Some goats. And citrus.
“.@Patagonia party. Here’s my coconut,” was the tweet I had in mind. For visual assistance, I planned to add a picture of it held at a selfie’s distance from myself, a straw and a cocktail umbrella sticking out askance, the odd-sounding plural “Summers” cresting over a sunburst etched into its fibre.
On the ground floor of this multi-level SoHo storefront, the band that plays that song, whose hook is “Get up, get down. Get up, get down,” was warming up. The gestures: The food (outside and upstairs); the drinks (everywhere); and the band (on a riser in the back of the first floor); presented as hip, knowing, and as a display of capital—both social and monetary.
The crowd? It’s not exactly normcore, but no one looks quite like they’re ready to climb Denali either. Somewhere in-between downtown and Courchevel 1850; comfortable in skinny jeans. They look hale enough that it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine them talking about their part-time modeling gigs or Rockaway surf chalets.
Here was something approaching cool — inclusivity in a semi-exclusive event — being there, among, apart of it. It’s a flawed practice, albeit trendy, writing about how you spend-waste your time, hoping others will want to read about it. But, there I was, sitting on the steps (above the band, below the coconut bar) of the Patagonia store, rubbernecking and hot taking.
It was early in the week for a party, but the salesperson I purchased my Torrentshell Jacket in Black from at a different Patagonia store location the previous day had charmed me into the idea of coming through. Though it seemed self-incriminating to purchase and make small talk(!) in the Patagonia store that now lives next door to the former CBGB’s space. But I hedged: My hunch was that it’d be good experience, one to revisit later if the freelance roles cooled off.
It was beginning to feel familiar, showing up to parties sponsored by lifestyle brands. Which is an inane enough sentence to consider, but it’s part of the fabric of bourgeoise New York. The top-tier of folks who actually live the lifestyles being hawked are slim compared against the kooks who adopt what’s cool and ambassador it for as long as they can ride the wave. It’s a balance between commerce and vanity; an Instagrammable thing to do in the age of social media. Why else are we arming the commentariat youth with smartphones if not to chronicle aspiration and atmosphere?
But if you sign up for enough newsletters, become a member at the many museums and indie theaters, or by mere fact of having a Facebook profile, you’ll get familiar with the “booze and conversation” functions that tend to flourish despite the City’s hydroelectric press of preening, competitive consumption.
From my vantage on the steps I noticed people whom I follow on Instagram but don’t actually know IRL, as it were. My excuse for following them in the first place was there being three or thereabouts — enough, assumedly — of degrees of friends separating them from me. That and perhaps, our sense of self, is in its reflection not of ourselves, but of the others we put in our sphere of influence. Marxists think the only thing we own is the self; in particular, the body and the waking mind which works, consumes, and makes purchases. The inverse of which is that we are in degrees the likes and shares we get on social media, the friends we hang out with. The idealized world of Me. Population: My social media following.
In situ, it’s a disorienting feeling to meet humans you idly idolize. Partly because people are sometimes worse looking than their digital personas. But rather that living vicariously through social media is put in danger when proximity places me and those personalities in the same moment. The physical closeness reveals a cultural dearth that is a special kind of bummer. As it was for the Marxist who could barter his skills for foodstuff or a product outside his trade, for the consumerist, the personal interaction is a prized moment. One we’re most likely to document, share, and remember.
From experience, at parties and not just this one, do not try to start a conversation with a girl by asking, “Are those your coconuts?” Non-starter.
Yet, divine inspiration is sometimes parceled out like school lunches, giving you something to work with until the day’s over and you can head home. I finally remembered the band’s name after they played a more familiar hit. I told that much to the girl sitting in front of me, the “Those your coconuts?” girl, and chatted with her while Sylvan Esso finished their set.
“I work on a farm,” she tells me. I respond with my I WOOFed-while-in-college-as-an-archaeology-major story.
Unimpressed, but seemingly a kind person, she asks what I grew there.
“Uh, turkeys.” I realize this sounds stupid. “It was a homestead,” I quickly follow up with.
We listen to a little more of the music. I tell her I write, mostly freelance. Another instance of how I reduce my qualities and history into sips. She stares at me as I talk. I partake of my coconut expecting to see boredom or disinterest in her gaze. I don’t. Her eyes are green, a natural color.
The lead singer of Sylvan Esso is dancing wildly, in a practiced and sensual way. It’s hard not to watch her dance.
“If I have a teenage daughter, I hope she gets drunk and goes to parties like these and dances like that!”
“You’ll be a great mother,” I tell her.
I learn more about Grace, the farmer, who is married to a videographer for Patagonia, but not the one who did that heartbreaking video of a man and his dog, who dies, though the man has cancer and survives on.
The band’s set is winding down. I don’t want to get stuck in the exiting crowds nor do I especially want to see any of the Instagrammers or that one girl I thought I recognized and stared at for too long.
I have to shout the house DJ is that loud. “It’s funny. I’ve been going to more and more of these kinds of parties lately. But…” I make a crossing motion with my hands trying to animate how hard it is to coordinate plans with anyone in New York.
“They’re fun. I really like these kinds of parties,” she replies ignoring my mannerisms. I imagine the life she has on her farm with her Patagonia videographer beau in California is pretty nice. “My husband has to work these events, so, I usually get to just hang out — ”
“And meet people?” I ask, cutting her off.
She laughs. “Yea. They’re great.”
The band’s done. My coconut’s empty. It’s time.
“So, I guess I’ll be out of here then. Maybe I’ll write about this,” I say.
She looks at me. “For the Net,” I bafflingly mumble, making to exit.
Grace, enjoying the energy, the view of the beautiful people, is still sitting on the steps, so I ask her, “What do you grow on your farm?”
“Some goats. And citrus.”