Andrew is already at the dingy haunt by the time I arrive. He’s polite and amicable but has to run out to a bodega for a Red Bull, zipping up an uncharacteristic black hoodie over his all-white uniform. Is he getting revved up for the night? Is that his secret? I contemplate and down a Yuengling. He returns, apologetic, and grabs a Stoli and soda (shocker, I know), so I follow suit. “I usually like drinking vodka straight up or with caviar,” he says. “You know who introduced me to caviar? Marky Ramone, when we were in Russia.” Gazing onto Tompkins Square Park through the bar’s windows, Andrew rambles about the mystical qualities of parks existing in cities but switches quickly from philosophical to playful, bounding into the bar’s photo booth with me for an impromptu shoot. We’re befuddled by the touch-screen menu (“This is the most elaborate photo booth I’ve ever been in!” he hollers) and pay for two photo strips. Six inexplicably come out. We’re bonding. Game on.
6:12pm The Pyramid Club
“We’re off on an adventure!” a GoPro-rigged Andrew shouts while ambling down Avenue A. We stop outside the club but don’t go in, and he rattles off the venue’s impressive alums: Madonna, Debbie Harry, Nirvana. A group of ball-capped bros huddle on the sidewalk to do the “Is that…?” gawk. An older gentleman calls out “Andrew!” I think he seems like an unlikely fan, but Andrew explains he’s an “Alphabet City neighbor” and envelops him in a hug, telling him he’ll see him “on the cruise.” What cruise this is and where my invite has gone, I’ll never know.
6:20pm Drop Off Service
Slipping into a wooden booth in the back room, we talk serious business over more vodka: drinking games. Shockingly, this is one party ritual the Professor knows nothing about. “I think that’s something I missed out on by not going to college. When I drink, that’s the game in and of itself. You automatically win!” We rule out prop-required games like beer pong and flip cup, and instead I teach him how to play Never Have I Ever. “Wait, so I drink if I have done it?” he asks? (Yes. Duh.) So has he vomited on a carnival ride? Nah. How about cried after getting fired from a job? Nope. “I’m never proud of things I haven’t done,” he says. “I’ve never woken up outside after a party, but I’d like to.”
6:33pm Double Wide
Three drinks in, he’s cool as a cucumber; my five-foot-two self less so. We briefly consider making a drunchies run to Empire Biscuit—“I’ve tried many a biscuit. In terms of reliability, Popeyes is the best,” he tells me—but our liquid urge pulls us into a bar for a quick shot. “I like Fireball, even though it gives me acid reflux,” he says before slamming one. Next!
6:38pm Sing Sing Karaoke
“This is where I had my first karaoke experience,” Andrew shares as we file into a private room outfitted with a tongue-wagging Miley Cyrus mural. “It was on September 11, 2001, around three in the morning. It was one of the greatest nights of my life, before the worst day ever,” he says, then pauses. After a mighty gulp of our vodka sodas (“Mmm, the lime is good. It’ll ensure we don’t get scurvy”), he launches into Peggy March’s “I Will Follow Him,” with a midsong aside on how much he loves the “cheerful nuns” of Sister Act. A duet to “Midnight Train to Georgia” follows. I’m Gladys Knight, and Andrew is a lyrics-forgetting Pip. “I thought I knew this song,” he apologizes before breaking out in a Barry Gibbs falsetto. He keeps fucking up the Pips’ “wooh wooh!” part. I heckle him.
6:54pm Miss Lily's Cafe
We’re back where we started, at the corner of East 7th and A, doodling on napkins and gabbing about Taylor Swift’s gig as the Global Welcome Ambassador to New York City. “The best thing about New York is that it’s a different experience for everyone, and each one of them is valid,” he muses. With that final surprising bit of wisdom, we part ways, with him gingerly, almost soberly walking off to—where else?—a party and me stumbling to hail a cab uptown.