“Out of my way!” spinning my superlong legs over the Lego-brick bar and shoving aside the chinless waiter who just stood there and batted his curly-girly eyelashes at me as I reached underneath and grabbed another energy drink out of the Styrofoam cooler. I turned on my heels, I snatched a bottle of Polish vodka down from the top shelf, scooped up an ecofriendly plastic cup then made myself a yellowgreenclear concoction. Because I like seriously needed the energy. Because where the hell were they—chugging and chugging—I mean didn’t they realize I was on a deadline? Didn’t they realize how ridiculously important tonight was for my career, for my reputation? Didn’t they realize my future happiness was like actually and totally at stake here? Didn’t they realize we definitely needed to get this show on the road because I obviously wasn’t getting any younger and this was like my one and only chance at a perfectly perfect life!
AH! I hiccupped and wiped my mouth. I pulled up my tights, my ripped tights, and swiveled my honey badger eyes over the dubstep-stomping crowd—back and forth, back and forth—hoping against hope that maybe, just maybe, they would give me a really pleasant surprise by slipping in through the back or something . . . But no. Nothing. I sighed, I chugged, I thought about how at least the Comfort Station was looking just like what I figured a kibbutz-style strip club in Tel Aviv would definitely look like at the end of days—baba ghanoush-greased IDF soldiers and hummus-smeared astrophysicists stretching their groins inside a temple of dangling dance cages—getting limber, getting ready—while the nine-year-old caterers, Palestinian orphans, put on their psychedelic tie-dye suits and their ten-gallon cowboy hats, each hat stacked high with lobster kebabs, with falafel waffles, with IED chewing gum. I burped and finished my fuel, then flung a quick nervous glance out the shivering windows.
Outside, in the hard knock night, the traffic lights were still being throttled this way and that by the Katrina-force winds, by the Sodom and Gomorrah hail raining down and battering the red carpet canopy set up for the taxis and SUV limos, for the helicopters and private jets, for the amphibious assault vans and hovercraft yachts, for the cross-country motorcycles and purebred horses, for the war elephants . . . But why the fuck weren’t they here yet? I jumped up on top of the makeshift bar, wobbled in my stiletto heels as I tried my very best to see over the wicker man effigies, over the private security contractors. I squinted and watched each hired Cyclops making a really big deal about frisking and strip-searching the giggling guests. On the look out for any ugly gatecrashers, any bomb-strapped solicitors, any smelly poor people. I squinted harder but I couldn’t see a thing over the bulletproof vests and automatic shotguns, over the aviator monocles and the temporary detention centers . . . Sighing, hiccupping, sighing I bellyflopped off the slippery counter and splashed my way over to the action . . . Out of breath, out of wiggle room I crisscrossed my superthin arms and leaned back against the flashing photo booth. I leaned back and watched the glamorous guests filter in through the metal detector . . . There were teenage girls in mink saris, teenage boys in pearl-studded togas. There were bearded men in latex unitards, pregnant women in chainmail corsets. There were grandpas in ballroom dresses, grannies in dollar-quilted burkas. And of course there were the twentysomethings. In all their successful skin colors. In all their Mardi Gras costumes. Each twentysomething smiling and glistening with Gatsby-like splendor, with golden ratio beauty. Each twentysomething twirling into the flashing photo booth and posting their winning status all over their viral kingdoms. All I could do was lean back and watch and hiss. Because when was it going to be my turn? When was I going to get my shot? How much more time did I have to wait for my kingdom? How much more time time—time! Sucking on my thumb I splashed my way back over to the Lego-brick bar and this time told the wimpy bartender that he better make me a gin gimlet or else I’d like definitely make sure his neutered ass got totally fired and got totally fired right now! “And make it ridiculously strong and ridiculously good!” The chinless bartender nodding, crying, making me my favorite drinky. That’s right, I hissed, picking at my Red Hots fingernails and frantically watching the front door swing open, swing shut. Waiting for them to swing right on through. Waiting for them to swing right on through. Waiting for . . . I licked the blood off my lips. I sipped on my favorite drinky and wiped the pinkyellow snow off my oily button nose . . . The paintings, the lithographs. The silkscreens, the sculptures. The Art that just wouldn’t ever stop buzzing on the walls . . . That just wouldn’t ever stop buzzing. That just wouldn’t ever stop . . . The speakers let fire another round of floor-rattling bass. A million droplets trickled all over my supersore, superstressed out forehead. I hissed and raised my wolverine eyes. I squinted at the two or three fault lines running parallel to each other across the leaky ceiling. I squinted harder because I could like definitely see one more deeper than deep gash splitting off course at a deliciously sharp angle. I squinted even harder but no. Nothing. I couldn’t see inside any of the cracks . . . I hiccupped and took another swig. Then another. Then another . . .
“Take it easy there. We’re still at work, remember,” bitchy blonde Lola grinning and wedging her anorexic legs up beside me at the makeshift bar. I squeezed my fists. I clenched my supercute jaw and was right about to tell her that she better mind her own bulimic business before I—when Lola giggled and said, “I’m just messing with you. Lighten up. You’re always taking things way too personally. Here, let me try that,” holding out a veiny blonde hand.
I frowned, reluctantly passed her my drinky.
Lola took a small sip, her bitchy blonde face twisting in disgust. “Whoa,” handing me back my drinky. “You better be careful with that . . . What happened to your lip?”
“Nothing, I slipped.”
The bitchy gap between Lola’s wide-set granite eyes widened even further, but at least she didn’t say anything, and so even though I knew she was like totally judging me, I took another extra-large gulp from my drinky—like just for her. A trillion tears blurring my lightening-scratched viewfinders as I tried my very best not to gag or choke or die . . . Neither of us said anything. We just stood and watched the pageant of glittering humans sail into the gallery, the exhibition space quickly filling up to constipated capacity . . . I blinked. I blinked twice. Oh boy, oh jeez, I was like definitely feeling it now. (Which meant I totally wanted to talk and I totally didn’t care if bitchy blonde Lola wanted to talk or not.)
“So do you wanna be like them or what?” rocking back and forth, back and forth on my black stilettos.
I waved my hand at a pair of miniskirt-sharing Siamese twins. Fused together at the hips, zipped up in Gucci bomber jackets, the conjoined runway models were giggling and dancing the Macarena underneath one of the kerosene-dripping scarecrows.
“Like all of them. You know, like ridiculously interesting or whatever.”
Lola shrugged. “I guess so. But most of them aren’t that interesting. They just act like they are.”
“Okay,” slurring and sipping, sipping and slurring, “whatever . . . Then why do you wanna be a director?”
“Uh-oh, looks like someone’s feeling a little lonely tonight,” Lola grinning and poking me in the shoulder.
I started to raise my fists.
Lola laughed. “Relax, I’m just teasing . . . I don’t know. I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I’ve been making movies since middle school. It’s just that I had to wait for my sister to get into law school before I could get my parents to stop bugging me about the whole politics thing. Why? Haven’t you always wanted to be a ridiculously famous director?”
I pulled at that same really annoying knot of frizzy hair. “No, definitely not. I like hadn’t even thought about applying to film school until,” shaking that bastard out of my head. “I wanted to be a fashion designer in middle school. But in high school I thought it was a given that I was going to be the lead singer in a hardcore punk band. And in college I told people that I wanted to spend the rest of my life as a supercute philosophy professor. Except I don’t have the brainpower for it. For any of it. I’m like just not smart enough for life . . .”
Lola turned and stared at me. “You’re an only child, aren’t you?”
“I thought so. You fit all the stereotypes.”
I blushed. “What the hell is that supposed to be mean!” totally raising my voice, totally squeezing my drinky.
Lola laughed. “Nothing, nothing. Just teasing. Relax . . .”
I took another extra-large gulp. “Sophie should be here soon.”
“Oh yea? That makes sense. I saw her dad’s name on the invite. I haven’t seen her all year. Isn’t she with that older guy now?” Lola grinning, Lola getting ready to poke, “The one you were seeing on and off?”
“Lola, I’m not in the fucking mood.”
“Sorry,” putting away her finger . . .
Someone was turning the ugly florescent lights on and off, on and off. Bells and whistles rippled through the gallery.
Lola pulled a bitchy blonde hair off her cheetah print top. “Alright, I’m going up to the front. You stay back here and make sure nobody does anything stupid. I already saw some wasted assholes messing with one of the installations.”
I nodded but I definitely didn’t say anything. I just titled my hiccupping head all the way back and finished off my favorite drinky, swallowing gin and lime and a little bit of greenblack bile as all the guests, like flamboyant gnats, like mindless moths, started to gravitate toward the center of the gallery. Forming a swaying semicircle at the base of the bulky tarp . . .The music cut off. Sporting jockstraps and football pads, the almost-naked DJs stepped away from their laptops, huge headphones held up to one ear, half-sucked lollipops on their tongues. Kneeling down in their cages the go-go dancers squirmed their sticky hands out through the tahini-oiled bars, hoping to snag a fingerful of methamphetamine-seasoned caviar off the hat of a passing Palestinian . . . Chewing on an ice cube I whispered into the wimpy bartender’s ear that he like better make me another gin gimlet before I slapped his bastard face in and made him call me mommy. The bartender flinched, cried, then made me my favorite drinky while I took my smartphone out and jumped back on top of the Lego-brick bar for a way better shot . . . I licked a crusty flake off my lower lip. I zoomed in on Madame Banksy and watched her surf her way though the rolling crowd in a pressurized spacesuit, a translucent microphone held high between a pair of bluegold boxing gloves . . . After fist-pounding the VIPs posted up at the front of the mosh pit the helmeted astronaut slowly, slowly climbed up a collapsible step stool and waved to the cheering crowd, the tarp looming over the gallery like a weeping willow tree. I blinked. I blinked twice. Because I could like definitely feel something buzzing and buzzing in my extra-small core—like right below my bellybutton. The ugly florescent lights dimmed to black. Red spotlights swiveled down from the leaky ceiling and threw the astronaut’s lumpy shadow up over the teardrop branches. My heels wobble-wobbled on the slippery counter. I zoomed in all the way and started to record . . . Where were they? I mean they should like definitely be here by now. Didn’t they realize I had to send this thing off before the end of the night? Didn’t they realize who they were dealing with? Didn’t they realize this was like my one-way ticket out of this totally boring mediocrity! The curator tapped her microphone, tapped twice, then lifted her mirrorlike visor and smiled at all the clapping faces. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Let me just—”