Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Loud Desperation

I walk into the crowded club of explicitly genital-focused dance moves and exposed sweaty skin, clutching my winter coat and gloves. Dressed like a secretary on Casual Friday, I am indisputably an infrequent visitor to this place: this destination for those desperate to be desired and, apparently, the obvious choice location for my little sister, Samantha's, bachelorette party.

My older sister, Jess, buys me a beer and I dance beside the bar, poking my fingers to the beat and bobbing my head like a buoy in a stormy bay. I stand out like a tomato in a bowl of flour, but I don't mind. I'm glad I don't belong in this zoo of wild animals caged by society's sexual norms and allowances. Intoxicated wild animals, really, ready to mate and procreate. Except, instead of drunken poop throwing monkeys; girls, covered in vodka tonic vomit, run to the bathroom, accidentally wiping partially digested dinner chunks onto Jessica's silk top while she waits in line for an available stall. Instead of pill popping peacocks flipping open their fans of feathers; young men adjust the top buttons of their dress shirts, exposing their curly chest hair and shiny religious necklaces. Instead of stoned bats hanging from dark man made caves; twenty-something girls swing from precociously placed stripper poles, holding cameras above their heads and flashing photos frequently in hopes they'll take at least one flattering picture to post onto the internet later that night.

The music is so loud it vibrates my green flat shoes as I dance through puddles of spilled splashed beer to reach the pillowed ring. Inside the ring, an electronic bull spins, shakes and flips a girl, forcing her skirt to slowly rise and show everyone watching her entirely wide nyloned butt. My friend leans over the padded railing, yelling

Get off, y'whore!
and I laugh at this girl's persistence to stay on rather than keep her skirt and dignity on. That is what this place is. A place where everyone is holding on so tightly, terrified that if their dance moves are not pornographically flirtatious enough and if their aging glistening faces are not in constant climactic excitement, they might miss their opportunity to find love with some dirty dancing queen or greased guido.

It is a club of strangers, performing a show of loud desperation and I have a front row seat.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Shopper

I take in my last breath of fresh, free air and pull the glass door open. Inside, a young sales-girl/woman stands behind a barricade of brasiers, belts and dapperly dressed dummies, folding scrambled piles of preshrunk colored cotton tee-shirts. She is decorated with dangling delicate necklaces; multiple layers of mismatching cardigans and camisoles; perfectly frazzled auburn hair and one leather green grenade, which drapes across her slender boobless structure (over the necklaces and cardigans), by a beautiful black satin purse strap. My knees lock when I see the potential explosion strapped to this stranger, but before I can run to the messy disappointing side of a sales rack, she is tilting her small head up and engaging her sparkly shadowed eyes with my bare baby blues. Then, without the hint of a blink, she places the grenade cap between her lip-glossed lips and throws me a high-pitched..



"Welcome to The Clothing Store You Can't Afford. Nice dirty sneakers and stretched out tee-shirt. My name is Nag. Let me know if I can help you find your size because we both know you'll feel obligated to buy anything once I've scavenged through a daunting, leaning pile of Smalls and Extra-Smalls to find you that Medium you're sort of considering trying on. And just so you know, today, when you spend the money you should be saving for that heating bill you just wrote a check for, you also receive a receipt with a printed list of all your financial guilt. Do you have the Can't Afford Credit Card?..I didn't think so. If you open one today, you will also receive a paper white bag, which will sit in your bedroom closet beside your ugly shoes, silently begging you to fill it with a new pair of trousers, flashy argyle socks, another black sweater and an orange purse -of all things- which you'll later realizes matches nothing. Holler if you need me. Remember me, Nag, at the register."

Inside the warm white lights of the dressing room, I can hide everything but my ankles. No one can touch me here.

knock. knock. knock!

"Hey, it's Nag, how's it going in there? Any luck?"

Surrounded by flung and hung garments, in my underwear, I stare blankly at my reflection, numb with disgust.

"Fine thanks."

I say, waving a white scarf and positioning my middle finger to aim precisely where her stupid, flawless face probably is.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pack My Suitcase

I want to walk down narrow London lanes. Drink Heineken in Holland. Train to Edinburgh. Get drunk in Dublin. Order mozzarella pizza in Sicily. Photograph children dangling from German jungle-gyms. Photograph fiddling buskers playing the desolate streets of Denmark. Photograph groups of giggling girlfriends holding hands in Japan. I want to drink red wine and chew on cheese and bread, while a Venetian native steers me down a slender, green canal in a long, black gondola. I want to write about miscommunications; missed flights; lost baggage and the fast-talking French waiters I fear. I want to dance to Polish music after a plate of sausage and sauerkraut. I want to picnic in New Zealand; order a cappuccino in Milan; gape at beautiful Bulgarian ballerinas; roam Rome's Colosseum, wander to Norway, prance through Prague...

This is what I have for daydreams on my rainy day off: a life of fearless travel where I have money like a candy store has colorful corn syrup.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Mini Unit

One weekend every year, The Mini-Unit travels somewhere together and this February, we bused from Boston to New York City. The Mini-Unit consists of my two sisters, my mother and me (The Unit is my mother, her four sisters and their mother, my grandmother).

"Mom, why did you name it The Unit?"

"'Cause we're the unit, you know...the unit!"

"Well, a unit often refers to a penis, which is something none of us have."

During this two day trip, we are
classified alcoholics; full blown caffeine addicts; laughing gas junkies; preschool psychics painting predictions of our evolving futures; creepy old men, farting in elevators and photographing naked sculptures; serious psychologists; beauty school experts; knee socked nerds; vulgar dinner dates. We are little girls fighting for Mom's attention.

"Your father would kill me if he knew what we were talking about." 

"I still don't see what all the hype is about." 

"You're in your happy place, aren't you?"

"I can't believe we're having this conversation!"

On our second night, we take Mom to see a Broadway musical for her birthday. Afterward, we walk to the Olive Garden in Times Square. We sit in a red booth on the third floor, open our menus and find that they are decorated with pictures, prices and the calorie counts of every meal, drink and dessert. Entrees range from 300 calories to 1,400 calories. I choose a "light" meal (a commitment of only 330 calories), afraid I might otherwise die of heart disease before leaving New York the following morning. But when the 330 calories arrive, I notice immediately that the dish of pink, runny apricot jelly sauce drizzled over chicken breasts, steamed broccoli and asparagus, smells strangely familiar. "My dinner smells like vagina." I announce, pleased to have pinpointed the clammy stench. My sister has ordered the same. And apparently, her vagina doesn't smell like my vagina, because she defends the dinner and devours it.

When the young male waiter asks how everything is, I say good and smile, unable to tell him what I really think because my pre-show white wine has faded to fatigue and my bottle of beer is only half drunk. Eventually I scrape off the smelly jelly and convince myself to eat half of the $17.99 meal.

"I don't want to go back to real life." We all say over and over, while knowing full well that two and a half days is probably the safest amount of time to spend together in a small hotel room with only two double beds and one bathroom.

"I didn't get to my happy place until my thirties! This doesn't leave this trip."

"Rachel, you CAN'T write about this."