Anderson and I – The “Bromance” That Never Was
I’m in a bar just off of the Lorimer Avenue stop. It’s some newish joint decorated with tiki torches and grass to make it look like one of those places where Tom Hanks hung out in Castaway—I can’t remember how that fucking movie went. I’m drinking whatever the opposite of a cosmopolitan is when I catch a swath of silver hair hovering over a tailored gray suit walking into the only bathroom in the place. This kind of thing usually doesn’t catch my attention, but in this particular case, the trip to the restroom was accompanied by someone next to me saying, “Was that Anderson Cooper?” The guy who says it looks pretty scruffy, so I don’t really give him a response, but I then realize that it is in fact Anderson Cooper going into the men’s room of this little hole in the wall bar in Williamsburg.
The thing is that I’ve always thought that Anderson and I should hang out. As it turns out we are almost exactly the same age—although I look younger and more virile because he’s gray and I’m more of a strawberry blonde—but he makes up for that by being on television and being a Vanderbilt. I do realize, however, that he’s a famous person and probably isn’t going to be amenable to a stranger in a bar asking him to just hang out, so I catch the eye of the heavily pierced and tattooed bartender, who subsequently saunters over to me.
“Hey, Paul, was that Anderson Cooper that just walked into the bathroom?”
“Yeah, he stops in sometimes when he wants to get out of Manhattan.”
“Give him some decent scotch; put it on my tab.”
Paul shakes his head. “He only drinks pear mojitos.”
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Alright, mix up a pitcher of those things and bring us two glasses.”
Paul walks away muttering something under his breath, but he gets to work on the drink order. He’s still grinding away at the mint leaves when Anderson reemerges from the unisex restroom. He walks over to an empty corner table where I haven’t noticed a half a mojito and a coat before now. He eyes the mojito suspiciously. Never leave a drink unattended, Mister Cooper, I think to myself.
After what seemed like the better part of fifteen minutes, Paul walks back over to my place at the bar with a large glass ewer filled with an off-pink liquid and two glasses. I thank him and drop a wad of twenties on the bar in case I forget to come back and pay the bill. I grab the glasses by the bottoms, pick up the heavy pitcher by the handle and sashay over to Anderson Cooper’s table.
“You’re Anderson Cooper, right?”
“Yes, and your name is?” he inquires politely.
“Chillbear Latrigue. Paul over there says you drink these things. Pear mojito?”
“Yeah, I don’t know why Paul keeps insisting on serving this to me. I usually drink scotch.” Fucking Paul.
“Well, the problem is that I now have a half-gallon of this swill. Want a drink?”
Anderson is pretty cool about it. He offers me a chair by kicking it lightly an inch or two in my direction and making a palm up gesture with his hand. I drop the glasses on the table and fill them about three-quarters of the way. There’s about an hour of small talk before we drain the pitcher. Glancing at the dregs, I suggest we call it a night. I’m a little surprised when Anderson suggests we go back to his place to hang out.
“I’ve got a better idea,” I say. “This might be the tequila talking—”
“Really? Well, I guess rum is cool. This might be the rum, but with your access to the city, my imagination, your wealth, and your celebrity appeal, we can really do some damage out there. What do you say?”
“I think it’s a bad idea,” Anderson says. I’m so crestfallen I actually don’t even want to go to the apartment, but then he nudges me with his elbow and adds, “Let’s do it.”
Anderson and Chill Hit The Town
Rawhide Lounge – 2152 hours
“These pear mojitos seem like a pussy drink, but the mother fuckers really kick your ass after a while.”
“Maybe, you should slow down, Chill.”
“Fuck you, AC. Naw, I’m just kidding.”
The Cock – 2310 hours
“You know, ChiLat, you could be a news anchor. You just have to know the right people and get used to talking in front of cameras.”
“Come on, Anderson, I think it’s a little harder than that. Seriously? That sounds like the kind of thing I would tell a chick to get in her pants. ‘Sure, you could be a model blah, blah, blah.’ I mean I know you didn’t mean it that way, so thanks I guess.”
“No problem, Cee.”
Uncle Charlie’s Piano Bar & Cocktail Lounge“ – 0045 hours
“You’re single, Anderson, right? I’m telling you, if you just talk naturally to women the way you talk to me, you won’t have any problem at all.”
“I mean, look at you. You’re goddamn Anderson Cooper. Have a little confidence man!”
Le Boy Bar & Lounge – 0130 hours
“Dude, I’m really sorry about the lack of talent at these places. I’m not actually from New York.”
“I think this club is pretty happening, Chill.”
“What are you blind, AC? Don’t tell me those beautiful blue eyes are just for getting the ladies to tune into 360. It’s a fucking sausage fight in here.”
“Hahaha. I said ‘sausage fight.’ Did I mean ‘sword fight’ or ‘sausage fest’? Who the fuck knows? You get my point. It’s just a bunch of male Calvin Klein models in this mother fucker. God, I could go for a swim.”
The Urge – 0245 hours
“I’m going to be perfectly honest here, Anderson. I don’t usually dance with men, but do you see even one chick in this entire fucking place?”
“I just really like Sinead O’Connor. You never hear this song anymore. Anyway, I wouldn’t mind leading, mister hotshot news guy.”
The Wind Down
Denny’s Restaurant (Avenel, NJ) – 0412
“I always thought that Moons Over My Hammy was a stupid name for a meal, but I always order it anyway.”
“Yeah, I know. Hey, Anderson, are you one of those people who can drink coffee with anything?”
“Me either. Just doughnuts.”
“Chill, you want to tab out and come back to my place? I’ve got a bar and a jacuzzi on a terrace.”
“Anderson, dude, you are incorrigible. It’s going to be daylight soon and we struck out all over town. No, I’m going to call it a night. We should hang out again sometime. This was an anomaly. I usually find all kinds of chicks when I’m in New York.”
“I’m going to head back to the city, Chill. Can you get up, so I can slide out?”
“Whoa, Anderson, what’s your hurry, broman?”
“Please don’t call me that,” he murmurs and I can tell that he’s annoyed.
“Look, you seem pissed. What’s going on?” I ask.
“Well, you know, it seems like we’re having a great time and now you just want to go home. I just— It’s stupid.”
“Look, I like you too, but you know, we’re guys. We hang out. We look for girls, and at the end of the night we head home. And I just want to say how sorry I am. It’s like every place we went to was wall-to-wall cock—especially The Cock. I mean if we had found girls, we would have cleaned up. You’re Anderson Cooper for fuck’s sake.”
“You’ve got to get some confidence in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, what kind of chance do the rest of us have?”
A week later, I read that he admitted to being gay in a copy of OUT that I picked up in the Atlanta International terminal. Never saw it coming.