“The Not So Great Gatsby” is an anonymous first person chronicle of one man’s misadventures in Providence. The events, places, and people (except when necessary to protect the innocent) will all be real. The opinions belong to Gatsby and may not reflect those of Motif magazine.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the snow we’ve had here in Providence. Every weekend a new storm with no memory of the last comes at us from a new direction dumping all the powder it can while the markets are hard pressed to keep milk and bread on the shelves. Queer tradition, that of purchasing milk and bread for an impending storm. It makes no practical sense, but the idea of being stuck inside eating French toast isn’t necessarily unappealing. People panic, running around frantically only to be quieted inside beneath the hush of the newly fallen snow.
The frequently furious flurries of flakes has taken a toll on the people here. We are isolated in our homes, bundled under layers of clothes, and at times completely immobilized. And ironically, it’s a winter such as this that we yearn to be closer to someone. In the other seasons you can run free, undeterred by the white walls of Mother Nature, but this is different. We yearn for company and body heat, but know that like the snow itself, these flings are temporary, and will melt with the coming spring.
We’ve gradually become a society of people who give the weather names, because heaven forbid we couldn’t refer to every single thing, even a passing storm, by a familiar first name. Maybe if we used a more formal tense, like “Mr. Blizzard,” Sandy and Nemo would have been a bit more polite while passing through … but I digress.
After the last such storm, the one named for the cartoon fish, I braved the cold and headed out. Sides were chosen ahead of time and you knew who you were getting snowed in with days before the first flake fell. Advice to anyone who spent this one alone, or found the relationship strained after 72 hours of forced civility: find a sexy neighbor who you want to get to know better. Worst case is a new friend and fun story, best case is a fun new friend with blizzard benefits. Either way you can walk home when the blinding white of daylight comes to call, regardless of the presence of plow people.
Not much was open. Parkside was my first stop, and the decidedly older crowd was crammed with couples who clearly couldn’t cook. The mood was merry, and even the bookworms on the end of the bar, traveling with their personal book lights, managed a smile through the less than librarious din. JR wasn’t at the Avery, but his snowblower was. After dark, the roads were a cold pale memory, but that didn’t stop the West Side locals from hitting the the Luongo Triangle of North, then Avery, and then dancing with Zach Drummond at E&O. Those without waterproof shoes spent all night at Julians who boasted he’s never been closed in 18 years, making him a longer running Broadway hit than Les Miserables. No matter where I went, the line clearly was drawn between couples and lone wolves, both being tested by the respective closeness and solitude found in Nemo.
A man wiser than me once said, “Advice is like snow — the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind.” If I could offer you some advice, old sport, it would be: when the cold comes and covers you with its quieting white quilt, be sure to choose with whom you seek shelter wisely. I found myself risking the elements to find kindred single snowfolks to be alone together. You may run out of milk and bread and conversation. She may cheat at cards and he may hog the covers, but you are in it together building memories bigger than any snow bank.
Contact the Not So Great Gatsby at NSGgatsby@gmail.com.