Authors: Rebecca Bloom
For my family
er hair would just not cooperate. No amount of Green Tea shine extract or crushed bamboo Bed Head spread was going to tame the cherry-stained poof. Molly stared at her reflection and tried to smooth the frizz that was only getting slicker and stiffer with each layer. However, if not for the fro, she could focus on the scaly patch of skin just below her left eye that was beginning to sprout tiny red bumps. How come facials created freakish post-visit breakouts in spots that, even in the past, never succumbed to the hellish wrath of teenage acne? Molly hastily dabbed on some cover-up lotion and grabbed a polka-dot scarf from the drawer. She could only focus on one flaw at a time. If she dwelled on them and two or three managed to squeak by, her full self-conscious body chorus, which can usually drown out one off-key harmony, would get all worked up into a tizzy of wrong notes and caterwaul too loud to ignore. Molly had no time for the self-doubting symphony tonight. She was already late, and Jaycee was going to arrive in seconds to pick her up.
Molly rummaged through the pile of semi-clean clothing draped on the side of her dresser. She grabbed a pair of worn-in cargo pants, a red studded belt, and a black partially wrinkled but passable tank. With a few jeweled cat collars fastened to her wrists, a spritz of Trapeze, her favorite new perfume that she had just picked up from a little store in Venice, a black vintage band uniform blazer, a black suede bag, and a pair of Costume National boots, she was put together and perfectly timed to the first car honk. She got in and threw her coat in the back of Jaycee's car. Her friend had also paper-dolled it quite well. In her tight cropped jeans, yellow one-sleeved ruffled sweater, strands of fake pearls, camo kitten heels, and short spiked hair, which still had pink tinges, Jaycee had fashioned herself into a pint-sized, punk country club girl.
“Nice look.” Jaycee gestured to Molly's head scarf. “Very Ali MacGraw.”
“Thanks.” Checking in the mirror to see if it was tight enough. “You don't even want to know what's under here. I think ânest' is not even an adequate adjective.”
“Who cares? It's just me and you tonight, baby. You have no need to impress.” Flipping on the radio. “This is Alison. The girl we are hearing tonight.”
“Is this what you played the other night when we made dinner?” Picking up the CD case and turning it over. “Like the pearls by the way.”
“Yeah, I was going for a debauched debutante thing. This â¦” skipping tracks, “is my favorite song.”
“Nice.” Leaning back and enjoying the music. “She sounds a bit like early Natalie Merchant. Very throaty.”
“But, not so round, and a little more punk rock. It should be a good show.”
The girls gabbed and listened all the way to the bar. They parked in front of Goldfinger's and walked in. The show had yet to begin, so they pulled up two bar stools and ordered martinis from the cute Australian whom Jaycee used to sleep with.
“Hey, Mark,” Jaycee said as she kissed the tall, burly bartender on the cheek. “How's it going?”
“Terrible since you dumped me, love,” he answered as he winked at Jaycee. “What would you two like?”
“Martinis and my friend Molly here likes hers very dirty.”
Mark went to the other end of the bar to make their drinks, and Molly and Jaycee settled onto their perches. Goldfinger's was dark in that perfect bar way. You could see everyone clearly enough to know whom you were talking to, but they fortunately couldn't see all the flaws you carefully masked behind the carefully spackled foundation and last-minute accessories. With the focus blurred in just the right way, everyone looked somewhat attractive. Besides being dark, the bar had gold, padded walls and a cool go-go-girl cage set up in the corner. Very James Bond. Very LA. There were about twenty other patrons there, milling, checking, and scanning about. No one looked familiar, so Molly and Jaycee continued in their own little world of conversation.
“Jay, I'm so pissed at you for introducing me to John.”
“What's wrong now?” Pulling up the back of her jeans. “I knew I should have worn a belt.”
“It's fine. I only see a peek of thong.” Checking her friend's ass. “Anyway, it's the same shit. He overtalks everything! I'm just so sick of him calling to order these summit meetings every friggin' week on the state of our relationship,” Molly complained while she sipped her cocktail. “It's exhausting.”
“Isn't that, like, your fourth ârelationship' talk in what, a month? And, what's the deal? He's being more of a chick than you ever could!”
“Yep. He needs me to be aware of all the nuances of his feelings about us, and how close we are, and what he wants, and what I want, and how we can get to the next level. After an hour we figure out some steps to take and for a short time things are great, but then it's another talk and we're back to square one. It's so annoying.”
“I'm sorry I tried to play cupid,” Jay apologized as she chugged her drink. “I thought you guys would be a good match. You have so much in common, and he fits right into your whole struggling artiste thing.”
“Mentally we are, and I love that he is so communicative because usually guys flee the minute anything resembling feelings comes up, but everything is so cerebral all the time. It's sort of stopped being fun and sexy. And, because of all this serious head stuff, the guy for some insane reason just won't let us get intimate.”
“You guys have been dating for, like, two months!” Jaycee exclaimed. “I know that you like to wait a while before you do the deed but that's a long time even for you!”
“No kidding,” Molly responded as she took another sip. “I finally meet a smart, cool guy who I feel safe with and want to sleep with, a guy who is open and honest, yet even when I'm practically naked in his bed splayed out like a porn star, he won't jump me! I'm beginning to think maybe he is gay, or completely unattracted.”
“I don't think so, but what is this world coming to when a girl can't get laid when she wants to?” Jay stated as she began to laugh at Molly.
“It's going to hell is what's happening.” Molly laughed with her.
“What are you going to do?”
“Well, I think it might be time to extricate. According to his schedule, we're about due for another chat and I think if I can't get him to understand that sometimes we need to be a little more free, I'm probably going to break up with him. It's not what I really want to do because I just dig him, and he's so smart and he kind of makes me all fluttery, but this pseudo relationship isn't working for me.”
“Will you do me a favor? Don't say anything yet and just drop the ball a little.”
“What do you mean?” Molly asked and then turned to the bartender. “Mark, can I get another? Jay?”
“Yeah, I will have one too, thanks. I mean, don't call, and don't make plans, ignore him for a while and see what he does. Let him miss you.”
“Okay, but what if he just bails?”
“Then fuck him.” Answering matter-of-factly. “I have this strong premonition that once he senses you straying, he'll jump to attention and give you what you want, which right now is a little nookie.”
“Hope you're right because I'm about ready to give up.”
“Of course I'm right. I am always right.”
“Bullshit, but tonight you can have your little ego trip.”
“Thanks.” Batting her eyes. “I need a smoke, let's go outside.”
“You lead, I follow.”
The two girls picked up their new drinks and headed to the back of the bar.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you, I put one of the new Marc Jacobs jackets on hold for you. You need to come in and try it on tomorrow,” Molly told Jay.
“Is it cute?”
“Yeah, I think they will look great on you. They're cropped and the cotton is really soft.”
“I love that you work at a cool clothing store. I feel so in the fashion know.”
“Glad to be of service, but I am so sick of peddling other people's wares. I can't wait to do something on my own.”
“So do it.” Pausing near the dance floor. “What are you waiting for?”
“It's expensive to start a line, to start anything really, and I don't even know yet what I want to really make. Sometimes I still think I want to paint, or I don't know.”
“I'm sure your parents would be more than happy to help you out.”
“I know, but I want to do it myself.”
“Just because you ask for help does not make you less independent.”
“I guess, when the time is right, it will all come together, and until then I will keep myself and my nearest and dearest clad in today's freshest styles.” Pulling Jay along.
“Fine, fine. I get the point.”
Just outside there was a patio set with red lights, black vinyl banquettes, and leopard upholstery. A canopy of smoke hung above despite the open ceiling, and the air was damp with perspiration and fading perfume. More people had arrived and the two girls couldn't find a place to sit or lean anywhere. Jaycee took the lead and tried to find them a place to settle, but bodies and faces began to crowd the view. Then out of nowhere, a voice erupted behind them.
“You guys look a little lostâwanna join us?”
Molly and Jaycee turned around and there stood the most magnificent man they had ever seen. His eyes glowed from within, almost as if he were wearing some new Halloween-appropriate contacts. The girls literally stumbled. Sounds disappeared, the lights dimmed, and Molly lost her breath. She could actually feel her heart beating through her skin. It wasn't that he was so perfectly pretty. His dark hair was messy and in need of a cut, his Pac-man shirt was moth worn and ill fitting, his nose was slightly crooked, and his cheeks were ruddy, flushed, and sprinkled with freckles. There was just something about him. Molly felt electric, fluorescent, feverish. She couldn't decide whether it was those haunting gray eyes or the curl of his brown hair, or how his voice sounded familiar that sucked her in. It didn't matter because he was magic, and Molly fell in love with him at first sight. It was immediate and scary, like someone knocked the wind out of her.
“Uhh,” Molly stuttered, and somehow simultaneously spilled her entire drink down the front of her black tank top.