The Diaries of Arnon Grunberg (8)

Arnon walked south on LaFayette street toward one of his favorite bars in downtown Manhattan, called Kremlin. The bar was located in the basement of a brown-stone house, its entrance bolstered by an iron-clad entrance with at the top of the staircase leading down, a red lantern with Cyrillic fonts reading kremlin. Here Arnon would sit down at the bar on one of the stools near the wall and he would have Randy the bartender shake him a random, sweet cocktail. For Arnon it was the ideal location to read and ponder in the late afternoon transgressing into the early evening. Sometimes, he would get hungry and order some tapas, sometimes he drank his hunger surge away with a Bloody Mary. The bar was ideal to spot the crowd for the archetype New Yorker of his age, without portraying the abnoxious, overweight 30-year old ignorant male, which he had no interest for. True, that obnoxious, ignorant yet conceited male made up half the population of Manhattan, but they were not the average New Yorkers. This conceited pig was perhaps imported from New Jersey or had floated to the surface from another location out of New York where it was easy to believe you mattered, a taste of the city they would allow you not. At the Kremlin the average, modest youth came to enjoy the air, like a climber who sits down on a rock just below the top and resuscitate from the climb. The place had an air of mediocracy, but an uplifted mediocracy, of a height reached not by a long climb or by one’s own merit, but reached by haven taken the ski-lift to half-way and enjoying the view. From such a view the wideness of the horizon is deceiving but real and it was this view of the viewers that Arnon enjoyed. In a way the Kremlin bar was like a modern setting for Mann’s sanatorium in the Magic Mountain. Here too the exhaustive conditions of the working day and the reposes found cause the New Yorkers to develop a chronic illness of whom none know the true nature except that we all find the treatment extremely pleasant leading us to believe that the illness therefore must be really there. We cannot fight this disease, because it is intertwined in our system and we are helpless against it. Thus, Arnon ordered another cocktail.

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