It’s “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” smooth as I walk inside. Segmented couches seem to creep closer together, their caramel leather seats melting into one another, silently begging you to stick around a while. There is a wash of gold throughout the room and the lighting has been expertly adjusted to fuckin’-to-an-infomercial-r&b-compilation-album dimness. Cue the Dru Hill choreographed dance and a Sisqo squeal. Each of my steps is coaxed along by the soft click of fine Italian floor meeting broke-down shoe. I wonder if I should have brought something other than a hoodie and some Jimmy Jazz jeans to my visual game. With suspiciously acute timing, one of the building’s managers saunters over from what I can only assume was Helmut Lang’s 1974 fall runway show. My irrational slob fears become immediately warranted.
He’s a glossy mirage as he extends his arm and I hesitate for a second, wondering what to do with my hand if it slips from his snake-slick grip. In the end I resolve to overcompensate with an exceptionally firm handshake, no “no homo” needed. He glides toward the front desk like the Good Witch Glinda while I come high-stepping behind him like the loyal troll-faced Lollipop Kid that I’m not. Damn this lighting. His high-voltage smile is fixed at its may-shock-to-death setting and as his hands search blindly behind the desk I tell him and myself, “You know I live here, right?” His glacial teeth part and he cracks a whip-like laugh. Without saying a word his hands rise and, as if coming from an archaeological dig, he produces the key to my new Frank Gehry designed apartment. “We also have a package for you, Mr. Thompson.” Hell yeah, my bathroom towels must have come in.
I’ve got 29 flights to bypass in the elevator while I consider how I got to this moment. Traveling is a bitch, man, and after spending the better part of two decades on a tour bus, the past two years shuffling between Philly and New York, and the next two minutes in this elevator, I’m ready for a small, skewed slice of domestic bliss. Playing in the house band for NYC-based Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has kept me locked down in Midtown five days a week and hopped up on room service every night thereafter. And while the free reign of porn, hastily prepared foods, and complimentary robes has afforded me some warped sense of stability, I think I’m at a point in life where I’d like to be the one to handle my own indulgent messes. Well, maybe not. But I certainly would like to bask in my hedonism longer than morning clean-up services allow for.
My manager was the one who plucked out this architectural debutante from the downtown skyline and signed me up for an apartment. All my New York connects said Brooklyn was the place to be—open-air lofts, secluded urban living, trendy white girls aplenty. I spent three days finding the perfect ratio of coffee to milk, hoping to catch a preliminary glimpse of my future baby’s complexion with (insert upper-middle class Caucasian female name here) before my manager dropped the bomb that I was going to be domestically sequestered in Manhattan’s Financial District. I couldn’t doubt him, though, his dreadlocked behemoth of a self has been unmistakably by my side for those 20 years, these past two years, but, thankfully, not this two-minute small ass elevator ride. His rationale was that we’ve got this book deal coming up and it could use a good launch pad, a good story to set the stage. Plus, he thinks I lack basic human skills: After all these years of being cradled and coddled by a hotel staff, apparently I need a round-the-clock team of veritable nannies to (presumably) wipe my spittle. I mentally recap my first steps onto the yellow brick road with high-gloss Glinda as the elevator car catches.
The doors open and I step across the 30th floor threshold, a Bed, Bath, & Beyond box awkwardly balanced under my arm. Here goes the story.