Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Flip Side

The change was subtle, but unmistakeable. She folded her arms across her chest, shielding herself from me. The gregarious energy that had drawn us together a few hours ago was replaced with a weary countenance. She was still friendly and engaging but she was no longer open. I had trespassed and was no longer wanted.
When he grabbed my waist and pulled me close I saw her staring at us.
"You see that guy right there," she had said a half hour after our initial introduction. "He's so cute. I want him tonight."
We had both arrived alone, but she didn't plan to leave that way. Dancing was her angle. She sashayed toward him and swung her hips to get his attention. Much to her dismay it wasn't enough to keep him entertained. He found his way to me and kept finding me the entire night. I didn't beckon, but I didn't turn him away either. She was the one who wanted him, but I knew I was the one who would get him.
As I watched her over his shoulder, I recognized the look in her eyes. I had been her on so many other nights. I had stared, danced, and flirted to the best of my ability only to watch my target use the same moves on another woman. I had gone home empty handed on more than one occassion, wondering what the other girl had that I didn't. And I had felt the irrational feeling of loss over something that was never mine.
I felt bad being the cause of her disappointment. And I felt worse because I had participated knowingly. But feeling bad didn't stop me from walking over to him at the end of the night and getting his phone number as she looked on.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


She emerged from the murky lake water, dark hair dripping and water glistening on her olive skin. Her smile was triumphant and proud. She had not backed down, refused to hesitate, and met the challenge.
"Umm, that's not Lake Minnetonka," The Kid informed her.
Triumph dissolved into mortification as she realized her mistake. She had been duped into disrobing in front of a man she had known mere hours.
"You! I'll kill you!" she screamed, trying to wrest leather pants over her wet thighs.
At five years old I couldn't quite grasp the subtleties of what had transpired between Prince and Appolonia as the VHS tape played. What I did know was that I wanted boobs just like hers. Round, ample, perky boobs that bounced when I ran. Even without a lesson on puberty I knew that although my chest looked no different from my older brother's, one day fleshy orbs would grow where none existed.
Then it happened. My best friend KP got her first training bra. She was eleven, I was nine and completely jealous. Although it made sense for her to develop first, I was desperate to play catch up. I spent the entire summer staring at the buds that pressed against her bathing suit's nylon fabric while lamenting the way my pink polka dot bikini top sagged against my body.
The next summer was the same. She kept blooming and I remained dormant. By the time I turned evelen a year later my patience was wearing thin. Fifth grade sex education had taught me about more than just the boobs I desired. I learned that a monthly period, body odor, and pubic hair were going to accompany them. So when I noticed a faint dusting of curly ques sprinkled underneath my arms, I was pretty excited. I was positive that my long coveted breasts were sure to follow. And sure enough they did. That summer two definitive bumps materalized on my chest.
"Do you want to come over and go swimming?" KP stood on my front porch with a beach towel in her hand.
"Yeah, let me go ask my mom."
Within seconds I had permission to play in the new underground, heated pool her grandparents had put in at their home across the street. Immediately I changed into my new black and green two piece. Eager to show off my new figure to the neighborhood kids, I left the T-shirt I normally wore over my bathing suit inside before I sprinted out the door to join the fun.
"Hey! Watch this," I screamed.
I took a running start and jumped off the diving board, tucking my knees to my chest to form the perfect cannon ball. Water flew in all directions. I surfaced and swam toward the shallow end. My next door neighbor, Puny Gonzalez, created a similar splash seconds later, followed by KP's younger brother BP. We dunked each other under the water and sent gallons of water flying onto the surrounding patio. It was sunset when we finally tired of the swimming pool.
I grabbed my towel off a lounge chair and stetched it behind me like a cape.
"Eww, what's that?" KP asked, pointing towards my raised arms.
"What?" I looked around me for a slimy creature of sorts.
"No! Under your arms."
I looked at my armpits to see the the straggly hairs that had been there for the last several weeks. I had no clue what was grossing her out.
"You have hairy pits!" she shouted. "Hey everyone, look at Liz's pits."
Immediately, I clamped my arms to my sides. Puny and BP rushed to where we stood, curious to see the cause of the commotion. KP grabbed my right hand and thrust it into the air.
"Pits!" she yelled. Puny and BP stared at my underarms as she doubled over in laughter.
"Ah, gross. You got bith under your arms," BP said.
I struggled to wrest my hand from her grasp. They were laughing, but I found none of it funny.
"Stop!" I commanded. I jerked away from her and wrapped my towel around my body, wishing I hadn't left my trusty T-shirt at home.
Children have short attention spans, so they left me alone to focus on other endeavors.
"Who wants to play Bloody Murder?" BP asked. The last strains of daylight were fading and the time had come to play our favorite game.
"Yeah, I'll get the other kids," Puny offered. Without waiting for a response he ran off to find The 6 Grade Heartthrob and his younger brother The Verbally Challenged Youth. I ran home to lure my older brother out of his bedroom.
Minutes later we reconvened on my front lawn, KP, BP, Puny, The Heartthrob, TVCY, my brother, and me.
"Who's gonna hide first?" The Heartthrob asked.
Wanting to be the first one to scare the pants off everyone else, I shot my hand into the air.
"Me! I'll hide first."
"Pits!" KP screamed, once again pointing and laughing.
My body tensed and I quickly lowered my hand. I had forgotten to put on a T-shirt while I was in the house. Everyone seized upon me at the same time. For the second time that day, KP lifted my arm in the air to expose my burgeoning pubes.
"Pits!" BP and Puny joined the chorus.
"That's gross," The Heartthrob said.
I tried to wriggle away from KP, but this time she was too strong. She waved my arm in the air and giggled. Under the glare of their ridicule, the hair that I had once been so proud of became toxic.
"Why do you let it grow like that?" BP asked.
I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to "let it grow like that." When the teacher taught us about body hair, she neglected to mention anything about hair removal. Desperate to stop their teasing I rushed inside my house. I ran up the front stairs two by two and headed straight to my parents bathroom. Opening the drawers on my mother's side of the vanity, I searched for the tool to end my problems. I found it in the bottom drawer.
Within seconds, the electric razor was against my armpit removing all evidence that I was in the throes of puberty. There wasn't much hair so the mission was completed within minutes. I cleaned up the hairs that had fallen in the sink and placed the razor back where I found it. I examined my armpits once more to make sure every last hair was gone. Satisfied, I returned to the front yard where everyone was waiting for me.
"What did you go inside for?" KP asked.
I said nothing. The few minutes I spent inside did nothing to curb her desire to tease me. This time when she reached for my arm, I didn't fight her.
"Pits!" she yelled as she hoisted my arm over my head.
A smirk tugged at the corners of my mouth. There was no way they could make fun of me if there was no hair to poke fun at. Their laughs turned to whimpers soon enough.
"Oh, she shaved," BP said. Disappointment tinged his voice.
"It doesn't matter," KP declared. "You're still Pits."
Everyone laughed at her assertion. Although I had rid myself of all evidence, there had been witnesses. It wouldn't matter if I shaved my underarms everyday for the rest of my life because to them, I would always be the girl with the hairy armpits. The humiliation followed me through junior high and most of high school. And to my ultimate dismay, while the armpit hairs grew steadily, my boobs did not.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Everything was beautiful. Incandescent lights reflected off the freshly polished hard wood floors. Unknown flowers with long tubular stems that explode into white canopy petals sat in tall vases at the center of all twenty three tables. Fine china, wine glasses, champagne flutes, and flatware were perfectly arranged on the unadorned linen table cloths. The moon, the Hudson, and the Jersey City lights created a surreal backdrop in the ceiling high picture windows. The scene was exquisite, elegant.
They stood in the middle of the floor wrapped in each other's arms. Him in a black tuxedo. Her in a shimmering white gown. Music filled the air, slow and melodic with words no one understood. It didn't matter. The meaning was clear. They were in love and now it was official. They were enchanted by one another and everyone was enchanted by them. I couldn't watch. I didn't want their joy to taint my sadness.
It was too perfect and even though I felt beautiful in my new dress that wrapped around my body, traced my curves and revealed my bust, I knew that I didn't belong. The night was about love, and all I knew was loss. I escaped to the patio. The open bar called.
"I want a screwdriver."
The bartender poured a steady stream of Kettle One into a glass, followed by a splash of orange juice.
"Thank you," I said, taking the glass into my hand. I took a deep breath. It was my fourth visit to the bar that night, but the first to yield more than a chaser. I prepared my throat for the cool burn it hadn't felt in over six years, and took a gulp. The vodka met my lips like a kiss from an old friend. I shuddered at the aftertaste and walked back to my table. I wondered how fast the drink could make me forget.
Being there reminded me that I was alone. I was surrounded by familiar faces that I had known for years, but never really knew. There was nothing to say in college, and even less to say that evening. The seating arrangement was strategic. All of the people who couldn't quite figure out how to find and keep someone were seated together at a table in the back corner, lest we curse the happy couples around us. Or maybe it was a set up so we could find each other. The only person I wanted to find wasn't present.
Two more sips and I was still empty. Red wine, then white wine, a swig of champagne. Nothing worked. I took my phone outside to try and fill the void.
"I'm drinking."
"You're not!" Chesty LaRue was incredulous.
"I want to call him so badly. He would so understand what this is like for me right now. I mean c'mon. A singles table? Please shoot me."
"I know. Just give it some time," she soothed.
Too much time had already passed. He needed space and I needed him. I broke down and sent him a text.
"I'm drinking vodka and it's all your fault," I wrote.
He should've been there with me. It was difficult to remember that even if we were speaking he wouldn't have been by my side. My invitation was for one. I missed him anyways.
My unfinished drinks beckoned. Before I could touch them I was led to the dancefloor. I allowed the man to twirl me around and move in a figure eight. Then I moved to his friend.
"What you want, baby I got it!" I pointed at my partner as I sang along with Aretha. Faking it wasn't a problem. And when the song changed, I nursed more alcohol and hoped an empty stomach and a low tolerance would push me past drunk before I finished the glass. It didn't work.
So I flirted with the guy next to me over baked cod bathed in peanut sauce, with aspargus and potatoes. Then I danced with the best man's father, shaking my hips as fast as I could. I shared a dance with the groom, and moved on to a groomsman. I laughed with a bridesmaid and drank some more with a new "friend." And for a moment the fun was real and I enjoyed myself. When the groomsman took my hand and asked me for another dance, I obliged over and over again until the strains of the last song faded in the air.
I would've gone home happy if my text was returned. But it wasn't. Nothing could feel right because we were all wrong. I was hollow. And leaving with the groomsman's phone number safely stored in my Treo 650 didn't make me feel any better.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In The Morning

The air is tense, thick with anger, hurt, regret, and longing. It suffocates me. I pick at the untouched breakfast sandwich beside me. Made out of obligation with a splash of contempt, I'm nauseated by the sight of it. My stomach turns and my diaphragm tightens. I double over and rest my head against my knees. Another dry heave.
"Are you okay?" he asks.
The sensation passes and I nod my head. I'll be fine, physically at least. I raise my head and look at him through the screen door. He's bathed in the porch light's glow. Steady rain falls behind him in the morning darkness.
"Now you can tell all your friends I literally made you sick." His laugh is joyless.
I want him to shut up. I wrecked us, but he's determined to destroy anything that's left. This isn't the way we should be, but I seem to be the only one who knows that.
"It's not you," I say. It's the truth. I'm sick of the situation and sick of myself, unfortunately I know I'll never be sick of him. I just want to go back in time and get a do over. I'd retrace my steps and change the last 48 hours. Then I would be munching on the wheat toast, fake eggs, and turkey bacon. He wouldn't be mad.
I rest my head on the kitchen table. I broke it, but I want him to fix it.
"See what you're making me do," he says.
He brings the cigarette to his lips and pulls hard. His bare chest expands. I can sense the heat rushing down his throat, the physical pain matching the inner turmoil. He exhales a cloud of carbon monoxide and toxins, then brings the silver thermos to his mouth. I have nothing to say. I hate cigarettes. He knows that. Without a word he takes another drag. In the moment of silence, with a smoky haze surrounding him, he's beautiful. I could sit there forever watching him smoke and drink coffee.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oops I Did It Again

When I go to New York City, I spend money, lots of it. Between dining at the finest chicken spots on the corner of E 219 St and White Plains Road, the small boutique on 135th Street between 7th and 8th, and cover charges and drinks (that I don't partake in) at the club on 54th between 2nd and 3rd, my money drains from my account faster than I can keep track of. Knowing this, I prepare for the spending spree. I make sure all of my bills are paid, then I designate a few hundred to my weekend excursion and hope there's just enough left over to get me to my next check without dipping into my savings account. I'm all about fiscal responsibility. Yes, I will spend and then spend some more, however I will not spend money that I do not have. At least not so far from my next check.
After the last time I threw my bank account into chaos, I promised myself that I would be more diligent about tracking my finances. I balanced my checkbook regularly, paid off all of my credit card debt, cancelled unused accounts, and budgeted my money. I even increased my investment capital, hiding a large percent of my liquid assets in untouchable savings vehicles. I was being responsible with my money and felt perfectly fine with my financial situation when I embarked on my Labor Day journey to the happiest place on Earth. I had a good amount of money to spend on my usual pursuits and felt perfectly capable of staying within my budget.
Five days later, I am once again wondering how my bank account will recover. Oh why did I hide my money from myself? Maybe because I knew I would spend it if I didn't. It started with "necessary" cell phone equipment that I still can't figure out how to use and probably doesn't work anyways. Then there was the unexpected five hour hotel stay (I was by myself so get your mind out the gutter), which really wasn't that expensive, but still cost money I didn't have. Now, most people would make adjustments when emergency expenses happen. Cut back here and there to make up for it. Not, I. I go shopping and purchase a $250 shirt and justify it by passing it off as a dress ($250 for a dress is definitely reasonable). Spending $250 on one item was more than I could handle, so I decided to spend $400 in total on three items to make myself feel like a saavy shopper. I knew I was going over the edge when I stood at the check out counter at my favorite store trying to convince Capital One to give me the account number for the credit card I cut up so I could purchase a $350 snakeskin purse that perfectly matched a reasonably priced wrap dress that was only worth purchasing if the purse was part of the transaction. Thank God, Capital One told me no. The weekend could've gotten very ugly.
I'm back home now and my account is obliterated. Decisions I made several weeks ago are making it difficult to cover my ass while each transaction materializes and gets deducted. I don't get paid for over a week and I have nada to get me through to the next cycle. At least I'm not in debt. That's the only good thing I can hold on to. I could live with no dinners, movies, and shopping trips. And I do have some amazing clothes in my possession (which I will wear everyday and twice on Sunday to get my money's worth). But my stomach is grumbling and I have no groceries and no money to buy them. Too bad I can't eat my new shirt/not quite dress.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Don't Speak

Women talk. It's a fact of life like taxes, underpaying jobs, and the freshman fifteen. We talk when we're happy, when we're bored, when we're sad, when we're angy, when we're confused. We talk all the damn time. We even talk when we're not supposed to.

It's difficult for me to keep my life to myself. I like confirmations and validations regarding what I think, feel, and do. Advice. That's what it's called. What should I do? What does this mean? Advice isn't free, though. I have to give the story to get the answers I seek. Usually there's no harm in telling a story. It's my business and if I choose to let someone in on my world the only person it affects is me. But sometimes it's not just my story. When it's our story, it's not mine to tell.

I couldn't help myself. I was happy, confused, giddy, and in desperate need of an outlet. I called Chesty LaRue and told her everything. She listened as I recounted the details. How it started, where it was going, the potential pitfalls, and why I was out of my blasted mind for even putting myself in the situation. Chesty is awesome. She's objective and tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. She made me think, and the thoughts weren't pretty. Talking to Chesty wasn't a mistake. Telling him I talked to Chesty was.

Normally, I'm an excellent liar. Spinning believable stories is an artform I've mastered. But there are some people I can't lie to. They ask, I answer. Hell, sometimes I even offer information. Certain situations require full disclosure. When it's all said and done, they can't say I lied to them. When I brought my doubts to him, he asked where they came from. I told him the truth.
"Why did you say something to her?"
Because women talk. It's a fact of life.

Saying something to Chesty wasn't a big deal. Saying something to my other friends was. Friends call and ask about my life and I tell them. It's not a big deal to me, but it is to him. In my mind he was overreacting. What could possibly go wrong. Yes, my friends ask questions, make comments, and give suggestions. But in the end, I always do what I want regardless. Their views may plant seeds, but they never sway me. He said it would only lead to trouble. I didn't believe him. He was right.

Sharing isn't caring when all parties are gathered at the same location and large amounts of alcohol are being consumed. Sharing turns into melee. He said this, she said that. "Listen to me. I'm your friend." "No, listen to me, I won't lie to you." All of a sudden, we're no longer in our mid twenties with good careers. We're 16 years old arguing in the middle of the cafeteria. Scenes are memorable in high school, not so much at 3 a.m. outside a packed club.

I have no clue how it all snowballed out of control. Maybe we were in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. Maybe talking is okay when the parties talked to never meet the parties talked about. Maybe I should just keep my damn mouth shut for once. Maybe I haven't learned my lesson because all I really want to do is call a friend and spill my guts.