11.17.2002

A dark, rainy weekend. Girl from work had a birthday party at Centro-Fly on Friday night. I showed up after midnight and almost had to pay before one of the bouncers recognized me. "Haven't seen you around" he said, "and a Friday too, good Lord." I sniffed and made a face. "I'm sure your boss would like you talking that way." "Where's TRUE?" he said. "She's dead," I said, waited a second, and then busted out laughing at his stricken expression.

I settled in the lounge with a seltzer and my collar pulled up, nodding my head to the hip-hop: "I'm making short term goals, when the weather folds..." The birthday girl wouldn't leave me alone. I realized I made a mistake in coming as soon as I saw her silly drunken face. "I'm so GLAD you could make it! I was getting WORRIED!" Her voice looped in that Midwest way that makes me want to punch something. She's Indian and most of her friends were Indian, so I was something of an exoticism for her: a white dyke with a questionable past. I had my hair moussed up in a proper pompadour--not the usual soft side part I do for work-- which I could tell pleased her immensely. She introduced me to girls with the same olive skin, the same straight black hair and the same sleeveless, off-the-shoulder blouses from Bannana Republic or some shit like that. They might have been hot but I don't know. I didn't even feel like trying. I noticed how their eyes immediately dashed to my hand. Obviously the birthday girl had pointed out the fact of my missing fingers ahead of time, in some early evening, tipsy tell-all.

The thing was, I had known that I'd get a lot of attention--that might have been the reason that I went, but once it happened it was terrible, and all I could wish was that I was invisible again. What's wrong with me? I thought. I felt old, used-up and over it.

I cut through the dance floor, past the plastic honeycomb walls and the tiered, hanging lamp that looked like an upside-down wedding cake and got on line for the bathroom. Centro-Fly's facilities look like those of a nice Italian restaurant in Hoboken. I waited for it to clear out before I took my Sharpie and made some obligatory tags on the clean white tiles in one of the stalls. I heard some girls waiting by the sink so I flushed and came out to free up the toilet. They were both white, a brunette and a blonde, with long noses and great bodies. Cotton and acyrllic tank-tops, tight Italian pants. The brunette one gave me a desulatory glance before stepping widely around me. Her friend went in next door. I stood against the radiator, listening to them tinkling. Then they came out and went at their hair with heavy wooden brushes. They talked about some guy and why he was here without his friend. Or rather the brunette talked. The blonde just nodded and said, "Ah-hah," over and over. I got the feeling she was like me--sober but out of it. I watched as she expertly put on pink lipstick, blotted it on a papertowel until it was perfect, frowned, took a small square cloth out of her handbag, wiped it off and started all over again. I struggled to get a good view of the mirror, so that I could see what she would do differently. She leaned over the sink as though she were about to dive in, her perfect ass pouting back at me, telling me a thousand lonely stories of the unappreciative gazes it had received and the fumbling male hands that had failed to make it glow. By this point, her friend was getting suspicous. "Don't you have to use the toilet?" she asked suddenly, her arched eyebrows furrowed. She hadn't turned around, prefering instead to speak to me in the mirror. "I'm cool," I said, trying unsuccessfully not to sound like I was coming out of a daze. I made sure my hands were behind my back. She gave a sideway glance to her friend and mouthed the words, "Let's go." "Just a minute," the blonde said out loud. I took this as a victory. The brunette shrugged and slinked out of the bathroom and into the hall, where her shadow remained within earshot. I took a deep breath and licked my own lips as the girl blotted hers for the second time. "What was wrong with the lipstick?" I ventured. Her eyes darted up in the mirror, locking into place with mine like slot machine fruit. They were wide, cold. I forced myself not to look away and prepared for the "fuck off."

"I put it on too thick," she said, quietly. Her voice was low, like a movie star. I sensed something practiced about it that made me trust her implicitly. The glare in her eyes softened; I could almost read something in them--like a document under glass-- but then they were looking down, as she quickly scooped up her make-up and dumped it into her bag. Within seconds she was out the door.

I fingered myself in the stall she used, sitting on the toilet beaded with drops of her piss. It was like scratching an itch when you know scratching will only make it worse. When I was done I wiped my hand and my pussy off with the bottom of my Joy Division T-shirt and went back out to see the birthday girl.

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