Ari Fliakos I Love You

I’m pretty sure Mo Rocca totally cruised me today on West 23rd Street. But you can’t blame him. Now that winter break is here I’ve been hitting the gym compulsively, hoisting weights and sweating on the treadmill till the endolphins kick in, which lately is around 45 minutes. I’m robust and irresistible and even minor celebrities must turn their head when I walk past. If I had felt this way all semester even bitchy writers at Columbia wouldn’t have broken my spirits. Thus one New Year’s resolution is clear, homework be damned. New York is better when you’re a hottie.

Speaking of hot, I fell in love this week during a performance by The Wooster Group. From the second Ari Fliakos walked on stage, microphone receiver strapped around his bicep, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. All cute and rumpled in loose brown trousers, torn gray t-shirt, and black quilted vest. The trousers had their crotch torn out and replaced with a looser, stretchy black fabric that stimulated daydreams in observers and probably made it easier for him to move and flip around during an exhilarating show of, well, experimental theater, with improvised choreography, flat-screen videos of New York in winter, and actors reproducing – word-for-word, gesture-for-gesture – a twenty-minute scene from a performance by Jerzy Grotowski’s Polish Laboratory Theatre. In Polish. After the show, walking through Soho, I told my friend K – without whom I would not see as much theater in New York – that I had no idea what the fuck just happened in there, but that I loved it. And Ari. I totally googled him when I got home and discovered that I am not alone. Paper Magazine declared Ari one of the Beautiful People of 2003. As always, I’m late to join the bandwagon. Now I’ll be reduced to stalking Wooster Group shows, perplexed, invigorated, and horny.

Sunday night I left an AA meeting at the Red Door on Waverly Place, passing a bent old woman who stood on the sidewalk, holding open the exit door, rocking from one foot to the other and singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas.” Indeed, during the hour I was inside, the light drizzle had turned to snow, and the sidewalks were dusted in white. “C’mon,” she yelled at me, “Sing!” I gave the tender old bat that tight smile you give to people who try to make you sing in public, like the people who come up to you at bars and tell you to “Smile!” She rocked back and forth, singing, and I drifted past her, pulling on my hat and blinking against the slow flakes that fell all around me. The first snow. It was lovely, and I was immediately thinking of how to describe it to you when I turned the corner on Broadway and the cold smack of wind nearly leveled me.

The next day it was fourteen degrees. I had put off my winter coat purchase and was suffering the consequences, so I went to The North Face on West 73rd and invested in a big parka with a fur-trimmed hood. I bought a medium but it still makes me look like I’m eight years old. A warm, white eight year-old from the hood. Warm and poorer and slightly guilty that the most extravagant gift I bought this week was, naturally, for myself. The good thing about being in grad school is that everybody knows you’re destitute, unemployable, and strung out, so they cut you slack around the subject of Christmas gifts. Which means I can save my money for The Wooster Group.

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