Tag Archives: GQ Magazine

“There Is a Girl in New York City Who Calls Herself: ‘The Human Trampoline’.”

She was sitting on the edge of her barstool, with her bright red hair cascading over a tea-light candle, on the bar:  Dangerous.  

How many poets, I wondered, had lost their minds to a red-haired woman before?

Never a barfly — always a butterfly — she knew how to balance her glorious womanly behind on the edge of the shiny, brown leather-bound seat.  No way she’d fall off — from her dignity!  Her back had learned the perfect arching, the angles of which made it irresistible to the gaze.  Or to the camera.

It’s a fascinating skill that came with the habit of being looked at.  I knew that:  Beauty and sex were prone to that habit the most.  

Perhaps, most civilians couldn’t even pinpoint the hair-thin boundary between the real girl and the red-haired fantasy.  Most civilians just found themselves dumbfounded, with her.

But I knew:  I knew the game.  I used to play it all the time myself, before I got way too tired to keep up with the nuances.  Beauty was insatiable:  It demanded constant maintenance.  And for a while, I began relying mostly on sex.

But then, I got tired of that too, and I settled for truth.  Truth — all the time.  

Besides, sex was always much easier, for a woman.  And in my bedroom, I would keep all the lights blazing:

Fuck it:  Truth — all the time!

And if you don’t like it — LEAVE!

We had entered the bar together, that night.  Earlier, she had taken me all over the City:  Her New York.  She hailed all the cabs herself with the flip of that magnificent red-haired cascade.  And the green vintage coat off the rack of Marilyn Monroe or Betty Davis was flung unbuttoned, at all times.

“Boo.  Put yo’ hat on!  It’s fuckin’ freezing, out here!” I scolded her, always a few steps behind.

I was entering my own age of self-awareness:  and my most self-aware self, as I discovered, would be maternal.  And true. 

True — all the time.   

But she would just clap her fluffy cashmere mittens in response, and redistribute her lipgloss by smacking her lips.  The hair would be flipped again; and as soon as she baited some unknowing cabbie and we’d slide inside, onto the shiny, black-leather bound seats — the mane would be tamed into a low bun:  Show over, buddy!  

Her New York was very different from mine.  She lived on the island, I — right over the bridge.  She cabbed her way all over the place.  I braved the subways, studying rats playing house in the garbage on its tracks.  And when it would get unbearable, I’d come up for some air, in Harlem, and unbutton my jacket:  Ay, mami!

She made her living by mixology behind the bar, similar to the one we were now flocking:  with her low-cut blouses and perfect lighting hitting the hemispheres of her breasts.  Businessmen, cheating spouses conferencing in New York and horny boys from NYU would claim to be her regulars alike; and they would study their fantasy, while playing with the labels of their beer bottles and the hot wax of tea-lights on the bar.  From behind the rims of their rock glasses, they would gather their courage to start up a conversation.  And their drool would backwash onto the ice inside — if ever she paid any attention to them.

She didn’t have to, though.  That’s the thing about bartenders:  They aren’t at the mercy of our egos, for their income.  It was all up to her:  When to lean in, while arching her back.  When to cascade the hair, when to pull it back into a bun.  And when to tell them — TO LEAVE!

While I settled for bargains, she knew the importance of well-made things.  But for the first time in my most self-aware self, I was willing to learn.  I was open — to changing my mind. 

It was about dignity, I was beginning to suspect, despite my artistic premonition about some artsy suffering in deprivation.

“It’s crucial, for an artist, to be proud,” she said earlier.

Street lights were about to take over from the sun, as she strutted in her high-heeled boots through the shadows of concrete high-rises in Chelsea and red brick oldies in the Village.  I followed her, in jeans and flats, with the rest of my life packed inside a mighty Mary Poppins’ shoulder bag.

We were both competent, in our own way.  But she could survive on her credit card alone (although a girl like that never paid for her own drinks).  And I was spending my youth in a perpetual state of readiness for a take-off.

Our bartender that night would be a model by day.  Or an actor.  (I wasn’t really paying attention.)  To me, he was bitchy right off the bat.  With my girl — he was debonair.  We hadn’t been at the bar for half an hour, yet he had refilled my girl’s glass at least three times.  The petals of her lipgloss had circumvented the thin rim entirely by then, but the only sign of her tipsiness was in the pout of her lower lip.

Despite being seasoned by New York already, he could not have foreseen his purpose that night:  He was supposed to comp our drinks.

Which he did — in exchange for her number written on a bev nap and held in place by a tea-light candle.  He would even hail us a cab.

Inside, on a shiny, black leather-bound seat, she shook off the snowflakes from her red hair and smacked her lips.

“That number is fake, right?” I asked.

“No,” she answered.  “I would never do that, to a man.”

She gave the cabbie her intersection.  We were silent.

“But he’ll have one hell of a time — chatting up my shrink at Bellevue,” she smacked her lips again and pulled her hair into a low bun.

Show over, buddy!  

Back to truth.

“You Didn’t Have To Love Me, Like You Did. But You Didn’t! But You Did — And I Thank You!”

“I’ve gotta be careful,” I think to myself.  “I fall in love too easily.”

I never used to wait it out before.  Instead I would leap in, head first, thinking:

“He is — so very beautiful.  So:  Why not?”

And it would be odd and sad, at the end of each affair (or, what’s more tragic, somewhere in the first chapter of it), to find myself disappointed — in myself.  ‘Cause I’m a smart girl, you see?  I always have been.  (I mean:  I read books, for Christ’s sake.  Right?!)

But you know what my problem is?  I like humanity too much.  That, plus the dumb-bitch-ness of ignoring my own intuition — and I’ve got a decade of disappointing affairs.And no, I’m never disappointed in them:  those I’ve chosen to fall for, head first, regardless of my screaming intuition.  Instead, I’m always disappointed — in myself.

“But he is so very beautiful,” I think.  And what’s worse, I used to say it sometimes, to his face.  With years, I’ve reined in that messy situation a bit.  ‘Cause I’m a smart girl, you see?  So, now, I tend to whisper it instead, while he’s asleep on my chest like a babe relieved by a glorious burp after making a meal of my breast.  I caress his hair — full, wispy or spiky, in a crewcut — and I get my pheromones going; convince myself I’m in love and I say it, out loud:

“You are so beautiful.”

Hopefully, he’s fully asleep by that point.  And if not, most of the time, he pretends to be.  How else to handle an intense number like me but to fake a hearing problem?  Or a language barrier, of some sorts?  The poor guy has just signed up for some sex — not for his fucking soulmate.

 

“That’s just the problem with you,” my ex has recently testified.  “You make us believe we deserve you.  But we don’t.  We’ve got not business — fucking a girl like you.”

“Ah, I remember,” I thought to myself.  “He always was — so very beautiful!”

I thought it, but made sure not to say it this time.

And it’s better with us now, anyway:  Our friendship surfs upon our mutual goodness that’s no longer tested by sex.  Still:  So beautiful, I think; and I try to remember why he’s made me feel so disappointed — in myself — just a few years ago.

Another one got drunk at a party the other night, and instead giving a toast, like the man of the hour he’d insisted on being once he took over the barbecue grill, he raised his beer in my direction and he slurred:

“That woman!”  He shook his head with spiky hair in a crewcut; then to our deadly silence, he wrapped it up:  “THAT WOMAN.”

Later on, he wanted to walk me to my car.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.  No car walking,” I insisted and I patted the back of his head I’ve memorized on my chest, while he was pretending to be asleep, one night.

‘Cause I’m a smart girl, you see, and it’s only taken me six years and half a dozen of disappointed affairs in Los Angeles to figure out that “car walking” often stands for “foreplay”.  And I just don’t foreplay with my exes.  Sure, we can surf upon the goodness of our friendship soon enough; but sex with the exes — well, that’s just a totally dumb-bitch move.

But the familiarity of the touch was enough to get my pheromones going, and instead of a goodbye I said:  “Thank you, beautiful.”  And I left.

Lord knows, before I’ve walked out on every one of them — these men I’ve chosen to fall for, head first — I ask them for the final verdict:

“Now:  Are you sure?”  I say.  “‘Cause I’m a smart girl, you see?  Once I leave — I don’t come back.”

But the poor guys are so exhausted by that point, they don’t know what hit ‘em.  I mean:  They’ve just signed up for some sex, not for a fucking soulmate!  And in that moment, they think they just want some silence.  Or some solitude, for Christ’s sake!  They think they want that empty linoleum floor without one intense number strutting toward them, for more matter-altering sex.

But in the end, they always lose the girl that has loved them in the best of ways:  Fed ‘em, fucked ‘em, rubbed their heads, stroked their egos.  In conclusion:  Built ‘em up.

And surely, they move on, after me.  They’re fine:  They find other girls, better suitable, less intense.  But by the time I go, I’ve raised their expectation so much — I’ve ruined them, for good.  And they know it.

“You’ve gotta be careful,” one of them told me while still in the midst of our affair, but most likely, already looking for his way out.  Sad:  The poor guy has just signed up for some sex.  Instead, he ended up waking up next to his soulmate:  The first girl to never forsaken him, to fulfill his needs better than his mother and to raise his expectation, forever.

“You’re too trusting, you see.”

“Ah.  So beautiful!” I said at the time, to his beautiful face; and I smirked in a way that made him change the subject and move in for more matter-altering sex.

And he was.  He was very beautiful.  And so were the others.  So beautiful I don’t regret falling for any of them, head first.

“It’s Amazin’, So Amazin’, So Amazin’, So Amazin’!”

She woke up really early on me today, peaked through the orange tulle curtains of my hotel window and said, “Come play dress-up, messy head.”

I opened my eyes, shushed away the last of my dreams and squinted at Her sun.

“Look on you,” I thought, immediately inspired to untangle myself from the sweat-drenched sheets.

(I had come here to do some serious heavy lifting:  To leave a lover behind — like an excess of water weight — to let Her keep him, for good.  “Do keep him safe though,” I had thought last night before leaving for my dreams, “and don’t tell anyone — just how much I loved him.”)

It would not take me longer than fifteen minutes to leap out of my bed, stretch the soaked sheets over the bathroom door to dry out; peel on my brand new running clothes, pull all that hair nonsense out of my face — and to start running.  Despite the whining knee I had busted last night in the midst of rage, I flew down the stairs (“Fuck the elevator:  I’m am an athlete!”) and past the disoriented guests checking-in at the desk of this vintage hotel that can only happen here — with Her — or back in New York City.

“Onward from here!” my mind was beginning to slip into just another of its outraged moods; and having foreseen it, I had left my running music up in the room.  “ONWARD!”

But the minute I stepped outside:

“Ah, look on you!” I thought — and felt my shoulder blades loosen up immediately and slide down my back like a pair of resting wings.

I have always had a crush on Her:  a little bit of a moody addiction of which I am not fully aware until it is time to leave Her.  On our every rendezvous, I forget about my departure date looming ahead.  I block it out; and instead, I carry on, quite often getting confused for a local by the disoriented tourists stumbling along Her streets with a “Look on you!” expression paralyzing their breathless faces.  On foot, I navigate Her  streets never really on any other mission than to live — and to live so damn fucking well!  And every time I have to leave Her, I throw fits:  in the middle of my vintage hotels, on BART rides and in airport lounges.  I would begin to jones for Her long before saying my goodbyes; and slip into yet another outraged mood for days, for weeks to follow.

“Yeah?  You like?” She began to shift about on her feet, twirling her sex in front of my eyes:  showing off Her heavenly curvatures and the bohemian yet often expensive frocks.  From Chestnut, she looked idillic:  Too good to be true, really.  Right around Fillmore, She seemed quite youthful.

On Divisadero, She nearly brought me down to my knees; and I would weep with gratitude for having lived long enough to get here — for having lived so damn fucking well! — and for wanting to live past Her, on this day, just so that I could always come back to Her.  And back — to this gratitude.

“And what about this?” She purred turning the hip of her Bay toward me.  “I put this on, just for you.”

It’s true:  My beautiful girl — that flirt! — was unusually sunny today; kind of balmy, as if shrouded in a fur coat of Florida’s dampness.  Adorned with her favorite Golden necklace of the Bridge, she shifted the other hip toward me and looked over her shoulder:

“I can pull this off, yeah?  You think?”

“Oh,” I thought.  “Oh, oh, oh!  Look on you!”

I would catch myself walking.  The outraged mood of the mind had evaporated with the last feathers of her fog, somewhere along Hyde.  (Whatever the fuck that was about!)  And who knows for how long I had been moving at this calmer pace:  It had to have been because I could not soak her up fast enough at that other, outraged speed on mine — so I shifted my gears.

And maybe, it had something to do with Her faces — the so-damn-fucking-well-lived-in faces of her locals:

The chiseled face of a gorgeous driver inside a white delivery truck with absent doors who studied me with curiosity while waiting to make a left — waiting for me to walk by — and then he smiled so disarmingly, so fully, so kindly and well, I thought:  “By god!  Marry me!”

The sad face of a beautiful girl, smoking her cigarette in a Parisian manner, outside a tanning salon, who was possibly dreaming of better places and better loves, in the world:  “Is better love even possible?”

The threesome clan of nerdy boys from the future cast of a Wes Anderson film who simultaneously stripped down to their waistlines revealing some delicious muscles underneath:  “Yes, please!”

The Yoko Ono in her black chic, horn-rimmed glasses who with a single gesture of a black-winged bird threw her pashmina over the elegant shoulder and sucker-punched me with a wave of her perfume:  “Ahhh!”

The ultra masculine, unshaven, sleepy street fighter in a gray-and-scarlet 49ers tee, climbing inside his hefty Grand Cherokee:  “Has anyone else noticed the cars never look filthy around here (around Her)?”  And again:   “Yes!  Please!”

And the long haired hippie thoughtfully strumming his guitar with some Flamenco chords as if its strings were the lead-loaded waters of the Bay, or the heavy hair of a brown girl he once loved so madly:  “Play it up, love.  Play it up.  I want to hear you, for many blocks ahead.”

“And what if I throw this on?” She raised a single eyebrow and slid into the cashmere of her grayish clouds, with blue in between.

“Perfect!” I hummed in response.  “You are — absolutely perfect.”

I felt the tears accumulate again in my lower eyelids, and when a few slipped out and rolled down my face:  Yes, they tasted like gratitude. 

And I began to run again.

“What You Waiting, What You Waiting, What You Waiting, What You Waiting, What You Waiting FOR?!”

Wake up early.  Do the work.

This is the only time of day when you’re allowed to lose track of time, or your phone; of your anxieties; of other people’s anxieties and their intentions or moods that you may have set off earlier — unknowingly, most of the time.  Don’t check your email.  Ignore the pile of laundry.  Don’t balance the checkbook.  Don’t return the call to your motha.  Not now!  

Do the work.

Unplug all alarm clocks; tape a post-it onto the never disoriented time panel in the corner of your laptop:  This is the only time of day when you’re allowed to lose track of time!  Measure the minutes by the number of brewed pots of coffee and your bathroom breaks (that also reek of coffee, but regurgitated). Acknowledge the arrival of noon by the jingles of the ice-cream man looping through your neighborhood.

Do the work.

Because if don‘t do the work, it will nag you like an increasing toothache, when you know damn well it’s gonna cost you a root canal when you just can’t afford health insurance.  It will slip into your encounters with others:  You’ll be edgy, impatient; and the poor suckers in random or scheduled interactions with you are going to set you off — unknowingly, most of the time.  It will nibble at your heart — this urge to do the work, now! — and you will judge yourself for having wasted so much time already, in pursuits of silly professions and unworthy loves; and the partially worthy curiosities — but then those, at least, have given you some specific stories, in the end.  You can tell yourself that, but unless you do the work — now! — every single day, it will nag you like an increasing toothache.

So:  Do the fucking work.

And if you happened to wake up in the bed of another, slip out before he wakes.

You normally don’t sleep over anyway, unless he’s kind — and so boyishly lovely — he turns your ovaries into raisins.  Most of the time it’s pretty clear though:  Sex is sex, and you both know it.  It’s clearcut and cannot be confused for affection.  After it’s done, you may get up, clean up.  Watch him get up, do that bathroom thing they all do; and if he’s a sweetheart — he’ll bring you a glass of water, to bed.  You may linger for a while, to talk — and maybe even to cuddle, if you’re already friends enough — just so that neither of you is left feeling guilty or used.  But you’ve gotta be a moron to assume he is not already thinking about the game he’s prerecorded that afternoon, in order to have you over; or the cold slice of pizza he’s dying to devour, once you’re gone.  And you:  You are tripping out on having to get the fuck out, just so that you don’t come off needy or, god forbid, in love.  And even if you’ve got nothing waiting for you at home, still, you’ll feel better once inside your car, speeding.

Because it’s the sleeping over that fucks with a girl.  When you start sleeping over — you start giving a damn.  Soon enough, your pillow talks will cross boundaries into the topics of mutual failed affairs, regretted lovers, permanent heartbreaks, and anecdotes from lousy sex.  (If you’re a smart girl:  Whatever you do — do NOT talk shit about your exes.  But you will, giving him the ammunition to judge you later, when your own story runs out its course.  And when that happens, if he’s a smart boy, he won’t use it against you, in your last fights.  But he will.  And then, he’ll talk shit about you.)  During this intimate learning of his sleeping patterns and sounds — that’s where a girl starts slipping.  And in the shared waking — when neither is armed with vanity or fear — that’s where she falls.

And it is only biological, really:  But sooner or later, while you are listening to his breathing change while he falls asleep, with his heavy arm resting across your breasts, holding you down in obedience to his calm gravity — you’ll dream of your firstborn.  And when you do — shake him awake, and say:

“The game’s just changed its rules on you, buddy!”

Or:  Slip out, before he wakes.  Like a ghost, stumble your nakedness through the dark, collecting your things that he’s peeled off you two hours prior.  Remember:  Did you show up wearing a bra that night?  or stockings, for his pleasure?  And your earrings:  Don’t forget those fucking earrings!  You always do!

Don’t leave anything behind:  It’s better that way.  Don’t look back.  Don’t linger.  Confront your secret desires head on:  That maybe, he’ll wake and ask you to stay; that maybe, he is — like you — god forbid, in love.  And if you catch yourself studying the profile of your firstborn on his pillow, tousled with the locks of hair you wish you could cut off and store in a locket, shake him awake:

“The game’s just changed its rules on us, buddy!”

Get yourself home, speeding through the town that rarely knows such absence of traffic.  Zoom past all the other girls, slipping out of their boys’ beds, like ghosts, in various degrees of disarray:  Like you, they got dressed in the dark, lingering above the profiles of their firstborns and forgetting about those fucking earrings. They always do!  Drive past the closed diners and dives, and even though you know better, scavenge for a late night cup of coffee.

And it will make you miss New York, where such deeds are less noticeable in the crowds of those in the habit of getting to bed by dawn and those that wake up early — and do their fucking work.  There, humanity is constantly changing the guard.  Between the insomniacs and the insane — and those who are contently unsettled by their unworthy loves — you feel less pathetic or criminal; and you somehow avoid confronting your secret desires head on.

Get home, wash off — sleep off! — the budding infatuation with the boy (unless he’s kind or boyishly lovely).  Rest up.  And once you wake again:

Do the fucking work.

A Woman Under the Influence

“I’ve always wanted to be an adjective.” — Lady Gaga

In all my blunt Russian honesty, I cannot claim that I seek inspiration from the most popular cultural events.  I don’t have E! looping in the background (I don’t even own a fuckin’ TV, the nerd that I am!); and never have I laid my eyes on the crafty work by Perez Hilton and the likes.

This year, however, since my pursuit of a self-publishing career as a blogger, I did have to get with the times a lil’ bit.  But even when I tweet (and I do so with discipline, on the hour — the nerd that I am!), I don’t stick around that social medium for the latest gossip.  A handful of fellow bloggers feed me their daily bits directly into my email; and when I do read, I’d rather get my fill via the New York Times’ op-ed pages or a quick bathtub read of Entertainment Weekly (I call it Entertainment —  Quickly!).  Because at least by then, the recent pop-cultural events and persons have been digested by someone else’s intellect and their validity has been established; at which point, I can decide whether or not to invest my own braincells in pursuit of self-education on that topic.  Some may call it snobbism.  I call it:  selective know-how.

Actually, scratch that.  “In all my blunt Russian honesty”, I should call it Being Ancient.

Just the other day, a honey — a total cutie, a lovely, a boo — offered to fix me up with one of his friends.  I chuckled, of course; but when he interviewed me on my preferred age group, I reluctantly spat out a demographic I’ve established for myself back in my 20s:

“A four-year difference, both ways.”

The cutie’s wheels began spinning:  “That makes it… 28 to 36?…”  (He gave me an elevator gaze, head to toe.)  “Nah!  28 is too young for you!” he concluded.  “I mean:  I — AM 28!  NO WAY!”

Casually, I had to lean myself against the exposed brick wall behind me in order to not double over from his brutal evaluation.  Truth be told though:  The cutie was right.  I AM starting to feel if not ancient — or well-lived in — then decidedly moving toward the middle-aged chapter of my life.  Perhaps, it is time to stop playing with boys in sandboxes — and get myself “a real man”, whatever the Dickens that means.

But when the cutie began interviewing me on the topic of my occupation (on behalf of my future husband — a.k.a. “the real man”), I found myself struggling with a temptation to give him a mellower version of myself.

“Oh yeah?  You’re a blogger?  What do you blog about?” the cutie was on a mission.

“Um…  Relationships…  ALL kinds of relationships.”

“Sex?”

“Um…”  (I had to grasp for my courage for a sec.)  “Sure.  Sometimes.”

The matchmaking never really took place, my comrades.  (Hmm.  Shocker.)  But the slightly brutal chat with the cutie made me wonder about my chances of getting paired-up during this era of pursuing my professional aspirations.  I mean, I myself don’t know many “real men” who could introduce a sex-blogger to their mother.  So, I’m thinking:  Until the money starts rolling-in and I single-handedly yank myself up to a higher financial demographic, I’m just gonna have to remain un-paired-up.  Un-matched.  Un-figured-out.  But thank you for your consideration.

But “in all my blunt Russian honesty” (phew:  quoting myself gives me a hard-on!), I must accept the fact that while chasing a dream, I am in a dire need of manufacturing a whole other persona.  And I’m not just talking about a stage name here, my comrades; or a pen-name, in my writerly case.  I’m talking about pimping myself out as someone a lot more fierce than the private person adored by her friends and lovers.

Because in this day and age of self-producing and self-promoting opportunities, one must LIVE a dream — BE a reincarnation of that very dream — not just CHASE it.  Chasing it, I’m afraid, just no longer cuts it.  And here, from my very conservative, old-fashioned research of the current pop-culture, I must bring up a very recent phenomenon common among female artists, specifically.

This is an era quickly overwhelmed by the emergence of perpetually self-reinventing women who are bold and fearless — via their fictional personas: 

–  Let’s start with my personal muse Rihanna, whose hair-color change inspires the women of the entire nation.  (Just yesterday, I’ve encountered half a dozen hairstyles of that RiRi-Red shade.)  But every time I bring her up in my female circles, it is guaranteed that someone will object to her obnoxious devotion to the topic of sex (an objection I rarely hear applied to the lyrics of Kanye West or 50 Cent.)  Hmm.

–  Then, there is the dual split of an artist formerly known as Beyonce.  In ’08, this fully-established, already commercially successful singer emerged as yet another persona when she released an album titled I Am… Sasha Fierce.  To most, that album was know for the anthem of All the Single Ladies.  I, however, was immediately fascinated by the dot-dot-dot portion of its title.  In that ellipsis, I hear a woman not only looking for her new identity, but the courage she must summon in order to deliver her message — via that identity.

–  Finally, there is the magnificently insane, ultra vain (or is she vain-less?), brilliant, ever-so-changing force of nature — and art! — Lady Gaga.  There is really nothing tamed about this one, is there?  There is no room for any ellipses.  In the case of Lady Gaga, there is no private persona.  She IS…  She is more than “IS”, actually:  Lady Gaga — is “IS”-ness herself.

So, is that what it takes?

In all my blunt Russian honesty, I don’t want a career of an anonymous artist:  I’m too vain for that.  Neither do I desire being tamed into a more easily digestible artist with a pseudonym who can than be described as the “Next-So-and-So”. I want to be… FIERCE.  SUCCESSFUL — and fierce.  And in order to accomplish that, I’m starting to learn that not only must I develop a thicker skin — I must get myself a whole new one.  As for the old skin, it’s just gonna have to be shed and left behind (for now), with all of its attached desires to be completely understood, embraced, liked and loved by a “real man” — and all kinds of others.

“What’s point?” you may wonder, my cuties.

Take it away, Gaga:

“The true luxury of my success is that I can do it all on my own terms now, even though the roller-coaster ride is still going.  [But now I own the roller coaster.]  I own the whole theme park, actually.”

Foreign Girls — Gone Wild!

I swear I wasn’t misbehaving, but minding my business while looking through the modest collection of crummy Russian DVDs at the local West Hollywood Library!  Those things looked like they’ve been excavated out of the buried Chernobyl reactor:  with their Xeroxed black-and-white covers and shredded cases that must’ve contained more ex-Soviets’ fingerprints than the American Embassy in Moscow.  Still:  I was curious.  Or was I brushing up on my native language, which according to my Motha’, sounds Chinese to her ears?

“Oi, Verra!” she usually moans whenever I attempt to communicate to her in my mother tongue.  “Dan’t push eet.”

So, I was in my preoccupied 5-year old’s state, sitting in a lotus position on the Library carpet and yanking the filthy covers out of the misfiled line-up on the shelf.  To me, shit like this — is the very height of romanticism:  so archaic and old-country it feels!  And I wasn’t particularly squeamish about the germs I was going to harvest from this little adventure; because just like those tortured DVDs, I too have lived through Chernobyl.  So, chances are:  my Motha‘ Land has granted me an inhumanly high tolerance for all viruses.

The first thing I noticed about him — were his shoes.  Actually, I had no choice, because those things entered my sphere with no hesitation.  They were those clunky, white kicks reminiscent of the nursing shoes better belonging on the shelf of Payless than on a self-respecting male who’s flipped through at least a single issue of GQ or Esquire in his life.  But boom!  There they were, at my right hip, not even as much as looming but stubbornly intruding.  And right off the bat, I knew their owner had to be my former countryman; so I braced myself.

(A little confession here, my comrades:  I’ve never shagged a Russian.  It’s a choice, really, because no matter my personal nostalgia for certain old ways of my Motha’ Land, I am not a fan of the Russian males’ swagger.  I have yet to encounter a specimen who will approach me without an element of ownership, as if he’s been fucking me for a coupla years.  Don’t get me wrong:  I respect their badass Alpha-male-ness!  But in my bedroom, I want me a happy combination of Steve McQueen and George Clooney; and there ain’t nothin’ debonair about most Russian ex-patriots I’ve had the pleasure to ward off.)

The shoes loomed at my side, until my act of ignoring them started to seem ridiculous and uncomfortable; so, fuck it:  I looked-up!  And sure enough:  from the shoelaces, along the pant of his girly jeans; to the black t-shirt with Ed-Hardy-esque silver writing, the bling around his neck, all the way up to his un-styled buzz cut — this playa was Made in the USSR.  The deadpan on his face altered at a microscopic level when he assumed that very smirk of ownership mentioned above:

“Aren’t you a wild riddle?”

Yep.  That is the most precise translation of his first approach of a woman he barely knew, my comrades; but even my bi-lingual talents fail in describing the level of brazen familiarity in his tone.

Normally, in such a set-up, I would put on my Is There a Problem? expression; but the content of the Russian’s pick-up line caught me off-guard.  (At least, I think it was a pick-up line.)  Now, I am no motorcycle-riding, fire-spewing, gun-shooting, male-taming Angelina Jolie; but behind the wheel of my car or the closed doors of my bedroom, I do tend to unleash a lil’.  And lately, the degree of wildness has grown significantly because 1.  I’ve run-up some serious mileage to hell ‘n’ back this last year;  2.  I am a woman on a mission; and 3.  I’ve got NO time to spare en route to that mission.  Unless resting my messy head upon the chiseled pecs of my lover, I move fast and stubbornly upright.

Many a men have been left scratching their heads on the origin of my olive skin and my character, as equally untamed as my hair.  To this town’s casting directors and agents, the task of boxing me into a category appears burdensome and repeatedly annoying.  To them, I am either too brown or not brown enough; never Slavic-sounding but ambiguously European.  But my acidic sense of humor and refusal to draw smiley faces on sign-up sheets, next to my now Latin sounding stage name, has definitely chalked me up into a category of “intense” and just generally:  “not from around here.”

As for the mortals not in the business of casting, I tend to unsettle them quite easily.  Just the other night, a middle-aged white woman began interrogating me about the name of my hair stylist:

“Who did your hair this morning?” she interrupted my tete-a-tete with another “ethnically ambiguous” brown girl.

“No one,” I said, quite plainly, and nodded.

The white woman’s irritation jumped a hundred degrees immediately:  “Did YOU do it?”

“No,” I said, now smiling politely.  “My hair does its own thing.”

“YES!  But what I mean!  Is…”  Whatever her problem, the lady began to over-articulate, as if I were some FOB innocent she met Walmart.  “Did you — DO something to it?!”

As you can probably tell, my comrades, that interaction didn’t go over well; because after a 70-hour work week and 3-to-5 hour nights of sleep due to the stubborn pursuit of my dreams, I was not in the mood to tippy-toe around that white woman’s unreasonably hateful, uncalled-for tone.  But I had to quickly forgive her for the inability to decipher “the wild riddle” of V.  Perhaps, she would be more pleased if I cooperated a little, or got intimidated.  Or perhaps, it would be more convenient if I didn’t enter her sphere at all.  But in this day and age of not only post-colonial but fully globalized world, I believe she is the one the minority.  And that minority — is ignorance.

In “Da” Club

Wakin' Up, Russian Style

Good morning, comrades.  Oh, wait.  Is it afternoon?  V’s on Russian time today, after a 10-hour hibernation post a night of heavy partying that would make my gypsy ancestors very proud.  With my feet feeling non-existent because I insisted in ripping-up the dance floor for 5 hours in my 10-inch stilt-like stilettos, and my mouth dehydrated and venomous — my words are slow on the uptake.  With a cup of tepid, black, straight-up, sugarless coffee at my right hand, I’m starting my Sunday morning at half-speed.  But the tongue is heavy, just waiting for the mind to regurgitate an image or two that would unleash the words, V-ness style.

I will say this though:  Last night, I did it all in the name of research.  Oh yes, my comrades!  When I wasn’t balancing on stilts or shaking that compact, yoga-toned booty of mine to my favorite brown girl Riri, I was a student of human behavior.  The joint was dark and packed.  The male specimens were highly intoxicated and blinded by laser lights.  So, the Russian’s undercover research was conducted safely when she either slithered between the unknowing subjects or when she rested her tortured feet in the most corner booth with the messy glassware of the club’s bottle service.

In the midst of mayhem, I didn’t wonder about the motifs of my subjects’ behavior.  Instead, I jotted down their images, as if my words were photographic; and left my judgements for later.  Oh, don’t get me wrong:  I am aware that I’m an opinionated cunt.  But last night was different, for I merely observed the behavior of males.  I soaked it up because I would never be able to think up the following gems on my own:

— ASAP!  Something must to be said about the men who strut in through the front door of a club with toothpicks in their mouths!  How dare they scan a crowd of beautiful women for their prey when there is an actual object sticking out of their teeth?  Or what about the type that after ordering his drink from a gorgeous bartender, pays his tab, picks-up the rocks glass — and sticks his gum underneath the counter?  Classy move, buddy.  No matter how discretely he can conduct this disgusting habit, something tells me:  The man has never flipped through a single issue of GQ or Esquire — in his pathetic lifetime!

(What?  I’m not judging.  I’m just warming up my venom glands.)

— How about the defensive boy in a crocheted beige beanie hat, who otherwise would be pretty if it weren’t for the permanent sarcastic smile or too low of a cut of his V-neck?  He threw a lil’ tiff with the giant bouncer who’s asked him — quietly, yet forcefully — to keep the pathway clear.  The man of service was doing his job, while this boy-child (who better grow out of his hippie fashion sense if he’s at all interested in joining America’s workforce) held up the traffic and pouted at the fact that he wasn’t being courted properly.

(V — movin’ on!)

—  The fat boy, loud and utterly unattractive in his insecurity, who so obviously compensated for his shortcomings with a repertoire of behaviors that would look much cooler on him if he weren’t 1.  white and 2.  so chubby.  I mean:  Why the gangsta handshakes and the bad-ass chest pumps with your buddies if you can’t even keep your face straight or your drink unspilled? ‘S okay, we all know who you are:  You’re the Seth Green type.  So:  be that! Be the nerdy, chubby nice guy who is smarter than his non-Jewish friends — and better educated — and in about a decade will be making twice, or thrice the dough.  I promise:  There are girls who dig that!  Oi vey.

(Mkay.  So, I am judging.  I can’t help it — I’m a cunt!)

—  Hello, Mr. Short Guy!  Why are you hiding inside that oversized, buttoned-up up to your Adam’s Apple shirt and your vintage hat pulled down to your earlobes?  If you must be funky — embrace it.  Find some comfort in your physical traits — select better complimentary clothing for your body type — and chill. I can see the potential:  you are quite magnificent, past the bullshit.

(Well, I’m on a roll now!)

—  The white boy who doesn’t know how to dance; neither has any sense of rhythm nor swagger:  Why do you demand my attention during the uncensored version of Enrique’s Tonight I’m Fucking YOU!?  I was just standing here, boo, perfectly content in my lack of male escort this evening.  You tap me on the shoulder — twice! — in some poorly practiced, self-invented shtick; gesture that I should keep my eyes on you during the lull post Ludacris’ bit; and when the music crescendoes, you start jiggling your white body as in a fit of epilepsy.  Truly though:  I don’t give a flying fuck if you don’t have the skill to move your body with coordination.  But please, don’t request my company or my watch!

(Watch out!  The venom’s dripping into the coffee now — straight up!)

—  You just seem sickly, sir, leaning your clammy forehead against the cold mirror.  So, I ask if you’re alright.

“Oh yeah,” you respond automatically; but when you realize you like what you see, you give me one of those How YOU Doin’? grins.  “I’m the heat of a text,” you say, demonstrating the cellular device you’ve been groping underneath the mirror.

“Well, I hope she’s cute,” I nod and turn on my stilts to start walking away.

“Not as cute as you!” you throw at me, like an ice cube against my naked back.  Oh, c’mon, honey!  Why gotta do that?  You’ve obviously got a girl — you just said so yourself.  So why do you go offending me with an assumption that I’d settle for leftovers? And the cheesy line!  Really?!  So, you’re embarrassed now, pushing yourself through a line of defensive males waiting for their turn to use the bathroom.  Why do all that?

(Where is the next victim?  I now scan my last night’s notes for a memory…)

But oh!  What’s this?  A man in a suit?! Shit.  I shut up and study.  He’s in his late 20s, standing at the diagonally opposite angle of the bar.  A headful of jet-black Indian hair.  A crisp shirt with erect collar-stays.  Not even slightly tipsy, he’s buying a beautiful girl a drink.  His gaze is sharp, and despite the absentee tie — the boo’s on point.  I swear, comrades:  It’s as if a search light came down on the playa, and I think I heard the angels sing.  An Esquire man — is always noticeable. But besides that, I bet a good suit is sold with a pair of extra balls; because no matter the man’s genetic inheritance, when well-dressed — he acts like fuckin’ George Clooney.

On that sight, I wrap up my night, my darling boys ‘n’ girls.  There is hope for the male kind yet.  If only, they’d stop seeking solutions at the bottom of a rocks glass or at the tip of a joint.  If only they had the balls to live in their own skin — to tell their authentic stories — and to dress up the rest.

Good night, my darlings.  Or is it:  Good morning?