175: where the wild things are

Back when I was a blithe thing of 16 (or was it 15?), I snuck into The Limelight with my best friend. We put on our shortest dresses, our highest shoes, and our brightest lipstick, successfully convincing the drag queen at the door that we were 18.

Once inside, we marvelled at the loud techno music, the availability of drugs, and the costumes sported by our fellow party-goers. It was like some techno version of the Mad Hatter’s tea party in “Alice in Wonderland”, where we danced and twirled and generally forgot ourselves. We had a great time.

I know how to have fun. Or I like to think that I do. But I had to admit that I’ve been playing the old fogey in recent years. Staying at home to watch telly instead of hitting the city’s clubs and bars. I didn’t have a reason not to — I was of age, and I look reasonably cute in red lipstick and cleavage-baring tops, so why wasn’t I throwing it down with my peers?

Insecurity, I guess — I always hated attending dances when I was in middle school, and those forays into the club world in high school always left me dehydrated and exhausted, scared of the creepy men who’d try to grope my ass on those long subway trips back to Queens.

Having said that, I will now admit that I, when given the chance, am a dancing fool. I shamelessly asked Michael for a pass to Susanne Bartsch’s party at Le Passage last week. I was unsure about actually attending up until the last minute as I walked in to meet Michael and friends inside, but there is something kind of scary about that second before you walk into a new place unescorted. Or maybe I’m just a dork. At 12:15 last Friday night, I chain-smoked outside of the Barney’s on Oak Street, wondering if my concealer looked good and whether or not I should just say fuck it and go home. I screwed up my courage and went down into the basement club, making my way past the very skinny girl checking IDs at the door.

I danced by myself on the relatively sparse dance floor, wiggling my hips and swinging my Hello Kitty purse in time to the music. There was cotton candy near the front door, and drag queens slithering in 6″ high stiletto heels. I didn’t have to dance by myself for very long, as Jalissa, Damien, Michael Yarbrough, and Michael’s friend Sebastian found me. I was relieved, to say the least. They looked great, as always, Jalissa sporting a homemade top festooned with colorful zippers and Michael twirling about in a long sort of frock-nightie acquired during a 3 month jaunt in Cape Town. I was wearing one of my many Dior golf sweaters, huge hoop earrings, and the pointy-toed boots that Michael Murphy had totally coveted the week before (to the point of calling me a “total bitch”, which I consider a compliment).

Michael Murphy was nowhere to be found, at least until the DJ put on “Xanadu” and we lost our minds. We, of course, knew all the words, and danced like fools while a drag queen on stilts wearing a skirt made of inflatable bananas cooled her heels behind us. Michael M. skated circles around us and kissed us all hello — he wore a blue foam rubber wig, a sailor’s middy, and white bell-bottomed jeans. This was all accessorized with wraparound sunglasses and sneaker skates. Feeling brave (who could back down in the face of those wheels? that foam? Jalissa’s orange eye shadow? Damien’s stark white shirt?), I removed my sweater, stripping down to a camisole and baring my wobbly upper arms. I affected a preppie ‘ho look by tying the sweater around my shoulders for our trip to the back room.

The back room was tiny, resplendent with plush banquettes and tapestries. We found seats on the central banquette and proceeded to chill. The music was hot, and we were hotter. Damien and Michael jumped up on the banquette to dance while I sat back and took pictures. Jalissa fended off suitors while Sebastian soaked it all in. Occasionally, Michael M. skated past to kiss us all hello. I didn’t pay much attention to other people at the club, unless it was to make of fun of their outfits. Mostly, I danced with Damien. Everytime I started to wiggle, I’d get into the same flow with him and eventually we’d start bumping or grinding in perfect harmony. It was so incredibly fun. We were finally kicked out at 4:00 am, after the DJ played “All Out of Love” by Air Supply and I took to the dance floor with a kinda cute Latino boy whose name I didn’t get. Typical.

I woke up late Saturday, missing a variety of social engagements. I could have had breakfast at Wishbone with Kevin and Kathy, or seen Felix and Theresa’s new apartment. As it was, I got up at 12:30 and waited until Jacinda got up so we could have our usual pajama gossip session in the living room. If she doesn’t have to work Saturday, we’ll decompress and go over the previous week’s events while chain-smoking and channel-surfing. My phone finally decided to get a signal (it was out the night before) at 2 in the afternoon, just in time for us to get dressed, brush our teeth, and get picked up by Kevin in his new Jeep. Saturday was gorgeous, and the plan was to hang on Humboldt Boulevard for the rest of the day.

The drive over was uneventful, at least until we got near Kevin’s house and saw a bichon frise dyed bright pink. Jacinda started singing the B-52s’ “Quiche Lorraine”:

Has anybody seen
A dog dyed dark green,
About two inches tall
With a strawberry blonde fall,
Sunglasses and a bonnet and designer jeans with appliques on it?

It was funny.

Kevin’s cute neighbors were planting tulips in the courtyard, and Isabella sniffed them with great interest. I read to Kevin and Jacinda from my Tagalog grammar book, stopping to take pictures of the dog as she wigged out from all the exercise and sunshine. We called Celi and Andrew, singing Burt Bacharach’s “Call Me” into their answering machines. Kevin and Jacinda made fun of the Isabella as she ran around manically, stopping only to eat grass or roll around on the ground. When the sun started to go down and a chill came into the air, we went inside to eat Kevin’s leftover grouper and watch “Men in Black” on television. I lobbied for them to come out, and I was successful. Jacinda and I helped Kevin get dressed (brown leather jacket and matching belt, white button down shirt, jeans, brown leather slides — cute!) then off we went. While Jacinda and I got dressed, Kevin ran into Walgreen’s to buy cotton swabs and other party supplies (?). Jacinda had to meet her sister at Minx, so I took Kevin to Andrea’s party for one hot minute.

The doorbell wasn’t working, so Kevin and I hiked up the steep back stairs. We found a gaggle of Trixies on the porch, and Dan Meltz holding court, as usual. My co-worker Jeremy was having a pint in the kitchen, and we hugged hello while I looked for Andrea. Found Jenn, her roommate, who offered me some cheese and posited that Andrea was in her room. I wasn’t sure of what she was doing locked up in her room during a party she was hosting, so I split the last baby-sized Sapporo with Kevin and talked to Jeremy and Dan. Andrea emerged, I admired her outfit, and then she went to check on her other guests. I’m never very good at mingling at Andrea’s parties because I usually don’t recognize the other guests and lately I’ve been feeling rather anti-social when it comes to people I don’t know. So I didn’t pay attention to the Trixies on the porch, or the knee-socked hipsters in the living room. I reapplied my lip gloss, then Kevin and I bopped out the door to Minx.

Kevin had gotten a call on his phone while we were still at Andrea’s. It seems that Michael’s apartment had been broken into that afternoon. All but a few of his CDs were stolen. Gone. Just like that. Poor baby. Michael and Sebastian were on their way out their door, determined to have a good time and dance.

Minx was good — the previous evening’s pals were there, all fabulously attired as usual. Jacinda wouldn’t let me take her picture, though her eye makeup looked dewy and sparkly as always. Jalissa was wearing the cutest little corset top edged with fake fur, laced up at the back with the merest hint of chiffon. I got really excited at the sight of Sebastian’s Todd Oldham polo shirt, because I’m a fool for good labels. The music at Minx was pretty good, and I was able to dance a bit before my feet began to hurt really bad and I had to sit down. Things closed down at, like, 3:00 am, which I thought was a bit early, so Michael Murphy brought us back to Le Passage, as they were open until 5-ish. Splitting up into two groups, Kevin took me, Jacinda, and Michael M. up to the club, ogling other clubgoers on the way. Michael leaned out and the window and crowed “Keep it together, girls!” at a trio of drunk Trixies stumbling down LaSalle on their platform sandals.

Le Passage on Saturday night was full of suits — big guys wearing tuxedoes and three piece suits without a hint of irony. There were all sorts of busted-ass folk in attendance, including a skinny girl with a cropped ‘do and a halter dress who bounced about so energetically that she fell back into a chair and tumbled on the floor. Sebastian, Damien, and I were the only people to witness this miracle, and we howled with laughter. A girl with long frizzy hair in a Lycra mini-dress proceeded to bump and grind atop the banquet that Michael and Damien had graced the previous night, and we all looked on in horror. Jacinda and Michael were especially confused by her suede pumps, which looked cheap as the ends were cut up and frayed. Jacinda wondered aloud “Doesn’t it feel good to Payless?”, at which point we all lost our shit and bowed down to the queen of the put-down. Sadly, that girl was followed by a hippie guy wearing baggy jeans and an ugly sweater, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Carrot Top (Michael Y: “Just dial down the center, bitch!”).

Jacinda and I didn’t get home until until 6:30am Sunday morning, after hanging at Le Passage and breakfast at Clark’s on Belmont. As Michael had promised, Clark’s was downright anthropological. All sorts of bar patrons stood on the corner of Belmont and Wilton, hopping up and down while smoking their Newports and wondering whether or not they should drive back to Indiana right away or stop at Clark’s for breakfast. By this point, I just wanted to get off my sandals and have a burger, which is what I did. I had to sit next to a friend of Sebastian’s, who we ran into while he was sitting down to a cheeseburger and fries and a whole order of nachos. He insisted we help him but, having ordered a bacon cheeseburger of my own, I held back to save my appetite. I spaced out, letting people talk around me while I slurped down a too-sweet Coke and went throught the weekend’s pictures.

To my right sat the mysterious friend (Marinos, from Cyprus, kinda Eurotrash in appearance) and beyond him sat a gentleman whose mustache looked as though it had been drawn on with a Sharpie marker. Sebastian filled me and Jacinda in on the rest of the Buffy season (Warren shoots Buffy and Tara, Tara dies, Willow goes beserk and tries to destroy the world) before we parted ways and Jacinda and I did a busted-ass walk back home. By this point I had removed my shoes, trodding barefoot on Belmont. The block between Halsted and our apartment on Broadway was rather nice — no broken glass or holes, and the Catholic church smelled sweet. The people at the bus stop at the corner eyed me suspiciously as I limped to our door. I got into my pajamas, washed my feet in the tub, and went to bed as the birds started singing for Saturday night to end, and Sunday morning to begin.




The Get Up Kids – Eudora; Bikini Kill – Pussy Whipped; Whiskeytown – Pneumonia




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