Jacoby and the Eggcream

Jacoby met me at a beer hall somewhere in alphabet city. It was a spring night, March 2009, cold enough still for jackets. He had a gap between his front teeth, a feature I find both repulsive and alluring. He was tall. I was with David and his wife Isabelle, on our way to see David’s band. He came to my table and sat with my friends.

David is the only person I know who’s actually making it as a musician in New York City. Sometimes I get angry at him for contributing to the overall noise in this place but his really is different from everyone else’s. Whatever notes he plays, they feel round and good to me. Like cherry tomatoes. Both David and Isabelle liked Jacoby. He paid equal attention to them as to me, which I appreciated. I liked that I felt a little jealous of it too.

We walked to the gig and he carried an amp. Then we didn’t talk much because I felt ridiculous explaining my theories on religion and classism and my family history in the 30 seconds between songs.

“I like the way David holds his guitar,” Jacoby said. “He’s protective. You can tell he respects it.”
I looked up at him and smiled.

Afterward, we went for eggcreams at Belgium Fries in Tompkins Square Park. I read about eggcreams when I was 12, I think in a Judy Blume novel, and they’ve haunted me ever since. When I learned they were originally created in New York, my obsession with foamy, fizzy chocolatey milk became intimately mixed with my sense of self in this city. Jacoby offered to pay. As we walked out of the shop, he told me about his ex-girlfriend, who he’d dated for six years. He described her as a bitch. I could tell he was hearing the impression he made, so I gave him a pass on it. I reminded myself that I know a few people I’d describe that way.

David and Isabelle made excuses about taking his gear to their car, leaving us standing on a street corner. He slurped while I chattered out a few more jokes. Then we kissed.

“You taste like chapstick,” I said.
“Not eggcream?”

I laughed because it was a strange thing to say, and we kept kissing. On the ride home, from the back of David’s bumpy car, I texted Jacoby that I’d had a great time. He asked if I wanted to get together the following day.

The next morning, in my gray pajama pants and light blue t-shirt, I asked what time he wanted to meet. He said he’d come down with something and felt awful. I wished him well and spent the day eating cranberries and Greek yogurt in bed, winding my way through a Jane Austen novel while the sky outside never got brighter than a dark gray.

I never heard from Jacoby again.