Saturday, March 29, 2008

Janet Jackson - Again (1993)

I blame Janet Jackson and this video for my inability to find satisfaction in love. Being that this was my introduction to the "art" of lovemaking, in my mind, if love does not look like this, I don't want it! Until the day I die, all I want to know is that the colors of love are white and light-blue denim; and the texture of love is cotton. Perhaps, subconsciously, this video is the reason I wear waist beads...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Go Ahead. Try It.

Last weekend, my brother came a-visiting with his wife and daughter. They stayed at my sister's posh two-bedroom flat, cuz I'm a loser and I live in a basement (albeit a cute and well-established basement). Seriously, though, it made more sense cuz I'm the baby of the house - which is a new experience arising from the family's recent disownment by my younger sister, the actual youngest member of the fam - and the baby of this family isn't expected to do shit. I'm loving my new position; it rocks! Anyway, like all good displaced Nigerians, my sister and I put my sister-in-law to work in the kitchen, as we do whenever she visits. "Make afang!" we demanded. "Make okro!" And she threw down, as always, much to our drooling delight. But she decided to first make a quick stew, which isn't the most exciting thing we could have smelled cooking, since we make that for ourselves all the time. Unfortunately, I had to leave before she even started making the stuff I cared about, since I had to work that night. I bade them a reluctant adieu, told them I'd be back the next day for my share of the grub, and they better make sure I had a nice-sized Tupperware container full of The Goodness.

The next day, I arrived following a brisk 30-minute walk from my house, hungry and ready to nosh on some eba, only to find the afang being thawed on the counter. What moron would freeze the shit overnight, knowing I was coming back to get mine?? The damn stew was nice and warm on the stove though, with a warm pot of freshly-cooked rice to go with it, and I was hungry as hell, so I got a bowl and went to work, my sister-in-law hovering smilingly over me. (What is it about women who cook - they always watch you sample their food with tender eyes.) So she's right there, watching, and I figure I should make some small talk, so I don't appear to be what I am: someone who is currently more interested in the food than the person who cooked it. This was her vacation after all; and we put her to work - it would have been awkward.

Food being the only thing on my mind at the time, the first thing I noticed was that the rice was extremely fluffy and round, almost like native rice. But it smelled sweet, and that threw me off, because I don't know any rices that smell so sweet, but look so round. So I'm genuinely curious and I ask the obvious question: "What kind of rice is this?" She has a blank look on her face, like "...err, white rice...?" I scramble to elaborate a little, to help jog her memory, or whatever. "Is it jasmine? It smells like jasmine."


I decided to just face my front and dish the rice, when she said, "Well, I don't know o. They [being my sister, who has long been written off as an oyinbo in family lore] said it's Indian rice. You know we, we don't know anything other than long grain."

"Oh ok, so it's basmati." I busied my mouth controlling the excessive salivation that was occurring at the time, and put the rest of the conversation on hold. My brain was still working though, because I noted that the basmati had been cooked until its distinctive slender form was so grossly bloated that it now resembled Uncle Ben's, which reinforced what I already know to be true: Nigerians only know how to cook one kind of rice.

At least, they were willing to eat it. I can only imagine with what dread they come to visit my sister and I, knowing that our refrigerators will be full of foods they haven't even read about; knowing also that one or both of us will be more than eager to make them try some. My sister is more guilty of this than I; I still crave ethnic flavors that more closely resemble standard Nigerian cuisine than that crap my sister eats. On more than one occasion, I've stumbled into her kitchen hungry, and left angry - who has nothing but rice milk and...and...olive dip in their fridge?! Even when the food is something I recognize, like raspberry jam, it's always the wrong kind. You know, the ones that were preserved and bottled on a random converted cottage somewhere in Maine, with hand-written calligraphy and a bow on the label, and huge globs of fruit that won't be spread evenly on the toast (which I've had to fashion out of a rock-hard baguette that doesn't even fit in the toaster properly and invariably pops out scorched).

But I digress. My point is: Nigerians are typically loathe to try foods they don't recognize, and quick to dismiss the food with screwed-up faces, no matter the taste, if it doesn't have a flavor they recognize either. Why??

What is it about us that stops us from trying something new with relish and excitement? What hinders us from exploring the varying tastes and textures of foods foreign to our palate, using spices that aren't thyme and curry to change the way our food tastes, making sauces without tomatoes and/or meat? (Eggplant, anyone?) It doesn't matter how long we've been overseas; the majority of us just refuse to venture further away from our standard 3 or 4 dishes than the occassional chicken salad sandwich!

I'm not the world's greatest food connoisseur; indeed, I may not always have food at my house (to which many of my visitors can attest). But when I do cook, you can always be rest assured to find in my fridge some kind of salad, maybe a casserole, tons of fruit and veggies and one or two sauces to eat over rice. I love rice - I make no apologies for being able to eat rice all day, every day. Jasmine, basmati, brown, wild, dirty - love 'em all! I started switching up my cuisine one day last year, when I got sick and tired of Nigerian stew. "There has to be more!!" I screamed in my kitchen one evening, as I nuked the last bowl of chicken stew and rice that I was going to eat for months. And I was pleased to discover: there is! So now I make curries of all kinds, green being my favorite and the most popular with CB; this spicy goat+spinach blend that he also can't get enough of; and stir-fry galore. But my new predilection for culinary exploration doesn't go down well with some of my Naija folk.

Last year, I offered to help a friend make fried rice for a beach party, so she could focus on other things. I forgot to mention that I cannot stand Nigerian-style fried rice, and have my own style, which consists of red and green bell peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, chicken strips and MAYBE some carrots stir-fried with delicious jasmine rice. You won't find peas, liver or curry in my fried rice, no sir! And it's different, but it's still fried rice and it's still delicious. I made two trays of the stuff, lugged them over to the party site...and there they sat, steaming, as the jollof rice disappeared. The more adventurous menfolk who ate my rice said, "What is this? This isn't fried rice. Who made it?" I was called forth to give the back-story, after which they said, "Ahh! I for say: it's nice, but it ain't fried rice!" They did spirit the trays home, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover when I couldn't find them at the end of the day, but I was still frustrated. Y'all can eat Naija fried rice every day of the week if you want to (and probably do) - how often does anyone get to eat this fried rice? Expand your palate horizons, people!

I nearly got into a fight with someone over green curry last month. I used the promise of yam and corned beef stew to bribe her over to my crib; CB was visiting too and he expressly requested chicken green curry. So I frantically made both at the same time, which is no easy feat in my tiny phone booth of a "kitchen". My friend was really hungry and the green curry was ready first, so I asked her if she wouldn't just try a little to hold belle until the red stew was done. She said no, which would have been fine in and of itself if she had ever tasted green curry before and just decided she didn't like it. But no: she refused because I said the word "green" in describing the curry.

"Abeg o, me ah no sabi any green curry! See as you describe the food sef - how you go talk say the thing green then you wan make ah chop am??"

I was too stunned to point out that half of the soups we cook in Nigeria are also green-colored. Instead, I tried to convince her that it was not only NOT green per se, but it was perfectly safe to eat...and goddamn it, it was delicious! (Yes, I have no problem tooting my own horn in the kitchen - I throws down!) She adamantly refused to even look at my curry. So then it turned to war.

"Look at it, dammit! It's not even green!"


"This babe, look am na! You no dey hear the smell? No be you say e be like say the thing go sweet as e dey smell so, so whosai you dey sef?"

"Ah don tell you say ah no wan chop de ting. Na by force?? You know I don't like trying anything new - I know what I know and I stick to it! So stop trying to force me, cuz I'm not gonna to eat it!"

Therein lay the problem! But she had unleashed the foneh, so I knew she was serious. And I could feel myself growing really angry, so I figured it'd be best to just leave it so the visit wouldn't leave us both with a bitter taste in our mouths. If I had a more volatile temper, I would have force-fed her a spoonful of the curry, just to satisfy my own sensibilities. But I didn't. I suffered instead, asking myself the one question she wouldn't answer and I certainly couldn't: why??

Are we scared? Are Nigerians naturally fearful people? Fela would have us believe that we "fear too much", both the things we can see and the things we can't. His contention cannot be disputed to this day. But food, too? Seriously??

Maybe the problem is that we are too narrow-minded, stunted in our vision and lacking in personal growth. Makes sense when one is talking about the lack of continuity in state and federal development projects, or vocational options (does everyone have to be a doctor, lawyer, banker, or engineer?). Makes sense when you think about how people would rather blame deviant social behavior on the Devil rather than explore their own psychoses. But food, too?? Really??

I still can't explain it, and it drives me mad. Am I really one to talk, especially if I still can't bring myself to drink rice milk? Maybe not. But I'm still the only Nigerian I know (besides my sister) who relishes sashimi of any kind (yes, fish and beef), and I'm not loathe to eat the odd exotic (read: stinky) cheese spread as all gathered fart ourselves into fetid oblivion. Y'all would do well to get on board - how can you spend a lifetime eating nothing but stew and egusi, rice and poundo?? When I think of all the spices Indians have learned to cook with - cloves and nutmeg and turmeric and licorice powder - and how fragrant their dishes smell, not to talk of how they make the tastebuds dance with excitement on the tongue - when I think of this and compare it to our blind dumping of salt, curry and thyme in EVERYTHING, I want to weep for our blandness and inability to explore.

So I implore you: the next time someone comes up to you with something you've never seen before, maybe have barely heard about, go ahead - try it. You just might like it. And if you don't, you'll at least be able to say why. Think of it this way: whole generations have probably been raised on it, and it didn't kill them, so why would it kill you?

You pluck termites from the sky and eat them, for God's sake!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Newspaper Man updates: HELP HAS ARRIVED!

OK, I know some of you have been struggling with the concept of this project and so I've written up a little something that will hopefully clear up the confusion and leave room for your creative juices to flow! What do y'all think: helpful? not helpful?

Newspaper Man options:

There are two broad ways to tackle this subject: explore the media as a controlling force OR explore an individual’s/society’s manner of dealing with what it observes in the media

journalism bias

o telling only one side of the story

o manipulating the story to get people to believe *something*, whether truthful or accurate or not

o avoiding telling certain stories in place of others that will sell more papers/attract more viewers

§ why would a media outlet do that?

human shortcoming/wiles

o exaggerating stories as they are retold – word-of-mouth errors

o distorting the truth

§ for personal gain

§ to establish control over a segment or all of society

§ for no damn reason (is there really such a thing, though?)

o dismissing fact for fanciful notions

§ because it’s more dramatic/entertaining

§ [insert other reason here]

Within these two streams, there are numerous ways to tackle the issues listed – and unlisted – creatively. This is where your creative license comes in – so feel free to exercise your intellectual freedom here! Be witty, be cynical, be funny, be desolate – be anything you want to be, and do a great job of it!

In other news: the mid-March "deadline" is upon us! Don't forget to send your brief synopses to ASAP! The sooner the better - it'll help you sort out your own thoughts before you start writing as well, and give us more "meat" when we start talking to publishers. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Coke and Cheerleaders II

I became a staunch supporter of drugs and those who do them last Tuesday. The night job's been pretty good - tips plus decent salary has equaled rapid payments on my pudgy credit card bill. But you know, you can only earn so much doing shit like that and I, for one, was getting tired of seeing poverty in my financial forecast. How many more weeks of austerity can I truly, realistically, expect to handle, I'd ask myself, chin resting on my despair-filled fists. Credit card companies are brutally unfair - they deceive you with the colorful, fun-filled commercials. They send you correspondence with cheery language and smiley faces - they make you think they are your friend. And just when you start to get comfortable, just when you start to trust that they are on your side and that you can entrust your credit score to them, they fuck you. Hard. My interest rate went up 7 points within six months of having a balance on my bill, despite my constant payments (above the minimum), despite being a responsible customer for years. Fuming aside, it's all I've been able to think about since the year started: making enough of a dent in the damn thing so I can LIVE MY LIFE!!

I got my opportunity on Tuesday.

It was a slow night. D, the new Asian hostess we hired, was starting that day. She's a self-proclaimed lush and party girl. At 22, she's already addicted to weed, X, alcohol, and Xanex. She does a couple of lines of blow a month "for fun". She tends bar at a family establishment in MD and got this job at my restaurant "for fun" - she doesn't have to work. I pity her Korean parents. Anyway, it was her introduction to the bizarre world that I have come to know and love three nights a week. I felt sorry for her because it was a Tuesday - nothing ever happens on Tuesdays. We spent a couple of hours chatting - small talk - and yawning. Around 9:15, I said, "You know, you can go. I'm sure you've been trained enough for one night." She agreed, the manager agreed. I started splitting our meager tips - $30 each, silently cursing her for showing up at all and halving what could have equaled a major CC payment for me. Just before she put on her coat, we noticed two couples...well, we noticed one man amid two couples. He was wearing a tan suit and whirling like a dervish, or a tornado. Along the sidewalk, through the double doors, all the way up to the host stand, bald head glistening pale under the streetlights. Just before he slammed his groin against the stand, he stopped, with a flourish and grinned at us through his rimless glasses.

"Well, hello." He didn't so much speak the words as let them slide down his tongue and out of his mouth, like so much oily residue. D perked up instantly - she hadn't been this excited since the evening started. I instinctively recoiled. I guess it's true what they say: birds of a feather, it takes one to know one....

The other three in his party had caught up. Two ladies - one short blonde, one tall brunette - and another short man in a leather jacket. The brunette was laughing loudly about nothing and hung on to the man in the tan suit like he would escape in another whirl. They were chattering loudly - just in from their hockey game, sorry about being 30 minutes late for their dinner reservation. Tall man was especially impressed that D guessed their name right - wasn't hard, seeing as they were the last reservation for the night. But, like an intoxicated magician, with a flick of his wrist, he made a $100 bill appear from his pocket and placed it in D's subconsciously outstretched hand.

Having seen my fair share of drunken idiots with money to spend, I was intrigued but not particularly fazed by the appearance of Mr. Franklin at our "party". But D was bouncing off the walls. "He gave us A HUNDRED DOLLARS!" she whispered loudly in my ear as I hung their coats and baseball caps - memorabilia from the game. "I know - seat them, we'll congratulate ourselves later!" I said.

She sat them, I started searching for a way to break the $100. Mere annoyance turned to quiet rage, as I started calculating how much money I'd "lost" that night as a result of her presence. She bounded out the door later, as happy as Pooh's Tigger - I could barely even smile as I hugged her "good night" - my new best friend, as she told me she was. But she was gone at least, and there were at least 20 more coats. Any other wandering dollar bills would be mine and only mine.

Meanwhile, the restaurant was agog with excitement over those four diners. They were rambunctious, ordering bottles of wine and champagne that cost in the hundreds. Servers were falling over themselves, trying to decide who would be the lucky bastard that got their table. The winner wasn't disappointed - within the hour, they had spent over $2400 on alcohol and didn't eat a bite of food. My favorite servers paid intermittent visits to the host stand and we made bets about how much of a tip they were going to leave, and cracked jokes about how many eight-balls were resting in the console of their Escalade limo. The general manager stopped by as well to try and convince us to get them out of there before they started causing trouble - he didn't even think they could afford to pay. And he was right to worry - they never asked how much anything cost before they picked it off the menu, and they didn't really care what they were ordering. But every five minutes, like clockwork, they would stand up - one by one - and head for the bathrooms. Didn't take us long to figure out that they were snorting cocaine up their noses off the toilet seat covers and bathroom shelves.

I was intrigued. Very intrigued. To be perfectly honest, I could have gone home long before they did, but I was hoping, waiting, praying. Some good was definitely going to come out of this night for me, I just knew it. As they drank, I bade other customers a good night, collected their dollar bills and five-dollar bills with the same humility and gratitude I always display. But I was watching the eightball crew - they would come to me eventually, and I'd be ready.

My time came. Tan-Suit Man walked up to me - he didn't look any worse for wear from a distance. But when he tried to say hello and his jaw became misaligned, it was very obvious that we were in a situation. For my own amusement, I asked him how he enjoyed his dinner.

"I'wash...i'wash...." His mouth just would not, could not, form the words. He slapped himself twice, slaps that would have sent a grown mare galloping over a field, bruised the cheek of a small child, or set my ears ringing. He didn't feel a thing. "Was grea'." He smiled - or tried to. He looked eerily blissful - I would have envied him his euphoria, but I was busy.

"Can I help you with your coat?" Smiling sweetly.

He was staring directly into my eyes, like they were magnets and he was powerless in my gaze. I didn't blink. He tried to speak again, and the words were heavy on his tongue, thick and slurred like he was trying to talk through a mouthful of toffee.

"How d' d'you feel 'bout y'parentsh?"

"I don't have any parents." I'm sometimes grateful that I can claim orphanhood - this was one of those times.

"Oh." He was still staring at me. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him pulling out his money clip - a thick, gold band straining to hold together a bundle of hundred dollar bills. My eyes flashed.

Pay dirt.

We were still locked into each other's stares. His posse was scrambling to their feet at their table. There wasn't much time. I willed him to pay me. I willed him to pay me now.

"Am real...really shorry to hear that." He released one Benjamin from captivity and waved it in front of me. I only let it taste freedom briefly before I gently, but firmly, extricated it from his pasty fingers and placed it in my right pocket.

"Thank you." I smiled coyly. And stared through his glasses, persuading all the mammywater spirits that have laid claim to my heritage to shine through in that moment.

"I wan' you ta...ta think 'bout two things." His hands were still fumbling with that money clip. I maintained my gaze, fully convinced of its hypnotic power by this point. "I wan' you t'think 'bout your future..." At this, he yanked another $100 bill from the clip. "...and how you're underutilized."

I took the money and put it with its brother in my pocket. "Thank you."

We were still staring directly at each other. I don't know what he was thinking, but I myself was full of hidden encouragement: "You can do it! One more...just one more...." I was aiming for another hundred, a total of $400 on coat check, $300 of which I wouldn't have to share.

No such luck. The posse had finally made its crooked way over to the host stand, and the brunette found her way to his arm and held on tight. Guess she didn't want him to finish all his money on me - she still had to be paid for her services that night, and it wouldn't do to fall short cuz of this Negro hostess.

Still, I couldn't complain. I handed them their stuff, and waltzed all the way to the time clock, where I punched out on cloud nine - which wasn't easy, as weighted down as I was with more money than I'd seen in weeks. Free owo is not something to laugh at, but I laughed my ass off all the way home and through Wednesday night. Who said money can't buy you happiness?

Since then, earnings have seriously dried up at the host stand. I've been praying for the return of the Ghost Dusters, while at the same time feeling eternally grateful to them for paying Target, Inc. on my behalf - they have no idea what they did for me that night. I hope they didn't o.d. I sincerely hope they come back. But in the meantime, I replay the memories over and over, smiling and giggling uncontrollably - I had an unforgettable experience and I didn't even have to leave my comfort zone. How about that.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Coke and Cheerleaders

Last week was deliciously bizarre, and exceedingly profitable. I got off work after midnight, after having made a little over my usual $50 in tips - I'd already decided it was a pretty good night. My ride had informed me hours earlier that we were going to do something "interesting". I'd spend the last hour bracing myself, because he told me I had to be "ready". I couldn't care less why; it was all I could do to contain my excitement, knowing I wasn't going straight home from work for the first time in three months. Austerity can be painful; self-imposed austerity carries the added sting of mental anguish. I needed the relief.

He picked me up wearing a tie and slacks. I looked like a bum in my wrap sweater. Figures - the one day I decide I'm too disillusioned to "look the part", he decides to do something that requires me to look at least halfway decent. But he's sweet - he said I looked good anyway. I might have suspected his motives - where we were going, the more clothes you have on, the less susceptible you are to harassment. Presumably. We left.

Somewhere near the corner of 14 & U, there's a bar with a blue-white neon sign. The light gleamed off the head of our enormous black bouncer (is there any other kind?). He asked for our IDs, told us it was a $20 cover. He must have noticed me hesitate - that was 30% of the free money I'd made that night; did he realize how many coats I have to hang up then drape over various-sized shoulders for $20?? He must have, because he saw fit to make sure I knew what I was paying for:

"You know what's going on here tonight, right?"

I thought, well, it's a club - drinking and dancing, no? But clearly he knew something I didn't know, so I just shook my head. No.

He didn't speak. Just handed me a flyer with a naked white woman draped in jewelry that sort of, but didn't really, hide her privates. On the back, there was a list of Saturdays in February, followed by such descriptive names as Cheerleader Romp and Naughty Nurse Swing. My first instinct at any surprise is to laugh; that night was no exception. In the seeming distance, I heard the bouncer say "It's a swinger's party," echoing the thought ringing in my head. Still laughing and shaking my head, I looked up at CB; he seemed a little worried. Maybe he'd overstepped his boundaries. "Do you want to leave?" In response, I handed over my $20. We entered Gomorrah - Sodom was upstairs; we were going to tackle that later.

Tonight was Sexy Schoolgirl night. I saw a few "schoolgirls" downstairs, but mostly we were surrounded by unattractive people caught in that drunken euphoria that looks exceedingly silly to those who are sober. I asked for my usual shot of Cuervo; if I had to be there, I certainly didn't want to be annoyed. CB followed suit. The bartender said, "That'll be $23." I felt $11.50 burning down my throat and wondered, For what?? At that moment, I noticed an ape-ish looking man with a pot belly and gold teeth burning lust into my chest. The night wasn't shaping up to be much good; if we didn't leave this dungeon of social rejects, I was about to seriously regret taking CB up on this outing. He wasn't too pleased, either - for $23, we could have bought a couple of bottles of Cuervo and gotten wet before we left the house. We decided to go to Sodom, where earlier I had noticed a girl on a barstool with her ass in the air, humping a fat guy. It promised to be good people-watching.

We weren't disappointed. We settled into a corner by the mini-bar, leaned against the wall. The people up here seemed a little...friskier than the folks downstairs. Right beside us, an older Asian woman (not cute) was being manhandled by a little rat-faced man in glasses (even less cute). I was about to make a comment about how there's someone for everyone, when the little man dropped to the ground, and started fumbling at the hem of this woman's dress. Like a flash, his head disappeared under her skirt, and before long her face crumpled in that way that usually signals pain but sometimes means pleasure. While he explored, she used her hand to steady herself against whatever ecstasy he was giving her in there. She looked over at me a couple of times. I couldn't stop staring. Part of me was searching for shame in her eyes, but mostly I was distracted by the several thoughts racing through my head.

Was this actually happening?
What did that bartender put in my tequila?
Is that why it cost $11.50?
Where is my wallet? These people clearly have no scruples.

CB turned my head away - apparently, it's OK to give and receive head on a dance floor, but it is tres gauche to stare. We visually explored the rabbit hole we'd fallen into - it was CB's first time there as well, and I don't think he really knew what to expect either. The head section, as I christened it, was the official dance floor - mini-bar in the corner, so people didn't have to wander too far away from the action for their liquor. There was a stripper pole in the middle, of course, and female guests took turns shining it, solo or in pairs. Like five-year-old children at Christmas, their partners and escorts crowded around them, whooping and clapping. One Rasta-looking dude was literally jumping up and down, near tears, as his hot girlfriend (probably the only person in there that was worth watching) performed to "Feedback" with a pimply-faced potato sack bursting out of her Catholic school girl outfit.

Down the stairs to the left of the floor was the official bar, which stretched partway along a long wall. Sectional couches lined the rest of the walls - on these, people attempted to finish what they had started on the dance floor and stripper poles. Couples lay, sat and slouched in various positions on the couches, doing...stuff. I will say, though, that I was surprised to see very little actual nudity. DC is a conservative city, though - I suppose even our swingers are no exception.

CB and I decided to brave the bar one more time, tiptoeing our way through the jungle, trying not to arouse any of the wildlife. I got another shot of JC, he got a vodka cranberry: $16. Things were improving. We quietly made our way back to our spot against the wall, with me thanking Providence the whole time that I wore what I wore, because these people really were touching one another with reckless abandon, and I didn't want to have to be get kicked out for fighting anyone who dared to put their sleazy fingers on me. I was wearing a white sweater, which shone like a halogen lamp in the black light, but I was invisible in that place, thank the Universe.

By the time we got back to the wall, the second shot was working its way through my system - I was in that place where everything is warm and nice, where laughter sparks freely and you believe that only good things can happen to you from here on out. My self-imposed "jollity restrictions" have turned me into a lightweight - what six shots of JC used to do before, I only needed two to achieve this night. If I weren't already tipsy, I'd have been sad.

There was a woman on the pole now. I think she was going for the naughty librarian look - frumpy skirt suit with more than enough Spandex, curly bob, glasses, red spiky heels. She was having a good time - a crowd of six had gathered beneath her, cheering her on. She slid her back down the pole, biting her index finger playfully. They clapped. She raised herself up slowly, looking at them over the top of her thick frames. They whistled. She hung from the pole, shaking her hair as she signaled that she was about to do a spin. They whooped. She started to swing around the pole. I turned to steal a sip of CB's drink, when I heard GBA-GA-GRA-GBA-GA!! I whipped around just in time to see Naughty Librarian hit the floor, one spiked heel still on the stage. Some people were trying to help her up; another went across the room to pick up her glasses from where they flew and landed. I collapsed into convulsive laughter, so much so that I lost control of my legs and CB had to hold me up - a difficult feat, seeing as he was also weak from the laughter he could not control. There is now a permanent red smear on my sweater from the vodka cranberry I dribbled onto myself. I call it my badge, an honor I bestow upon myself having survived that night.

And what a night it was, particularly when one considers that we only got there about an hour before they closed. In less than forty-five minutes, I had seen ugly people having oral sex in public, other ugly people engaged in various humping rituals against walls and on couches, and a would-be stripper bust her head on tile. When I finally recovered from laughing, I was too weak to keep standing, so I moved over to sit on one of the speakers; CB followed. We'd both just gotten off work, he a few hours before me; it'd been a long day. Another woman in her late 30's or early 40's came up to us to chat - apparently, she was drawn by CB's outfit and wanted us to know how cute we looked. Liar - I know how I looked. Turns out, she's the co-host of the party - her partner, some bald Polish guy in a black muscle shirt who makes women's jewelry, was across the room. She's a lobbyist and he's in commercial real estate, and on the weekend, they host "alternative lifestyle" parties. Freaks.

While she was talking to us, the pimply potato sack had meandered over to sit beside CB and I on the speakers (he was in-between us). Before long, I felt her fingers traveling over my arm. He said she was rubbing her face on his shoulder and neck. It was time to go.

We thanked the lady freak for her hospitality and gave her fake email addresses for her guest list. And I thought I'd seen it all, but then I wasn't expecting what happened on Tuesday, this time on my home turf.

to be continued...