Thursday, November 25, 2004


I sat across the table from Emily at the Barnes & Noble café. I had picked up the latest issue of Glamour, and the headlines screamed at me, as if to tell me what a miserable failure I was at life.

Having a baby AND a life
Midlife crisis at 30?
You CAN buy a house!

“Shut. Up.” I threw the magazine across the table.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah. Great.”

Emily looked at the cover of the magazine. “You take this stuff too seriously,” she said. “So what if we’re not married, or financially stable, or reproducing? It’s not like it’s law or something.”

“I know.” I covered my face with my hands, then decided to drown my almost-30 sorrows in a piece of Vanilla Bean cheesecake.

Cheesecake makes everything better.

“I think I’m officially going into hiding until after Valentine’s Day,” I said. “No dates. I can’t take any more. I’m overwhelmed.”

“That’s fair,” Emily said, stealing a bite of my cheesecake. “You don’t have to be dating.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “But what if the perfect man for me is out there? And if I don’t grab him…”

“Someone else will,” she chimed in.

“And you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that someone else is married to your husband,” We finished together, giggling.

“I think we’ve seen that movie too many times,” I said.

I’d had a strange dream about Alex the night before. We were at a bar, a big club, with LOTS of different rooms, with a big group of people. I was walking by myself the bathroom? Doesn't matter. But as I was walking, I saw Alex on a pay phone. I tried to keep walking and ignore him, but he saw me and yelled out my name. I stopped, and got extremely agitated as he tried to make small talk. "how are you, how have you been..."

I asked him what he was doing there. He didn’t answer.

One of the really weird things about the dream was that there was some kind of weird parallel in my mind with Jason, my high school boyfriend. Either it was Jason’s face although I clearly knew it was Alex, or it was Alex speaking with Jason’s voice. Either way, it was completely freaky and weird. I remember asking him what he was doing, as in with his life, but I don't remember what the answer was.

Then I returned to where my friends were. Someone told me that Heather, the girl that Alex slept with, was there. Someone decided that I needed to talk to her, confront her, and dragged me away. The girl in my dream was young, thin, and disgustingly cute. I remember asking her things like "Why did you do this?" and "Are you in love with him?" She didn’t answer me

When I returned to where my friends were sitting, I noticed a table of guys I knew from my hometown. Guys who were friends with Jason. I said hello, and one of them was showing a LOT of interest in me.

“Then I woke up,” I said. “What do you think it means?”

Emily stared at me. “I haven’t the first idea.”

“Do I equate Alex with Jason?”

Every time I suffered a heartbreak, it seemed, I heard Jason’s voice in my head asking me if I believed anyone else would ever want me.

"Go get a dream book," Em suggested.

"Why? It'll just tell me something ridiculous, (fill in example of what the something ridiculous could be)."

She shrugged. "So what are we going to do on Valentine's Day?"

"I don't know. 'Get wasted on cheap wine' comes to mind."

"I have no problem with that," Emily grinned."


When the big day actually came around, I headed over to Em's place. Em lives in a section of Buffalo known as Allentown. It is an eclectic, funky, artsy neighborhood full of interesting shops, restaurants, and bars. It is also very open to, uh, "alternative lifestyles." Most of the time, neither of us gives this a second thought. But every once in a while, we have to wonder if people think that WE are, you know, together.

Last summer, we were at this outdoor music festival. Wanting a break from the sun and noise, headed across the street to a little martini bar called (Name of Bar) for a drink.

All right, it's true that (Name of Bar) IS a known gay bar. But still...

We were playing darts, and a woman probably about my mom's age started talking to us. She introduced herself as Jackie, and told us all about her divorce and current relationship status. She flitted back and forth between us and a male friend at the bar who looked an awful lot like Victor Garber. At the end of the game, she asked who won, and Em told her that I did.

"I know, you let her win, right?" Jackie asked.

"Damn right I did," Em said.

"Wanted to get some tonight, huh?"

Emily and I exchanged glances and giggled.

"No," I said, shaking my head. "We're not..."

"Really?" she asked, surprised.

"Really," Em assured her.

"You're not gay? Bi? Questioning?"

No, we said.

"You both like men?"

Indeed, we told her. Upon further conversation, we learned that she is involved in an organization called "Buffalo Gals."

So anyway. Valentine's Day. The holiday that makes singles everywhere want to slash their wrists in the bathtub.

We spent the night watching romantic movies on DVD and drinking wine. Again, not thinking much of this until we're over at the DVD Dot renting movies together. On Valentines Day. And one of the clerks (who just so happens to have a rainbow bead necklace on) starts asking Jen about her apartment building. Then on to the liquor store to buy some more wine...Em asks the clerk about the scent in the store, which as it turns out, is vanilla incense made locally. She includes a few sticks of incense in our bag.

"I never think of us as anything but what we are," Em said as we left the store. "Except when we're in Allentown. Do you think..."

And she didn't have to finish, because I knew exactly what she was thinking.

“God,” I said. “Our lives would be so much easier if we were lesbians. We already act like a couple.”

“Don’t I know it,” Emily said. I put my arm around her and we walked back to her apartment to enjoy our “romantic” evening.


The next morning, I woke up to Em’s gigantic cat sleeping on my chest. I scratched his head. “Ah, (Cat Name), if only you were human.”

My head felt like my brain had been sucked out and replaced with Styrofoam.

“No more cheap red wine,” I muttered. “Need water.”

I stumbled to the kitchen and poured myself a gallon or so. Emily heard me, and got up to join me.

“How are you?”

“Mmmmph,” I moaned.

“Yeah, me too.”

I noticed the fortune from the cookie I’d had last night sitting on the counter. I picked it up and showed it to Em.

“I’m never getting rid of this. This is the best fortune ever.”

It said, “Our first love and last love is…Self Love.”

She laughed. “Well, you survived. How does it feel.”

“Fucking fantastic. Except for the red wine headache. You have any ibuprofen?”

I made my way to Emily’s medicine cabinet and shook three pills out of the bottle. I returned to my spot on the couch and flopped down.

“Weren’t we going to go out last night.”

“Yeah,” Em said. “But that was before we both fell asleep.”

“Does that make us losers?” I wondered.

“Nah, just old.”

I sighed and looked at our pile of movies from t he previous night. All my movie boyfriends were writers or teachers.

“What do you suppose that means?” I wondered aloud.

“Um, that you’re not supposed to marry a lawyer?”

I laughed. “Good one. If we were still drinking, I’d toast to that.”


And just when I swore I’d never drink again, along came Mardi Gras.

I know, you’re wondering how much fun Mardi Gras in Buffalo can be. Well, it's no N'awlins, but there is plenty of craziness about, if you know where to look.

Emily send me an email in the middle of the afternoon. One of the toughest things about celebrating Mardi Gras, of course, is that it’s on a Tuesday. Which means work on Wednesday.

I was thinking we should see the parade and then maybe head back to my place for a while...too much time too much drinking not enough $$$ and I need to be semi coherent tomorrow...

I absolutely agreed with her. We mixed a drink at her place, then wandered down the street to watch the parade. Great fun. We made some noise and caght some beads, then ducked into (Name of Bar), for a quick one. Our old friend Jerry gave us some beads and, of course, a shot of red shit. We returned to Em’s for another drink and french bread pizza, and Emily calls her cousin Becky who, with her girlfriend Samantha, was going to meet us later.

One margarita and two hurricanes later, Emily, Becky, Samantha and I headed to (Bar) for the annual Mardi Gras drag show. Seeing men who look better in a dress than you do does wonders for the self-esteem.

It wasn’t quite time for the show yet, but we went up towards the stage, and started making friends. LOTS of friends.

One guy who was very cute came over and started talking to me. He introduced himself as Ryan. I smiled, and turned toward the stage and began dancing, swaying my hips to the music. Ryan rested a hand on my right hip, and I felt a slight tingle on my skin beneath my jeans.

I excused myself to go to the ladies room. When I came back, I grabbed Emily.

“Did you meet Ryan? Isn’t he adorable?”

Ryan was chatting away on a cell phone.

“Yeah. Adorable. He’s talking to his girlfriend right now.”

Ugh. Creep.

“You actually heard him say that?”

“Oh yeah. Right after he tried to kiss me.”

So much for Ryan. The band finished, and the drag queens took the stage. Emily tapped a man who was standing in front of us wearing a plush jester’s hat. The hat, while fun and festive, was blocking our view of the stage.

He became our friend instantly, offering Em his hat and then kindly bringing us each a drink and a shot of SoCo.

What was that we were saying earlier? About not getting too crazy and being coherent in the morning?

We moved closer to the stage where we met Brad. Brad was dressed normally, but for the leather bustier. Brad went on stage to flash his man-boobs for beads and a t-shirt, and he gave them to me. Yay!

We left the show and Emily called Becky. Becky and Sam were headed to (Lesbian Bar) for dancing and karaoke.
She hung up and called to leave a message for her on-and-off significant other.

“Hey baby. We’re leaving the drag show to go to the lesbian bar. Love ya!”

When we entered the bar, Becky and Sam were playing pool with a guy we've never seen before. They introduced him as Norm. (Norm!) I shot a round with them and made small talk with Norm. Just moments after we finished, the opening strains of (cheesy 80s song) beckon us to the dance floor. I set my t-shirt and beads down on a barstool and we ran, giggling. Norm followed.

I began dancing with him, not sure if he was actually cute or if I was really, really drunk.

Norm leaned in close to me, his lips nearly touching my ear, and whispered,"So, are you a lesbian or are you bi?"

"Me? I'm straight," I tell him.

He seemed surprised...and I'm not sure if this was because he was happy or disappointed.

Emily grabbed me away for a moment.

“That hot girl is totally hitting on me,” she whispered. “I’m kind of intrigued.”

Norm pulled me back to dance with him, and didn’t leave me alone again for the better part of five or six songs.

“You are the hottest girl in the bar,” he said. I offered him a shy smile. “I'm not kidding. No seriously." He leaned in then, for the unavoidable kiss. It was wet, drunk, sloppy. Even from behind the cloud of alcohol, I could tell I didn’t enjoy it.

Norm was pulled away by his friends, who were leaving. I gave him a good night kiss on the cheek and returned to the bar. Emily was having a drink with our Southern Comfort friends from the drag show. I went to find my t-shirt and beads, and realized they were gone.

“Somebody stole my fucking t-shirt,” I informed our friends. “That sucks.”

We sat and chatted a while, the guys trying to buy me a drink when it was abundantly clear that I needed another drink about as much as (someone) needed (something.)

Emily’s hot blonde got up and started dancing on the bar. (Bar Name) actually has a stripper-like pole in the center of the bar. I was sort of itching to get up there, but I decided to bide my time.

A few short minutes later, the DJ addressed us.

“Anyone who remembers when this song came out, get up and dance!”

The opening “Ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh” of Hangin’ Tough proved to be too much for me to resist. I looked at Emily and shrugged. “You heard the man.”

I hopped onto the bar and started to dance. Samantha jumped up there with me, followed by someone we didn’t know. I was in the middle, sandwiched between two lesbians, gripping a stripper pole.

Soon after, we decided it was in our best interests to leave the lesbian bar and get some sleep. The four of us left the bar and headed back to Em’s apartment.

“I have no idea who you are,” Emily said. I laughed.

Becky put her arm around me. “That was pretty impressive,” she said. "If you liked girls, and you weren't my cousin's best friend, and I wasn't in a relationship right now, I would have been all over that!"

“That’s a lot of ifs, Bec,” I said.

And at that, it was time to return to my demure, reserved, schoolteacher exterior. At least until St. Patrick's Day...


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