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Last night, I went out for a mini-gathering of noders after work - Crux and Billy were the guys who wanted to watch Akira in the AMC Empire theater on 42nd St., only to find out that the screening is over in NYC and moved to San Francisco. We had dinner in the Cafe Edison, and shopped in the Virgin Megastore until 10:00-ish.

Afterwards, we part ways and I'm out on my own. In memory (actually oblivion) of the noder wedding last night, I went out for a drink. I went to the Firebird Restaurant in 46th St. because I went to their cabaret (the Firebird Cafe) a while ago. Unlike other noders, I don't feel at home with the downtown bars because I'm one step too upscale, too "live beyond the means" to hang out in wherever Yossarian or anybody else in New York City liked to go for their get-togethers.

The Firebird is a grand place. It's filled with paintings, statues and vases, but it's not big enough to be showy as the Russian Tea Room. A couple of theatregoers dropped by, and so are business types and the nonesuch.

I had a straight glass of whisky for my first drink of the night. I remembered it being that same stuff I had in Chicago when I saw Stylee. Yeah... Maker's Mark... At least it didn't have any ice from a tub that was made into a makeshift ashtray.

While I was there, I talked to a couple of women who came from buying lots of chocolate candy tonight, all tucked away in a shopping bag or two. I started talking with them, introducing myself and all. And I talked about my goals in the future: Either graduate school or the Army. It's funny to hear from everybody telling me that I have a lot to live for in the future away from the Army. Maybe I just don't see it. They were also talking about the cabaret singers that we know - Karen Mason, Ute Lemper, and so on.

And during the evening, Lana Rein was playing the piano. She accompanied this waiter who sang a few numbers from his favorite operas. Lana even did Maria from West Side Story with Michael Pace, the guy who was doing a show in the cabaret downstairs.

Only by drinking I can see my humanity. I can see myself talking to some girl in the place, just to say hello. Nah. The Firebird doesn't have that kind of crowd. It's not like you will see some guy in full CliffyB mode hitting on girls (which is a bad thing, supposing a guy in a suit and chains taking all of the girls right under ya). For crying out loud, Cliff wouldn't even do that.

Before I go, I had a flute glass of Stolichnaya. Okay, I had the regular flavor (not the pepper-flavored -- I love hot stuff). It all cost $16, and I wished I had more (even now).

Afterwards, I left in peace.

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