L

Posts Tagged ‘1980s’

Jake Chronicles: Part FIVE 4/30/15

In My Stories, PRINTED, The 80's on April 30, 2015 at 5:48 pm

It couldn’t have been two minutes later, knee-deep in a frencher, when I hear my name again, this time from a distance. Will anyone just let me savor the friggin moment and make out with this dude? I look up to see its my dear friend Suzy Blueberry, who was with me the first time I  spotted Jake on his Kawasaki. She is such a sweetheart-the kind of girl who’s so nice she has no enemies, and is never gossiped about. I will forgive her anything, including this.

“Oh my god! Is that you, Sam?” she asks. She’s wearing a pink tube top with acid washed Jordache jeans and slouchy white ankle boots. Her ash blonde hair is teased just so. She looks adorable, and is with two girls I vaguely recognize, girls I’ve seen around. Both have brunette hair in side ponytails, fastened with neon colored scrunchies.

Jake looks over. I catch the moment of recognition in Blue’s face when she realizes who he is.

“Oooooh!” she says, exhaling for days. “You and me gotta tawk when you get inside!” she says, eyes wide.

At that moment, one of the pony-tail girls blows a pink Bazooka bubble from her lips and pops it loudly like a firecracker. It serves as an exclamation point on Blue’s words.

A crowd of people surge out of the Raven, and I realize that the muffled thudding of the band had ceased. The band must be on break.

Blue winks and says goodbye, salutes me with devil horns and walks off with her pals, whispering and giggling. I see her thumb aiming back in my direction, and know she’s telling them the story.

The parking lot is filling up with slightly (or mostly?) drunk Twisted Sister fans, many of whom are adopting the obnoxious behavior of their favorite lead singer’s brazen stage persona. (Offstage, he famously swears he’s a grandmother, doesn’t even drink, which comes across as a damper) At the other end of the lot, someone blasts an M-80, and we all jump. (July Fourth is around the corner-but don’t get me started on my disdain for that particular holiday and it’s moronic melding of booze and explosives-nor the flood of ‘gee-there’s a shocker’ news items about missing digits and evil carnage the following day.) Needless to say, the conditions of our make-out session are less than ideal. As it should be in a public parking lot. With all of the commotion, it’s obvious there will would be no privacy to be had.

“We might as well go back in!” I sigh.

I’ve driven my friends here, and don’t want them to think I bailed. If I’d gone for a motorcycle ride it would have been fine- my car would be in the lot and they’d  know I’d be back. I’m pretty dependable that way. If Jake and I leave in my car, I can’t guarantee we’ll be back.

As we walk back towards the Raven, I keep glancing sideways at Jake, thirsty for a look. When that doesn’t satisfy, I  cease walking- I stop on a dime so I can check him out as he walks in front of me.  It’s a fine sight, and man,  I’d love to take (and therefore have) a picture to swoon over. When Jake realizes I’m no longer keeping up, he pivots and backtracks, so in a flash I pretend to be looking for something in my purse. He appears to have no flaws. His built, tan arms, longish sun-streaked hair hair- don’t even get me started on his ass-it’s all good. I see why people are objectified, and I’m full-on participating in it until my next women’s rights bull session. It’s not just guys who do it. I can’t help myself.

We stand in the club’s door and hold up the back of our red-stamped hands for the bouncers who flag us through. We step back into a veil of smoke, sweat and loud music, readjusting to the chaos and noise. Jake leans into my ear, and shouts he’ll be right back (what? don’t leave!), but I casually shout back, ‘I’ll be around here somewhere’ and twirl my finger like a helicopter blade. I’m let down that he’s walking away, so I play the ‘I could care less, mister!’ card. We’re all such fakes, playing the worst board game ever: Chutes and Ladders: Relationship Edition. I slip down a chute as we head off in opposite directions.

The Jake Chronicles: Part 1

In My Stories, The 70's, The 80's on July 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Summer. Saturday Night. Suzy Blueberry and I are leaning against my ’72 Cadillac, aka The War Wagon, parked in the Calf Pasture parking lot, along with 100 other cars, most driven by high school students or young adults like us.We’re sipping Budweisers and laughing about last Saturday night’s antics when we spot a complete babe zooming into the beach parking lot. We both stop talking and gawk. He’s riding a Kawasaki (aka: rice burner) hunched down, leaning forward, hugging the road like a surfer paddling out, the bike an extension of his body He’s wearing a cut off t-shirt, which compliments his deeply tan, sculpted arms, flat stomach, faded jeans and unlaced high top Nike sneakers, red  swish, no helmet, mirrored Ray-Bans. His long, dirty blonde locks whip in the wind, and his profile is that of a Roman God. Say, for example Persius in ‘The Clash of The Titans’. He rides straight across the entrance road, directly in front of us, revving the bike’s engine,whah! whah! waaanngg! and Blue and I just stare. Here, on an ordinary hot summer night, with Zeppelin’s “Achilles Last Stand’  in the background, comes something new and astonishing.

“Look! It’s a Bad-ass!

Suzy points, her finger underlining the bike’s route, until he zips around a curve and is gone, flying around the road which hugs the perimeter of the beach. She’s doing a faint little dance of excitement as well, hopping up and down on the balls of her feet. She tries to talk before she’s swallowed her current slug of beer, and coughs, spraying beer all over.  I jump out of the way- “Jesus!” -and we both laugh like crazy, energized by the sight of this motorcycle fox.

“Sam!’ Blue says, catching her breath, and wiping off her chin with her sleeve, “I’m sorry- but….who was that?!!”

“I don’t know!” I say….”But!’ finger pointing to the sky, I vow: ‘I plan to freakin’ find out!”

I wear a serious expression as I start scanning the area. I’m all business. Creating a plan and adding shit up.  I know he can’t leave the beach without tracking back through the lot we are in,  because there’s only one exit. I can’t catch the dude, but I can gather clues, and try and find out who he is. (Hopefully, he’s not a fluke-some out of towner who won’t be back) We continue scoping out the area. There’s a ton of people here tonight, throngs of weekend warriors, hot rods, bikes, vans and cars, and masses of people hanging out. I hear the waanng! waanng! of rice burners everywhere .As well as the ‘POTATO, POTATO, POTATO’ of the Harleys, the chirp of muscle cars catching second. Plus,  music. It’s constant commotion.

I squint my eyes down to maximum sharp-shooter mode, the kind that can spot raccoons at night, or dimes on the ground. It’s not so much eyesight, as it is determination. Just as I’m about to give up (and possibly go park by the exit-or better yet- across the exit) I spot him. He’s over by the East Side crowd. This is a little concerning, but not overly. The East Side crew can be a little low rent (this coming from someone with $3.00 in her wallet!) You have to be scrappy to make it in that crowd. They listen to John Cougar and Huey Lewis, maybe a little Zeppelin. The guys wear jeans without shirts (Out! At night!) The girls chew Bubble Yum like curd, tease their hair into brillo pads, and always have combs or picks outlining the back pockets of their too tight jeans. They smoke Kools, and drink Colt 45 or Busch, and some even have babies. But right now they are hosting the hottest of babes, and I wish I was over there, wish I knew someone in the crowd. I focus in to try to watch his every move -the bike’s presumably shut down, but I can’t tell over the din of the crowd. He’s still on it, straddling the seat, leaning forward, elbows resting  on the handlebars. His long, sandy hair’s slanting over his face as he looks down, all silky in the breeze. His chiseled arms (probably tatted), even his unlaced Nikes,with their fat tongues- it’s all a right up my alley. None of the girls over there are even talking to him- what is wrong with them? Maybe they just don’t want anymore babies…

“Mmmm!’ I say, surprised that I said it  out loud. I point him out to Blue, who with her famously awful eyesight looks over and says “Oh- Is that him near the red truck?” She’s not even close.

“No”

“Oh, wait! wait!” she says excitedly, ” I think I see him. He’s near that van!” “No” I grasp her little head on either side, like a pay viewer on a boardwalk, and slowly position it where it needs to go. “Oh!” she chirps. ‘There!” and she points. We both stare, letting out big sighs. It occurs to me I need to keep some binoculars handy. Throw a pair the glove box next time I think of it.

“Sam, I don’t think he’s from around here” Blue says, seriously, like he could be a local we’ve somehow overlooked. (As if!) 

“Ya think?….’ I start to laugh: “I’m pretty sure I would have noticed that one for sure!” I say, hitch-hiker thumb thrown in his direction. Just then, someone shouts out my name.

“Sam! Sam! We gotta make a  VISTA run!” It’s Jess. Where did he come from? He strolls over, tracked by some teen girls in the crowd, no doubt crushing on him. Like all rockers he turns heads, and he also gets a few nasty glares from the jocks, who whisper to each other, hands over mouths.  I catch all of this in a glance, because it’s the usual. Jess is wearing no shirt (out! At night!) under his white leather jacket, showing off his tan- it’s in the mid 70s, a balmy night by Connecticut standards.

“But, I don’t have that much gas-” I start to say, thinking up excuses so I can just stay here and look at motorcycle man.  I throw out the most obvious ones. Vista’s a haul. The Caddy eats gas.

“I HAVE gas money!” Finn says, waving some bills in the air. I’m not saying I don’t want to get more alcohol (is there ever really enough?) but I’m also keeping my eye on Adonis, who sits atop his stallion- in the form of a bike- in the corner of the lot. I put the decision off for a minute or two, glancing to and from my new hearthrob , but finally agree to go.

“Oh!…Okay!”I say, shrugging my shoulders dejectedly and nodding my head back and forth.

I can’t possibly fight against the pull of excessive drinking on a Saturday night, can I? I mean- I’m only human. A teenage human.I kick a pebble with the pointy tip of my suede, Peter Pan style ankle boots, and resign myself to the idea of leaving the beach. A rule’s a rule, though- even the unwritten ones. So Saturday night’s alright for fighting-and the drinking that causes it.

It’s times like these when I think someone should start a beer delivery service in this lot, because they’d make a fortune. God knows the pot dealers do. I know, I know -underage drinkers, fake id’s, the driving thing, the law- bad logistics-blah-blah. Still- I can guarantee a cash cow-especially in this town where you can’t buy beer after 8pm, and not at all on Sunday! We just need the right ( tighty whitey and socks wearing? Air-guitar playing?) type to come in and entrepreneur his ass off. Offer a  selection of beer, wine- maybe even cigarettes- at a huge mark-up. Just be swift- in, swift out, don’t get greedy. A couple of weeks, a month tops. Cha-ching! Someone like my cousin Craig could pull it off.

Vista, New York is where we go to buy beer when we can’t get it locally, due to blue laws. (rest assured: Suzy has nothing to do with it!) Located just over the state line, Vista is a one horse town on which sit several liquor stores, our favorite the one that looks like a big, red barn on the outside, but is filled with beer, wine, liquor and cigarettes on the inside. It takes about a half hour to get there, but it doesn’t seem long at all when you’re traveling with a band of friends and crankin’ the tunes. On the weekends, it’s a mini- adventure – you never know who’ll you’ll run into, the stores are always bustling with thirsty customers- most of them in our age group. It’s even of interest who you’ll pass on the way up. The 20 mile, two lane road which leads straight to Vista is a hot spot for sighting friends who decided to do a beer run a little before (or after) you did, as you pass each other going the opposite way. There are lots of playful middle fingers flying out of open windows, horns honking, blaring stereos, fake swerving (of which I am not a fan) as we fly past each other, pedal to the metal, to get our drink on.

I tell Suzy not to mention our new crush to Jess, while he’s off talking to some Pat Benatar clone. Even though we’ll never date each other, Jess always gets competitive with the guys I crush on, starts putting them down, pointing out their defects. It’s one of his  less-than-charming personality traits.

“Let’s book!’ he says, and as he steps closer I notice that there’s quite a little money pile in his hand, fanned out- ten, ten, ten, twenty, fifty?

“Where the hell did you you get that?” I asked, eyebrows raised.

“Don’t worry about it!” he laughs. “Just drive, and if you’re nice you might just get some!”

“I’m not worried– just curious” I say. “And when am I ever not nice?” Hopefully, Jess won’t recite a list.

There seems to be a lot of mystery ‘hustle’ going on with Jess. I’m not an idiot. I’d know if he were dealing drugs or robbing banks- wouldn’t I? But he seems to accumulate stuff daily. I know he once had a shoplifting issue, but ever since he  got busted in Caldor’s he says he won’t steal again, and he definitely doesn’t take stuff when I’m with him, unless he’s Houdini, and I’m just missing it.

Jess asks me if ‘Pat Benatar’ can come with us. Sure. Just as long as she doesn’t ask me to drive her home  or latch on to me. (Latch all you want onto Jess…..) He unzips a pocket in his leather jacket, and pulls out a mix-tape. The first song, written in his chicken scratch is ‘Breakin’ The Law’. The second is “Free For All’. I hope he’s not trying to tell me something.

“Play this” he says, laughing “You’ll love it!”

We round everyone up- Suzy in the front, Jess and his heavily made up friend in the back. I start  the car, and glance over just in time to see ‘Adonis’ screaming out of the parking lot, as bad-ass as ever, bike leaning dangerously low, revving out. He looks so hot and lawless…and like he’s heading somewhere way cooler than Vista. Blue and I look at each other and sigh as I slide in the cassette and crank up the volume…


A Touch Too Much

In The 80's on June 3, 2012 at 1:43 am

‘Is my tray in its upright position? Am I?’

Tragedy struck the following Tuesday, and its effects were felt from the Night Raven to the Pines- all the way out to the Agora and  beyond. Bon Scott, the gritty, gravely voiced singer from the vertically challenged but extremely hard rocking band AC/DC was dead. Cause of death: Acute Alcohol Poisoning. The news spread through the  phone lines, multiplying like a Faberge Organics (Herbal Essence?) commercial. I told a friend, who told another friend,who told another and on and on. The grid grew by tens, probably to 40!

During the infancy of our heavy metal ‘scene’, this was big news.  News that was tragic yet exciting. We were both grief stricken and weirdly energized. There was lots of ‘when it’s your time it’s your time’ talk, with all of us glossing right over the excessive alcohol consumption that killed him. We all agreed that this (alcohol overdose) was something that could just sneak up on you- it’s not like there was some alarm that went off when you’d had enough, right?  (the stumbling, weaving, puking, fighting and memory loss not obvious enough) Not once did any one of us express an interest in ‘slowing down’ or partying less. No way! In fact, if we could die on any day at any moment, we felt it was time to kick it up a notch. And so we did. It’s hard to say how many shots and drinks were consumed after a toast to Bon Scott. Clink Clink. Cheers! And the word ‘irony’ never once crossed our minds. Even to the those of us who actually knew what it meant.

Bon Scott: Quite the shirtless ladies man!

Perhaps what made Bon Scott’s death seem ‘cool’ (to a bunch of barely adults who still felt as immortal as ever, rounding the bases at 18, 20 or 22) was that although the reason for his demise was drinking to the point of alcohol poisoning-the official reason was listed as ‘Death By Misadventure’.  This made it sound risky and- dare I say it? Fun! It was dark, yes- but also very rock and roll. It ensured that Bon Scott would never grow old, never burn out, never find religion or go to rehab, renounce his wild lifestyle, or marry a famous actress and start hanging out with rich people. He would never do these, or any of the myriad of things that rockstars did to get on our nerves. He would remain our eternal bad boy. His dirty deed would stay dirt cheap. And all it cost him was an early death.

Jess and I began perusing the papers and club hotline numbers for the inevitable AC/DC tribute bands that would be barrelling down the pike. Meanwhile, like rock and roll ambassadors, we spread the news to all of the crevices  it hadn’t yet reached. The clerk at Cumberland Farms, where we bought our Newports, Kools, and Michelobs? He found out from us. As did Jess’s vocal coach and my  entire ‘Feel The Burn’ Aerobics Class at the Figure Forum. God knows how many they then told! It was assumed that everyone cared. (Most people had no idea what or who we were talking about)

The loss also inspired many ‘philosophical conversations between me and Jess. For instance, we wondered if a person who was passed out drunk would even know that they died. If they were dreaming, and then crossed over how would they be able to tell the difference between the dream, and the crossing over? Wouldn’t it just seem like the dream was continuing? Listen: at least Finn’s deep probing philosophies were inspired by half a joint! I had no excuse. (It shocks me now that we were just assuming there was an afterlife! Why weren’t we arguing about that?!) We talked about how cool it was that Bon would exist forever on records, his voice saved for eternity, that he found a way to leave a permanent piece of himself behind. Someone should actively recommend us to the Algonquin Round Table. Surely an invitation to join would be forthcoming if were overheard by the right people.

‘It’s all fun and games until someone dies!’ Bon Scott’s autographs weren’t always uplifting…

Even Adrian called me at the end of the week, to get my ‘take’ on the loss. He acted like we had just lost a close, personal friend. He spoke as if we were still in cahoots, like he hadn’t cheated on me! I was immediately suspicious. I mean- yes I was bummed that a kick-ass lead singer had succumbed, but it’s not like it was Led Zeppelin or even Van Halen, no offense. AC/DC was good, but I hadn’t actually shed any real tears, as is usually the case with famous people who you admire but don’t actually know. Yet Adrian asked ‘how I was holding up’. Not only was it an odd question- but I got the distinct impression he was asking me about something that had nothing to do with a dead rock singer.

“Umm, I’m fine!” I said,quickly adding: “It’s not like I was invited to the funeral or anything!”

“Yeah, but I know how you liked them!” Adrian replied, oblivious to my wise crack “Always cranking that stereo of yours!” 

“Adrian! What do you really want? Why are you calling me?” I asked, cutting to the chase. Like I was the one with a loud stereo. His once cracked a window with his!

“Well!” he said, indignantly. And after a short silence, “I was just checking to see how you were! Is that okay?” He laughed uncomfortably.

“How’s your new girlfriend?” I asked, daring him to hang up and end the misery.

“I dunno” he said…..”Because I kind of miss you”

Oh brother! They must have gotten into a fight or something. I forced myself to think of all the shitty things he’d done to me less than six months ago: the lying, the cheating, the general deception. I thought of what Melody had told me at Rob’s party. But a part of me- besides being flattered (oh, look! I really am irreplaceable!) was also thinking that if I could get back with him, that I’d ‘win’ in some twisted head games kind of way. It would change the story that had already been written-that Adrian cheated on and dumped me, and gave it a better ending-one where Adrian came back to me after all, where maybe I could dump him at some point. I would save face after all! (Am I embarrassed to be copping to all of this? Of course. Wouldn’t you be?) Did I still love Adrian? Nah, he was pretty tiny in my rearview by now. However it was a potential friends-with-benefits situation, and Adrian was always generous and romantic- heavy on the gifts and out-to-dinner dates, especially in the ‘win her over’ phase. (For which I now qualified -kind of like re-registering after a certain amount of time as a ‘new customer’)  More importantly- he was a cute musician and lots of girls liked him. And  I really didn’t have anything else going on. (My last crush had been Christian, and I hadn’t seen him since he’d been sprung!) My reappearance in Adrian’s life would also be a symbolic Bronx Cheer to the floozy he had been dating  and I wouldn’t mind slapping some karma back her way, just for sport. I could still see the condescending look she gave me at the Night Raven on ‘footsy’ night. I sometimes hold grudges. I’m not gonna lie.

Not necessarily? Right?

“Oh, really?” I asked, trying to hide the smile in my voice.

“Let’s go out. To a movie or something!” he said, seizing the moment.

“Like what movie? And when?” I asked, trying to act uninterested, even though my responses proved otherwise.

“They’re playing ‘The Warriors’ at SoNo. I know how you liked that-“

“They ARE?!” I burst, “I LOVE that movie!” The theater in South Norwalk played cult and independent films and movies that were in the regular  theater last year, but were now showing at a deep discount. (Remember kiddies, we had no Netflix, you spoiled little things) When the Warriors first came out, I had to go with JJ because Adrian ‘had to practice’.

We had to go LEAVE THE HOUSE to see movies, kids!

“Let’s go tomorrow night then” he says.

“Maybe…” I say “I’ll think about it. Call me at 7:00 and we’ll see” 

“Oh, come on! Just say yes!” Adrian laughs.

“No!” I say firmly “I’ll tell you tomorrow night. And if that’s not okay- oh freakin’ well!”

Adrian sighs, but reluctantly agrees. Sure, I might decide not to go, but we both know I probably won’t. We can’t bring Bon Scott back to life, but with his death as an excuse to break the ice, we might just breathe new life into what was once a hot and heavy romance. Though this is highly- and I mean HIGHLY doubtful!

‘The Figure For-ummm…What Are You Wearing?’

In The 80's on April 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Darla and I drive the twenty-five minutes home to Norwalk. It’s dark by the time we get back, even though it isn’t yet seven pm. The strip mall where Body Design sits is bustling with ‘just got paid’ Friday night shoppers. The parking lot is full, red tail-lights and white exhaust  fumes billowing into the frosty night air.

A turquoise blue neon sign spells out ‘Body Design’ in script, hanging above the front door, sandwiched between ‘Joe’s World Of Golf’ and Jet Variety. One side of the store window, which we snag a spot in front of is busy with classic dance related graphics: silhouettes of ballerinas doing plies and pirouettes, wearing tutus and ballet slippers secured to their perfect, pointy feet with silky ribbons wrapped beautifully from their slender ankles to their dainty calves, like vines on a trellis. These dancers are feminine to a tee: tiny, delicate sparrows who have the good grace not to take up space, girls whose every movement emulates a single ripple in still waters, or a chiffon scarf in a summer breeze. Though often  quiet,they spar constantly with swords of discipline, denying themselves the pleasures of food and drink and leisure and fun: I imagine all of them to be impossibly petite and fluent in french. This is the dream being sold on one side of the store

 

The other side of the store’s floor to ceiling window is why Darla and I – two girls, who take up space, love leisure, can be loud, eat pizza and drink beer without apology, is the reason we’re here. ‘Our’ side displays posters of fitness models and celebrities, decked out in spandex bodysuits, tights, leg warmers and headbands- in colors spanning the rainbow. These are posted beside Aerobics class schedules and 800 numbers for vitamins and various juice diets ‘that work like magic!’ Sale prices and brands (‘Danskin! 20% Off! Capezio! Just In!’) are written on the glass in neon chalk. The models in the ads have big hair and wear tons of makeup, even as they are seemingly in the midst of working out. Just like we will. 

We enter in a clamor, adjusting coats and purses, the sound of chimes announcing our arrival. We’re  greeted by a saleswoman, an older lady with salt-and-pepper hair,  wearing cat’s-eye shaped glasses- a rhinestone chain attached and a sensible gray wool dress. She’s parked at the register.

“May I help you, girls?” she asks, in a croaky, veteran cigarette smoker voice. I bet there are no wire hangers in here.

“Where are your coolest bodysuits, and stuff to wear at the gym?” asks Darla, animatedly, waving her arms. Some customers glance over at her, the walking commotion. Darla continues:

“We’re starting at the Figure Forum on Monday night and…” blah blah. I’m sure the woman wanted our whole life story. Thank god we got here when we did, as she’s obviously on the edge of her seat.

I don’t think I’ve ever answered the question “may I help you?”  with any answer other than, “No, thank you.”

I like to be left alone to peruse, and can’t stand anyone hovering, no matter how good their intentions. I have a way of shopping that utilizes a two-second approval/check size/dive for the price tag/ buy or reject/ system that works for me. Darla, on the other hand, volunteers for suggestions,will try on anything-and model it for the rest of the store- modesty be damned!  She’ll also pay top-dollar if she likes something -regardless of the fact that she’s usually broke. Between her parents and siblings she never runs out of people to borrow money from. We’ve been here for less than five minutes and she’s already giving the sales clerk her size, favorite colors, astrological sign and gym membership number. I wonder if she’ll tell her about Mr. New Wave.

“Let’s get Physical!”

I separate from her, and start at the clearance rack, where I quickly see lots of potentially cool body-suits. I zero in on a long sleeved v-neck number, in black and white chevron stripes.  It’s marked down to 16.99, and since it’s my size I grab it. No snaps on the crotch, which means using the bathroom will be an event, but it’s better than the possibility of an ‘un-snap’ during the stretching segment of our group workout. I move on to the tights section, and choose some  black Danskin tights in “Tall’, and go to look at the leg-warmer selection. I find a great pair of black ones, infused with silver sparkly thread that look awesome. 

‘Oooh! Bonus!’

By this time, Darla is in the dressing room, babbling to the saleslady, who stands outside of the door holding a pile of clothes Darla wants to try on. You can only take five items in at a time, but five is nothing to Darla. I hear the words ‘Talking Heads’ and realize that she has in fact, brought up Mr. New Wave.

When she steps out I am ill prepared for what I see. She has on a purple unitard, with black zebra stripes. She’s added a pair of black high cut work-out briefs over the top of this get-up. She looks like Pat Benatar, only much bigger, with more make-up, and most importantly: not on stage!  I can’t let her get this outfit if I’m to show up in class with her. It’s just too much.

“What do ya think, Chooch?” she yells across the room.

“It’s….okay, I guess!” I say “But, y’know-It’s a work-out place, not a night club!”

I see a teenage girl out of the corner of my eye nudge her friend, and they both look over. Immediate whispering commences. But truthfully, a part of me admires Darla’s fashion bravery and unwavering confidence.

The ‘general gist’ 

Darla’s already sashaying in front of the full length mirror, and lovin’ what she sees.

“Candace? What do you think?” Darla asks. Candace? The saleslady scurries over from where she’s assisting a mother and her two elementary school aged daughters buy tutus. She squints her eyes, then lifts her cat glasses, staring steadily at Darla. Please, Candace, please-level with her. Forget the commission and be honest! After a long pause,  she says: “You look fabulous, dear! Let’s ring you up!” 

“…and I’ll sell her ALL the unitards I have in stock, if it comes down to it, Missy!”

We go to the register. My total is $18.00 and change. Darla’s is $64.00. She promises Candace that she’ll be back soon for that “pink one!” I make up my mind then and there not to tell Darla about my brother’s party, lest she wear the ‘tard to the party. This is so underhanded and mean-I secretly feel like the kind of villain who ties someone to the train tracks, but I’m exhausted already from our day at the jail, the Trumbull mall and now this. 

   

Jailbreak:Part One

In The 80's on April 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm

The following Friday morning was an ice cold, sunny day. Why was it so freakin’ cold this year? I want answers!  Jess and I had spent the previous evening bar-hopping (including the Pines where we laughed with Louie about his drug induced jig, something that was approaching legendary status) Jess and slept late.  We didn’t have to be in Bridgeport until three o’clock, to pick up the mysterious jailbird Jax. Evidently I’d told Darla that she could come along as well, and there she was, calling me at ten am sharp, waking me up in the process. Didn’t she realize I had the day off?

Thanks so much for that, Darla!

“Where are you?!” she roared “Aren’t we going to get Jax?”

“Jesus, woman!! They don’t let him out until three!” I fumble around the nightstand for my cigarettes and lighter. “Hold on a minute!”  I put the phone down, use the bathroom, then quickly brush my teeth. I can’t enjoy a morning cigarette without first freshening my breath so that the cigarette can dirty it back up. I return to the bed, prop up my pillows and lounge back down. I can hear Darla’s voice through the receiver long before I get it back to my ear. She’s knee-deep in a conversation with herself. 

“Whoah, whoah, whoah- stop the clock!” I say. “Who the hell are you talkin’ to?”

I light up a Newport. Darla stops abruptly.

“What?! Haha! I’m talkin’ to you, dummy!” she says, cackling.

“Well- I haven’t even been here- I went to brush my teeth. What are you babbling?”

“Oh! hahaha” she giggles. “I was just tryin’ to tell you how cute Jax is. Wait till you see him!” I’d seen Darla’s version of cute before. It pretty much encompassed all males, everywhere. Discerning, she was not. 

“Well, Darla….I can’t wait to meet a cute guy who’s fresh out of jail! Sounds like marriage material!” I laughed.

“Oh, Sam!” she sighed “He’s only in there for motor vehicles stuff! Reckless driving, Drag racing-that kind of stuff. Nothing big. It’s just that no one would bail him out! Not even his parents! And they live in Westport!” 

Westport was a town over, and everyone who lived there was assumed to be extravagantly rich.

“Well, if he’s only in there for driving like a fucking maniac- dare I say- he sounds perfect!”….I blow smoke rings to amuse myself. I imagine a hot rod barrelling through the beach parking lot, crashing into and leaping over parked cars. Flying through a flaming hoop. A bevy of cop cars in hot pursuit, sirens blaring, red and blue lights spinning like mini cyclones.

Darla sighs.

“Okay” she says, “but I’m tellin’ ya- he’s foxy!…Anyway- when are we leaving?”

“Probably around one-thirty” I say “I gotta call Jess. Then I’ll come get you. Be ready!” I demand.

“Oh, I will be!” Darla cracks, “I can’t keep Queen Sam waiting!”

“That’s right!” I say, meaning it.

………….

I roll up to Darla’s a little after one. I pull into her condo complex, follow the road (and annoying  speed bumps) all the way to the end of the development where she lives and stop in front of a huge barrier of freshly plowed snow. I beep the horn, and out she flies, from between a break in the snowdrifts. She dances out, goofing around, dressed flamboyantly (as usual) in a dazzling mixture of fabrics and textures. Hot pink long sweater, thick black belt, black leggings, scrunchy boots, bright glittery scarves piled on, and clunky pastel bracelets. Her signature spiky brown hair (kind of a Carol Brady long shag with spikes) is on point, and she wears lots of makeup. Darla’s an extrovert and she dresses boldly.  I  opted for a neon green sweater, Guess jeans and spanking white high-top Reeboks- the kind with the velcro. My hair, longer, but also spiked on top- is Aqua-netted to within an inch of its life. 

Darla’s hair as modeled by Joan Jett

Darla jumps into the front seat, her presence sucking up all the air. “Sammy, baby!!” she exclaims, leaning into me with an air kiss, and strong hug.

“HOW’S THINGS? WHAT’S GOIN’ ON? WHAT ARE WE LISTENIN’ TO? LET’S GO!”

She’s all in my space and louder than hell. She means well- even when she drives me nuts. Which is often. I check the rearview and pull out onto the snowy main street to the opening riffs of Van Halen’s ‘Little Dreamer’. Darla immediately starts playing a violent air-guitar, elbowing me hard in the process. I give her a look. “Move…over there, will ya?” I say, gesturing towards the passenger door. The Caddy has huge bench seats, and Darla’s over here on my side.

“Sorry!” she says, laughing. She scooches over. Then she turns down the music. Before I can stare daggers she says “I gotta tell you about last night!”

“What?” I ask, mentally trying to trace down when I last saw her the night before. Was she playing pool with a crowd of people?

“Well….I kinda hooked up with somebody” she says, eyes glittering. Oh brother. What now? 

“Yeah?….and?……”

“Do you know that guy William Post?” she asks. I do. He runs with a New Wave crowd. 

“Yeah, sorta” I say.

“Oh, Sam!” she says, hands clapping together. “He’s SOOO cool!”

Darla falls in love every other week, and although I know it’s her business, I think she moves fast, then gets upset when these guys don’t stick around. I’m worried  she’ll get knocked up, and end up having a loud-ass baby she can’t possibly raise, and then I’ll have to step in and help her, which…yikes!

“I hope you used something!” I say.

For someone who’s as active as Darla, birth control seemed to be an afterthought. A She’s tried the pill, but didn’t remember to take it. I’m completely pro-choice and know without question that I wouldn’t have a baby unless I could afford it (and I take my pill…) but Darla says she could never end a pregnancy ‘because it wouldn’t be right!’. Her Mom is very religious, so I see where she gets it from, but I just can’t fathom bringing a life into the world because an invisible man in the sky says so.  

“Yeah- I was thinking…’ says Darla. “I really need a diagram”

I start laughing. “Really? I thought you knew what you were doing in that area! What don’t you know how to do?”

“Well- would I have to go to a doctor to get one?”

What? Doctors are passing out sex diagrams? I’ll have to get one at my next check-up. 

“Don’t you have that Helen Gurley Brown book?” I could swear I saw it in her room: Sex and The Single Girl. Though I’m still not entirely convinced she reads. She has borrowed books from me, but conversations about said books are suspiciously vague. And annoyingly, I always have to go in and physically get them back.

 It suddenly occurs to me what Darla is saying.

“Oh my God! Do you mean you need a DIAPHRAGM?” I ask, shaking my head and twisting up my face.

“YESSS! That’s what I said!” she chirps. Oh God. Here we go again…Sometimes when I’m with Darla, I expect springs to start popping out of my head. Or hers. Boing! Boing!

——————————-

Jess is outside waiting when we pull up. He’s wearing a brown leather and lambswool bomber jacket and acid washed jeans, arms folded from the cold, taking furious drags off a cigarette. When he sees the car, he flicks the butt into a snowbank and rubs his hands together until the car pulls up to exactly where he stands. I feel like I’m landing a plane, the snow crunching under the tires, while getting as precisely close to Jess without embedding him in the snowbank on the side of the road. Don’t come to me and make it easier, dear friend-I am here to serve you!

Jess opens the passenger door and starts laughing at Darla.

“What the hell are you doin’ here?” he says. He sounds nasally, like he has a cold.

“Go on! Get yourself in the back!” he says to her.

“No way!” she booms back.

“Sam- Tell Her!” he says, hand on his hip. He’s serious.

“Oh, for God sakes, just get in the back! You can have the front after we go to Bridegeport!” I tell Jess.

He sighs and squeezes into the back seat as Darla holds her seat forward dramatically and Jess purposely pushes all his weight against it.

“Hurry up!” she groans, like the weight of the world is on her. Finally the door is shut. If we’re the Three Stooges, I think -at least I’m Moe.

 

Jail Break: Part 2

In The 80's on April 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

 

I have no idea what’s on my mix tapes (other than kick ass music, of course!) because I have so many. I’d like to know what songs are about to play, but I never keep ‘track’.haha. get it?  I’m saving up for a killer Pioneer boom- box so I can make  more tapes. It was so much easier using Adrian’s huge record collection and top-of-the-line equipment. But since the break-up that’s no longer an option. The boom-box I have my eye on is huge, and state of the art. Everyone knows that when it comes to portable music- the bigger the better, right? Take it from me: it’s the wave of the future!

We listen to the studio version of ‘Diamonds and Rust’, and in case I forgot to mention it, Darla is also a self-proclaimed singer with a bellowing voice, and since they  already had had an epic power struggle over the seats, Jess and Darla stage a frightening sing-off. Thank God for the power booster is all I can say. No one can sing louder than that.

The wave of the future!

I get on 1-95 and head north towards Bridgeport. The highway is an ink black ribbon, slick and wet, hulking snowdrifts on both sides, boxing us in as the mid-afternoon sun shines in a cloudless blue sky. Jess pulls a crumpled piece of paper from his jeans pocket, where he’s written out directions to the jail.

“Man- you owe me for this one!” I laugh, and Darla rubs her hands together in anticipation.

“I can’t wait to see Jax!” she swoons.

“I’m sure he can’t wait to be let out of prison only to run into you!” Jess says, sarcastically.

Darla sticks her tongue out at him.

Prison?” I say, “I thought it was ‘just’ a jail?”

“You’re not even going in, so who cares?” says Darla, leaning over to grab the lighter, as it pops out of the ashtray. This is quite the statement to make as you get set to break the law.  She lights the half a joint she brought along. I crack my window an inch, as well as hers, and warn her not to get the smoke near me. The last thing I need is to be high and paranoid as I roll into a prison parking lot.

And if they’re cute enough, we might just pick them up! What the hey?!

“Hey! Gimme some!” croaks Jess, reaching his open hand over the back of our seats in Darla’s direction. 

Darla looks back at him, rolling her eyes. “I shouldn’t……..but I will.” she says, surrendering the joint.

Jess grabs it and takes it to the back, stretching out across the bench seat. “Dam right you will!” he says.

Were these two brother and sister in a past life? 

A few minutes later we get to the Bridgeport exit we’re looking for, and since Darla and Jess are both in a stoner haze, listening to AC/DC’s “Touch Too Much’, I have to turn it way down and yell “Which way? Which way?!” until they both jump.

Jess unfurls his crinkled ball of directions, and starts to read: “Go left up here. Follow all the way until you see a park, then go left…….”

Of course, we pass the park and have to turn back in heavy traffic, but we get there eventually, and pull into the parking lot. It’s almost three o’clock (release time), so we just idle in a parking space and stare at the big, ominous brick building. We don’t see anybody coming out. I tell Jess to go inside and make sure that we’re in the right place and verify that people really are going to get released. I have this ‘double-check’ disorder-because even if I follow orders precisely there’s always a chance plans can change. Maybe the jail is on lock-down? Someone trying the old ‘file in a cake’ move? I’d seen that once on ‘Scared Straight’.

Jess agrees to go, sighs dramatically, and as he’s getting out of the car ,with Darla squished up against the glove compartment, eyes popping, face twisted, he says to her: “Remember: you need to get in the back, Miss Missy!” and then lets the seat fly back into position with a bang. Darla falls back, growling.

“Wait! Wait” I yell to him.

He leans over Darla like she isn’t there and asks impatiently, “Whaaat?”

“You don’t have any warrants do you?” I say, laughing. For a second I see him look up and space, eyebrows furrowed as though scanning his brain.

“Don’t think so!” he says, and heads across the parking lot. 

“He’s a little bitch!” says Darla, as soon as Jess is out of hearing range.

“Oh, c’mon- that’s harsh!” I say. 

“He’s  so bossy. You know- he bogarted most of that joint!” she huffs.

Suddenly, there’s a loud knock on my window. It startles both of us, and it doesn’t help to see a billy club, gun holster,  and the deep blue of a cops uniform, framed in the window. I open the  window partially, and hope the car doesn’t reek of marijuana. A cop, who fits the ‘Officer O’Leary’ description (in his fifties, buzz cut, out of shape,possibly Irish) says: “You can’t park here. See the sign?” I look over and see a sign with ten different blocks of time and various arrows. To understand it would be like deciphering the fine print on my telephone bill.

“Oh, okay.” I say. “Where can I park?”

The cop points across the snowy lot. It’s very imprecise, but I pull out of the parking space and hope for the best. We settle in about twenty spaces down. I back in very carefully, to avoid snow drifts and the cars on either side of me. The Caddy is a beast, and it’s like docking a boat. But I maneuver in, then sigh as if I’ve climbed Mount Everest. 

“Cops are so annoying!” observes Darla.

“Doe!” I say, eyes wide, head wobbling. I bet everyone in this brick building agrees.

I reach over and crank the volume on “Nobody’s Fault’ by Aerosmith, to Darla’s delight. But we’re barely underway with our amazingly realistic air-guitar moves when there’s another bang on my window. Good God! It scares me to death. It’s O’Malley. Again. (Where did he come from? How did we not see him? Did he scale the snow-drift? Crawl under the car next to us? For a pudgy man, this guy moves like a cat!)

“You can’t park here, either!” he says impatiently.

“I thought you were pointing  down here.” I say. “I’m just waiting for someone who will be right out-“

“Well, you can’t stay here. Why don’t you just drive slowly around the lot until they get outside? It’s a big circle” He makes a circle in the air with his finger, his breath coming out of his mouth and nostrils like a dragon in the cold.

War Wagon: Parking Lot Fail!

 “Oooo-kay!” I say, smacking my lips together in a straight line and shaking my head back and forth. Personally I think it’s much safer for everyone if I stay idling in a parking space rather than skating around the lot in a giant battle-axe, but whatever! 

I pull out carefully, and head to the right. We circle slowly around several times, until Darla yells: “Right there! Stop! They’re coming out!” I’ve already overshot the front door by quite a bit, but I stop the car anyway. and let them walk over. This parking lot deal is irritating the crap out of me. The things I get talked into!

Darla jumps out and I hear her screaming ‘Jax!Jax!” A minute later she opens the passenger door, and the famous jailbird Jax slides into the back, saying ‘Hey!’

I’m fiddling with my tape deck and just say ‘What’s happening’ without looking up. Darla barrels into the backseat, and Jess hops into the front, smiling. 

“We ready?” I ask. “Finally?”I need to book outta here before I somehow get booked!

 I crank up the tunes, some vintage Deep Purple ‘Burn’- and we’re  heading out to the highway. 

We backtrack through Bridgeport, and after a couple of minutes I decide to see what’s doin’ with Mr. Jax. At the next light I adjust the mirror subtly, and suddenly: heelllooo!  I’m looking at a stone-cold freakin’ fox! Dark blonde hair past his shoulders and sparkling baby blue eyes. Arresting! (no pun intended)

Darla’s yapping about something back there, and he smiles: I swear I hear Angels. Beautiful straight teeth, he’s gorgeous! As  ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ begins, he starts nodding his head with the beat. Come down with fire…lift my spirit higher…..day-am!! Jess might not even have to buy import cassettes- this one’s on me.

Right then: a skirmish! Jess jerks the steering wheel, bringing me back to earth.

“Whoaaah! he yells.

I almost ran straight into a snowbank! My heart beats a mile a minute, partly because I’m scared, partly because I’m also relieved, but mostly because of the vision in the back seat that almost caused me to wreck my car!

the look Jess gave me after the near crash.

 

 

 

The Warning: Part 3

In The 80's on March 13, 2012 at 12:16 am

Jess and I became tight very quickly. When we weren’t together, we yapped on the phone, and within a few weeks we knew each other  inside and out. We bonded over a shared a contempt for Adrian- after all, he’d rejected us both- so we loved to  dissect his every flaw, real and imagined. We loved the same music and shared the same primal fear: That we would someday live a normal (read: boring) life in suburbia.  To me- at nineteen years old, (Jess was twenty-one) nothing seemed a worse fate, or more cliche. (The fact that we were walking cliches: 80’s rockers who liked to wear leather, listen to hard rock and paaar-taaay! never once occurred to us. You see-wwere special!)

There was no chemistry between us, not even the slightest hint of becoming more than friends. Jess had two sides: one very, very playful, and another I called ‘Mr. Blackwell’ after the harsh fashion ‘judge’ of the day.  Jess was intensely critical of everyone’s looks He could find a flaw on anyone, anywhere. We argued about it- with me on the defense, taking these criticisms to heart.

It wasn’t that I was so nice I’d rally for the ‘victim’s’ sake- it was the nagging feeling that if the drop-dead gorgeous girls (and guys) had faults- what chance did I have? People could say whatever they wanted, all the ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ crap-ola, but at nineteen,  I knew that looks were what mattered, they were what got your foot in the door. Good looks equaled winning. In the back of my mind, every failure I’d ever had, every bad day, every boyfriend I’d ever lost, could have been prevented had I been better looking. Thinner. Smaller boned. Less tall. (The fact that my gorgeous friends had horrible relationships, suffered from eating disorders,  drug addictions, alcoholism, etcetera, did not matter.  It didn’t fit in with my ‘theory’, so I chucked it)

I saw Jess’s evaluations as both true and  typical, because I believed he represented how most guys thought. I argued with him about it to get more insight. That being said- even if Jess had thought I was gorgeous, we still  felt more like brother and sister.

We spent a lot of time loafing around or living the nightlife. There was so much more more to life than partying -even at nineteen I knew this (knew it- didn’t like it) As for jobs- I blew through several (boring) part time gigs: An ice cream shop, Caldors, a convenience store, cleaning houses even a three day stint in a rug shop. a rug shop.

(There’s a story involving the rug shop.We had a piece of equipment-kind of like a big ‘slicer’ which was used to cut remnants. You would lift the handle that housed a long blade, place the rug on the flat surface and pull the  handle down. The sharp blade would slice the rug beautifully. So, whenever I would hear the song ‘Gimme Three Steps’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd and the lyrics “I was cuttin’ a rug, down at a place called the Jug, with a girl named Linda Lu, when in walked a man with a gun in his hand and he was lookin’ for you know who” I would furrow my brows and think: First off- what are the chances that this guy would walk into that rug shop at the same time  they were there, – how random! and secondly, what a dumb name for a rug store! And why was Ronnie Van Zant taking dates to rug stores? It drove me freakin’ crazy. The song was everywhere. I had never been taught (or overheard, or read in my zillions of books!) that the phrase ‘cutting a rug’ meant dancing!) 

I guess: 'pretty?'

My current job was at a tennis club, watching kids while their moms played tennis. It was boring, but the hours – 8am – 2pm, were nice. I had the daycare room to myself, and there were times when no kids would come in- so I could write, or flip through rock magazines, balance my checkbook, etc. I figured I could skate until September, when I started college. My jobs were just a means to an end and I took the path of least resistance as this is who I am.  Still, I was reasonably conscientious, and never called in sick…which meant I wasn’t above going in hungover.

Jess was always talking about ‘looking’ for a job, but even without one he always had money. Way more than I did. I wasn’t sure how he got it, but I never saw him dealing drugs or stealing, or doing any of the underhanded things people who don’t work but have money sometimes do.

He spent his days practicing. He had a battered amp and microphone, and sang along to records and cassettes. He and his slightly crazy grandmother, christened “Pearlie Bean’ by Jess, lived in a two-family house, and Jess was constantly fighting with the other tenants in his duplex over the volume of his music.

Sometimes I would stop by his house on the way home from work,and I’ve got to be honest: If I pulled up and could hear Jess wailing all the way out onto the street, I’d do a few laps around the block, maybe stop at Cumberland Farms for cigarettes-that kind of thing. 

Sometimes when I went into the house, we’d go through his closet, putting together ‘stage’ outfits. I spent a lot of time cutting sleeves off of t-shirts, and draping scarves over his lamps in various combinations. Also, smoking Newports while perusing rock magazines. I was also good at borrowing shit that I could wear the following weekend.

At some point Jess would insist I listen to his latest ‘jam’ and my ears would explode from the volume, and/or lack of melody in Jess’s voice.  I quickly learned that some sing-alongs were better than others. Lower voiced singers – like Ronnie James Dio were manageable. But for the love of god, when I’d see him pull out Judas Priest’s ‘Unleashed In The East’ I knew I was in for trouble. Nothing compared to listening to him attempt ‘Victim Of Changes’. It was one of those ‘blast the terrorists out of their compound’ numbers as interpreted by Jess. I guess if there’d been an ‘American Idol’ back then- they could have told him (and made him a star-of ridicule like that fat Asian guy), but I couldn’t give him an honest opinion for fear of hurting his feelings.

Oh no! Not that one!

He was still band material though. His look was amazing. His silky, chalk white hair, grew past his shoulders and was spiked on top.  He had deep set blue eyes, a slightly bent nose (ala Rod Stewart) and lush lips. It wasn’t unusual for us to be at a restaurant and have the server ask  if he was ‘somebody’. Jess loved it, and lied by omission.  His answers were vague: “Wouldn’t you like to know!” and “Why? Who do I look like?” I liked the fawning as well- it was a good reflection on me.

I did attempt to talk him into taking up an instrument, but he wasn’t interested. He was determined to be a singer. And at a certain point, I started to think that maybe he wasn’t that bad-maybe he was improving with all of the practice. Because I wanted to believe. I was also sure that my future as a rock writer was written in (rolling?) stone, so I was just as un-self aware as he was- and, like him- I had no idea it might not happen.

The tie that binds…

We ran into Adrian and his new ‘gal pal’ (aka: Footsie) a few times during those early days and it killed me.  Once, we saw them at Karl Graff’s Records where they were all googly-eyed and kissy faced. I wanted to puke. Zeppelin’s ‘In Through The Out Door’ had been released as things began unraveling with me and Adrian. I didn’t like it- it was sooo…..not heavy…..and to this day it reminds me of when Adrian cheated on me. ‘Fool In The Rain’ – fun fact: that was me. Not only had I been dumped by my boyfriend, I was also legally separated from my beloved Led Zeppelin!)

So, natch, ‘All My Love’ was blaring in the record store as my ex felt up his new girl in aisle 2. Of course they were over in the ‘Fusion’ section, no doubt checking out the latest Al DiMi-dildo album, so I  was at least comforted by the fact that I wouldn’t have to listen to that for weeks on end. Though, looking over at Jess I realized I wasn’t exactly off the hook.

I’d always love them, but we were growing apart…

The two of us pretended to ignore Adrian and her,and made a big deal of ordering some ‘NWOBHM’ (New wave of british heavy metal) imports from Ken, our cool ‘High Fidelity’insider (if those guys hadn’t loathed our genre) who would have them shipped directly from England. We ordered something by a new band called ‘Def Leppard'(whuuut?) and another by  ‘Saxon’ It felt good to be ahead of the curve.

The lovebirds stayed in their ‘area’ and Jess and I left without incident. But I was bummed. Why did it always seem like your ex was having a much better time than you were? Even when you knew they could literally! bore you to tears back when you were together? The minute you broke up, you pictured their life like a beer commercial montage: All that smiling, laughing, cleavage and beer. It really sucked as a mindset.

“She’s gone! Let’s party!”

 

%d bloggers like this: