I was quite blown back, when in the winter of 1978, smack dab in the middle of some major rock shows, Victoria announced that we would be ‘going disco for awhile’. She had procured for us two very official looking fake id’s while in L.A. (though I had to ask if the real motor vehicles department would have allowed us to pose with our lips forming little o’s-as if we had been caught blowing bubbles through plastic wands. I was pretty sure mine was a Polaroid, as well. Victoria shushed me, and insisted they were ‘authentic’) I was also puzzled as to why she even needed one, since she was already of age. I didn’t feel like getting the runaround though, so I didn’t ask. Instead I examined my new laminated identity. My name was Leah Marone,5 Cobblestone Lane, Bethany, Conn. and I was 20. “Memorize that birthday!” Victoria emphasized. She handed me mine.
I gazed at the hazy glamour shot, wondering if it would pass for real. I began trying to memorize the birthdate.
“So what does this birthday make me, astrology wise? ” I asked. I knew that bouncers sometimes threw out tricky questions to trip up under-agers and I wanted to be prepared. Victoria loved astrology, tarot cards, and mystical books – we had both read Linda Goodman’s ‘Sun Signs’, often using it to examine, snoop on,or justify different behaviors in people we knew, like ‘psychic’ background checks, if you will. Less efficient than Google, but it was something. Of coarse, we- Victoria and I, only possessed the good qualities of our signs (and secretly agreed with the bad ones for each other and everyone else, though not ourselves)
Victoria looked up at the ceiling, counted on her fingers, lips silently moving. “That makes you a Taurus” she deduced.”Not to mention: Legal!”
“Haha!” I laughed. ‘The ID is bull, and so is my sign! And what is up with this ‘Cobblestone Lane? What am I? A pilgrim?”
“Oh….you!” she said, rolling her eyes. “Remind me to look up Lenny in the Signs book. Once I find out his birthday, that is.” She unscrewed the cap on a bottle of Cutex nail polish. It smelled like gasoline. “You should be thanking me. With that ID you can buy beer!” she added. Well- why didn’t you say so in the first place? God knows I’ve struggled to obtain alcohol. Still…
“Who’s this Lenny?” I asked. It turned out he was the reason for the sudden interest in disco. Victoria had met him, a Rod Stewart look-a-like (‘an older man, possibly 30!’ she warned) and he had a cousin, Ray, who needed a date and I would be it. Before I could even cough up my objections, Victoria held up her finger to shush me. “You owe me this, and I’m taking it.”
I’m not quite sure how I owed her, but she had a way of making it seem true- almost matter-of-fact. I guess she meant the ID, but I wouldn’t need that unless we wanted to get into discotheques. Key words: wanted to. Her:Yes. Me: No. Plus, it’s not like I asked for it.
“But I hate freakin’ disco!” I whined. It was one thing to accept dating someone I’d never met, but I’d put up a fight for my music! Disco was for posers and shallow people, and people who wanted to dance. Not only that, but dance in tandem, with special steps you were required to learn.And possibly be judged on! And the music was about nothing! Turn the beat around? What did that even mean? LeFreak by Chic? Who wants to listen to a tune by an volatile Iranian leader? And let’s face it: Saturday Night Fever was no match for the Cat Scratch.
“I’m not goin’ out with some old-ass guy, either!” I continued, pouting.
“He’s not old. He’s Lenny’s cousin!” Victoria sighed.Like that made it any better- I didn’t even know this Lenny! “I think he’s 18, maybe 19.’, she said “I saw a picture of him, and he’s really cute. Big, tall…brown hair.” She continued painting her nails a burgundy red, blowing on each one, then checking her work. Her lackluster description could apply to either a guy or a bear. Not impressive. And what grown man is running around town with pictures of his cousin, anyway? That he shows to chicks he just met? That must be some cousin! It just wasn’t adding up.
“What about clothes?” I asked “I don’t have any disco clothes…even though… thank God!” I exclaimed.
“Well, you have that new coat- which is perfect” she pointed out. It was a nice coat. Brown suede, with a giant puff of brown and gold fur trim around the neck and wrists. “And what about that dress, the reddish pink rayon one with the gold zipper in the front?” she asked.”And those cork platforms?” Victoria sure had a photographic memory when it came to other people’s stuff. Oftentimes we’d leave someone’s house and she’d say “Did you see that Art Nouveau perfume bottle she had on her bureau?” Or “Do you know how much that painting on his wall is worth?” Nope. I only noticed the things I liked, and wasn’t taking inventory, or pricing items. But put Victoria anywhere, especially in a closet, and she’d run a list like an insurance appraiser. All she needed was a monocle and a clipboard.
“Where’d you meet this Lenny, anyway?” I asked suspiciously. I couldn’t believe that her randomly meeting some strange guy was going to result in me having to listen to disco! I already had a beef with this guy!
“He’s from Brooklyn” Victoria announced “In fact, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn- where ‘Saturday Night Fever’ took place – or was filmed, or something” she said, suddenly exasperated, waving her hand.
“Oh my God! It’s a made-up story!” I groaned “Was he in a white suit? Did you meet at a Dance Contest? With all those colored lights spinning around?” I twirled my index finger in the air, let my mouth hang open stupidly, and crossed my eyes.
“Very funny. If this nail polish was dry I’d smack you!” she said, and went on, “He was at the Crescent Shore Club, when I went to that shower with Patricia on Thursday. He was there visiting relatives- and from what I could see, they were very well-off!” Ut oh, here we go. “His grandparents-I think that’s who they were?- had a brand new Mercedes and his grandmother was wearing a diamond brooch that almost blinded me! She looked like the Queen of England!” she blurted. Oh, lucky her, I thought. ‘He-Lenny- was driving a black Beamer, tan interior. Altec-Lansing sound system. Custom! And Those ain’t cheap, Missy!” she emphasized, pointing at me with a red dagger. ‘Sooo, we went for a ride and smoked a bone. And he looked just like Rod Stewart-in his prime! Very nice!” she swooned. “Light me a cigarette!” she demanded, pointing to her Eve’s on the end table, and indicating her wet nails. I reached over, grabbed her silver and turquoise lighter, and tapped a cigarette out of her pack. I lit it and blanched, “I dunno how you smoke these!” I said, making a sour face, as I handed it to her, careful not to make contact with her claws. “Better than those menthols you smoke!” she cracked. Whatever. At least Newports had that slashy thing on the box that looked like a Nike Swish. Better than a psychedelic 60′s woman, in all her hippie glory, wrapped around the filter! I knew she smoked them for their looks. She liked the way the design looked against her lips. Victoria left no beauty stone un-turned.
“When is this ‘Disco Night’ supposed to be, anyway?” I asked, resigning myself to the fact that I was locked in. Once Victoria had a plan-and you were a part of it- it was nearly impossible to duck out of it. I privately vowed to listen to all of my Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Sabbath albums extra loud, until D-Day. I wanted hard rock to spill from my pores, to notify everyone in the disco: “I’m not here because want to be!“
“It’s happening tomorrow night!” she said.”But, I knew, you being my best friend, that you’d be up for it. That’s why I told Lenny we’d be there” Oh brother! It was literally going to be on a Saturday night. And all I could think was: I really, really hope they have a vaccination for that fever!