“86’ed” was originally a New York expression that started at Chumleys, a speakeasy on 86 Bedford Street that kept a strict code of conduct. If you misbehaved and brought police around, you were, henceforth, persona non grata. These rowdies were taken to the entranceway of 86 Bedford and pushed out the door, once and perhaps forever after. Banished. 86’ed.
Since then, the meaning has expanded: in the military, to say something is 86ed is to say it’s out of inventory. There were once diners in New York where ‘take him to table 86’ was code for getting rid of a customer any way possible. It once even meant that someone was going to get killed, an even worse fate than not getting into Chumleys, being banned from Doc Holidays, or being asked to leave a bus, a plane, or a Dunkin’ Donuts that’s been rented out to a private party.
Have you ever been 86ed? I was thrust into the margins at an early age. Perhaps it was at the age of 6, when I wore the same dress to school every day. Or 7, when the teacher had to comb my snarled hair in the hallway. Definitely by age 9, when the kids at Hamilton Elementary School started to mutter 'witch' at me, I was out, fitting-in wise.
Oh, it smarted the first time I got kicked out of a party, at age 17. This woman strong-armed me down the steps, where I tumbled all the way down past the door. Unfazed, I hollered from the sidewalk, demanding my contact lens solution. By the time I got to the Leland Hotel on Polk Street, to either Joe Dirt or Linwood’s room, I was talking so loud and so fast that the residents across the way were screeching complaints. But this particular story is about being the kicker, not the kicked.
What I knew of the APAC, Almost Pretty Argentinean Chick, initially, was that seconds after arriving at my spontaneous party she discovered that I had some writing published.
“That’s amazing!” she said drunkenly, awfully. “Because I Always Meet the Right People at the Right Time!”
What she meant was that upon seconds of entering my premises and seeing that I had a marginal capacity to participate in an archaic craft, perhaps I was there to help her. I am so not here to help her. Now, sometimes one is around those with greater power than oneself. “This will surely help me somehow” one thinks silently. Silently.
This woman at my party, aka Anna Banana, thought she could get my friend Jeff. He was kissing her at some point, just like Joel was kissing another pretty and quiet girl he too would never see again. Ah, young Joel. Such alive eyes. I can say that kind of thing, being decades older but still somewhat in the game.
Jeff went off on Anna Banana though, at some point. Too Easy. Kind of Gross. Jeff reeks like months of bad hygiene if he removes his shoes for an instant, I even gave him socks once, so Too Easy for Jeff is not. Good. I still have the picture of Anna with the picnicy looking fabric scrap that decorates my washer/dryer wrapped on her head, a yellow rubber dish glove on her hand, and is poking a can of Easy Off Oven Cleaner at my roommate Dan’s camera. Snap. Click. Crazy ass eyes.
“You need to calm yourself down, and you need to bounce,” I told her, clearly.
“Jennifer, that’s mean!” said Dan, as I recall.
“I am 20 years older than you, I know.” I replied. Accurately, as it turned out.
“20 years younger! 20 years younger!” Dan parroted back, drunkenly, sort of waving a finger at his own chest.
“OK, then, can you handle her? You’re responsible for her.” As an extra measure I tried Jeff.
“Jeff, you are responsible for her.” Responsible and Jeff are not two words to use together, so any lingering easy appeal Anna may have had evaporated. She got worse, broke some glass by accident. Wild, but not fun wild. Desperate, almost pretty wild, con man without the right markers or set of wits wild. Drunk, high, dumb and unmoored.
“I am not Leeeeving without my Partner,” she trilled.
“Who’s your partner?” I asked curiously.
“Jeff is not your partner. He’s a tough hick. Stay out of his head,” I warned, having seen her earlier that night trying to bait him by implying she had some kind of inside track on his mind.
“I think we’ll be together for a long time” she added smugly, mystically.
Oh, why has mysticism gone to the jerks in the USA and apparently Argentina? India is not like that. Hinduism, from what I gather, is top notch. I want my mysticism back. Not Kabala or Science of the Mind, real magic. No poorly tipping Pagans, no Gatherings, just Maaaagic.
“Jeff, will you just leave and fuck her now?” I asked in vain. But by now Dan thought he could get her.
“Dan she is interested in Jeff. You can’t get her. She has to go.” Of course, in my version I am entirely correct and rational, whereas I was running a busy party and had a lot of other things to take care of. I fried a hamburger patty, busted out the relish, saw who I could get to eat the slightly gristly treat. Jeff. Jeff ate it. Then she ducked into Dan’s room.
Moonshine, on my side basically, pointed out “Well, she’s in his room,” meaning: not my territory. Dan pays rent to live in that room. It’s his. In that room there were also Dan’s two beautiful, slender, female friends, as well as Remy, who is Brooklyn Haitian.
The Argentinean lasted in that room for a while, but somehow things came to a head and my rage boiled over.
“She has to go! Now!”
It was like 6 am. “Jeff, get her out.” Jeff ran into my bedroom and shut the door, hiding. Moonshine grabbed her gently, he is so big he can do that. As he escorted her across the kitchen, past my closed bedroom door, she spat on him. Dan lamely went to stand right outside our apartment door.
“What’s going on?” he demanded. Then he saw, cognizant. Anna Bannana was starting to yell as she got jack knifed down the stairs. By the next floor she was banging on my neighbors' doors.
“Oh,” said Dan, finally understanding that she was pretty horrible, just as I had predicted from her crazy look of hours earlier. The apartment is my equity, my real estate, my sole property, my life, my plans. The co-op board and a coupla neighbors, well about 6, hated me virulently for about a fifth of my life so I have no margin for error. Moonie clamped a hand on her mouth, he says.
Once she was on the pavement, she took a swing at Moonshine. “I can hit you back, or you can just walk away,” he said, logically.
I guess she walked away, but not that far. Ricardo from apartment D found her on the corner at maybe about 6 a.m. and took her back to his first floor room.
“That kid gets his own room?” I thought, when he told me about it, a couple of months later. “How big is their unit?”
Anyway Ricardo’s sister told Anna she had to go, and so the twice kicked out woman started kicking at their door. “Fucking Mexicans!” she was saying. Interesting to know how different Argentinean and Lower East Side Spanish are, but I guess they can communicate in the international language of slurs.
“My sister wanted to pound her,” said Ricardo. It was the first time we ever talked. I saw him go from being a stoner kid to now having some game and his own style—he’s boss. That’s what my building was founded for. HDFC. Low Income Co-Op. It’s for me too. It’s become for me. I’ve become for it.
Jennifer Blowdryer first attained belletristic notoriety by the same means as Dr. Johnson, by writing a dictionary. Hers was of trendy slang in the Bay Area underground scene(s) of the 1980s. She went on to write an autobiography of her early years, White Trash Debutante and a comic novella, The Laziest Secretary. 86ed, a collection of anecdotes of being kicked out, will be published by Pedestrian Press in June of this year. Later in the day on which this piece is being published, she will be performing in a tribute concert at the Bowery Electric in honor of The Velvet Underground for Lou Reed's 79th birthday.