’t Mo Rocca? It might have been Mo Rocca, but without the glasses.) “Do you understand what I’m trying to say?” he said. He jabbed a finger into Mo Rocca’s collarbone. Behind me, Mark was staring intently into his beer. I was looking around for something to double as a club. Just in case.
Mo Rocca—or maybe it was Brian Unger after all—shoved Jake’s finger aside. “Perfectly,” he said, his face rigged with forced calm, “You love the Eighties.” He enunciated each word clearly and slowly.
An air of calm descended upon Jake. “That’s all I wanted to say.” He leaned back and finished what was left of his beer. Then he put his hand on Mo Rocca’s or Brian Unger’s shoulder and offered to buy him a drink.