Sometimes I wish everything could go a little more smoothly. Cracking a glance at my visage in the mirror this morning, I feel the sudden urge to cover myself in khaki and pull out a chisel while simultaneously wiping my brow and staring at the sun. A veritable Google map of personal travesties winds and weaves its way around my nose in some kind of infrastructural nightmare that used to mean something but now would be better served by an intense archeological study of what life once was and what not to do in order to avoid this ever happening again.
Up there on my forehead, an off-color splotch of scar tissue from the road where my skull landed when I was hit by car on my eighth-grade bike. Right there above my eye, a coathook lightning bolt compliments of too much Aimee Mann liquor commiseration and an unexpected stair. On my lip, a hardened blip of clumsiness thanks to the ineffable ability of one 6-year-old to run over his own mouth with a skateboard. I do not coast through life, I run into it. Just look at me.
Obviously, I need to get my roots done.
"You should totally come out with us tonight," hairdresser-to-the-star Joel cocks a Botoxed brow as he brushes away my last drop of brownish pigmentation at the Copperhead Salon. "It's not a party until Billy Manes is there."
There will be blood. But for now — meaning precisely six hours later than then — there is just the tragic comedy of misshapes whirling around me in the reddish glow of a nightlife concept. For the sake of gender neutrality, my adopted family of hairdressers opted for the new, controversially named downtown hotspot Stardust Lounge to begin tonight's beguine. The evening's tepid dance is intended to rumba around the departure of beloved washbowl-girl Toni, who — like a movie I would probably see — is departing to South Beach for the next stage of her life, next haircut, next whatever it is that makes beautiful people who make people beautiful so interesting. But also — and I don't know if you've ever hung out with hairdressers — it's a night to look unhappily perfect and feel uncomfortable.
"Why do I hate everybody?" I slink into my role too easily while leaning into Toni. "I mean, they're all like gnats gathering around my very expensive caviar."
She blinks, speaking volumes without speaking at all.
On this particular Saturday night, Stardust Lounge is like a Peach Pit for studio-lot also-rans. For every Shannen Doherty, there are at least 16 Tiffani Amber Thiessens jumping sharks and landing on zebra prints. The space, which used to house Lee's Lakeside (itself a rather large cocaine gash on my face), has been repurposed into what can best be described as a Playboy Mansion—style den of obvious irony, and it's stuffed with people who like to talk that nobody wants to hear. There are bellies and there is a bar. I can practically feel myself falling down.
"I thought that was you. Your hair is your signature," some gay-bar acquaintance I haven't seen since college grabs the top of my arm, unintentionally holding me up. "Eat a sandwich!"
Gash! And it only gets worse. One of the Copperhead staffers' husbands sidles up next to me with the news that, hey, I write for the paper, and, hey again, he knows what I should write about.
"So, Obama or McCain," he drinks vinegar and water from a vagina-washing bottle. "The choice, it's black and white!"
"Omigod!" I used to be a cheerleader. "Wow, so you're cute and racist? That's not much of a choice, is it?"
Douche! But the real kicker comes in the form of a girl who I think is named Jamaica, who swears that she's met me before, she loves me, she lives by me, I'm awesome, etc. She grabs my already-grabbed-once arm and drags me over to a corner to stand and pretend to dance. It's at this point she moans a proposition.
"We should have babies!"
"Gaybies?" I quip back, stealing the last pun from my empty toy box.
Rabies! Thankfully, my gaggle of scissor sisters has likewise been pushed into its fight-or-flight mode and a mass decision of hair has decided that we need to get out of here and go somewhere gay. It's a good thing. My forced laugh lines are becoming woundless scars. Like, if I keep pretending to be OK with this my face will stay this way forever. Ugly.
But Revolution offers little reprieve for my already cracking complexion. Carrot Top is here to be seen in public with his new "girlfriend" (in a gay bar?), and I talk to him and his bulging arms of distraction just to gaze at the cracks in his face. And while that should make me feel better — after all, I gave up that mushroom cloud of red hair in 1992 — it just forces me deeper into my own sad crevices. Not that anybody notices.
"You look so good. Your face has filled out," a glamorous acquaintance named Kate effectively calls me fat. The world. It's ending.
On the way home, it dawns on me that tonight — for all of its dancing and superficial judgments — doesn't really mean a lot. After all, I didn't actually get wasted, fall down and write another story across my countenance. There will be nothing to remind me of it, and therefore it might as well never have happened.
But then it does. Just before I crawl into bed next to Alan, just before I can put this whole aberration behind me, my foot meets a duffel bag left in the middle of the living-room floor. And my chin meets the entertainment center, the floor and a pool of blood.
Tonight, it turns out, is firstname.lastname@example.org