‘I heard you found my boobs on the floor."
And so it begins: the saccharine squeaks and irreverence of giggling girls gaggled together in the name of last labia rites, pink champagne effervescence smashed against the side of life's creeping ship for a nuptial bon voyage, a bachelorette party with a gay in it. High up in a ninth-floor suite at the Grand Bohemian, the perfunctory stage is being set for a real ladies night out in the big city. It's all fashion patterns and hot rollers and shoes and spinach dip and shoes and eyeliner and Kanye-through-tiny-iPod-speakers and themed vodka and strawberries and shoes. Life is just a walk-in closet with bottle service, an unspoiled paradise of hiccups and glitter; handbags and stilettos, handbags and stilettos, handbags and stilettos.
"Better than finding my balls there, I guess," I awkwardly pinch my nose and try to blow out a pair.
"That's OK," one of the vixens, Tonia, smirks Victoria's Secret at me. "I didn't wear those boobs tonight."
Tonia's boobs, however, are not the boobs of honor tonight. That "enormous" pair belongs to Karen Leigh, who is whizzing around the room in fuchsia leggings and some black mesh casing, snapping synapses down the flowered path toward the loss of her virginity. Karen's getting married next month to an attractive plantain named Miguel, and, because I can't wed and what's more fun than rubbing my face in it, she's chosen me to be in her bridal party. It's all very exciting but kind of ill-fitting in a torn-and-gathered bridesmaid dress kind of way, because, after all (I must remind myself), I still have a penis. Tonight, not everyone does.
"So, tonight's not one of those bachelorette parties where we all wear plastic penis earrings and suggestively suck penis juice through plastic penis straws while somebody dangles a penis from his penis-concealing jockstrap?" I fidget in the perfume plumes of a lady-ball making its way down the hotel hallway.
"No," Karen squeaks. "We're not trashy."
Then what are we?
Karen's sensible cousin Shannon has sewn together a reservation at downtown sushi hole Ichiban, because I guess what we are is hungry. I eyeball my flaccid asparagus roll and wait for the ladies to make something hard, some thrusting, veiny shaft of power circulation to penetrate the politeness. Unexpectedly — and somewhat charmlessly — that firmness comes in the form of football.
"You know, I hear Tim Tebow isn't the big party guy you would think he is," Karen's niece Krissy swoons out a promise ring in the direction of a television broadcasting the UF game. "Somebody told me that on his spring breaks, he packs up his things and heads out to do missionary work."
See, I had this idea that being part of a vaginal dust cloud drifting its way through the stink and smut of the downtown corridor would mean leaving a trail of freshly plucked pubic hairs — each tied to an embarrassing moment probably involving fellatio — along the urine-soaked sidewalks. Drunk girls inflating and exploding in an arrhythmic movement of semi-musical liberation were populating my preconceptions, not a precious game of pass the diet soy. I need a cigarette.
"Got a joke for you, Mr. Manes," a preppy streetwalker named John sidles up next to my smoking third person. "So there's this guy that goes in to see his priest …" kicks off some yarn that ends with a Joe-to-Josephine sex change and John's one hand clapping. "What do you think of Shannon Burke?" Ugh. I don't.
Back inside, the gap of my absence is being clumsily filled by the wrong kind of dick, but somehow the appropriate kind at the very same time.
"Which one of you's the birthday girl," a dirtbag slur slurs its way around the table. "Who wants to see a Puerto Rican strip? You ever seen Puerto Rican dick?"
"Um, she's marrying a Puerto Rican," everybody's nose turns up in unison. Well, except mine. Mine's just flaring and uncertain.
Then it's back to the sports, politics and screaming babies needing fresh breast milk bags. Something has got to give.
Eventually it does, but not before a little bit more stilted nightlife posturing. Our plans to go all VIP at the Rok Room — a "rock"-themed mausoleum where the lyrics to Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" are spelled out in calligraphy under sconces — fall prey to the fact that going all VIP costs $180 per bottle with a three-bottle minimum. So there's some standing around in fancy dresses, some hemming, some hawing, fittingly soundtracked by the Bowie-Queen opus "Under Pressure" on white leather seats.
"It's the terror of knowing what this world is about/Watching some good friend scream, ‘Let me out!'"
This is not a reference to spotting, fortunately, but rather a cue to let the night take care of us, rather than to seamlessly script the night.
Out on the streets, among the beer guts and wallet chains, there are ugly people screaming through amplifiers about Jesus, drunks dripping hubris and the sounds and smells of cacophonous Saturday night ruin. But inside — in our little powder puff of froth, breasts and beauty products — the blind euphoria only seems to swell in contextual contradiction.
"This is so much fun!" Karen squeaks and spins in an upward fashion as we press our saline bags through the throngs at the Lodge for a shot, and then back out toward the front of Independent Bar. There, my friend Gary's eyes bulge out from behind the paper plate of pizza he's throwing down.
"I'm going wherever you're going," he says.
He can't. Where we're going is a private place for tipsy girls only.
"Let's take a picture of our shoes!" Karen pulls out her camera. There will be firstname.lastname@example.org