In December, drinking Horchata
I don’t know what horchata is - something about milk and coffee and the different of percentages that make up a mug. I remember the first time I heard it though - it was at some condo up at Columbia and some band was playing something about December and horchata and a bunch of other gibberish shit that didn’t make sense. But I liked the sound though. When the show was done, we walked out to a snowing december with a shy palette of hazy violet still in the early morning air. The rest of them went back across the bridge to Jersey, or back to their dorms at Columbia and Barnard. Sidewalks sheathed in white snow, taxi heads hooded white, and a slow wind moving through. I hail for a taxi as one came by making a sluggish stop from the slushy snow. I step into the slush and open the back door to hear the clucking of heels behind me - the girl I danced with at the party who was most definitely beautiful and most definitely buzzed. She asked if she could share a ride.
Down to fourteenth street, please. I turn and looked at her - And where are you going? - but she gave me one of those drunk but not too drunk slurred responses - Somewhere near you. I let the taxi make it’s way down to fourteenth because the guy is an impatient American asshole. I’m sitting on the left side looking out at the streetlights and the snow particles gleaming in a constant wave, she was sitting on the other side with her head leaning against the window, eyes closed, lipstick intact.
We danced a bit back at the condo, but I never caught her name. I look away when her shoulders shudder from the cold, her eyes still closed though. I look back for a few more moments and then blanket her with my wool trench coat over her skinny contours and slim dress and her tiny leather jacket. I look back out as we pass by Jersey right across the river-
It’s December already - the snow is sticking well for the first fall. She’s cute but she definitely too much for me. It’s almost the end of the year again - what the hell have I been doing again?
I blow a puff of air against the window, doodling on it.
Another year and nothing has changed. Still the same person - drives in too hard only to get rejected by the rim. I might have to go back to China this time, for real. Jesus, what the fuck is with the heat in here? It’s freezing -
I hear her shuffle in her seat, and I turn to see her eyes opening. She asks where are we going. We’re going to fourteenth street - you said it was near you.
Oh, yeah, that’s fine. I’ll pay for the other half of the ride as she looks over to me and then to the taxi fare, looking through my window outside.
I turn my head back to my window - Damn, that was a quick buzz. Pretty sure she didn’t slur any of her -
"Do you want your jacket back?"
"Oh, no, it’s fine. You look like you need it more than I do," facing her.
"I danced with you at the party, right?" giving a quizzical look.
"Yeah, yeah I was - I’m Dan," as I feel the tiredness starting to kick in.
"Nice to meet you we exchange" in unison, turning away to look away.
We’re near the PIers and I can see the Carnival boats docking at them. The river looks frozen over. After a while I ask her what she thought of the band -
Umm, I liked their sound, but i didn’t really get the lyrics. Something about December and horchata - whatever the fuck that is.
Damn, I thought. She was definitely reading me.
"Y’know I thought the same thing. Apparently horchata is some coffee drink" I say with half of my face turned towards her.
"Well, I would love to try one right now, because that would definitely beat out this snow that’s falling"
I give a half-smile more to look less goofy than I was tired.
"I could kill for some hot chocolate too."
And at that time, that December looked different to me, I mean after all the snow was sticking for the first time in New York Fucking City.
I asked her, “Do you have time to maybe grab something?”
She looked my way, gave a half-weary smile and said, “I would love to but I’m just too tired, maybe some other time.”
There it was, another December shot down again.
"Oh, that’s fine, yeah it’s getting late." I look away, staring at the encroaching walls of skyscrapers.
A few moments pass by, the snow making it’s mark on the city.
"Hey, sorry, what was the band called again?"
"I think it was Vampire Weeks Say" I said.
"What the hell does that mean?" she said aloud
"No idea, but I wish I could’ve been them" I said despondently.
She laughed, I didn’t even know why.
The taxi rolls to the side next to Everything Bagels, and I realize I didn’t have any cash. I decide to swipe and pay for it anyway.
We get out and she saids thanks, again.
She hands me back my coat, and we say good night, and I start to walk away, snowflakes sticking to my jacket.
As I’m walking toward the end of the sidewalk, I hear her shoes clucking behind me -
"Wait! I need to look something up" she said running towards me.
Already handing her my phone, I ask her what for.
"My phone died and I just had to find out what that song was"
Fuck me, should’ve just said my phone was on 2% like every other fucking iphone user does.
I wait for a couple of seconds, and she hands me back my phone -
"It’s called Horchata"
"Thanks, I’ll try it out sometimes"
She smiles but I don’t know what for, I give a half-ass of whatever I can do with my face, and we walk away in separate directions.
As I walk back with my hands dug into my pockets,stepping to the front door on Baylor Street my back pocket vibrates.
Who the hell would text me now-
I take out my phone, and I see it’s a message from Horchata
Show me a good place next time -
And my phone shuts off.